Each person has their own special memories of Sukkot, but one of the most beautiful memories I’ve ever heard was shared by my assistant Shelley Sefton. The first time she met her husband Daniel’s parents was on the first night of Sukkot.
After dinner, Daniel asked his mother for her opinion of Shelley. His mother replied that a relationship should always go through the four seasons to be certain that it would stand the test of time. Marlene Sefton wisely advised her son, “If you can go through all the four seasons together, that will be a true test of your feelings for each other.”
A year later, a nervous, shivering Daniel sat in the sukkah, surrounded by his family, with the stars twinkling in the sky above and a special twinkle in his eyes. He bolstered his spirits with some wine, then romantically proposed to Shelley over dessert. She accepted his sweet offer and everyone was absolutely thrilled, especially Daniel.
Shelley doesn’t remember much about what was served for dinner that night. All she remembers is that the steaming soup was brought out bowl by bowl. She says that was probably because she was bowled over with emotion. Love and lulav in the Sukkah!
Seven years and two children later, Sukkot stills brings special memories to Shelley, Daniel and their families. Now their two young children, Sabrina and Max, help participate in decorating the sukkah with pictures and decorations they made in nursery school.
The last few months have been especially difficult for Shelley’s family. Her mother, Daphne, passed away last winter, so this will be the first year that Shelley will be celebrating Sukkot without her mother. Once again, Shelley is “going through the four seasons,” remembering treasured moments with her mother.
As a tribute to her mother’s memory, here is the recipe for Daphne’s Ginger Biscuits from Shelley’s recipe files. I’m also including one of my heartwarming soups, which is one of Shelley’s favorites and is perfect to serve in the sukkah. We hope the soup will “bowl you over” and that her mother’s fragrant, delicious cookies will become a special tradition for your family too! Enjoy!
Norene’s Broccoli and Sweet Potato Soup
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon canola oil
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 bunch broccoli (about 4 cups, cut up)
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut up
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut up
- 7 cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil or dill, chopped
- 1 cup skim milk, soy milk or water
- 1 tsp. tub margarine or butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large soup pot, saute onions and celery in oil for 5-7 minutes, until softened. If necessary, add a little water to prevent burning. Add carrots. Cook 3 to 4 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
- Add broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes and broth. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Add parsley and basil. Puree part or all of the soup. Add milk and margarine. Season to taste.
Reheats and/or freezes well.
126 calories per serving, 2,9 g fat, (0,3 g saturated), trace cholesterol, 5 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 753 mg sodium, 416 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 4 g fibre, 75 mg calcium.
Source: Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz
Daphne’s Ginger Biscuits
Yields about 3 dozen
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk (save white for brushing on top)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 level teaspoon baking soda
- 1 heaping tsp. baking powder (about 1½ teaspoons)
- 2 oz. butter or margarine, melted (¼ cup)
- 1½ to 2 cups flour
- ½ to 2/3 cup thick apricot jam
- ½ cup raisins
- Sugar for sprinkling
- In a large bowl, whisk egg, egg yolk and sugar together.
- Add all of the other ingredients except the flour.
- Gradually add flour a little at a time, until mixture is not “tacky” and is ready to roll out. Divide in half.
- Roll out half of dough on a well-floured surface to form a rectangle about 6 x 12 inches. Spread with half the jam and raisins. Fold the long sides of dough over and shape into a long roll, flouring your hands for easier handling. Transfer rolls to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with reserved egg white and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, jam and raisins.
- Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven about 20 minutes, until golden.
- Cut into diagonal pieces and cool on racks.
Jamie Stolper is one of my favorite “pan pals.” Although we’ve never met in person, we are connected through a culinary cord that stretches between Boston and Toronto!
In the summer of 2000 Jamie started ShalomBoston.com with her brother. The website is now run by Jamie, with help from Julie Weisman and webmaster Adam Grossman. Jamie knew from the beginning that she wanted to have a food page as she loves to cook and read about recipes and menus. She got caught up in the excitement of the project and now does just about everything for the website except for the technical part.
After putting some of her recipes on her website, she thought it would be appealing to visitors to the site to also see recipes from better-known cooks, so she started to ask a few cookbook authors for contributions. Since Jamie had two of my cookbooks, she contacted me and asked for permission to use some of my recipes on the website. I agreed, and so our special friendship began.
For Sukkot, I asked Jamie to share some of her favorite recipes and she graciously agreed. Her recommendations included Meat Rolled in Cabbage and Sweet and Sour Meatballs. Both dishes are great to prepare in advance and serve outside in the sukkah or inside, to the family or a crowd.
For more terrific recipes, visit ShalomBoston.com, where you’ll also find Jamie’s special recipe for Kreplach that she created as a tribute to her grandmother and her husband’s grandmother, who were kreplach experts. Jamie makes them for the high holidays and also likes to freeze some for Sukkot.
A few days before Rosh Hashanah, Jamie was in the middle of making a triple batch of her Sweet and Sour Meatballs when she got the news that an uncle had passed away. After calling her family with the sad news, she continued making her meatballs, hoping to keep her mind occupied. Jamie says “Food can indeed be a balm for the soul.”
SWEET AND SOUR MEATBALLS
Jamie’s Notes: These meatballs are especially appropriate for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize the sweet “happy occasions” and the sour “not so happy occasions” that every new year brings. They are also excellent for Sukkot. Serve them on white rice with a salad and fresh thick slices of bread to sop up the sauce. Or, make them in a smaller size and serve as an appetizer.
These meatballs are very easy to make, the only time-consuming part being the forming of the small balls. They will disappear quickly – there always seems to be room for one more. Make at least a double batch and, if you have any leftovers, freeze them for a future meal.
- 1 lb. hamburger meat
- 1 egg
- 1 small onion, grated
- ½ cup tomato juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Dash of black pepper
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs or corn flakes
- 16 oz. tomato sauce
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 cups water
- Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl. Form balls in any size desired. Fry or broil to brown. (If broiling, turn once to brown on all sides.)
- Bring sauce ingredients to a boil. Add meatballs and simmer slowly, uncovered, 1 to 1½ hours (depending on size), for the flavors to blend.
Serve immediately, refrigerate for 2 to 3 days, or cool and freeze.
Source: Vivienne Kalman (Jamie Stolper’s mother)
Meat Rolled in Cabbage
Makes 30 to 32 small rolls (which will go very quickly!)
Jamie’s Notes: When my colleague suggested a recipe for stuffed cabbage, I immediately agreed, as stuffed cabbage is a traditional Jewish dish often served during Sukkot. It is much-loved, but suffers from the misconception that it is hard to make, and thus is not served very often, except by those for whom traditional Jewish foods reign supreme, never to be supplanted by more modern options, such as turkey breast and poached salmon.
Stuffed cabbage can be made in advance, in fact, should be made in advance, as its flavor is enhanced with some time spent in the refrigerator or freezer. That makes it a wonderful, easy dish for entertaining, whether in the Sukkah or in your own dining room any time of year.
Julie’s Auntie Barbara makes a mean stuffed cabbage, or meat rolled in cabbage as she refers to it. Auntie Barbara is of the school of cooks who don’t usually use written recipes for their traditional dishes, but rather go by habit and taste and feel, and improvise based on what ingredients are on hand and how much time there is to get the job done.
This recipe, I have found, is very forgiving. I had trouble peeling the cabbage leaves intact, I used dark brown sugar instead of granulated light brown sugar, I threw in some grated onion, and I guessed at the amounts of salt, pepper, sugar, and raisins. The result was still delicious. When the finished product came out of the oven, never mind that it was 10:30 in the morning, Julie and I decided we were in dire need of a taste test.
- 2½ lbs. ground beef
- 2 large heads of cabbage (about 30 large leaves)
- (Hint: Freeze cabbage for a few hours, then let defrost overnight or soak in hot water before using; the leaves peel off easier.)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Grated onion (optional)
- Large handful of long grain rice (not Minute Rice), uncooked.(about½ cup)
- 1 large onion, diced
- ½ cup water
- 2 cans condensed tomato soup
- 2 large serving spoons of granulated light brown sugar (to taste)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- About 10 ginger snaps, crushed
- 1 carrot, cut up
- Handful of raisins (optional)
You will need a large pot for boiling the cabbage leaves, a pressure cooker or a large casserole, and a large roasting pan for baking the cabbage rolls.
- Peel leaves off the cabbage heads, parboil for 10 to 15 minutes until soft, and set on clean dish towels to drain and cool.
- Thoroughly mix the meat, rice, salt, pepper, and grated onion if desired.
- Put a “good” tablespoon of meat in each leaf at the base of the rib. Fold over the meat, fold the sides in to the center, and roll up the leaf.
- Dice the large onion, and place in the bottom of a pressure cooker. Add ½ cup water and the cabbage rolls. Bring to pressure and cook with regulator shaking gently for 40 minutes. If you are not using a pressure cooker, cook the rolls with the onion and water on the stove, in a tightly covered casserole, on low heat for two hours.
- Put the cooked rolls in a single layer in a roasting pan.
- Mix up the tomato soup, the brown sugar, and the lemon juice. Add the crushed ginger snaps and carrot and the raisins, if desired. You may also add some of the cooking liquid from the pressure cooker or casserole (no onions) if you want a more liquid sauce.
- Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes. Check periodically to see if basting is necessary.
- Cool the rolls and refrigerate or freeze. If freezing, defrost and add a little water before reheating.
Source: Julie Weisman’s Auntie Barbara (Barbara Lapp)
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.