In the spirit of the recently celebrated secular New Year, I want to offer my readers a number of dishes that can turn any meal into a festive occasion.PASTRIES WITH SPINACH AND CHEESE Makes 20-22 pastries500 gr. white flour, sifted ¾ cup oil 1 tsp. salt ¾ or 1 cup water, depending on type of flour Filling: 1 onion, cut into strips and fried 1 large potato, cooked, peeled and cut into small cubes 1 bunch of spinach or Swiss chard, chopped finely 1 Tbsp. zaatar 3 Tbsp. olive oil 1 cup hard cheese, grated Salt and pepper to taste Wash: 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water Toppings: 1-2 Tbsp. sesame seeds 1 tsp. nigella seeds Pour the flour in a large bowl. Add the oil and salt. Add the water gradually while kneading until dough falls away from sides of bowl. Let dough rest a few minutes.To prepare the filling, put the fried onion, potato cubes and spinach in a separate bowl. Add the za’atar, olive oil and cheese. Mix and season with salt and pepper.Roll out the dough on a floured work surface until it is 0.5 cm thick. Cut out circles using a glass with a 10-cm. diameter.Place half a spoonful of filling in the center of each circle.Fold dough over filling so it forms a half circle. Press edges to seal. Prepare the rest of the pastries in the same way. You can use the tines of a fork to make indentations on the edge of each pastry.Arrange the pastries evenly on a baking tray. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame and nigella seeds. Bake in an oven that was preheated to 180° for 20 minutes. STUFFED ZUCCHINI AND ONIONS Makes 6-8 servings 300 gr. ground beef 1 large onion, peeled and chopped finely 10 sprigs of parsley, chopped finely ½ tsp. ground cinnamon ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. sweet paprika ½ tsp. ground cumin ¼ tsp. black pepper 1 egg 4 medium zucchini, cut into 2 or 3 pieces, hollowed out (keep the inside to use later) 2 large onions, peeled and hollowed out Sauce: 4 Tbsp. oil 1 large onion 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 2 Tbsp. tomato paste ¼ tsp. black pepper ¼ ground cinnamon 1 tsp. salt 3 to 4 cups water 3 potatoes, peeled and quartered Add beef to a bowl and then add onion, parsley, seasoning and egg. Mix well. Fill the zucchini and onion with meat mixture and place on tray. Chop up insides of zucchini.To prepare sauce, heat the oil in a large flat pot. Add the onion, garlic, zucchini insides and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste, spices and two cups of water. Stir and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook covered for 10 minutes until it boils.Arrange stuffed vegetables tightly next to each other in sauce. Pour rest of the water on top so that it rises about 1 cm. above the top of the vegetables. If needed, you can add even more water. Cover the pot and continue cooking over a low flame for another 40 minutes. Serve warm with rice or couscous. ORANGE-FLAVORED CRUMB CHEESE CAKE Crust: 2.5 cups self-rising flour, sifted 150 gr. butter, cut up into cubes 2 eggs 1 tsp. vanilla concentrate ¾ cup sugar ¼ cup orange juice 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest Filling: 1 container (250 ml.) sweet whipping cream 1.5 cups sugar 200 gr. butter, softened 1 tsp. vanilla concentrate 1 egg or 2 Tbsp. instant vanilla pudding 1 tsp. grated orange zest 1 container (250 gr.) 5% white cheese 4 containers of sour cream
To prepare crust, put all the ingredients into the bowl of a mixer and mix well. Transfer ½ to ¾ of dough to a pie dish and flatten so that it goes over the edges a little. Prick the crust with a fork.Bake crust in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool well.Press remaining dough onto baking paper in a separate tray and bake for 30 minutes until golden. Let cool and then break up into crumbs.To prepare filling, whip the sweet cream while gradually adding half of the sugar. Keep whipping until stiff. Transfer to a bowl. In the bowl of the mixer, add the butter and mix. Gradually add the rest of the sugar, vanilla, egg and orange zest.Mix on high speed until light and fluffy.Gradually add the sour cream and continue mixing until smooth.Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture and stir. Pour onto cooled crust and store in fridge for three to four hours. Then sprinkle with crumbs.Translated by Hannah Hochner.