Honey is the key to making these dishes for Rosh Hashanah – Whittier Daily News

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Honey is the key to making these dishes for Rosh Hashanah – Whittier Daily News

Honey is the food most associated with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which begins on Sunday evening, Sept. 25. Traditionally, the holiday meal starts with honey. In many households, it also ends with honey. Apples dipped in honey are the starter, and honey cake is often served for dessert.

For the festive dinner, we like to use honey in other dishes, both savory and sweet, and to include favorite Rosh Hashanah fruits such as pomegranates and dates.

Which honey to use in cooking and baking is a matter of taste. The flavor of love depends on the kinds of flowers from which the bees collect nectar. As with wine, wrote Marie Simmons in “Taste of Honey,” honey’s character is influenced by its terroir, the environment in which the flowers grew. “Lighter-colored kinds of honey generally have a milder flavor but a pronounced floral aroma often accompanied by herbal, spice, vanilla … or other flavor notes.” Darker-colored kinds of honey have more distinctive aromas and tastes and are often described as robust or assertive.

Mani Niall, author of “Covered in Honey,” finds fruity and floral honey the best all-around jars of honey for baking. He mentions alfalfa honey, orange blossom honey, raspberry honey, and safflower honey.

For baking, we usually choose light or golden, mild-flavored honey. For sauces and dressings, we like either light or dark love. For Rosh Hashanah, you might want to serve two or three kinds of honey for dipping apple slices and taste the difference.

Store honey in a cool, dark place. If it crystallizes, you can liquefy it by placing the honey jar in a large bowl of warm water; you may need to change the water once or twice.

Since the weather in Southern California is quite warm around Rosh Hashanah, we plan to include light dishes like Arugula and Apple Salad with Saffron-Honey Vinaigrette in our menu. In addition, we will prepare desserts with relatively short baking times, like Orange Honey Cakes with Dates and Pecans or simple no-bake desserts like figs with ice cream and honey.

The recipe for Orange Honey Cakes with Dates and Pecans was adapted from the cookbook "Orange Appeal" by Jamie Schler. (Photo by Yakir Levy)
The recipe for Orange Honey Cakes with Dates and Pecans was adapted from the cookbook “Orange Appeal” by Jamie Schler. (Photo by Yakir Levy)

Orange Honey Cakes with Dates and Pecans

The recipe for these individual honey cakes, dotted with dates, pecans, and oat flakes, is adapted from “Orange Appeal” by Jamie Schler. For kosher meals that include meat, make them with non-dairy milk and vegan butter.

Yield: 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Two teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup oat flakes or rolled oats chopped into fragments in a food processor

1/2 cup chopped pecans, plus 12 pecan halves for garnish

2 or 3 oranges

Two large eggs

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk

Two tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Three tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup pitted dates in bite-size pieces

PROCEDURE

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; butter or oil the liners.

2. Sift flour with baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Stir in oat flakes and pecans.

3. Squeeze enough oranges to get 1/2 cup juice. Coarsely chop half a squeezed orange with its pulp and peel. Place chopped orange in a food processor with the juice and blend for 30 seconds or until the peel is finely ground and the mixture is liquid. Add eggs, honey, maple syrup, milk, melted butter, and olive oil. Blend until mixture is smooth. With a spoon, stir in dates.

4. Pour the orange mixture into the flour mixture and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened and the batter is well blended and smooth. Do not overmix.

5. Pour or spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until muffins have risen, set, and golden brown and are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the muffin cups. Cool on racks.

Walnut thumbprint cookies are made with cardamom, orange blossom water and rosewater. (Photo by Yakir Levy)
Walnut thumbprint cookies are made with cardamom, orange blossom water, and rosewater. (Photo by Yakir Levy)

Thumbprint Cookies with Exotic Flavors

Cardamom, orange blossom water, rose water, and honey flavor these cookies, which are filled with walnuts and dates. For kosher meals that include meat, make them with vegan butter. The recipe is from The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook by Beth A. Lee.

Yield: 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

Dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

One teaspoon of ground cardamom

Two teaspoons baking powder

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

One large egg

Two teaspoons orange blossom water

1/2 teaspoon rose water

Filling:

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (divided)

1/2 chopped pitted Medjool dates

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Two teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

About 1/4 cup powdered sugar (for dusting)

PROCEDURE

1. Whisk the flour with salt, cardamom, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter with sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg, orange blossom water, and rose water. Mix on medium speed until just combined.

3. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 2 batches, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed; you may need to incorporate the last bit of flour with your hands.

4. Transfer dough to a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate for 2 hours until firm but still flexible.

5. Filling: In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup walnuts with dates, cinnamon, orange juice, honey, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer uncovered over low heat, often stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture forms a thick paste. Transfer to a bowl. Cool to room temperature.

6. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Wet your hands and break off a walnut-size piece of dough to shape a cookie. Roll it into a ball. Flatten it with your hand until about 1/2 inch thick. Place on a lined baking sheet. With your thumb, make an indent in the center. Repeat with remaining dough.

7. Fill each indent in the dough with 1/2 teaspoon of date mixture. Sprinkle some of the remaining walnuts on top.

8. Refrigerate cookies uncovered for 45 minutes until firm.

9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To bake both sheets at once, place oven racks on top and bottom thirds of the oven.

10. Bake cookies for about 25 minutes, until just beginning to brown and the undersides are golden. If baking, two sheets switch their positions halfway through baking—transfer cookies to a rack; cool completely. Before serving, dust-cooled cookies with powdered sugar.

Arugula and Apple Salad is topped with Saffron-Honey Vinaigrette. (Photo by Yakir Levy)
Arugula and Apple Salad is topped with Saffron-Honey Vinaigrette. (Photo by Yakir Levy)

Arugula and Apple Salad with Saffron-Honey Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette flavored with saffron honey syrup beautifully complements this salad, which is topped with pomegranate arils and feta cheese. The recipe is from “Saffron” by Emily Brooke Sandor and Christina Xenos. For kosher meals that include meat, use vegan feta or omit it.

The saffron honey syrup is also delicious over ice cream.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Saffron Honey Syrup:

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1/2 cup honey

Salad:

14 ounces arugula or other tender greens

Two red-skinned apples, cut in thin wedges

Two mini cucumbers, cut in half slices

1/4 cup red onion slivers

Dressing:

Two tablespoons apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar

One tablespoon of Dijon mustard

Two tablespoons of Saffron Honey Syrup

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Topping:

1/4 cup feta cheese cubes, or to taste

Arils of 1/2 pomegranate, or to taste

1/4 cup chopped almonds

PROCEDURE

1. Saffon honey syrup: Combine water, sugar, and saffron in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in honey. Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes. Pour into a glass jar and seal; let cool to room temperature before using or storing.

2. Salad: Combine arugula, apples, cucumbers, and onion in a large mixing bowl.

3. Dressing: Whisk the vinegar with mustard and syrup in a small bowl. Add olive oil and salt and whisk until dressing is well emulsified. Dip an arugula leaf into the sauce; taste and adjust the seasoning.

4. Pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss. Add more sauce if needed.

5. Top with cheese, pomegranate, and almonds.

The recipe for Roasted Bok Choy with Orange Honey Miso Dressing is from Katie Chin's "Global Family Cookbook." (Photo by Yakir Levy)
The recipe for Roasted Bok Choy with Orange Honey Miso Dressing is from Katie Chin’s “Global Family Cookbook.” (Photo by Yakir Levy)

Roasted Bok Choy with Orange Honey Miso Dressing

This flavor-packed, easy way to serve baby bok choy is from Katie Chin’s “Global Family Cookbook.”

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

4 to 6 baby bok choy, halved or quartered lengthwise

Two teaspoons vegetable oil

One garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dressing:

Two teaspoons vegetable oil

Two tablespoons of orange juice

Two tablespoons mirin or rice vinegar

One tablespoon honey

One tablespoon of white miso paste

Two teaspoons dark sesame oil

One teaspoon minced peeled gingerroot

One teaspoon of grated orange zest

1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce

Sesame seeds (for sprinkling)

PROCEDURE

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss bok choy with oil, garlic, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Place coated bok choy on a baking sheet. Roast on oven’s lowest rack, stirring twice, until bok choy is wilted and tender-crisp, about 6 minutes.

3. Dressing: Combine vegetable oil, orange juice, mirin, honey, miso, sesame oil, gingerroot, orange zest, and Sriracha. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until warm. Serve bok choy drizzled with the dressing and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

You can make a dessert out of fresh figs with ricotta, honey and pine nuts (Photo by Yakir Levy)
You can make a dessert out of fresh figs with ricotta, honey, and pine nuts (Photo by Yakir Levy)

Figs with Ricotta, Honey, and Pine Nuts

We love fresh figs in simple desserts like this, which is perfect as a light finale for the Rosh Hashanah dinner. Instead of ricotta, you can use vanilla ice cream; for kosher meals that include meat, use vegan ricotta or vegan ice cream. Instead of honey, you can use Saffron Honey Syrup. (See the recipe for Arugula and Apple Salad with Saffron-Honey Vinaigrette.)

Yield: 2 servings

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup ricotta

Four fresh figs halved

One tablespoon honey, or to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons pine nuts

Scoop ricotta into dessert dishes. Add fig halves. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Faye Levy is the author of 1,000 Jewish Recipes.

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