Simple dishes for a hectic season

At the markets, you can feel the excitement of people making plans and starting to get organized for the large holiday meals.

Sea bass with cooked vegetables (photo credit: DROR KATZ)
Sea bass with cooked vegetables
(photo credit: DROR KATZ)
The period between the start of the school year and the beginning of the High Holy Day season is very dear to my heart. It’s a time when our children are excitedly venturing into new schools or classes and settling into their new settings, while we adults are happily getting back into our old routines and doing our best to help our children make a smooth transition.
This year, however, this period is quite short and Rosh Hashana is just around the corner.
At the markets, you can feel the excitement of people making plans and starting to get organized for the large holiday meals. And so, now that we have just a few days before the Jewish New Year, I’ve chosen to bring you recipes for main dishes that are simple, quick and easy to prepare so that we can spend our time getting ready for the holiday.
The first dish is a beef and potato recipe with cumin; the second is chicken liver with potatoes; the third is a fillet of sea bass on a bed of steamed vegetables; and the fourth is meatballs in a tomato sauce that is a favorite among children. And, of course, I couldn’t resist adding a dessert recipe that can make every meal complete.
Chicken liver with potatoes
This recipe is wonderful served with bread, which you can use to soak up extra sauce.
Makes 4-5 servings
¹⁄3 cup oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
500 gr. chicken livers, cleaned and koshered (roasted over an open flame and salted)
4 medium potatoes, cubed
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ to ¾ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. (or 1 stick) cinnamon
½ cup water
Heat the oil in a large, flat pot and fry the onion until it is translucent. Add the liver and fry for 5 to 6 minutes, while gently stirring. Add the potatoes and fry for another five minutes until lightly browned.
Add the spices and gently stir. Pour the water over the mixture, cover and cook over low flame for 45 minutes. Serve over puree, white rice or ptitim.
Apricot, coconut and almond pastries
Makes 40 to 50 pieces
1 package (400 gr.) store-bought phyllo dough
1 jar of apricot jam 1 cup roasted coconut flakes
1 cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup roasted almonds, chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup powdered sugar
Cut the phyllo dough into four pieces and roll out each piece thinly on a floured workspace. Spread apricot jam generously on dough.
Mix together the coconut, walnuts, almonds and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of jam. Roll up from side closest to you.
Place the rolls evenly spaced on greased baking paper so that the open side is face-down. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven that has been preheated to 200º until golden brown.
While the rolls are still hot, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let cool a little and then cut into pieces that are 1.5- to 2-cm. thick. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Beef and potato stew with cumin
Makes 6 to 8 servings
4 Tbsp. canola oil
2 large onions, chopped finely
Cloves from an entire head of garlic, crushed
1.5 cups crushed tomatoes
1 kg. beef shoulder, cut into medium cubes
100 gr. tomato paste
1½ tsp. spicy paprika or harissa
1 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cumin
3 to 3½ cups water ½ tsp. salt
4 medium potatoes, quartered
Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the tomatoes and stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the meat, tomato paste, paprika and lemon juice. Stir-fry for 10 minutes.
Add the cumin, half of the water and the salt. Stir and cook for 30 minutes over a medium-low flame.
Add the rest of the water and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, stir and make sure that the water reaches at least 1 cm. above the vegetables (if it doesn’t, you can add more).
Cover and cook over low flame for another 90 minutes until the beef has softened.
Sea bass with cooked vegetables
It’s important to me that children be willing to eat fish, so sometimes I prepare it in a tomato sauce (that might remind them of ketchup) or with vegetables they love, as I describe in the recipe below. The most important thing is that they’re willing to eat fish.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
500 to 800 gr. sea bass/sea bream/ mackerel/Nile perch
1 onion, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
2 large potatoes, sliced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 to 1½ cups water
¼ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. sweet paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
½ tsp. cumin
3 sprigs coriander, chopped
3 sprigs parsley, chopped
Rinse fish and cut into 4 to 6 pieces. Heat oil in a large, flat pot. Fry the garlic for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, peppers and tomatoes. Stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the potatoes, tomato paste and water and mix. Add the spices, stir, cover and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and continue cooking for 10 more minutes.
Add the fish and shake the pot so that the sauce covers all the pieces. Add the herbs and spices and stir gently. Cook over a low flame for 20 minutes. Shake the pot every once in a while to make sure the pieces of fish are covered with sauce.
Meatballs in tomato sauce
This simple recipe is a favorite among adults and children alike.
Makes 35 to 40 meatballs
1 kg. ground beef
3 large potatoes, coarsely grated
3 medium onions, coarsely grated
20 sprigs of parsley, chopped
10 sprigs of coriander
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp. chicken soup powder
½ tsp. black pepper, ground
½ tsp. baharat
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ to ¾ cup matza meal (or 1½ slices of bread soaked in water and then squeezed well)
Oil for frying
Tomato sauce:
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped thinly
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tomato, chopped thinly
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. spicy paprika
1 tsp. sweet paprika
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2½ to 3 cups water
To make the meatballs, mix the meat, potatoes, onion, parsley, coriander and garlic together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, soup powder, pepper, baharat, baking soda and matza meal. Mix well. If the mixture is too watery, add a little more matza meal. Let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a large pot. Form 5-cm. balls and fry them on two sides until nicely browned.
To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic for 1 to 2 minutes until translucent. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Stir.
Add the water and bring to a boil.
Add the meatballs. Cover and cook over a low flame for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over white rice.