October brings more opportunities to celebrate the New Year with traditional fare. It amazes me that after so many years of teaching and writing about Jewish cooking, I learn something new while preparing each Scroll article. The bread recipe I am sharing this month is made in a way very much like my challah recipe that many MLC members have enjoyed over the years. The bollo is so delicious and delicately sweet that it’s the perfect way to break the Yom Kippur fast. In my research I read that in some parts of the Mediterranean world it is served in the living room as soon as people return from services. (I admit that in the past I have had some of my fruited challah in the car to sustain me on the way home; now I am looking forward to a new treat!)
The Syrian wheat salad is quite easy to prepare and requires no cooking. The ingredients can be purchased well in advance so you can have them on hand to make the salad a day or two ahead for serving for break-the-fast or for a Sukkot meal for family and friends. The version I’m sharing is just one of several that I found in my research. If you want to delve into the variations available on the Internet, be sure to put “bazargan recipe” into the search box; Bazargan is also an Iranian name and will bring up all sorts of biographical information!
Finally, try the delicious and mostly do-ahead fruit crisp offered here. It can be made with parve margarine without sacrificing flavor. The components are prepared and stored in the freezer, ready to be assembled quickly. The dessert can be baking in the oven while you’re serving and eating a holiday meal.
I hope these dishes will become favorites in your kitchen the way they have in ours!
Rabbi Gil Marks recounts the rich history of this bread in his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWISH FOOD, tracing it back to medieval times. He points out that Jews expelled from Spain took it with them to other Mediterranean locations, where it was served to break the Yom Kippur fast and as part of Sukkot celebrations. I have adapted the recipe for the food processor, and included an optional overnight rise in the fridge, making it much less time-consuming.
2 medium loaves, 24 rolls or 1 loaf and 12 rolls
4 C bread flour
2 TBSP anise seeds
1/2 TBSP salt
1 envelope or 2¼ tsp fast-acting or instant yeast
1 C hot water (up to 130°)
1/4 C good olive oil (not extra-virgin) OR
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil + 2 TBSP canola oil
1/3 C honey
2 large eggs
Egg wash (l large egg beaten with 1 tsp water)
Place flour, seeds, salt and yeast in bowl of processor fitted with dough blade.
Process to combine well. Combine the water, oil and honey in a measuring cup with a lip. With machine running, add liquid to flour mixture, pouring only as fast as it can be absorbed. Stop machine and scrape down sides if necessary. Beat the eggs together in the now-empty measuring cup and add to the dough in the same manner. Process about 1 minute or until mixture is homogeneous. If dry, add water, a tablespoon at a time; add flour by the tablespoon if the dough seems too moist to handle. Remove to work surface and knead briefly to assure that you have the proper consistency. Dough may be slightly tacky, but it shouldn’t remain on your hands. It’s OK to put the dough back in the processor if you need to add more flour; alternatively you can sprinkle flour on the work surface and knead it in by hand.
Transfer dough to a plastic bag or bowl and cover or seal, leaving adequate room for the dough to double. Let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for one hour or until doubled in volume (a finger poked gently in the surface leaves an indentation that doesn’t fill in immediately). You can leave the dough in the fridge overnight and complete the bread the following day.
Remove the chilled dough from refrigerator. Divide in two or cut into 24 pieces. (Or use one half of dough for 12 pieces). If you have a kitchen scale, it is helpful to weigh the entire batch of dough and determine what the weight of the individual loaves or rolls should be by dividing by the number of pieces you are going to shape into bread. (My rolls are about 47 grams each, about 1 2/3 oz. They lose a little weight after moisture escapes during baking). Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit on work surface at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Shape loaves into flat 6”rounds and shape the rolls into smooth balls. Place on prepared sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°. Prick any sizable air bubbles with the tip of a small knife or skewer. Brush rolls with egg wash; try not to get any drips onto the parchment.
Bake loaves for 30 to 40 minutes and rolls for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tops are golden and there is a resonant sound when tapped on the bottom. An instant-read thermometer inserted in the bread should read 200°. (If you have both large and small breads, simply take out the smaller ones and return the pan to the oven to complete the baking of the loaf.) Remove to a wire rack to cool. Store in a plastic bag at room temperature for a day or two, or freeze for a month.
This recipe is adapted from Joyce Goldstein's SAFFRON SHORES: JEWISH COOKING OF THE SOUTHERN MEDITERRANEAN. Since it keeps well in the fridge for several days, it’s a good dish to prepare ahead as part of a break-the-fast menu.
6 to 8 servings
2 C finely cracked bulgur wheat (#1 designation on package)*
2 ½ C water
1 tsp kosher salt for the soaking water
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper* or more to taste
Salt, pepper and additional spices to taste
1 C walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (pecans are also good, although not traditional)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Put the wheat in a bowl. Combine the water and 1 tsp. salt and pour over the bulgur. Let soak until the grains are tender, 45 minutes or longer. Drain well. (It may appear that all the water has been absorbed, but be sure there isn’t any in the bottom of the bowl before adding other ingredients.) Transfer to a dry bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, lemon juice, and spices. Add to the wheat and toss. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more of the spices. Fold in the nuts and parsley and mix well. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours or as long as overnight. Store in the refrigerator if not serving within this time frame. Bring to room temperature before serving.
*Available at Middle Eastern markets
This recipe by Laura Ohm appeared in THE OREGONIAN. The parve version is delicious; freezing the margarine for the streusel will facilitate processing and help to maintain the desired crumbly texture of the streusel. Stock your freezer with unsweetened frozen fruit and store the pre-made streusel in measured portions. Then you can have a nice dessert for unexpected guests in a little more than a half-hour—with very little hands-on time required.
Enough for 4 – 6 crisps
For the fruit component: spread blackberries, raspberries and/or blueberries on a rimmed baking sheet, freeze solid, then pour into self-sealing freezer bags in 2-C portions. You can also use IQF (individually quick frozen) unsweetened berries or cherries from the grocery store.
For the streusel:
2 C firmly packed brown sugar
1 C granulated sugar
1 C all-purpose flour
1 ½ C regular rolled oats, uncooked
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 C unsalted butter or parve
margarine (2 sticks),
cut into small cubes
¾ C toasted nuts, coarsely chopped*
Fruit, sugar, flour and flavoring for filling (see below)
*Toast nuts on a baking sheet in a 350˚ oven for 5-8 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned
In a medium mixing bowl, combine brown and white sugars, flour, oatmeal, salt and cinnamon. Rub butter into dry ingredients with your fingers until mixture is crumbly. Add nuts. Divide into 1-cup portions and freeze in self-sealing freezer bags or plastic containers. This will keep at least 6 months.
Alternatively, pulse the sugars, flour, salt and cinnamon in bowl of food processor. Scatter on the butter cubes and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Remove mixture to a large bowl and stir in the oatmeal and nuts.
To make a small crisp to serve 4 to 6 people: Toss 2C frozen berries or other fruit with 2 T sugar and 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice, vanilla or other flavoring, if desired. Place fruit in 1-quart baking dish and top with ½ to 1 C streusel. Bake in preheated 400˚ oven for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and brown on top. Use more of each of the elements for more servings.
Note: You can make individual servings in oven-proof ramekins or custard cups (as in the illustration). Use ½ C berries for each serving and as much of the topping as you like (and will fit). Place on a cookie sheet (for ease of handling) and bake about 20 minutes.