Delectable Recipes for Tu B’Shevat

January 16, 2014 11:49 am 1 comment

Cranaple walnut cake. Credit: Mollie Katzen.

JNS.orgWinter fruit might seem less spectacular than the much more time-valued offerings of summer, but oranges and pears in particular, while quiet and “common,” can be the unexpected stars of simple savory dishes.

This is perfect for Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for trees, which is a relatively unsung holiday. Sparkle up your Tu B’Shevat seder with an easy but surprising sweet potato-pear soup, which goes perfectly with a winter salad featuring crunchy, colorful leaves refreshingly coated with orange sections and a yogurty-orange vinaigrette, and exuberantly dotted with pistachios (also from trees). Finish the meal with an old-fashioned cake brimming with apples and walnuts, and studded with cranberries.

Cranapple Walnut Cake

Servings: about 8

Back by popular demand from the original “Moosewood Cookbook,” this recipe now appears, adapted slightly, in “The Heart of the Plate.” You will likely want to serve this a la mode with some excellent vanilla ice cream. If you anticipate this need, be sure to have the ice cream on hand before you begin.

The cake is quite sweet as is. If you are going to serve it with the ice cream, you

might want to reduce the sugar a notch or two—maybe to 1½ cups. If you buy extra-fresh whole cranberries in season and freeze some, you can enjoy them year-round. No defrosting necessary. Use nonstick spray.

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups (packed) light brown sugar

½ cup grapeseed or canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (also called “white whole wheat”)

(could also be unbleached all-purpose)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

2 medium apples (about ½ pound)—peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup chopped walnuts (chopped to the size of peanuts)

½ pound fresh (or frozen) whole cranberries

Directions:

1) Lightly spray a 9 X 13-inch pan with nonstick spray. Heat the oven to 375°F.

2) In a medium-large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

3) In a second bowl, combine the flour with the other dry ingredients until thoroughly blended. Add the dry mixture to the wet, stirring until combined, folding in the fruit and nuts as you go. The batter will be very thick.

4) Patiently spread the batter into the prepared pan (take your time spreading it in place) and bake in the center of the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, and the top surface is springy to the touch.

Click photo to download. Caption: Winter salad with radicchio, oranges, and pistachios. Photo: Mollie Katzen.

Winter Salad with Radicchio, Oranges, Pistachios, and Yogurty-Orange Vinaigrette

Servings: 4

Romaine and arugula join forces with radicchio and fresh orange sections, and an orange-laced yogurt dressing coats the leaves, allowing a scattering of pistachios to adhere at random. If you  choose to form a bed of couscous or extra yogurt underneath each serving, you will be rewarded with an extra layer that both absorbs the delicious trickle-down juices and also boosts the volume of the dish, herding it into light main-dish terrain.

You can wash and spin the salad leaves (keeping them cold and very dry), prepare the vinaigrette, and section the oranges well ahead of time. Dress and finish the salad immediately before serving.

The tangy vinaigrette, free-standing, will keep very well—for weeks—in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Shake well, or stir from the bottom, before using.

Vinaigrette ingredients:

1 heaping tablespoon finely minced shallot

1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt (rounded measure)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)

Salad ingredients

½ pound very fresh radicchio (any type)

A handful of small arugula leaves

About 6 perfect, crisp romaine leaves

2 oranges, sectioned

1/2 cup lightly toasted pistachios

Optional Enhancement : Spread a bed of yogurt and/or couscous on  the plate underneath the salad, as a bed to catch the dressing (and to make this more of a light main course).

Vinaigrette Directions:

1. Combine the shallot, agave or honey, orange juice, vinegar, and salt in a small bowl, and whisk to thoroughly blend.

2. Keep whisking as you drizzle in the olive oil, keeping up the action until it is completely incorporated.

3. Stir/whisk in the yogurt and mix until uniform. Cover and refrigerate until use.

Salad Directions:

4. Have the cleaned, dried salad leaves in a large-enough bowl. Break them into bite-sized pieces as desired.

5. Add about 6 tablespoons of the vinaigrette, tossing as you go, to thoroughly coat all the leaves. Add the orange sections toward the end, mixing them in gently so they don’t break.

6. Sprinkle in the pistachios with the final toss, and serve pronto.

Sweet Potato-Pear Soup

Servings: 5-6

Fresh pears and sweet potatoes are puréed together and finished off with touches of cinnamon and white wine. This unusual combination is slightly sweet, slightly tart, and deeply soothing. My original version (published in “Still Life with Menu”) included milk or cream. This version is vegan-friendly, using oil instead of butter.

Use any wine that you enjoy drinking. And perhaps serve the rest of the bottle with

the soup. Be sure to use the moist, orange variety of sweet potato (not the drier, starchier white type).

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes (1 pound)

4 cups water

One 3-inch stick cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons salt

3 large ripe pears (any kind but Bosc, which are too grainy)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter—or grapeseed or canola oil

¼ cup crisp white wine

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice (to taste)

Cayenne or white pepper (optional)

Directions:

1) Peel sweet potatoes, and cut into small (about ¾-inch) pieces. Place in a large saucepan with water, cinnamon stick, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes). Remove the cover and let it simmer an additional 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, and let the sweet potatoes rest in their cooking water while you fix the pears.

2) Peel and core the pears, and cut them into thin slices (about ¼-inch).

3) Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a heavy skillet over medium heat, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the pears, and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, or until quite soft. Add the wine, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes longer over lowest possible heat.

4) Transfer the pear mixture to the sweet potatoes-au-jus, then purée everything together until smooth with an immersion blender (You can also use a stand blender in batches, and then return it to the pot.

5) Add lemon or lime juice to taste, plus a touch of cayenne or white pepper, if desired, and serve the soup hot. (It reheats well, if necessary.)

With more than 6 million books in print, Mollie Katzen is listed by the New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time and has been named by Health Magazine as one of “The Five Women Who Changed the Way We Eat.” Her new book, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation, was published in September 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys Singer Howie D Gushes Over Masada During Israel Trip

    Backstreet Boys singer Howie Dorough took to Instagram on Tuesday to marvel about climbing the famed Masada fortress with his band during their visit to Israel, where they will perform this week for the first time. The group’s second day of sightseeing in the Jewish state included the Masada hike, and taking a mud bath at the Dead Sea. A picture from the band’s official Twitter page shows the five singers covered in mud. While relaxing in the Dead Sea, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews US & Canada ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    ‘Arms and the Dudes:’ New Book, Film Detail How Ex-Orthodox Yeshiva Guys Became Top Suppliers for Afghan Army

    A new book and its upcoming film adaptation tell the true story of how three former yeshiva students who habitually smoked marijuana scored a $300 million contract from the U.S. government to supply weapons for the Afghan Army, the New York Daily News reported on Sunday. Arms and the Dudes details how the Miami Beach potheads became “the most unlikely gunrunners in history,” according to the book’s author, investigative reporter Guy Lawson. The tale begins with Efraim Diveroli, nephew of [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    Natalie Portman: Israel-Themed ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ Not Political

    JNS.org – Natalie Portman, who directs and stars in the new Hebrew-language film adaptation of author Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness, says that despite Oz’s record as a vocal left-wing critic of Israel, her film is not political. Like the book on which it is based, Portman’s film is about a young boy at the time of the founding of the state of Israel. “I think the movie is very much about this very particular, specific family story. Of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.