Saluting side dishes


Thanksgiving is a holiday when American-Jewish families can enjoy the best of both heritages — hearty American food and an occasion to give thanks for their blessings. Food has always been the center of the holiday celebration, and I like to plan an old-fashioned farmhouse menu for the holiday. 

Everyone has a favorite turkey recipe, usually handed down from their parents — roasted, smoked or brined with lots of stuffing — but what about the side dishes? There are so many choices. My focus this year will be to create a variety of side dishes that will accompany the turkey and enhance the dinner.   

A beautifully browned noodle kugel adds a homey, old-fashioned accent to any holiday menu. This dish does not need sugar, because the raisins and apples add natural sweetness. My technique is to use a large casserole and spread the mixture, because the thinner the kugel, the crisper the crust.

Tzimmes, another traditional dish, is a delicious mixture of sweet potatoes, prunes, carrots and assorted dried fruits. Often sweetened and sometimes cooked with meat, it makes a wonderful treat to go with the meal.

The recipe for Kosher Mashed Potatoes that I am sharing is perfect to go with the Thanksgiving turkey. Butter and milk are replaced with nondairy margarine and soy milk, making it a delicious accompaniment that everyone will enjoy.   

For a simple yet elegant dish to go with dinner, nothing surpasses a delicate and flavorful purée. Whether roasted, boiled or steamed, vegetables can easily be blended in a food processor or blender with a little olive oil or chicken stock. My favorite is a Parsnip Garlic Purée made with roasted garlic that will add spice to your holiday menu. Its velvety texture is a nice alternative to mashed potatoes, and it pairs well with poultry or meat.

And at our home, Thanksgiving would not be the same without freshly baked biscuits. Served as a savory treat, they are best when heated and topped with honey or preserves.

Don’t forget to decorate your holiday table. Our daughter Kathy has created several small ceramic turkeys that are placed at the center of the Thanksgiving table to make the dinner more festive. Pour apple juice for the children and a young, fruity red wine for the grown-ups, then catch up on all the family news while enjoying the holiday. 

 

Noodle Kugel With Raisins

12 ounces flat wide egg noodles (about 7 cups)

8 cups lightly salted boiling water

1/2 cup unsalted margarine or oil

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced

1/2 cup plumped raisins

4 eggs, beaten

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Cinnamon-sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Cook the noodles in lighted salted boiling water until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Place the noodles, margarine, apples and drained plumped raisins in a large bowl. Add the eggs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well. 

Spoon the mixture into a well-greased 8-by-10-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar, and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is brown and crisp. Cut into squares. Serve hot or cold.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

 

Tzimmes

3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 large), peeled and cut in chunks

2 pounds medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1 (12-ounce) package pitted dried plums, halved

1 cup fresh orange juice

1 cup water

1/4 cup honey 

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup unsalted margarine, diced 

 

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  

Grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Combine the sweet potatoes, carrots and plums in a large bowl and then arrange in the greased baking dish. Combine the orange juice, water, honey, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl; pour over vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 1 hour. Uncover; dot with margarine and bake 45 to 60 minutes longer, stirring gently every 15 minutes, until tender and sauce is thickened.  

Makes 12 servings.

 

Red Cabbage With Apples 

1 red cabbage (2 1/2 pounds)

2/3 cup wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons unsalted margarine

2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 small onion, chopped

1 whole onion, peeled and pierced with 2 cloves

1 bay leaf, crushed

5 cups boiling water

3 tablespoons dry red wine

3 tablespoons red currant jelly

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Wash the cabbage under cold water, and cut into quarters. Cut into 1/8-inch shreds. Drop into a large bowl and sprinkle with vinegar, sugar and salt. Toss with a wooden spoon.

 

In a large, 5-quart saucepan, melt the margarine; sauté the apple slices and chopped onion for 5 minutes or until the apples are lightly browned. Add the cabbage, whole onion and bay leaf. Stir thoroughly, and pour in the boiling water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook, covered, for 1 1/2 hours or until the cabbage is tender, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Remove the whole onion and bay leaf. Stir in the wine and currant jelly, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Makes 6 to  8 servings.

 

Apple-Cranberry Compote 

1/2 cup raspberry preserves

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup cranberry juice

Juice and peel of 1 lemon

6 large tart Pippin or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

 

Combine preserves, sugar and cranberry juice in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until preserves and sugar are dissolved. Bring syrup to a boil and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Place lemon juice and peel in a large bowl; add apple slices and toss gently. Add apples with lemon juice to preserve mixture; toss to coat evenly. Simmer until apples are soft, mixing occasionally. Cool. Transfer glazed apples with sauce to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve.  

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

Kosher Mashed Potatoes 

5 pounds potatoes

1/4 pound unsalted margarine

3/4 cup soy milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

Peel and dice potatoes. Add potatoes to a large pot with enough water to cover; bring to a boil until tender. Drain, then add margarine, soy milk, salt, pepper and garlic. Mash by hand or with a potato masher to desired consistency.  

Makes 10 servings. 

 

VARIATION: A nice combination is unpeeled redskin potatoes and peeled Yukon Golds. Add redskin potatoes by washing them well and leaving the skins on, boiling and following directions above.
 

 

Parsnip-Garlic Purée

8 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

Olive oil

1 whole head of garlic, roasted (recipe below)

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Toss the parsnips with olive oil and arrange them on a baking sheet. Roast the parsnips until they are caramelized and soft, about 45, minutes depending on thickness. Lightly coat bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil, and sauté the onions over medium heat until they are very soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. 

In a food processor, add the parsnips and onions and squeeze out the individual cloves of garlic from the roasted head. Add enough chicken stock to moisten, and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Spoon mixture into a saucepan and, over low heat, stir gently with a wooden spoon until heated through.  

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

Roasted Whole Garlic

1 or 2 heads garlic

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

 

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Peel away outer layers of the garlic bulk skin, leaving the skin of the cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 inch of the top of the cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic cloves on a sheet of aluminum foil, brush generously with olive oil, and pinch foil to seal.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Cool garlic enough so you can touch it, then use a small knife to cut the skin slightly around each clove and squeeze out the purée.

 

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons vegetable shortening or unsalted margarine

2/3 to 3/4 cup water

 

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the shortening and cut it into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal. Add water gradually, mixing lightly with a fork, until a ball forms that separates from the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, and knead gently for 30 seconds. Roll out or pat out the dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a 1- or 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter.

Transfer onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Arrange the biscuits on a large platter and top with honey or preserves.  

Makes about 2 dozen 1 1/2-inch or 3 dozen 1-inch biscuits.


Judy Zeidler is a food consultant and author of “Italy Cooks.” Her Web site is judyzeidler.com.

RECIPE: Judy’s Passover Chicken Soup


Judy’s Passover Chicken Soup
(Click here for the full article)

3 5-pound chickens or 2 3-pound chickens, trussed

2 pounds chicken necks and gizzards, tied in cheesecloth

4 large onions, diced

1 medium leek, sliced into 1-inch pieces

2 to 3 cups thinly sliced carrots (16 small carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces)

2 to 3 cups thinly sliced celery with tops (5 stalks celery with tops, cut into 1-inch pieces)

3 medium parsnips, thinly sliced

12 sprigs fresh parsley

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

(The Fluffiest Matzah Balls recipe follows)

In a large, heavy Dutch oven or pot, place trussed chickens, necks and gizzards, onions, leek, carrots, celery, parsnips and enough water to cover. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Using a large spoon, skim off the scum that rises to the top. Cover, leaving the lid ajar, reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes longer.

With two large (slotted) spoons, carefully remove the chickens from the soup and transfer to a large platter. Let soup cool to room temperature, then chill. Skim off fat that hardens on the surface and discard.

Makes 12 servings.

RECIPE: The Fluffiest Matzah Balls


The Fluffiest Matzah Balls
(Click here for the full article)

I’ve been tweaking this matzah ball recipe over the years, and I’m now satisfied that it produces the lightest matzah balls you’ve ever tasted. If you don’t want to take the time to make them, boil some Passover noodles and add to the soup instead.

3 eggs, separated

About 1/2 cup water or chicken stock

1 to 1 1/2 cups matzah meal

1/8 teaspoon salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place egg yolks in a measuring cup and add enough water or chicken stock to fill one cup. Beat with a fork until well blended. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks; do not overbeat. In a small bowl, combine matzah meal with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the yolk mixture alternately with the matzah mixture into beaten egg whites. Use only enough matzah to make a light, soft dough. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let firm up for five minutes.

Bring soup to a slow boil and using a large spoon, gently drop in matzah balls. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes (do not uncover during this cooking time).

Makes 12 servings.

 

RECIPE: Judy’s Passover Roasted Chicken


Judy’s Passover Roasted Chickens
(Click here for the full article)

3 tablespoons safflower or olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

2 16-ounce cans of tomatoes (diced or chopped)

2 cups dry white or red wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 chickens from the soup, whole or cut in pieces

6 sprigs fresh rosemary

In a large roaster, heat oil and sauté onions, carrots, celery and garlic until soft. Add tomatoes with juice and wine and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper.

Arrange boiled chickens in the sauce, baste and top with sprigs of rosemary. Cover and bake in the oven until ready to serve and the sauce thickens. Transfer to a large serving platter and let guests help themselves.

Makes 24 servings.

RECIPE: Passover Baked Vegetable Stuffing


Passover Baked Vegetable Stuffing
(Click here for the full article)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 bunch carrots, peeled and grated

1 parsnip, peeled and grated

2 large zucchini, unpeeled and grated

1/2 cup minced parsley

1/2 cup plumped raisins, dried cranberries or apricots (in sweet wine)

2 tablespoons matzah meal

2 tablespoons matzah cake meal

2 tablespoons Passover potato starch

1/4 to 2 cups Passover red wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large, heavy skillet heat the oil and sauté onions and garlic until transparent. Add celery, carrots, parsnip, zucchini and toss and sauté for five minutes until vegetables soften. Add parsley, raisins and mix thoroughly. Simmer five minutes.

Blend in matzah meal, matzah cake meal, Passover potato starch, add wine and mix well. Add additional dry ingredients, a tablespoon at a time, until stuffing is a soft texture and not dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Brush a baking dish with oil and spoon in stuffing. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Makes 12 servings.

 

RECIPE: Yemenite Charoset/Charoset Truffles


Yemenite Charoset/Charoset Truffles
(Click here for the full article)

1 cup pitted, chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped dried figs

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of coriander

1 small red chili pepper, seeded and minced,

or pinch of cayenne

2 tablespoons matzah meal

1/3 cup sweet Passover wine

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 cups melted semisweet chocolate

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the knife blade, blend the dates, figs, ginger, coriander, chili pepper, matzah meal and wine. Mix in sesame seeds and transfer to a glass bowl. Roll into one-inch balls or serve in a bowl.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups or 12 balls.

One-Pot Passover Dinner: Just the Recipe to Cut Costs


During these difficult times, whether you are trying to make Passover a little less costly this year or looking for a way to spend less time in the kitchen, there’s a simple solution: a one-pot Passover dinner.

All the traditional Passover ceremonial foods remain the same: charoset, salty egg soup, bitter herbs and matzah. The only change is that the chicken soup and roast chicken, although served in two courses, will be cooked in the same pot.

We have family and friends over on both nights of Passover, so I make a lot of chicken soup. When people ask how to make the soup more flavorful, my answer is simple: Put more chicken in the pot.

I have two large pots to make the soup the day before Passover, and six whole, trussed chickens go into the water right after the vegetables. To inexpensively give the soup even more flavor, buy extra giblets, place them on a length of cheesecloth and tie the package closed with string before adding them to the soup. This way, they will not become lost in the soup, and you can serve the giblets during dinner.

Bring the soup to a boil and simmer until the chickens are almost falling apart, then carefully transfer them to a roaster with a vegetable tomato-rosemary sauce. Cover and bake. No one will ever guess that the chickens were boiled, because the new flavors take over.

Matzah balls are made the day of the seder, and with two pots of soup available, you won’t need to crowd them. If there are any leftovers, they taste just as good the following day.

To go with the roast chicken, prepare a vegetable stuffing the day before and spoon it into a casserole to bake.

Having spent less effort in the kitchen, you will now have time to make an easy but fabulous dessert. Just double the recipe for the charoset, roll into balls and cover with melted bittersweet chocolate. Allow the Charoset Truffles to cool and harden in the refrigerator and serve them at the end of the meal.


Judy’s Passover Chicken Soup
(Click here for just the recipe)

3 5-pound chickens or 2 3-pound chickens, trussed

2 pounds chicken necks and gizzards, tied in cheesecloth

4 large onions, diced

1 medium leek, sliced into 1-inch pieces

2 to 3 cups thinly sliced carrots (16 small carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces)

2 to 3 cups thinly sliced celery with tops (5 stalks celery with tops, cut into 1-inch pieces)

3 medium parsnips, thinly sliced

12 sprigs fresh parsley

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

(The Fluffiest Matzah Balls recipe follows)

In a large, heavy Dutch oven or pot, place trussed chickens, necks and gizzards, onions, leek, carrots, celery, parsnips and enough water to cover. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Using a large spoon, skim off the scum that rises to the top. Cover, leaving the lid ajar, reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes longer.

With two large (slotted) spoons, carefully remove the chickens from the soup and transfer to a large platter. Let soup cool to room temperature, then chill. Skim off fat that hardens on the surface and discard.

Makes 12 servings.


The Fluffiest Matzah Balls
(Click here for just the recipe)

I’ve been tweaking this matzah ball recipe over the years, and I’m now satisfied that it produces the lightest matzah balls you’ve ever tasted. If you don’t want to take the time to make them, boil some Passover noodles and add to the soup instead.

3 eggs, separated

About 1/2 cup water or chicken stock

1 to 1 1/2 cups matzah meal

1/8 teaspoon salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place egg yolks in a measuring cup and add enough water or chicken stock to fill one cup. Beat with a fork until well blended. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks; do not overbeat. In a small bowl, combine matzah meal with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the yolk mixture alternately with the matzah mixture into beaten egg whites. Use only enough matzah to make a light, soft dough. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let firm up for five minutes.

Bring soup to a slow boil and using a large spoon, gently drop in matzah balls. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes (do not uncover during this cooking time).

Makes 12 servings.


Judy’s Passover Roasted Chickens
(Click here for just the recipe)

3 tablespoons safflower or olive oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

2 16-ounce cans of tomatoes (diced or chopped)

2 cups dry white or red wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 chickens from the soup, whole or cut in pieces

6 sprigs fresh rosemary

In a large roaster, heat oil and sauté onions, carrots, celery and garlic until soft. Add tomatoes with juice and wine and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper.

Arrange boiled chickens in the sauce, baste and top with sprigs of rosemary. Cover and bake in the oven until ready to serve and the sauce thickens. Transfer to a large serving platter and let guests help themselves.

Makes 24 servings.


Passover Baked Vegetable Stuffing
(Click here for just the recipe)

1/4 cup olive oil

3 onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 ribs celery, finely chopped

1 bunch carrots, peeled and grated

1 parsnip, peeled and grated

2 large zucchini, unpeeled and grated

1/2 cup minced parsley

1/2 cup plumped raisins, dried cranberries or apricots (in sweet wine)

2 tablespoons matzah meal

2 tablespoons matzah cake meal

2 tablespoons Passover potato starch

1/4 to 2 cups Passover red wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large, heavy skillet heat the oil and sauté onions and garlic until transparent. Add celery, carrots, parsnip, zucchini and toss and sauté for five minutes until vegetables soften. Add parsley, raisins and mix thoroughly. Simmer five minutes.

Blend in matzah meal, matzah cake meal, Passover potato starch, add wine and mix well. Add additional dry ingredients, a tablespoon at a time, until stuffing is a soft texture and not dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Brush a baking dish with oil and spoon in stuffing. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Makes 12 servings.


Yemenite Charoset/Charoset Truffles
(Click here for the just the recipe)

1 cup pitted, chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped dried figs

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of coriander

1 small red chili pepper, seeded and minced,

or pinch of cayenne

2 tablespoons matzah meal

1/3 cup sweet Passover wine

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 cups melted semisweet chocolate

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the knife blade, blend the dates, figs, ginger, coriander, chili pepper, matzah meal and wine. Mix in sesame seeds and transfer to a glass bowl. Roll into one-inch balls or serve in a bowl.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups or 12 balls.

Dessert Variation: Dip charoset balls into melted chocolate and place on wax paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate.

Judy Zeidler is the author of “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” (Morrow, 1988) and “The International Deli Cookbook (Chronicle, 1994). “Judy’s Kitchen” appears on Jewish Life Television. Her Web site is www.judyzeidler.com.