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Increase the Sweetness This Rosh Hashanah

September 11, 2008
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Sweetness and abundance are not confined just to foods on Rosh Hashanah. Conversations are supposed to be joyous and lengthy as well -- it is, in fact, forbidden to display anger on the holiday.

So, here are some recipes to try at this year's holiday dinner which might just help ensure that the mood stays sweet and light. Also remember, it's a mitzvah to invite guests, especially strangers and poor people, those, as Nechamiah said, "for whom nothing is prepared."

The following recipes are courtesy of Jewish Holiday Cooking, by Jayne Cohen.

 
Hungarian Plum Tart

This tart is more a cross between a cobbler and crunch than a traditional tart. It's perfect as a tea-time treat.

20-24 fresh prune plums, pitted and quartered, or 6 to 8 pitted black plums, cut into sixths or eighths (depending on the size of the plum)
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 Tbsps. plus 1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. almond extract
8 Tbsps. (1 stick) unsalted butter or pareve margarine, melted, plus additional butter for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.

Arrange plums cut-side up in a single layer on the dish. Stir together brown sugar, three tablespoons of flour and the cinnamon in a small bowl, and sprinkle the mixture over the plums.

In a large bowl, using a fork, blend together the granulated sugar (use up to 2 tablespoons less than 1 cup if you prefer a less sweet dessert or if the plums are particularly sweet), the remaining 1 cup flour, baking powder, salt, egg and almond extract until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Crumble the mixture over the plums.

Drizzle the melted butter or margarine over all the top and bake the tart in the middle of the oven for 35 to 45 minutes until the plums are tender and the topping is golden.

Serve the tart at room temperature, accompanied by ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 
Bene Israel Rice Pudding

This pudding is the highlight of a Bene Israel harvest festival in India.

1/2 cup long-grain rice (preferably basmati)
53/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
salt
seeds of 2 green cardamom pods, crushed
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 Tbsp. rose water
1-2 Tbsps. coarsely chopped blanched almonds
1-2 Tbsps. coarsely chopped unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup golden seedless raisins

Bring three cups of water to a boil in a heavy, medium saucepan. Add the rice and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Rinse out the pan, and in it, bring the whole milk, sugar and a pinch of salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate, and add the rice and cardamom. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Continue cooking, stirring more frequently as the mixture thickens, for about 15 minutes, or until the pudding is thick enough to coat a spoon heavily.

Slowly add the powdered milk, whisking well until it is completely dissolved. Stir in the rose water, almonds, pistachios and raisins, and remove the pan from the heat.

Let cool and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 
Aunt Mary's Honey Cake

Easy to prepare, this cake can be made several days ahead; wrap well in plastic. It freezes nicely.

31/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
11/4 cups sugar
11/4 cups canola or avocado oil, plus additional oil for greasing the pan
2/3 cup honey (8 oz.), light or dark
1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup Cherry Heering
1/2 cup fresh orange juice

Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch glass baking dish and line it with parchment paper. (The oil will help anchor the paper in the large pan.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer in a large bowl until well-blended. Add the sugar gradually, and continue beating until thick and pale. Beat in the oil, honey, coffee, Cherry Heering, and orange juice on low speed.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating on low speed until just combined; don't overmix. Use a rubber spatula to scrape bottom and sides of bowl, and gently fold in nuts and raisins, if using.

Turn batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or till cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Transfer cake to a rack to cool to room temperature. Slip a thin-bladed knife around cake to loosen the edges, then invert the cake onto a platter. Carefully peel off parchment paper.

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