As we usher in the month of Adar we turn our thoughts to preparations for the joyous holiday of Purim. Ideas for themes, costumes and Mishloach Manos offerings are abuzz.
The festive meal of Purim is central to the celebrations. As the happiest day of the year with numerous mitzvahs to perform, we would do well to prepare the bulk of our meal in advance so that we free up time for performing all the mitzvahs of the day -- reading the Megillah, distributing charity, and giving gifts of food.
This menu was created with food selections that mostly freeze well – so just warm them up in time for the festive meal – or are easy to assemble after a hectic day of running around!
Delicate Salmon Steaks Poached in Lemon Wine
This fish can be prepared in advance and left to marinate. Cook while your guests are assembling to the dining room, or prepare it early in the morning and just reheat before the meal. It takes minutes.
- Juice from 2 large lemons
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup cooking wine
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 salmon steaks or fillets
Place 1st four ingredients in medium saucepan. Add raw salmon steaks with cover. Marinade salmon in this sauce for 1 hour.
Bring fish to a slow boil over medium-low heat. Reduce heat slightly, cover, and simmer 5 minutes.
Flip salmon over, cover, and continue to simmer 5 more minutes or until salmon is cooked throughout.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Thick and Rich Pea soup
This soup is definitely our family’s all time favorite. We serve it at special occasions, or any occasion we want to make special.
- 1 cup yellow split peas,
- 1 cup green split peas,
- ½ cup navy beans,
- ½ cup barley (optional),
- 4 cloves garlic diced
- 2 large carrots grated
- 2 bay leaves,
- Salt to taste.
Soak all legumes overnight. In the morning drain the water from the container, place in an 8 quart pot and cover with water. Cook until legumes are tender about 1 ½ hours. Add spices. Meanwhile In a different pot sauté garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil until translucent. Add grated carrots to sautéed garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Add sautéed vegetables to the soup, and continue simmering for another 20 minutes. If soup is too thick add water to obtain desired texture.
Preparation: 30 minutes
Purim Theme Pasta
As a special treat cut lasagna noodles with Purim theme cookie cutters. Graggers, or masks or any other shapes are innovative when floating on your broth. The kids will be delighted to savor these shapes in their soup.
- 3 or 4 lasagna noodles
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1Tbs oil.
Place water in a large pot allow to boil. Insert noodles salt and oil and cook according to package directions approximately 10 minutes. Run cold water over noodles through a colander and allow to cool. Spread noodle on a cutting board. Cut the Purim shapes out of the noodles and use to decorate your soup. The curly part can be cut into smaller strips and used at a later date in any pasta dish!
Preparation: 20 minutes
Traditional sweet and sour stuffed cabbage
In most homes it is customary to serve stuffed cabbage on Purim. Hungarian or people from Polish descent serve stuffed cabbage on Purim but they prepare it differently. The Hungarians call it kaposta and serve it salty /sour while the Polish call it holobshes and make it sweet. Whichever version you prefer, adjust it to your liking and enjoy!
We eat cabbage that has meat “hidden” to symbolize the hidden miracles that Hashem performed for us on Purim.
Preparing nice little cabbage rolls is an acquired art. It takes a few hours to prepare and cook the cabbage; allow plenty of time when undertaking this task.
Read instructions carefully before starting, get acquainted with all the steps for perfect cabbage all the time!
- 1 large head cabbage
- 1/2 cup rice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 med. onion, chopped fine
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 2 Tbs oil
- 2 lb lean ground meat
- 2 eggs
- 1 or 2 Tbs. ketchup (optional)
- 1 jar sauerkraut
- Sugar to taste
- 1 large 46 oz. can tomato juice
- ½ cup brown sugar if you like it sweet.
Cabbage leaves need to be separated and there are three methods to do so.
- Core cabbage and scald in boiling water. Remove leaves one at a time as they wilt. Cool before using. Make sure to remove leaves slowly so as to keep them whole. Plunge cabbage head back into the boiling pot to facilitate the separation of leaves.
- Put cabbage in microwave for a few minutes and take off as many leaves as you can, repeat the process until all leaves separate. I did not find this method too effective.
- The method that works best is to freeze the cabbage for a full week. Defrost it the night before you plan to put this dish together so it will be wilted and easiest to handle. Separate leaves gingerly making sure that leaves stay whole. Cut away the hard rib of each leaf for easier handling! Wash and check each leaf for bugs. Your leaves are ready to be filled.
In a heavy 8 quart pot, put tomato juice and the same amount of water; add sauerkraut. Bring to a boil.
In a different bowl put in meat, washed rice, minced onion, crushed garlic, eggs, ketchup, oil, salt and pepper, mix well until well combined.
Take each leaf into your hand. Fill cool cabbage leaves with mixture. Roll leaf over meat tucking the sides into the rolled up side and place each roll gingerly into the pot with the boiling liquid. Do not overfill. Cook for 2 to 4 hours on medium flame. Alternatively, this can also be placed in a deep baking dish (9 x 13x 5 inches deep). Cook covered for two hours at 325 degrees. Baste occasionally with juices.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a tossed salad or with shlishkes a Hungarian delicacy borrowed from the Italian gnocchi!
Fat free Slishkes (gnocchi)
This easy to follow recipe is sure to get rave reviews. They might take some time to perfect but they are well worth the effort!
- 2 lbs baking potatoes
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or any flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 clove garlic
- Vegetable oil spray
- ½ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs.
Peel and boil the potatoes in salt water with a clove of garlic, until tender. Drain most of the liquid and mash while hot until smooth then allow the potatoes to cool down for easy handling. Add the flour and salt to taste. Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth. Shape into 1 inch smooth strands. Cut into ¾ inch sections.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and boil until they rise to the top, about 20 minutes. Drain and place in a warm bowl. Spray vegetable oil in a non stick frying pan, stir in bread crumbs and cook until slightly brown, add the slishkelech and mix until thoroughly coated. Some people enjoy savoring them with salt while others prefer them sweet. Enjoy!
Preparation 30 minutes