Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom – and Chag Sameach, once again! This year, immediately following Sukkot comes the two-day festival of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, followed by Shabbat. The three-day holiday celebration will once again be filled with delicious meals shared together with family and friends.
So, what kinds of foods do we eat on Simchat Torah? Food writer Tori Avey explains: “There are not many traditional Simchat Torah foods, but one popular ingredient for Simchat Torah meals is cabbage, due its cylindrical shape, which is seen as representing the shape of the Torah scroll. Stuffed cabbage is a traditional Ashkenazi Simchat Torah dish. Another cylindrical shaped food that can be made is blintzes. Some people also like to make Torah shaped cookies for the holidays…” See the full post.
A wonderful way to start off your yontif or Shabbat meal is with my scrumptious Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup. It has a lightly sweet and fresh flavor, including fresh herbs, honey (you can omit the honey to make it completely vegan), and a touch of lemon juice – and it’s healthy, too! See the recipe here.
The inspiring, award-winning children’s book, The Patchwork Torah (Kar-Ben Publishing) written by Allison Ofanansky and illustrated by Elsa Oriol, would make an excellent gift for Simchat Torah.
Below are a few of my favourite recipes from A Ta’am to Remember: Recipes and Recollections from the Terraces of Baycrest (Lorraine & David “Sonny” Langer Edition. These recipes are ‘torah-riffic’ for Simchat Torah, Shabbat, or anytime at all. This cookbook is a culinary treasure, containing 192 recipes from 73 of the residents of The Terraces of Baycrest, along with heartwarming personal anecdotes. Their memories, both poignant and funny, are snapshots of Jewish life from the Great Depression, World War II, the postwar years, and up to the present.
I was the recipe editor and Elaine Kaplan was the project coordinator for A Ta’am to Remember. The recipe for Popular Chicken, contributed by Elaine’s mother, the late Dorothy Riegelhaupt, can be found here. All proceeds from sales of the cookbook will support programs and projects of the Resident Council. For more information, go here, or email Elaine Kaplan, [email protected].
SONIA’S CABBAGE ROLLS (HOLISHKES) WITH FLANKEN (Meat)
Contributed by the late Sonia Rosenfeld
Sonia’s son, Stephen Rosenfeld, reminisced: “This is the recipe I transcribed at my mother’s knee when I first left home. It was one of my favourite childhood dishes. When I first made it for Ma, it was so close to hers that she was reluctant to share her recipes in such detail again. Proportions became vague: ‘You know, until it looks right.’ In later years, Ma went upscale and added a few tablespoons of dried cranberries instead of prunes, but I prefer the original version.”
Cabbage & Filling:
1 large cabbage (about 3 lbs/1.4 kg), cored
1 lb/500 g lean ground beef
1⁄4 cup uncooked rice, rinsed and drained
1⁄2 cup water
2 Tbsp fried onions
2 Tbsp ketchup
Salt and pepper
Sauce & Flanken:
Juice of 1 lemon
1⁄2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
15–20 pitted prunes
1 can (5 1/2 oz/156 ml) tomato paste
1 can (19 oz/540 ml) tomato juice plus 1 can water
2 lbs/1 kg flanken (short ribs)
- Cabbage & Filling: Pour boiling water over cabbage. Remove outer leaves and scrape off the tough central rib on each leaf.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, rice, water, onions, ketchup, salt and pepper. Mix lightly to blend.
- Place 1 heaping Tbsp meat mixture on each leaf. Roll up, turn in sides and roll again.
- Shred remaining cabbage coarsely and place in the bottom of a large pot.
- Sauce & Flanken: Add lemon juice, brown sugar, onion, green pepper, prunes, tomato paste, tomato juice and water to pot. Mix well. Immerse flanken in sauce and top with cabbage rolls.
- Cook covered on stovetop about 1 1/2 hours on medium-low heat until tender.
Yield: 10–12 rolls. Reheats and/or freezes well.
- Stephen Rosenfeld uses 2 lbs ground beef and 2 eggs in the filling. He also uses canned diced tomatoes instead of tomato juice.
NETTIE’S BEEF ROLL (Meat, Passover)
Contributed by the late Nettie Silver
You will love this combo if you love potato kugel and you also love meat loaf. It is true comfort food!
Norene’s Note: For Simchat Torah, you can double the recipe and make two rolls. Place them side-by-side on a serving platter to represent the Torah scrolls.
2 lbs/1 kg ground beef
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1⁄4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup matzah meal
1 can (10 oz/284 ml) tomato- mushroom sauce, divided
1 pkg (3 oz/85 g) potato pancake mix
1 cup water
1 Tbsp matzah meal
- Meat Mixture: Combine ground beef, salt, pepper, eggs and matzah meal in a large bowl. Mix in about 3/4 cup sauce, reserving remaining sauce for topping.
- Filling: In another bowl, combine potato pancake mix with egg and water. Stir in matzah meal.
- Place meat mixture between two pieces of waxed paper. Pat into a 9 x 10-inch rectangle, about 1/2-inch thick. Remove the top piece of waxed paper and spread potato mixture evenly over meat. Carefully roll up like a jelly roll, using the bottom piece of waxed paper to help roll it.
- Transfer seam-side down to a shallow greased pan and discard waxed paper. Top beef roll with reserved tomato sauce.
- Bake, uncovered, at 350 F about 1 hour.
Yield: 6 servings. Reheats and/or freezes well.
- Use a combination of ground beef, veal and/or turkey.
- Add garlic, onion and/or Italian seasonings to meat mixture.
- Substitute 1 1/4 cups pasta or BBQ sauce for tomato-mushroom sauce.
ESTHER’S EASY CARROT TZIMMES (Pareve, Passover)
Contributed by the late Esther Bornstein
Esther Bornstein was born to an affluent family in Poland in 1914. Her parents instilled in her a strong sense of responsibility for those less fortunate. She often came home to discover that a beggar had been served her lunch. Esther would ask her mother: “What about my lunch?” Her mother would reply: “You should have the fancy lunch and the beggar should go hungry? Just take some bread and butter.” Esther said that her mother used to make this tzimmes dish. “She used to cut the carrots in round slices for Rosh Hashanah and Simchat Torah. When we asked her why she cut them in rounds for the Yom Tovim but diced them the rest of the year, she said that the rounds were ‘raydel’ (which means coins in Yiddish). So if you eat these, you will get lots of money!”
6 medium carrots (1 lb/500 g)
1⁄2 cup lightly salted water
2–3 Tbsp honey (or to taste)
1–2 Tbsp brown sugar to taste
1 Tbsp oil
2–3 cinnamon sticks (or 1 tsp cinnamon)
- Slice carrots into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place in a medium saucepan along with water.
- Add honey, brown sugar, oil and cinnamon sticks.
- Cover and simmer for 25–30 minutes or until tender. Uncover and cook a few minutes longer to thicken the sauce, stirring occasionally.
Yield: 4 servings. Reheats and/or freezes well.
- Sweet potatoes and/or squash can also be added to the carrot mixture.
- Instead of cooking tzimmes on the stovetop, bake it covered in a greased ovenproof casserole at 350 F for 35–45 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer until glazed, basting occasionally.
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of twelve cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at www.gourmania.com or email her at [email protected]