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Tu BiShvat Recipes

On Jewish Arbor Day, a.k.a. Tu BiShvat, it’s customary to eat the fruits and nuts that grow on trees in Israel. The holiday’s seven species (sheva minim) are wheat, barley, grapes (wine), figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration, since almond trees are the first ones to flower in Israel at the time of the holiday.

Sangria de Curaçao

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is unique for sangria since it has a minimal amount of fruit juice added to the wine. However, the cinnamon-scented syrup, plus the limes and nutmeg, highlight the versatility of wine and the resulting beverage is very refreshing.

On Tu Bishvat, it is customary to eat foods containing the seven species and to bless them. These are grapes and wine, wheat, barley, figs, pomegranates, dates, and olives. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration, as they are the first tree to flower in Israel at that time of year.

Ingredients: 
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
One 750-ml bottle red wine (Shiraz, Zinfandel, or Burgundy)
2–3 limes
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Directions: 
  1. Combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a 1-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat for 5 minutes or until the bubbles get larger and slower. Remove from the heat and cool until room temperature.
  2. Remove the zest from two of the limes in long thin strips. Cut away all of the white pith and peel, and discard.
  3. In a large pitcher, combine the sugar mixture, wine, two peeled whole limes, zest, and nutmeg. Let it steep, covered, for a number of hours or overnight.
  4. To serve, remove the limes, and add 1 cup hot water and the juice from one of the limes. Taste and add more lime juice if necessary (this will depend on the fruitiness of the wine you use).
  5. Serve in 4- to 6-ounce glasses.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • If you prefer a more Spanish variation, oranges may be used instead of the limes.
  • Boiling sugar and water puts the sugar into solution, and it will stay that way, refrigerated, for months. This is called a simple syrup.
  • Simple syrups are used in liquid recipes because they distribute throughout the beverage and do not make the drink grainy.

Marinated Olives

By: 
Tina Wasserman

Olives and oranges are often combined in foods of the Mediterranean. Here the ingredients almost call out their location as foods of Morocco and Spain are joined to create a great nibble at cocktail parties, as a part of a meze or tapas assortment.

On Tu Bishvat it is customary to eat foods containing the seven species and to bless them. These are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, and olives. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration, as they are the first tree to flower in Israel at that time of year.

Ingredients: 
8 ounces garlic-stuffed green olives, drained
1 medium orange
1 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely snipped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón de la Vera) or sweet paprika
1–2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish or Italian
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Place drained olives in a 1-quart glass bowl.
  2. Remove the zest, or peel, from the oranges with a zester, creating long thin strands. Add to the olives.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to coat olives well. If olives appear too dry, add 1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice to the mixture.
  4. Return olives to their original container and chill, preferably overnight.
  5. Serve as part of a mixed platter of mezes with wine and cheese.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • In general, I prefer the fine, featherlight shards of orange peel (or zest) that you get from using a rasplike grater. However, in this recipe the zest is used for color and variety of shape in addition to being a flavor enhancement.
  • A zester is a 5-inch tool with a slightly curved metal head that has five or six holes at the top that create strands of citrus peel when scraped along the fruit.
  •  If garlic-stuffed olives are not available, pitted olives may be substituted, with 2 large, finely diced cloves of garlic added to the mix.

Deluxe Buckwheat Almond Cake with Raspberry Filling

This moist almond cake has a delicate nut flavor that pairs perfectly with the raspberry preserve filling. Despite its name, buckwheat is not wheat. Kasha comes from the buckwheat plant, which belongs to the same family as rhubarb. Though it looks and cooks like a grain, it's actually the seed of a fruit. After roasting, buckwheat is called kasha. 

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups skin-on sliced almonds
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light buckwheat flour
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
10- inch round paper lace doily
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Directions: 
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Oil bottom of 9 x 1-1/2 inch round cake pan and line with waxed paper. Finely grind almonds in food processor, blender or nut-chopper.
  • In large bowl, cream butter and 6 tablespoons sugar. Beat in yolks, one at a time. Stir in vanilla and almonds.
  • In medium bowl, beat egg whites and salt to soft peaks; gradually add remaining sugar, beating until soft, glossy peaks form. Lightly fold 1/4 beaten whites into batter. Sift 1/4 flour over batter; combine lightly. Alternately add remaining whites and flour in this manner.
  • Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on rack 10 minutes; remove from pan.
  • When cool, slice horizontally into 2 layers. Place bottom layer, cut side up, on plate; spread with preserves. Top with remaining layer, cut side down. Place doily on top; sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar; remove doily.

     

Wake-Up Chocolate Fruit Kicks

By: 
Deborah R. Prinz

These energizing chocolate chunks have a kick to them! Enjoy some on a hike, or on Tu BiSh'vat as you plant a tree or host a Tu BiSh'vat Seder. These chocolate-coated, dried fruit chunks celebrate the seven species of the land of Israel – two grains and five fruits. This recipe uses six of those foods. Hiker Steve Rock concocted these easy-to-make, healthy treats for starting the day in the outdoors. He cautions that they'll “kick you down the trail a bit.” 

 

Ingredients: 
1 pound dark chocolate, chips or broken into pieces
1 cup almonds
1⁄2 cup raisins, dates, figs, pomegranate, and/or other dried fruit
1⁄8 cup coffee beans
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, to taste
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Wheat cereal, barley cereal, granola, oatmeal, or other cereal (optional)
Directions: 
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or waxed paper. Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat.
  • In a food processor with the chop blade, combine the almonds, raisins, coffee beans, and cayenne. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  • Stir the cocoa into the melted chocolate. Once the mixture is even and getting stiff, add the chopped nuts and fruits; keep stirring. Taste to check the spice level.
  • If the mixture is too moist and sticky, add more nuts, granola, or chopped cereal, or wait until firm enough to handle. [Note: Cooling in the refrigerator will firm the mixture faster.]
  • Roll the mixture into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cool completely. Dust with cocoa powder or roll in cocoa nibs. Remove from the baking sheet and store in a covered container.

Yield: Approximately 20 chunks


 

Reprinted with permission from On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao (2nd Edition) by Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz.

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz speaks about chocolate and Jews around the world. The newly released 2nd Edition of her book, On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao, (Jewish Lights) contains 25 historical and contemporary recipes. She blogs at The Forward, The Huffington Post and onthechocolatetrail.org. The book is used in adult study, classroom settings, book clubs and chocolate tastings.

Vegetarian Mushroom Barley Soup

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entrée to Judaism for Families, filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

How long have Jewish people been eating mushrooms? A long time! Mushrooms were mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (N’darim 55B), and wild mushrooms were in such abundance in ancient Israel during the rainy season that discussions arose about putting a tax on them. In later generations, mushrooms were especially important to poor Ashkenazic Jews. They were easily found in the forests, and since spices were expensive, their flavor, especially when dried, was a boost to a relatively bland diet.

One favorite dish of the Ashkenazim that survived the move from the shtetl to North America was the hearty mushroom-potato-barley soup called krupnick. In Europe, krupnick was mostly starchy potatoes seasoned with a little meat and mushroom. Today, rich flanken meat is added in large strips, and mushrooms become the major flavoring ingredient. Potatoes are often replaced by lima beans as well.

Moving with the times, I have taken the delicious beef-based mushroom barley soup from my first book and created a vegetarian version that is just as rich and delicious, and probably more like the original krupnick!

The secret to the thickness of this soup is the lima beans. They are peeled and therefore disintegrate into the stock when fully cooked. Don’t panic—they peel very easily when properly soaked and children love to pop them out of their skins.

Ingredients: 
1¼ cups dried large lima beans
1 ounce (¾ cup loosely packed) dried imported mushrooms, preferably porcini
2 quarts water or packaged vegetable or mushroom broth
1 mushroom bouillon cube (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
8 ounces white mushrooms, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 carrot, diced
½ cup medium pearl barley
Directions: 
  1. Cover the lima beans in a 2-quart glass bowl with 1 inch of water. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, and then let them soak for 1 or more hours or until the skins easily slide off.
  2. Place dried mushrooms in a 1-quart glass bowl and cover with water. Microwave for 2 minutes, and let them sit in the water while you peel the lima beans.
  3. Meanwhile, remove the skins from the lima beans by gently squeezing on one end; the bean will just slide out. Place beans in a 4-quart pot.
  4. Carefully lift the mushrooms out of the water, and gently squeeze them over the bowl. Save the juices. Chop the soaked mushrooms and set aside.
  5. Add the water or broth and the chopped, soaked mushrooms to the lima beans in the pot. Strain the mushroom liquid into the pot as well.
  6. Heat a 10-inch frying pan for 20 seconds. Add the oil and heat for 10 seconds. Add the diced onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the celery and fresh mushrooms to the pan and cook until wilted and translucent. Add this mixture to the soup pot along with the diced carrot, and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally so that the beans do not stick to the pot.
  9. Add the barley and cook for ½ hour to 1 hour longer or until the barley is tender and the lima beans disappear. Check the seasoning. Add more broth if the soup is too thick (it will thicken even more when cool).

Kitchen Conversations

Mushroom barley soup is a good example of making the most of simple, inexpensive ingredients. Such recipes are often our favorite comfort foods.

  • What’s your favorite comfort food?
  • Why?
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • To keep a child’s attention and for safety reasons, do steps 1 and 2 before you start the recipe with a young child. Older children can work a recipe in stages, but younger ones work in the present. This is where “soak overnight” is a good step to take!
  • If you own a pressure cooker, lima beans can be cooked for 15 minutes on low setting, and then they will be ready to peel.
  • Do not make the mistake of buying small lima beans. It will take you forever to peel them!
  • Olive oil mimics the taste of traditional goose fat, and sautéing the vegetables addsdepth to the flavor of this soup.

Chocolate Chip Mystery Mandelbrot

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's book, Entree to Judaism for Families filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

Mandelbrot means “almond bread” in Yiddish, but its origins are the biscotti cookies that were created in Italy more than 700 years ago. These biscotti originally contained no fat or sugar and were baked twice so that they would be very hard and dry and last for months on ships at sea. Biscotti recipes traveled north to Germany, where they became very popular with the Jewish community because they could be made in advance of Shabbat and stay fresh for days.

Around the early 1900s, oil or butter was added to the dough along with different nuts, dried fruit, or chocolate chips, and our modern mandelbrot was created. During the Depression and World War II, butter and cooking oil were expensive and hard to come by, so mayonnaise was often used in their place. Mayonnaise is the secret ingredient in these mystery mandelbrot.

Hellmann’s mayonnaise was created by Nina Hellmann in 1905 to use on sandwiches and for sale in her German husband’s deli in New York City. Perhaps the Hellmanns were Jewish? Who knows, but Hellmann’s mayonnaise makes these cookies delicious!

The almond tree is the first tree to bloom in Israel in the early spring, making this recipe perfect for Tu BiShvat.

Ingredients: 
1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, regular or mini variety
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon in a 3-quart mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Divide the dough in half and form into 2 long, narrow loaves on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and cool 5 minutes.
  5. Carefully transfer one loaf to a cutting board. Using a chef ’s knife, slice the loaf on the diagonal into ½-inch slices. Lay the slices cut side down on the cookie sheet, and repeat with the other loaf. Return the cookie sheet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, turn the slices over, and return to the oven to bake for another 5 minutes or until golden. Cool completely before storing in sealed container.

Kitchen Conversations

Look at the label on the jar of mayonnaise and read the list of ingredients. Discuss why it makes the cookies taste so good and light. What other recipes could use mayonnaise instead of oil?

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • This recipe is perfect for children of all ages because no electrical equipment is necessary and the dough is easy to work with.
  • An adult should transfer the hot loaves to a cutting board, but after 5 minutes, supervised children can use a chef’s knife to cut the dough into slices
  • Only children over the age of seven or eight should be allowed to turn the hot slices over, because the cookie sheet is very hot.

Bread Kugel with Dried Fruit and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

By: 
Tina Wasserman

This recipe - perfect for using as a stuffing for your Thanksgiving meal  - is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entree to Judaism for Families filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

The first bread kugels made eight hundred years ago probably didn’t have more than a few raisins in them. They definitely didn’t have sun-dried tomatoes, since tomatoes were first brought to Europe from the Americas in the sixteenth century! This recipe combines many of the flavors and foods found in Spain and Portugal (the home of Sephardic Jews) with the classic technique for making a bread kugel.

Ingredients: 
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for greasing the pan
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup chopped mixed dried fruit (apples, prunes, pears, apricots, or any of your other favorites)
½ cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 cup apricot nectar
¼ cup Madeira (optional; add more apricot nectar if not using)
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
½ cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1 loaf of white bread or challah with crust, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 7 cups)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon crushed rosemary
½ teaspoon sage
¼ teaspoon marjoram
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher salt and 10 grindings of pepper to taste
1½ cups chicken broth, warm or at room temperature
1 egg
Directions: 
  1. Sauté the onion in the olive oil until lightly golden. Add the celery and mushrooms, and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and have given up their juices. Set aside.
  2. Grease a 2-quart casserole or 11½ x 8-inch pan with some additional olive oil.
  3. Combine the chopped dried fruit, dried cranberries, apricot nectar, and Madeira in a small glass bowl, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, almonds, and bread cubes in a 4-quart bowl.
  5. Mix the seasonings with the chicken broth and egg. Set aside.
  6. Add the onion mixture and the dried fruit/juice mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes and toss.
  7. Add the broth and egg mixture, and stir until the mixture is very moist and almost runny. If necessary, add a little more broth or nectar.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole, and bake at 350°F for 30–40 minutes.

Note

The casserole can be baked for the first 25 minutes covered with foil, shiny side up. Then remove the foil for the remainder of the cooking time. This will give you a very soft stuffing.

Kitchen Conversations

  • Do you think the Jews of Eastern Europe would use apricots and other dried fruits or apples,pears, and raisins? Why? 
  • Using popular, modern ingredients such as Madeira and sun-dried tomatoes along with dried cranberries in this classic form of kugel shows how recipes change over time with access to new and/or different available ingredients. Are there any family recipes that your relatives have changed because they couldn’t find a certain ingredient or because they liked one food more than another?
  • How would you change this recipe to include ingredients you like that are available where you live?
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients. Each step can be worked on independently over the course of the day, covered, and then all combined before baking.
  • Cream sherry or additional apricot nectar can be substituted for the Madeira if you prefer.
  • Eliminating the sun-dried tomatoes reduces saltiness, so adjust the seasonings accordingly if you don’t include them.
  • You may substitute 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning mix for the individual herbs if you prefer.

Date-Fig Bars

By: 
Rabbi Phyllis Sommer

This recipe is adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion's recipe for Bakery Date Squares. The original called for only dates and had a variant filling recipe using figs and orange juice; this version mixes up dates and figs for that Tu BiShvat flavor!

Ingredients: 
Filling
3 cups of chopped dates and figs
1 cup of water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
Crust
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Directions: 

Filling

  1. In a saucepan, combine the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 5 minutes. The mixture will thicken after a few minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. I ran the immersion blender through it to give it a nice smooth texture and let it sit for a while.

Crust

  1. Whisk together the dry ingredients (except the nuts) and then add the melted butter. Stir until well combined.
  2. Lightly grease a 9x9 inch pan and press 2 1/2 cups of the crust mixture into the pan, smoothing it out to fill the bottom with no gaps.
  3. Spread the filling on the crust. Add the nuts to the remaining crust mixture and sprinkle it over the filling.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden brown. Let cool before cutting.

 

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