Pascale's Kitchen: Delicacies for Hoshana Raba

A number of recipes that are easy to prepare and with which you can create impressive-looking delicacies for the upcoming holiday.

(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Hoshana Raba is the last day of Sukkot, which precedes Shmini Atzeret and Simhat Torah. On every day of Sukkot (except Shabbat), it is customary to say Hoshanot prayers and circle the bima in the synagogue with the lulav. But on Hoshana Raba, this ceremony is performed seven times. Willows of the brook were used in the Temple in Jerusalem, and the custom of taking the arava branches on Hoshana Raba remains in Jewish homes and synagogues to this day.
Hoshana Raba is known mainly as one of two holidays on which Jews study Torah all night long. In Ashkenazi and hassidic communities, it is customary on Yom Kippur, Hoshana Raba and Purim to eat kreplach (meat-filled dumplings) in soup.
The Hoshana Raba custom for Jews who hail from Tripoli in Libya is to eat dishes made with liver and lungs and then to recite sections from the books of Deuteronomy and Genesis. One of the traditional dishes served is stuffed grape leaves, though today many families prepare a variety of stuffed cabbage, peppers and squash dishes, or dumplings.
As a tribute to these wonderful traditions, I’ve listed below a number of recipes that are easy to prepare and with which you can create impressive-looking delicacies for the upcoming Hoshana Raba holiday.
Below are three stuffed-vegetable recipes. The first is for small quinces, which I cook in sugar and cinnamon and serve with cream or a hazelnut sauce. The second recipe is a dessert made with apples. I scoop out the insides of the apples and fill them with nuts, raisins and cinnamon, which are then wrapped inside pastry dough and baked.
The third is pastries stuffed with cabbage, apples and pomegranates, which are twisted into a snail shape.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Use the smallest quinces you can find.
Makes 8 servings
4 quinces
¾ cup sugar
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. silan
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
Serving suggestion:
½ cup walnuts, ground or halved
1 cup lightly sweetened ready-made parve cream
Clean and rinse the quinces. Cut them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a knife or melon baller to create a hollow space inside the quinces. Rinse well. Put the quince pieces in a medium pot, and pour in water to cover to 1 cm. above the quinces. Cook over medium flame for 20 minutes.
Remove quinces and set aside 1½ cups of liquid that the quinces were cooked in.
Arrange the quinces on a rectangular tray. In a separate bowl, add sugar, honey, silan, lemon juice, cinnamon and the quince liquid that was set aside. Mix well until sugar is mostly dissolved. Pour on top of quinces and bake in an oven that was preheated to 180° for 90 minutes. Every once in a while, baste quinces with the juices, until the entire fruit turns an amber color.
Let cool completely and then serve each piece of fruit with cream in the hollowed part, with a little syrup on top. Transfer the cream to an icing bag with a serrated tip and squeeze out cream on top of quinces and serve.
This recipe calls for square pastry dough sheets. Defrost only the exact number of sheets needed for the recipe. The stuffed apples can be served with ice cream or vanilla sauce.
Makes 8 servings
8 Granny Smith apples (use the smallest ones)
4 Tbsp. walnuts or pecans, ground
6 Tbsp. light raisins
4 tsp. margarine
3 Tbsp. demerara sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Pastry dough:
8 squares of bought pastry dough
Egg wash:
1 egg, beaten
Toppings (optional):
Poppy seeds
Syrup or powdered sugar
Wash the apples well. Using a special knife, cut out the apple core, while leaving the rest of the apple intact. Using a knife, cut off a tiny strip of skin around the apple. This prevents the skin from cracking during baking.
In a separate bowl, mix the walnuts or pecans with the raisins, margarine, sugar and cinnamon. Put the apples in an ovenproof dish. Stuff the filling into the hollow created in the middle of the apple. Cook in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 20 minutes, until apples are soft.
Remove from oven. Place them in the freezer for an hour to cool them down, if you so desire. Apples can be prepared the day before.
Defrost the pastry dough squares on the work surface and roll them out a little. Place a cooled cooked apple in the middle of a sheet and then close the pastry around the apple, pressing in all the extra dough on top. Prepare the rest of the apples in the same fashion. Place the apples on a baking tray covered with baking paper and brush with egg wash. Sprinkle poppy seeds on top and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 190° for 10 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 180° and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and brush with syrup or sprinkle with powdered sugar.
You can use butter instead of margarine, and hazelnuts and fig pieces instead of raisins.
Makes 10 pastries
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ head of large cabbage, cut into thin strips
1 apple, peeled, cut and sliced
¼ tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. pomegranate concentrate
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup pomegranate seeds
20 sheets of filo dough
1 oil spray
½ cup seed mixture (sesame, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin or any other seed, such as chia, flax or nigella)
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
Heat oil in a large pot. Add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the garlic and stir for one minute. Add the vegetable strips and fry for another minute or two.
Add the apples.
Cover pot and let cook until cabbage changes color. Add the ginger, pomegranate concentrate, soy sauce and honey. Stir and then season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook over low flame another 2-3 minutes and then remove from the flame.
Let cool and then add pomegranate seeds. Adjust seasoning. Carefully lay a sheet of filo dough on the work surface. Take a second sheet and place it so that one-third of the sheet overlaps with the first one. Spray with oil. On the edge of the side closer to you, add 2-3 spoonfuls of filling. Roll the dough into a log starting from the side closer to you. Then take the log and create a spiral or snail shape and place pastry on a tray that’s covered with baking paper. Make sure the side where the pastry dough opens is facedown on the tray. Continue to prepare the rest of the pastries in the same fashion and arrange them on the tray so that they’re supporting each other. Spray with oil.
Beat egg with water and brush on top of pastries. Sprinkle with seed mixture and bake in an oven that has been preheated to 200°. Lower temperature to 180°-190° and bake for 30 minutes until pastries are crispy. Serve hot or room temperature.
When baking with filo dough, make sure all the pieces you’re not using at the moment are covered well with a damp cloth so they don’t dry out. Once they dry out, they cannot be used.