With the High Holidays falling later in the calendar this year, and since summer seems long-gone and families are knee-deep in activities already, make it a little easier on yourself. Make the freezer your friend. With the time ahead of the holiday, whip up a few dishes, slip them into the freezer and forget about them until that Sunday morning. Besides the ubiquitous brisket and chicken, soups and casseroles galore may be cooked, cooled, sealed and frozen. Just don’t forget to label each one, adding key codes such as pareve, meat or dairy.
It’s no big deal to cut up salads the night before (remember, the clocks start to go back, and there will be time after Shabbat for thawing and finalizing the menu). Chunks of tomato, cucumber and shredded basil stay just fine overnight. Toss with a little olive oil, some lemon or lime, and salt and fresh pepper just before serving. Cream soups, however, do not freeze well. The soup will separate, and the texture will become grainy; those are best prepared fresh or make the night before and refrigerate. For thawed soups, the seasonings may need to be adjusted as flavors are reduced by the cold.
And what’s a Jewish holiday without a kugel? My grandkids, home from college, will expect my Pineapple Applesauce Kugel, and for dairy meals, a Rich Banana Dessert Kugel. Both freeze exceedingly well. Another must-have on the table is the ubiquitous honey cake. Try a seasonal variation: Pumpkin Honey Cake, which is moist, dark and delicious.
Ophra’s Mushroom Soup (Dairy, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free)
Serves 6; recipe may be doubled.
Longtime home cook Ophra Kimberg generously shared this recipe with me.
*Cauliflower is the soup thickener.
*Chopped onions are available fresh or frozen.
*Buy canned mushrooms, pieces and stems.
*Cauliflower should be soft before adding to onions and mushrooms.
*When doubling the recipe, freeze in two batches.
*For a pareve dish, substitute olive oil for butter.
*For a dairy dish, top with a spoonful of sour cream or plain yogurt.
1 cup cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1 can (14 oz.), plus 1 (7 oz.) can mushrooms, stems and pieces, drained
2 teaspoons bottled chopped garlic
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons pareve bouillon powder
3 cups vegetarian broth
White pepper and salt to taste
- Place cauliflower in a microwave-safe dish with 1 to 2 tablespoons water.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave 4 minutes or until very soft. Drain. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bouillon powder.
- Cook over medium heat until onion is transparent. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Cool slightly before transferring to food processor.
- Add the broth and process until slightly grainy (longer if a smoother mixture is preferred).
- Season to taste with white pepper and salt.
- Cool before pouring into a container. Cover tightly, label and freeze.
Pumpkin Honey Cake (Pareve)
Makes 1 loaf (9x5x3-inch dish) and 1 extra mini-loaf (not individual, but mini-size), or 4 mini-loaves.
*Substitute 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon nutmeg for pumpkin-pie spice.
*Substitute ¾ cup candied citron peel instead of raisins.
*For full-proof nonstick effect, line bottom of loaf pan with waxed paper and spray with nonstick vegetable spray.
1 cup dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin-pie) mix
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup honey, warmed
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 1/4 cups dark or golden raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray loaf pan and extra mini-loaf pan (or 4 mini-loaf pans) with nonstick vegetable spray with flour.
- Beat eggs and sugar until blended. Add the water, vegetable oil, pumpkin, molasses and honey. Mix well.
- Stir in the flours, about ½ cup at a time, mixing to blend between each addition.
- Stir in the baking soda, spice and 1 cup raisins. Spoon into prepared pan(s). Scatter remaining raisins on top.
- Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Bake mini-loaves 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center.
- Cool in pan 10 minutes. Loosen edges by running a round bladed knife around. Turn out onto a wire tray. Cool completely. Wrap and freeze.