By Tina Wasserman
Well, here is another holiday for us to celebrate in a different fashion this year. It would be hard to have large groups of friends sharing a meal in the sukkah unless you have a very, very large sukkah in your yard! But the celebration of the third harvest festival in the Jewish calendar and sharing a meal with a few in person can be spiritually fulfilling.
In the 16th century, Rabbi Isaac Luria of Safed established a custom to invite a different spiritual guest into the sukkah each evening. The guests (Ushpizin) were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David. Each of the famous guests experienced exile in one form or another and, in spite of their travails, they all exhibited trust in G-d. Trust is the underlying message of Sukkot.
Chassidic Rabbi Hayyim Halberstam of Sanz established a practice in the early 19th century of inviting the poor to be his dinner guests in his sukkah. The rabbi felt that none of the Ushpizin would come to the sukkah if the poor were not welcome. This practice is a reminder that although we are fortunate to be able to celebrate the mitzvot of sukkah because of our prosperity, we must never forget those less fortunate and remember that G-d provided for all of his people in the wilderness.
We also need to trust our instincts this holiday to be safe and protect our health during this extended pandemic. So if you can’t invite friends or the poor to your sukkah this year, donate food to the Jewish Family Service or the Vickery Meadows pantry or take miniature apple cakes or baked apples to your dear friends.
May this year of “exile” from our normal way of life and our struggles to remain healthy in body and mind also remind us that there are many less fortunate than ourselves who are hungry. Many of your synagogues are holding food drives. The line of cars wending around the block at JFS waiting for food tells us what we might do to help others. Give of your time, talent and treasure this year to help our fellow man. And as you sit in your sukkah enjoying these basic but hearty and easily portable dishes, may you be blessed with a year nourishing your soul as well as your body.
Fresh Apple Cake
Grated apples make this cake moist and delicious. A simple dessert when served dusted with confectioners’ sugar, but the original West Texas version calls for a coconut-pecan topping as rich as the region’s oil wells.
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1¼ cups oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 cups grated apple (peel does not need to be removed if finely grated)
- 1¼ cups coarsely chopped pecans
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting top (if not making the topping below)
1. Combine the flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the oil and sugar together until well blended. Add the eggs and beat until the eggs are totally incorporated and the mixture is a light lemon color.
3. Mix in the vanilla and then add the flour mixture, the grated apple and the pecans, and mix well.
4. Pour into a 10-inch springform tube pan or a Bundt pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 50–55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool. When cool, remove from the pan and place on a serving tray. Dust with some confectioners’ sugar or top with the following topping if desired.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup coconut
- ½ cup chopped pecans
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.
2. Pour over top of cake and cool before serving
Yield: 12 servings
- In order for this cake to come out light and moist, and not heavy and greasy, you need to mix the sugar, oil and eggs until they are combined and form an emulsion, which means that no oil is visible and mixture looks like the thickness of mayonnaise.
- Consider making this recipe in 6 small miniature Bundt pans or a pan with 12 miniature apples or 12 tiny Bundt-shape cakes.
- Simple, but delicious, a walk down memory lane for those of you who remember Weight Watchers from the 1960s. Whether sweet or savory, these are delicious.
- 4 apples (Honeycrisp, Fuji, Gala or Jonathan)
- ¼ cup dark raisins
- 1 8-ounce or 12-ounce can diet or regular Coca-Cola
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set rack in the bottom third of the oven.
2. Wash the apples and core them, removing all seeds. Place the apples in an 11×9-inch glass baking dish.
3. Using a small demitasse spoon, spoon some cinnamon into the cavity of each apple. Pack the cavity with raisins and then sprinkle some more cinnamon on top.
4. Using diet or regular Coca-Cola, pour the soda over the apples and through each cavity. A pool of soda will form in the baking dish.
5. Bake for 45 minutes or longer until the apples appear soft and most, but not all, of the liquid has evaporated.
6. Serve warm with some of the syrup from the pan poured over the apple. If you want you can serve it with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.
- Any apple that is firm can be used. I like to use the sweeter varieties. Winesap and Rome apples will be good as well.
- If using McIntosh apples the cooking time should be less since these apples are soft and you don’t want the apple to collapse.
Roasted Chicken Livornese
(adapted from Joyce Goldstein)
- A flavorful way to bring deliciousness into your sukkah. Easy and portable.
- 1 whole roasting chicken
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 3 tablespoons grated peeled ginger root
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons pareve margarine
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice or bottled pomegranate juice
- ½ cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons wildflower honey
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a zester, remove the complete zest from the lemon and orange and place in a small glass dish. Cut the zested lemon and orange into quarters.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of the grated ginger to the zests and combine.
4. Rub the outside of the chicken with one of the quarters of lemon. Discard that used quarter.
5. Rub the cavity of the bird with the zests and ginger mixture. Stuff the cavity with 3 lemon sections and the 4 orange sections.
6. Place the chicken on a roasting rack over a pan with 2-inch sides.
7. Sprinkle the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper and rub the entire area with the remaining quarter lemon.
8. Place the margarine in a small glass bowl and microwave it on high until it is melted.
9. To the margarine add the olive oil, lemon OR pomegranate juice, orange juice, honey and the remaining 2 tablespoons of grated ginger. Mix well with a fork or whisk.
10. Baste the chicken with the above mixture and place in the preheated oven. While the chicken roasts, baste it with more of the sauce every 15-20 minutes. Chicken is done in approximately 1 hour or when the juices run clear when the thigh of the bird is pierced.
11. Place the chicken on a serving platter and slice and serve after it sits for about 15 minutes to allow the meat to reabsorb its juices.
- Zest is only the colored part of the peel which contains the essence of the flavor.
- When buying citrus fruits, lightly scratch the peel and if the aroma smells concentrated and sweet, or like a lemon or lime lollipop, then you are sure to get a robust flavor from the fruit, regardless of the fruit’s tartness.