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...

  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    An artist is auctioning on eBay a Wonder Woman doll he purchased and repainted to create an uncanny replica of Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who will play the superhero in an upcoming 2017 spin-off film. Noel Cruz purchased a 19-inch action figure of the Batman v Superman star and replaced its plastic hair with a new wig, and added a material belt and Princess Diana’s lasso, according to the blog Io9, which first reported on Cruz’s work. He then painted the doll to make it look like the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    Racist and antisemitic rhetoric supported by white supremacists can be defeated by opening channels for meaningful dialogue, British-Jewish actor Daniel Radcliffe said, ahead of the release of his new film, in which he plays an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a neo-Nazi group. “[White supremacist ideologies] have more power the less we talk about them. So hopefully this does start a kind of conversation, which would be a tiny part of a much larger conversation that needs to happen,” the actor, 27, told The […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Reveals She Can Read, Speak Hebrew

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Reveals She Can Read, Speak Hebrew

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas knows how to read and speak “a little” Hebrew, she revealed in the Aug. 15 issue of Us Weekly. The 20-year-old gymnast, who told the magazine that her favorite book is the Bible, was featured in a spread about the USA gymnastics team — which was awarded the gold medal in the women’s all-around finals at the Olympics in Rio on Aug. 9. In her 2012 memoir, In Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith, Douglas wrote that her […]

    Read more →
  • Features Ben-Gurion University Institute Tackles Water Shortages, Hygiene in Developing Countries

    Ben-Gurion University Institute Tackles Water Shortages, Hygiene in Developing Countries

    JNS.org – Israeli water experts believe that by 2050, almost half of the world’s population will live in countries with a chronic water shortage. What’s causing the shortfall is population growth, which leads to a greater demand for food, increased pollution and climate instability, according to Prof. Noam Weisbrod, director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) in the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. In Israel’s Negev Desert, which has long been plagued […]

    Read more →