A Sweet Shavuot
Dairy specialties to sweeten your Yom Tov.
TARATOUR WITH WALNUTS
This refreshing chilled yogurt soup is a specialty of the Balkan states. Serve very cold.
3 cups yogurt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 hothouse (English) cucumber, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Salt to taste
1 ½ teaspoon sugar
½ cup lightly packed mixed fresh dill and mint leaves, finely chopped
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Whisk together all of the ingredients, except for walnuts, blending well. Cover and chill thoroughly.
Just before serving, stir in most of the walnuts, and save the rest for garnish. Divide among 4 tall glasses, and garnish with the remaining walnuts. Serve immediately.
IDA'S CLASSIC CHEESE BLINTZES
Although for many years blintzes were out of fashion, this year they're making a comeback. They may be made in quantity to keep in the freezer, lest you be caught unprepared when guests arrive.
Derived from the Ukrainian word for pancake, blintzes are made similarly to crepes but slightly thicker.
NOTE: For best results, make and fill blintzes one at a time. This helps avoids the blintz from drying out.
Makes about 32
For the blintzes:
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup sweet butter, melted
½ cup water
Extra butter (for greasing pan)
1 ½ pounds farmer cheese (3 8-ounces packages)
8-ounces cream cheese
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ cup turbinado or regular sugar
For the blintzes: Whisk the eggs until well blended. Add the milk, melted butter, salt, and flour and continue whisking till there are no lumps and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the water and blend till smooth. Let the mixture stand 30 minutes at room temperature, or several hours in the refrigerator. Whisk again before using.
Combine the ingredients for the filling in a medium bowl till well blended. Set aside.
Thoroughly grease a 6" or 7" omelet or crepe pan with butter. Use a paper towel to coat the surface evenly. Heat over medium-high heat. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup and fill it with 3 tablespoons of the batter. Pour the batter in starting in the center of the pan, rotating it so that the surface is evenly covered. Cook 2 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottom. Re-grease the pan lightly each time with a paper towel and a dab of softened butter or oil.
Turn over onto a work surface (mom always turned them over on an old clean pillowcase or tablecloth used just for that purpose). While the blintz is still warm, put 1 heaping tablespoon of filling on the cooked side of your blintz, . about an inch from the bottom. Fold the bottom "flap" over the filling, then fold both sides in. Roll up from the bottom and transfer to a plate, seam side down.
Repeat the process, greasing the pan with melted butter before making each blintz, until all the batter is used up. When ready to prepare, fry in a little butter or light vegetable oil till nicely browned. (Uncooked blintzes may be frozen in a covered container for up to 1 month.)
SWEET NOODLE KUGEL
It was the Shavuot tradition of incorporating dairy products into the festival meal that gave birth to the dairy noodle kugel, and especially the sweet noodle kugel -- which echoed the theme of the "sweetness" of the Torah.
Although sweet noodle kugel is most often eaten as a dessert, we often snacked on it throughout the Shavuot holiday, starting from breakfast. "It cheers you up" our mother often said, "and is light, not heavy."
1 pound thin noodles
4 large eggs or six small, beaten with a fork
½ teaspooon salt
1 pint cottage cheese
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dried apricots, each piece quartered
1 cup canned drained or fresh pineapple pieces
For the topping:
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9" x 12" pan with 3-4 tablespoons butter.
Cook the noodles according to package directions. Pour into a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Let drain and cool thoroughly.
Transfer the noodles to a large bowl and mix in the beaten eggs.
In a small bowl, mash the cream cheese, cottage cheese with the sour cream and blend in to the noodle mixture. Add the sugar and vanilla. Mix thoroughly, and. stir in the apricot and pineapple.
Pour in the kugel ingredients and smooth the top with a knife. Mix together sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the kugel is nicely browned on top. Serve warm or cold. (May be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost before reheating.)
CABBAGE SALAD WITH GRAPES & ALMONDS
Colorful and festive, this light slaw is a pleasing addition to the holiday table, and makes a crunchy and flavorful accompaniment to Classic Cheese Blintzes and other Shavuot cheese dishes.
4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (1 small head)
½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and tender part of green
1 rib celery, finely chopped
2 cups small green or red seedless grapes (or large, cut in half)
¾ cup thick rich plain yogurt
2-3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, or to taste
1 tablespoon honey
2 ripe but firm pears
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted
1-2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
In a large bowl, mix cabbage, scallions, celery and grapes. If not serving immediately, cover tightly and refrigerate till serving time to crisp.
Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan over low heat till lightly browned. Set aside for garnish.
Just before serving, whisk yogurt with orange juice concentrate and honey in a small bowl. Taste and add more orange juice or honey if desired.
Peel, halve, core and thinly slice pears. Add to the yogurt mixture and pour over the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the toasted almonds and crystallized ginger on top and serve.
From "The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking" (Harper-Collins).