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Get Set for the Seven Species

January 13, 2011 By:
Eileen Goltz, Jewish Exponent Feature
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Orange-and-Avocado Salad

SLICE OF LIFE

Battle stations, it's time to get ready for the seder.  Get the Hagaddah, matzah -- wait; we don't need matzah for a Tu B'Shevat seder.

This fun, educational and not-five-hour-long seder involves eating and enjoying the fruits native to the Land of Israel. During the seder, it's typical to serve four different kinds (glasses) of wine, and the seven species of fruits and nuts mentioned in the Bible (figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes/raisins, wheat and barley).

The four cups of wine at this seder should represent changes in the seasons -- dark red, light red, pink and white. The fruits should include those with coverings on the outside, like oranges; those with pits, like peaches and olives; and those that can be eaten both inside and outside, like figs and raisins.

After the seder, you can serve just about anything you want, so I decided to come up with recipes that utilize lots of these native-to-Israel fruits, grains and nuts.

Chocolate-and-Pecan Dates

(Pareve)
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate 
    25 pitted dates 
    25 pecan halves 
    2 Tbsps. sweetened shredded coconut

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.

Place the chocolate in a glass or plastic bowl. Stuff each date with a pecan half and place onto the baking sheet.

Heat the chocolate in the microwave bowl for 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, or until almost melted. Stir until smooth.

Drizzle the stuffed dates with melted chocolate, then sprinkle the top with coconut.

Place into freezer, and freeze for 1 hour before serving.

Honey Fig-Stuffed Squash

(Dairy or Pareve)
  • 2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded 
    3 Tbsps. butter or margarine 
    1/3 cup honey 
    3/4 cup chopped figs 
    1/3 cup chopped almonds 
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place squash cut-sides down in medium baking pan and add about 2 cups of boiling water. Cover the pan with foil and cook for 30 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan, and add the honey, figs, almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix to combine.

Cook over a medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat. Set aside.

After the squash has cooked for the 30 minutes, remove the foil, making sure not to burn yourself and pour off the water. Flip the squash over and fill the centers with the fig mixture. 

Return the squash to the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 to 25 minutes longer, until squash is tender and filling is bubbly.

Chocolate-Almond Pies

(Dairy)
  • nonstick spray and flour for pans 
    3/4 cup sugar 
    1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature 
    1 package (7 oz.) almond paste, broken into pieces 
    3 large eggs 
    1 Tbsp. milk 
    1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
    1/2 tsp. almond extract 
    1/4 tsp. salt 
    1/3 cup cake flour 
    1/2 tsp. baking powder 
    10 oz. semi-sweet or milk chocolate 
    11/4 cups heavy cream 
    1/3 cup chopped California almonds

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray two muffin pans with nonstick spray; coat with flour and tap out excess.

Cream the sugar and butter in a large bowl until fluffy.

Add the almond paste, one piece at a time, beating until well-blended after each addition. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Stir the milk, almond extract and salt together, and add to the butter mixture.

Mix the flour and baking powder in small bowl, and add to batter. Beat just until blended. Spoon batter into two pans; they won't be very full.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden-brown and a tester inserted into center of one comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack.

Chop the chocolate and place in a medium bowl.

Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate; let sit for 2 minutes, and then stir well. Let the frosting firm up so that it's spreadable.

To assemble cookies, sandwich two together with frosting. Spread more frosting on top and sprinkle with almonds.

Apple-Broccoli Salad

(Pareve or Meat)
  • 5-6 medium tart apples, chopped 
    4-5 cups broccoli florets 
    1/2 cup chopped white or red onions 
    2/3 cup golden raisins 
    11/2 cups mayonnaise 
    2 Tbsps. rice-wine vinegar 
    2 Tbsps. sugar 
    1 tsp. lemon juice, divided 
    1/4 tsp. salt 
    5-10 cooked kosher breakfast beef crumbled (optional) 
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds or toasted pine nuts

Place the chopped apples in a bowl and sprinkle them with a little lemon juice. Toss to coat.

Add the broccoli, onions and raisins. Mix to combine.

In another bowl, combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, sugar and salt.

Whisk the dressing until combined and then pour it over the salad. Mix to coat.

Chill for at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, mix in the breakfast beef (if using), and the sunflower or pine nuts.

Serves 6 to 8.

Orange-and-Avocado Salad

(Pareve)
  • 2 Tbsps. rice-wine vinegar 
    2 Tbsps. grapefruit juice 
    1 Tbsp. honey 
    1 tsp. honey-Dijon mustard 
    3 green onions, sliced thin 
    1 tsp. lime zest 
    salt and pepper to taste 
    6 Tbsps. olive oil 
    3 cups chopped Romaine lettuce 
    2 avocados, sliced 
    1 English cucumber, sliced thin 
    2 oranges, sectioned 
    1/2 red onion, sliced very thin 
    1 cup toasted, coarsely chopped pecans

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, grapefruit juice, honey, mustard, green onions, lime zest, salt, pepper and oil; shake to combine.

Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Shake or stir just before serving.

In a bowl, combine the lettuce, avocado, cucumber, oranges, red onions and pecans.

Pour the dressing over the top, mix to combine and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

Oven-Fried Lemon Chicken

(Meat)
  • 2 egg whites 
    2 Tbsps. lemon juice 
    2 tsps. water 
    1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper 
    1/2 tsp. paprika 
    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin 
    1/2 cup bread crumbs 
    2 tsps. lemon zest 
    1/2 tsp. salt 
    1/2 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, water, paprika and cayenne pepper.

Dip the chicken into the egg mixture, making sure to coat all sides.

In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

Remove the chicken pieces from the egg mixture and press into the bread crumbs, coating all sides with crumbs.

Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in a prepared baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully turn chicken and bake for an another 10 minutes, or until cooked through and golden.

To serve, place the chicken on an attractive serving platter and sprinkle the top with the remaining lemon juice.

Eileen Goltz is a freelance food writer and the author of Perfectly Pareve. E-mail her at: ztlog@verizon.net. Her blog address is: Cuisinebyeileen.wordpress.com.

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