> Holidays > Shavuot > Recipes

Dairy Treats

May 9, 2009 | by Phyllis Glazer

Delicious dairy delicacies for Shavuot.

Wondering what to serve on Shavuot? From Biblical Yogurt Cheese to luscious cheesecake, these tasty recipes, from The Essential Book of Jewish Festival Cooking by Phyllis Glazer with sister Miriyam Glazer, will be a sure-fire hit with family and friends.


Yogurt cheese (labaneh) was an excellent way for our ancestors to expand the limited repertoire of foods in the biblical diet, and prolong the "shelf-life" of yogurt. It could be drained until soft and used as a spread, or left to drain till firm and turned into olive-oil marinated balls, which could last throughout the year.

Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 quart plain thick plain cow, sheep or goat yogurt, with no stabilizers

Place a large wire-mesh strainer over a bowl. Cut 3-4 layers of cheesecloth into 20" squares, dip in cold water, wring out and line the colander. Spoon in the yogurt, bring up the edges, squeeze the bottom a little to extract some of the moisture, twist the corners of the cloth together and tie the two opposite edges into a knot.

Hang the package from the kitchen faucet for several hours or overnight, and let it drip directly into the sink, or leave to drain over the bowl at room temperature until the yogurt is the consistency of cream cheese. Squeeze the package gently from time to time, to help the package drain faster. Remove the cheese from the cheesecloth and transfer to a closed container. Store in the refrigerator.

To serve, bring the cheese to room temperature and spread on a plate. Garnish with extra-virgin olive oil, and chopped olives, capers, and parsley if desired.


Like the chocolate-marshmallow campfire desserts, these snacks are so good that everyone will want some more. They can easily be made in advance, frozen, and baked as necessary. Perfect to nosh on throughout the Shavuot holiday, on the odd chance that they last.

Makes 24

1/2 pound grated Muenster or Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
24 pitted or pimento-stuffed olives
Sesame seeds and/or za'atar

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a small bowl, beat the grated cheese and butter together. In a second bowl mix the flour, salt and paprika. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix well.

Take a teaspoon of the mixture and roll it between the palms of your hand to form a ball. Press an olive into the ball with the stuffed side facing up. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough and the olives.

Lightly roll in sesame seeds or za'atar. Place the balls on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or till golden-brown. Serve warm.


With spinach reminiscent of spring's fresh green leaves, and dairy products traditional to Shavuot, this delicious quiche is suitable cut into small wedges as holiday hors d'oeuvres or into large wedges for lunch or dinner. Serve with Taratour and Spring Greens Salad.

Serves 6

Quiche Crust:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (5 ounces) cold butter or margarine
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 egg yolk

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach
4 ounces (1 cup) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese
6 small scallions, with 2" green tops included, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Prepare the crust. Put the flour and salt in a bowl of a food processor. Cut in the butter into chunks and add to the flour. Process in on/off pulses until coarse crumbs are formed.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and yogurt and add to the flour mixture while the machine is running. Remove and shape into a neat ball. (The dough should not be sticky. If it is, knead it briefly on a floured surface.)

Flatten the ball and using thumbs, press into a 10" pie plate, distributing the dough around equally, with no dough build-up around the inner edges. Flute the top. Alternately (but more work), dough may be wrapped in plastic wrap, chilled for 30 minutes and rolled out.

Use a fork to pierce the bottom and sides of the dough, so it will not rise, or weigh the dough down with beans placed on a circle of parchment paper for easy removal. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until just lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Remove the beans and the parchment paper, if using. Thaw the spinach, and put in a ware mesh strainer to drain. Press and squeeze out any excess liquids. In a food processor, chop the scallions and add the rest of the ingredients except for the spinach. Process for 30 seconds or until blended. Add the spinach and process briefly in on/off pulses.

Pour the filling into the partially-baked crust and bake 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350°F and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until the quiche is set, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out moist but not wet. Serve hot or at room temperature.


The late cookbook author and maker of liqueurs and jams out of every conceivable fruit, herb and vegetable, Ya'acov Lishansky, who recently passed away in his 90s, was the first (and only) Israeli man to win first prize at "Queen of the Kitchen" cooking contest. This recipe is adapted from one of his.

Serves 12-14

For the crust:
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Cold water

For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds cream cheese
1 cup mashed vanilla halvah
11/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare a 9" or 10" springform pan by cutting a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom (the 9" pan will result in a higher cake). Affix to the bottom with a little butter or oil-spray. Cut a 3" wide strip of parchment paper and affix to the sides of the pan.

Mix flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat egg yolk, lemon rind, melted butter and vanilla together with a fork. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the liquids, stirring with a fork and kneading with hands to form a ball.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8" thick to fit the bottom and sides of the prepared pan. (The dough does not have to come all the way up the sides). Prick the bottom and sides with a fork, or add pieweights or beans placed on a circle of parchment paper, and bake for 15-20 minutes till lightly browned. Remove and let cool.

Increase oven temperature to 500°F. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, halvah, flour and vanilla together just until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, blending lightly after each addition, and pour in the cream. Do not overbeat or the cake will crack in the center while baking.

Pour the filling into the baked crust and bake for 12-15 minutes. Turn heat down to 200°F and bake 60-90 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and only slightly moist.

Let stand in the oven with the oven door partially opened, for 1 hour. Remove and let cool completely. Chill the cake till firm. Cover with plastic wrap after the top has firmed up, and refrigerate at least four hours or preferably overnight.


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