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...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.