Secrets For a Simply Delicious Purim Seuda
Preparing for a Purim Seuda is always a challenge, especially when you’re preparing for a large crowd. So many people, so little time! I received the following request a few days ago from one of our readers: “I have taken it upon myself to make a Purim Seuda for 40 people BE"H. I’ve never done that before. Any suggestions for a great Seuda - things that taste great, look fantastic and take the minimum amount of time to prepare? I'd appreciate your reply.”
My approach to entertaining for a crowd is to choose recipes that are simple to prepare, multiply easily and are good hot, cold or at room temperature. You can cook many dishes ahead and freeze them successfully – sweet and sour meatballs, roast chicken, brisket and kugels are always great choices. A selection of assorted vegetable, grain and/or bean salads can round out the menu. One of my friends prepares soup in her crockpot and lets her guests help themselves. It can be made in advance and will stay in the refrigerator for a few days or can be frozen.
Baked goods can be made in advance if you have time and can be frozen until needed – they thaw very quickly. And don’t feel guilty - it’s okay to supplement with bought items. You can buy prepared spreads such as hummus, babaganoush and other Middle Eastern items that are available in most supermarkets and serve them with baby carrots, pepper strips, cucumber slices and pita wedges. If you have friends who are willing to help out and bring a dish, don’t be shy - say yes!
Let’s face it. We’re busy moms or harried working mothers and our time is precious. When it comes to cooking, there's a lot that we want. We want easy, foolproof recipes that we can whip up in a hurry. We want to serve healthy food that will nourish our families. We want delicious dishes that will fast become family favorites. It’s a tall order — what’s a balebusta to do?
You can imagine how delighted I was to receive a copy of Sara Finkel's latest cookbook, Classic Kosher Cooking: Simply Delicious (Targum Press). In this magnificent second volume of her acclaimed Classic Kosher series, Sara Finkel combines her vast culinary knowledge with years of know-how to create a tantalizing collection of classic and contemporary recipes that you’ll use time and again.
With easy techniques, basic kitchen equipment, and ingredients you're bound to have in your pantry, Mrs. Finkel shows how to create gastronomic delights in a flash. Her recipes are not exotic concoctions with expensive and hard-to-find foodstuffs — they’re gourmet recipes that are simple to make, and most importantly, simply delicious. Here is an excerpt from her book Simply Kosher with an explanation of Purim as well as some of her favorite recipes for your Seuda. Enjoy!
The preparation of a variety of foods plays an important role in the joyous holiday of Purim. The Purim seudah begins in the afternoon of the holiday and lasts until well after sunset. This seudas mitzvah commemorates the feast that Queen Esther prepared, that resulted in the salvation of the Jewish people and prevented their annihilation by the wicked Haman.
On Purim, costumed children can be seen throughout the streets carrying gifts of food, mishloach manos, to friends and neighbors, in order to express the brotherly love engendered by Queen Esther and Mordechai HaTzaddik amongst the Jewish people of Shushan. To fulfill the mitzvah of mishloach manos, one must send two kinds of ready-to-eat foods to at least one friend.
Another important mitzvah of the day is matanos l’evyonim, gifts to the poor. This mitzvah is fulfilled by giving a gift of money to two needy people.
Purim is a chag when the balebusta can go all-out in preparing her favorite dishes and various kinds of foods to enhance this joyous festival. If you prepare something homemade to put in your mishloach manos, it would be an extra bonus to include the recipe as well. Whichever way you do it, the most important thing is to experience the joy of giving — the joy of Purim.”
Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author, cooking teacher and food consultant based in Toronto, Canada. Her latest book is NORENE’S HEALTHY KITCHEN: Eat YOUR Way to Good Health (Whitecap). For information about her cookbooks, cooking demonstrations and culinary services, call 416-226-2466 or visit her website at http://www.gourmania.com
CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP
This recipe is made with fresh mushrooms, which always add a touch of class to your menu.
2 large onions, diced
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1–2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons flour
2–3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon mushroom soup mix, optional
1/2 cup pareve or regular cream
In a soup pot sauté onions in oil until transparent. Add mushrooms and cook additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. In a small bowl or cup dissolve the flour in cold water until smooth. Pour into simmering mixture. Add mushroom soup mix if desired. Cook an additional 5–7 minutes. Remove bay leaves and stir in the cream.
RED CABBAGE SALAD
With cubes of fresh mango - a real favorite!
1 16-ounce bag shredded red cabbage
1 mango, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 red onion, diced
1/3 cup slivered almonds
6 tablespoons vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper, to taste
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
In a salad bowl, combine red cabbage, mango, onion, and slivered almonds. In a separate bowl combine vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and sugar, and pour over the vegetables. Toss together well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve chilled.
* Add a handful of dried cranberries instead of mango.
* Add 3 ounces sugared almonds and ¾ cup toasted angel-hair pasta.
* Omit the mango, sesame seeds, and sliced almonds.
ROAST BEEF WITH DELICIOUS SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE
Roast beef with a delicious flavor — you’ll get raves every time you serve it.
3 cloves garlic, chopped, or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 6-pound roast beef
1 cup brown or white sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup raisins, optional
1 1/2 cups water
Combine garlic and pepper and rub into meat. Let stand 2 hours or refrigerate overnight. Place meat in a roasting pan. Combine sugar, ketchup, raisins, and water and pour over meat. Cover and bake in a preheated 400 F oven for 40 minutes. Lower heat to 350 F and continue roasting until meat is tender, approximately 3 more hours. Add a little more water while roasting, if necessary. Baste with the sauce 2 or 3 times. Remove cover for last half hour of roasting.
YOM TOV CHICKEN
A special dish with all sweet ingredients to enhance your Yom Tov. Adapted from a Russian immigrant chef.
2 3 1/2-pound chickens, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons sugar
2 cups water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
6–8 prunes, pitted
6 dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
Place chicken in a baking pan and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat oil and stir in 2 tablespoons sugar to caramelize. As soon as sugar becomes light brown, stir in water. Add crushed garlic, salt, and pepper. Add another 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Bring to a boil. Dissolve cornstarch in a few tablespoons of cold water and stir into simmering mixture. Add dried fruits and pineapple. Cook for 20 minutes. Pour this sauce over prebaked chicken and bake an additional 45–50 minutes until tender.
A delicious pareve side dish that can be made with or without the cornflake crust. Broccoli is a high-fiber vegetable that is a good source of both potassium and vitamin A.
1 cup cornflakes, crushed
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons margarine
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 small onion, diced
4 eggs, beaten well
salt and pepper, to taste
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
Combine all crust ingredients and spread in a greased 8- or 9-inch round baking pan. Heat oil in a skillet and stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add water and cook on a low heat for 1 minute, stirring until thickened. Remove from heat and combine with mayonnaise, onion, eggs, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Fold in the cooked chopped broccoli. Pour broccoli mixture into crust. Bake in a 350 F oven for 50 minutes.
ALMOND CRUMB TOPPED ICE CREAM
An excellent choice for a special occasion, this ice cream looks beautiful when served in individual squares with strawberries on the side.
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 8-ounce cartons whipped topping
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla pudding mix
Almond Crumb Topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup cornflakes, crushed
3/4 cup ground almonds
Beat egg whites, gradually adding sugar, until stiff. In another bowl, beat yolks well, then fold in egg whites and sugar. Whip the dessert topping and fold into mixture. Remove half of ice cream mixture and refrigerate. Stir instant coffee into the other half of mixture and spread evenly in a rectangular container. Place in freezer for 2 hours or until firm.
Meanwhile prepare crumbs: Place sugar into a skillet and heat on low, stirring occasionally, until brown. Pour onto aluminum foil and let rest a moment or two until hardened. Put into food processor with blade, together with the cornflakes and almonds, and process until crumbed. Sprinkle half of crumb mixture on top of frozen layer of ice cream. Fold instant vanilla pudding mix into second half of ice cream mixture, and spread evenly over frozen layer. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top of second layer. Freeze until firm.
Hamantaschen (literally, “Haman’s Pockets”) are an age-old pastry that remind us of the Purim miracle. Sara’s family makes this recipe year after year on Purim and it consistently yields fantastic results.
1/2 cup margarine
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour (part whole wheat flour may be used)
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
Cream together margarine, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in eggs. Blend in flour, baking powder, and salt. Divide dough in half and place in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for a few hours. When ready to bake, roll each half of dough to ⅛-inch thickness. With a 3-inch cookie cutter, or the rim of a water glass, cut out circles of dough. Alternatively, cut into 2½ inch squares. Place a teaspoonful of filling in center of each circle. Pinch the edges tightly together, forming a triangle. Leave a little of the filling showing in the center. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 15–20 minutes until golden brown.
Yield: about 2 dozen Hamantaschen.
POPPY SEED FILLING
1 cup ground poppy seeds
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup raisins
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon oil
Combine all ingredients and spoon onto dough circles.
1/4 cup margarine or oil
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cups chopped dates
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
grated rind of 1 lemon
Melt margarine over a low flame (or heat oil) and stir in sugar and dates. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cinnamon, ginger, and grated lemon rind and mix well. Spoon onto dough circles.