Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Music US & Canada Musician Carlos Santana Maintains Upcoming Israel Concert With ‘Open Heart’ Despite Pressure From BDS Activists (VIDEO)

    Musician Carlos Santana Maintains Upcoming Israel Concert With ‘Open Heart’ Despite Pressure From BDS Activists (VIDEO)

    After supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement failed to pressure rock superstar Carlos Santana into cancelling his upcoming concert in Tel Aivv, the guitarist said in a video message on Thursday that he is excited to return to Israel and promote a “musical message of peace, love and an end to conflict.” “The band and I will bring our open hearts and musical energy that will resonate with your soul long after the last song has been […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    Coldplay Begins Concert With Broadcast of Charlie Chaplin’s Iconic Speech in ‘The Great Dictator’

    British rock band Coldplay started its set at the Glastonburg Festival on Sunday by broadcasting excerpts of the iconic speech Charlie Chaplin delivered in The Great Dictator, the 1940 political satire in which the famous filmmaker/movie star played a Jewish barber. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone,” Chaplin begins his address. “I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    Two Decades Before Cleveland’s First NBA Title, LeBron James Walked Onto a JCC Court

    JNS.org – The seed for the city of Cleveland’s first professional championship in a major sport in 52 years may have been planted at the Shaw Jewish Community Center on White Pond Drive in Akron, Ohio, nearly 20 years ago. That’s when a tall, lanky kid from Akron named LeBron James walked onto the hardwood court and changed the game of basketball forever. Coach Keith Dambrot, now the head basketball coach at the University of Akron, conducted those sessions that attracted […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    North American Studios Look to Israel for Next Animation Hit

    JNS.org – In 2008, Yoram Honig was a producer and director living in Jerusalem, fresh off his first international hit, when the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA) came to him with a challenge: build a film industry from scratch in Israel’s capital. “When we started here, was nothing in Jerusalem,” he said during an interview in his office in the Talbiya neighborhood. Now, the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund, which Honig heads as an arm of the JDA, pumps 9 million shekels […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →