Ess, Ess/Eat, Eat

Jewish World Review Sept. 19, 2002/ 13 Tishrei, 5763

Stuffed Fruits and
Vegetables for Sukkos

By Ethel G. Hofman -- Sukkos begins tomorrow night, two weeks after the first day of Rosh Hashanah. All over the world, Jews will put up their sukkah and decorate with seasonal fruits and vegetables. Harvested produce varies in each country so though corn stalks will be used for the roof and cranberries, gourds and Indian corn will be strung on the walls of American sukkahs, in Israel, decorations will be more exotic with fruits such as pomegranates, grapes, oranges and star fruit (carambolas), indiginous to the area. The esrog and lulav are also included. The esrog is an ancient citrus fruit considered to be the most important of the Four Species of plants which are blessed during Sukkos. It looks like a large lemon but is more rind than flesh. Many homemakers collect esrogs after the holiday to make a marmalade. The lulav is made up of three branches, willow, myrtle and palm, all tied together to be easily carried. (But more about that will be forthcoming in our Outlook section)

Sukkos lasts seven days. During that time, as many meals as possible are eaten in the sukkah. Feasting is the keynote, fasting is forbidden. The dishes below are family friendly for cooking together, using the fruits and vegetables.



Rinse cabbage leaves in cold water. Do not dry. Place in a microsafe dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Cook on High for 4-5 minutes or until leaves are pliable. Let stand at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. remove plastic wrap. Trim away the center tough ribs. Set aside. In a bowl, mix the ground beef or turkey, egg, lemon pepper seasoning, garlic, parsley, rice, matzo meal and 3 tablespoons juice from the canned tomatoes.

Place about 1/4 cup mixture on center of each cabbage leaf. Roll up as for a jelly roll, tucking in the ends. Place seam side down in a rectangular dish, just large enough to hold all the rolls. In a separate bowl, combine the canned tomatoes and remaining juices, tomato sauce, sugar, ginger and enough lemon juice to make a sweet and tart flavor. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Cook on High for 12 minutes or until bubbly. Reduce to Medium and cook 20 minutes longer or until no longer pink in center. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.



Remove the leafy ends from 2 celery stalks. Place in the food processor along with the onion, oatmeal, garlic powder, tarragon, salt, steak sauce and egg. Pulse several times to finely chop the onion and celery leaves. Add the turkey and process to combine. Set aside.

Cut the remaining celery into 4-inch lengths. Press the meat mixture into the celery pieces, mounding slightly. Heat the oil in a large, preferably non-stick, skillet over medium heat. Add the stuffed celery, filling side down. Fry for 3 minutes to brown. Carefully turn celery over, stuffing side up. Mix the canned tomatoes with the vinegar. Pour over the stuffed celery. Bring to simmer. Cover and cook for 25 minutes or until celery is tender.



Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Wash mushrooms, remove stems and pat dry with paper towels. Place the mushroom caps, frilly side up, on the prepared baking dish. Set aside. In the food processor, place the mushroom stems, bread, scallions, parsley, mustard, lemon rind, parmesan cheese and 1 1/2 tablespoons water. Process to combine mixture, 6-8 pulses. Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until stuffing is browned and mushrooms have lost their raw look. Serve hot or at room temperature.



Cut stem ends from eggplants. Halve eggplants lengthwise. Scoop out the center meat leaving boat-shaped shells. Dice eggplant centers and set aside. Sprinkle eggplant shells with salt. Place upside down on a wire rack over the sink and leave to drain for about 30 minutes. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook over medium-low heat until onion is softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and cook 10 minutes longer until soft. Add the cooked couscous, chickpeas, cilantro, and cinnamon. Cook 5 minutes longer over medium heat. Season to taste with pepper and salt.

Rinse the eggplant shells and pat dry with paper towels. Set in a baking dish and fill with the eggplant mixture. Arrange tomato slices over and sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs. Drizzle remaining oil over. Pour 1/4 cup warm water into dish. Cover loosely with foil. Bake in preheated 425 F. oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375F and cook 10-15 minutes longer or until eggplant is tender. Remove foil last 10 minutes cooking time.



Cut a 1/2-inch slice from top of apples. Discard. Core apples leaving about 1/2-inch flesh at base. Cut a thin slice from bottom of apples so they sit without wobbling. Place in a 9-inch glass pie dish. Set aside. In a cup, mix the ginger with the sugar. Sprinkle cavities with the mixture, dividing evenly. Top with dried cranberries. Drizzle with marmalade. Pour 1/4 cup water around. Cover loosely with paper towel. Microwave on High for 6-7 minutes or until apples are tender. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature.



Cut a 3/4-inch slice from top of each orange. Set aside. Scoop the pulp and juices from each orange. Use the juices for breakfast juice. Remove seeds and membranes from the pulp and chop coarsely. Stir in the orange sorbet and amaretto. Spoon into the orange shells. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours before serving. Place the reserved slices on top. Garnish with a mint sprig and a few raspberries on each plate (optional).

JWR contributor Ethel G. Hofman is the former president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, whose members include the likes of Julia Child. She is the author, most recently, of Everyday Cooking for the Jewish Home: More Than 350 Delectable Recipes.


© 2002, Ethel G. Hofman