Sweet start of a new year

A TASTE OF HONEY

September 23, 1992|By Robin Silverman-Denker | Robin Silverman-Denker,Copley News Service

September is the perfect month to begin the holiday cooking season. Cooler weather brings a harvest of seasonal vegetables, special flavors and holiday entertaining. We begin with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

Rosh Hashana is a time for feasting and bringing in a "sweet" new year. Traditional foods are challah dipped in honey, apples and dried fruits. We've created here an innovative easy-to-prepare menu that combines some new ideas and flavors while still in keeping with traditional Jewish heritage.

Small golden challah brioche filled with dried fruits and nuts and a golden crust are the perfect beginning for a holiday meal.

I had just finished teaching a holiday cooking workshop and was left with extra challah dough and some dried fruit from another recipe. I decided to combine them, and the results were these surprisingly great challah brioche.

The apple salad is light, colorful, crunchy and has a slight Oriental flair -- simple and wonderful.

The chicken is quick and easy to prepare and boasts a beautiful glaze. It's really a great company dish for any time of the year.

The original almond toffee apple cake recipe was given to me by my grandmother. I've slightly revised the recipe to suit my taste buds; the filling is chock-full of apples, nuts and extra cinnamon with a great toffee glaze.

Treat your guests to this special cake that is almost impossible to find in any bakery.

Your guests will appreciate the special presentation of these individual challahs. They're the perfect size and have a wonderful surprise inside. Young children can easily handle patting out the dough and stuffing them.

These are a snap to make using purchased frozen challah dough from your supermarket's freezer section.

Challah dough recipe Makes 1 large loaf or 24 rolls

1 package active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit)

1 tablespoon sugar

3 eggs

1/3 cup honey

1 stick unsalted margarine, melted

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon (pinch) saffron or turmeric

2 tablespoons orange juice

5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

GLAZE:

1 egg, lightly beaten, with 1 tablespoon water

sesame seeds, poppy seeds or ground almonds

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water, with sugar.

In large bowl, beat together eggs, honey and margarine. Add remaining 1 cup water, saffron and orange juice; blend well.

Beat in yeast mixture, add flour and salt, 1 cup at a time, beating after each addition until dough is thick enough to work by hand. If kneading by hand, you will need to spoon batter onto well-floured board and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, gradually adding additional flour to make a smooth dough.

Place dough into oiled bowl, turning once. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Brioche filling Makes 24 rolls.

Challah recipe or 2 packages frozen challah bread dough, defrosted according to package directions

1 (6-ounce) bag dried apple fruit bites

1 tablespoon unsalted margarine (or butter)

2 tablespoons orange juice

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup toasted almond, chopped

Combine all ingredients (except nuts) in small saucepan, cook until apples are tender; about 5 minutes. (Can be done in microwave.) Let cool completely. Add nuts.

For challah brioche rolls: Divide dough into 24 equal pieces about the size of a golf ball. Using floured hands, stretch and pat into a circle, about 4 inches in diameter. Place teaspoon of apple filling in center. Bringing edges together, pinch tightly, turn to seal in edges.

Place in well-greased muffin tins, seam side down. Cover with towel, let rise again; about 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, brush with egg glaze and sprinkle with seeds. Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.

Option: For 1 large challah, divide dough into 3 equal portions. On well-floured surface, with floured hands and a floured rolling pin, roll out each to a rectangle approximately 7 inches by 12 inches. Gently spread with one-third of fruit mixture. Roll each lengthwise, jelly-roll style. Repeat with remaining 2 pieces of dough.

Pinch three ends together, then braid, pinch and seal remaining ends. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds or ground almonds. Bake in preheated oven at 350 Fahrenheit for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

*

Bright, colorful and flavorful, this is a crunchy salad with a delightful dressing. Can be prepared in advance; toss with dressing just before serving.

For an almost fat-free dressing, substitute pineapple/orange juice for the canola oil. For an entree, add 4 cups cooked chicken or seafood.

Honey sesame apple salad Makes 8 servings.

DRESSING:

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon light soy

1/4 cup canola oil

SALAD:

2 large apples, peeled and diced (Delicious or Pippin)

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 large yellow pepper, diced

1 cup fresh bean sprouts

8 red leaf lettuce or red cabbage leaves

1 green onion, snipped

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

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