Tu b’Shvat - A Fruity Celebration
With Tu B'Shvat here, a lot of the Jewish food stores have tons of dried fruits out for sale, especially fruits of the seven species of Israel. The seven species are: wheat, barley, grapes/raisins, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. The 15th of Shevat comes out this year on Monday, 9 February. It's the day that is referred to as the "Rosh Hashana for the Trees". On this day, G-d decrees what will be with our produce, our trees. There is also a widely accepted custom to pray for a beautiful etrog for oneself for the coming year – we’re already thinking ahead to Succot!
Here are a few recipe ideas that keep our fruity theme, as well as some of the seven species of Eretz Yisroel, in mind. A few salads, a nice dessert…
Enjoy and have a nice Tu B'shvat!
Tamar Ansh is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist. Her articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide. She has published 4 books so far which include: Splitting the Sea (Targum Press), inspirational stories on finding one’s soul-mate; Let's Say Amen!, an illustrated children's book about the holiness of Amen (Feldheim Publishers); her first cookbook, A Taste of Tradition (Feldheim Publishers) which is both gluten free and kosher for Passover. Her most recent book is called A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers, 2007). It is a photographic guide to baking and shaping beautiful challahs, and includes many other healthy and interesting bread types as well. Visit www.TasteofChallah.com to see all her books online, as well as other, not yet published, challah and bread recipes. She will be coming on a short book tour and speaking in two different places in the Tri-State area the week of March 4-9th! See her website for details and locations.
Barley and Raisin Salad
Serves about 6
This recipe includes two of the seven species, barley (seorah) and raisins (gefen). It is so quick and easy to do and people really enjoy it. It has great health benefits as well, being low in sugar and fat, and full of healthy grain.
1 cup barley, cooked up with 2 & ½ cups of water until it is soft and edible, about 45 minutes to one hour.
Rinse off and drain the barley. Then add to it:
½ cup golden raisins
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 Tbls. light brown sugar
2 Tbls. olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. parsley flakes
optional: ¼ cup blanched, slivered almonds
Toss and mix all ingredients together. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Bulgur Wheat Salad
I make this salad very frequently, especially for a Shabbat day meal, as an alternative to potato salad or pasta salad. Here you also have another one of the seven species, wheat, "chittah".
1 & 1/2 cups finely cracked wheat, known as bulgur
2 & 1/2 cups boiling hot water
2 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup craisins or raisins or a mix of both
6 dried apricots, diced
6 dried dates, diced
1/4 cup corn, drained
1/2 small red pepper, diced
Small amount of fresh dill, chopped
Place the bulgur in a plastic bowl or container. Pour the boiling hot water over it and close the container or cover the bowl with a plate to allow the heat and steam of the water to absorb into the bulgur. About 30 minutes later, uncover the by now cooked bulgur and fluff it up a bit with a fork. Add in the olive oil, salt, and lemon juice and toss it together.
Prepare all the rest of the dried fruits and ingredients and add them into the bulgur. Toss it together and refrigerate until serving. Toss again before serving.
Laced Citrus and Dried Fruit Salad
A fruit salad that can actually be made in advance.
Important NOTE: The dressing in this salad does contain alcohol, so please be careful when serving women who are expecting or small children.
Choose a variety of citrus fruits such as pink and white grapefruits, a palmello, and several oranges. Peel each one, and then rinse them off to get whatever dirt or bugs may have been on the peels of the fruit and off of your fingers. Remove as much of the white part of the peel as possible. Using a sharp knife, cut the citrus fruits into small square pieces. Place pieces, together with all their healthy juices, into a large bowl.
1/2 cup sweet red wine
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
Pinch of nutmeg, optional
Mix this together and pour it over the citrus fruits in the bowl. Cover the bowl and let it marinate for a few hours.
Before serving, scrub off the outside of two nice looking oranges. Slice the oranges into rounds, with the peel on. Set this aside.
Add in to the salad:
Both colors of raisins
Toss it all together.
To serve, place one orange ring into each small serving dish. Scoop some of the fruit salad into a heap onto the orange ring. Drizzle some of the juices from the salad over it. Top each serving with a bit of shredded coconut, and serve.
Fruit-and-Nut Glazed Brownies
These brownies are not very difficult to make, but their beautiful presentation makes them look really fun and appetizing...
Yield: one 9x13 tray
2 cups sugar
1½ cups flour
¾ cup oil
¾ cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Beat everything together, except the nuts, until smooth. Add in the nuts and stir with a spatula to incorporate.
Bake in a 9x13 pan for 20-25 minutes until it is done on the edges and the middle is no longer sticky. The dough will remain moist, but you want to ensure that they are not still raw in the center. If it is mushy in the middle, bake it another 5-8 minutes, until the center firms up but is still moist.
1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons oil
Mix these ingredients together in a small bowl with a spoon. If it is too thick to spread, add another drop or two of hot water. If it’s too runny, add a bit more powdered sugar. When it is close to the consistency of a thin spread, spread it immediately over the brownies. Then cut into squares and freeze until you need them.
To present these, defrost about 30 minutes prior to serving. Place each brownie in a paper muffin cup. Top each square with one fruit candy or piece of dried fruit.