In the Jewish world, this is holiday season. The new year has begun. We’ve been repentant (hopefully!) and now it’s almost time for Sukkot, when we remember the 40 year period that the ancient Hebrews wandered in the desert after the Exodus. Sukkot is a most joyous holiday that comes after the introspective and solemn Days of Awe.
It’s like the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas only instead of putting up and decorating a tree, we build a sukkah in our backyard (or a smaller, representational one in our apartments). You can eat and sleep in a sukkah. It’s like camping out.
My family never built a sukkah when I was a girl. The closest I ever came to camping out was one night when my cousin Leslie and I were allowed to sleep under a bridge table set up in her kitchen. My aunt Beck threw a chenille bedspread over the table to enclose us. We didn’t have sleeping bags and the floor was hard. We lasted about 2 hours and then went to bed. But we still talk about it years and years later.
Of course, like most Jewish holidays, Sukkot brings with it some really terrific food. It’s a harvest holiday as well as one of remembrance, so it’s time to cook with the fresh fruits and vegetables of the season — like pumpkins, winter squash, nuts, cranberries, apples and so on — and prepare dishes that are warm, colorful and comforting as the cold weather approaches. Pumpkin soup. Baked Cranberry Stuffed Squash. Sauteed Eggplant with Yogurt and Pine Nuts (there’s a recipe in my book, Hip Kosher), Apple Crisp. Hazelnut Cake.
If you want to eat in a sukkah, it also has to be food that’s easily transportable and not too messy: pieces of chicken, stuffed peppers, Carrot and Parsnip “Fries” and Couscous with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Almonds (both of the last two recipes also in Hip Kosher).
One of my favorite Sukkot desserts is Cranberry-Maple-Cashew Pie. It’s a riff on Pecan Pie, but my daughter Gillian is fiercely allergic to pecans, so I made this one up as a replacement. Here’s the EASY EASY recipe:
1 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup halved cashew nuts
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the maple syrup, corn syrup, sugar, eggs and melted butter and blend the ingredients thoroughly using a whisk. Stir in the flour, salt, nuts and cranberries. Blend thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crusty. Makes one 9-inch pie
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