I could never have imagined that the quarantine restrictions would continue until this time and that Shavuot would also be a Yom Tov with no guests, limited family togetherness, and many singles and elderly alone. This Shavuot the menus will be a little simpler, a little less fussy and fattening (only a little!), and still exceptionally delicious. I’m going to focus on lots of fresh meals, spring ingredients, and a few extra treats. If you include a dairy meal in your meal, these recipes are great additions. I like a hint of dairy, instead of making everything ooey gooey and loaded with cheese. I’ll start with these wonderful dairy and pareve recipes like Best Cream of Mushroom Soup, Miso and Honey Salmon, Lotus Butter Icebox cake. Chag Sameach!

Baltazar Restaurant “Best” Cream of Mushroom Soup

Serves 6

I have tested and tasted dozens of mushroom soups. I love mushrooms so this is not the most difficult task, however I continue to go back to this classic. It’s rich and bold from the dried mushrooms (use porcini if you can find them), very woodsy from the fresh herbs (use the fresh ones), and smooth and creamy from the cream. It’s not too heavy though and guests ask me for the recipe every time I serve it.

  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 fresh sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 fresh sprigs of sage
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 pound white button or wild mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound shiitake mushrooms stemmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups vegetable stock, or pareve chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream, almond milk, or non-dairy creamer
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine

Prepare the dried mushrooms: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over dried mushrooms in a small bowl and let them steep for 20 to 30 minutes, until plump. Remove them from the liquid and mince the mushrooms, setting them aside. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter to remove grit but reserve the liquid.

For the soup: Bundle your sage and rosemary together with kitchen twine. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the herb bundle and sizzle for a few minutes on both sides to infuse the oil. Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown. Turn the flame to high and add the white mushrooms and shiitakes. Cook for 10 minutes, during which the mushrooms will give off their liquid (which should evaporate quickly due to the high heat) and deflate significantly. Stir occasionally.

Add the vegetable stock and the dried mushrooms along with the reserved soaking liquid. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the herbs, and add the cream and butter to soup. With an immersion blender, puree the soup until your desired consistency (I like it very chunky but others write that they prefer it smooth). Serve warm.

Honey and Miso Glazed Salmon

Photo by Chelsie Craig

Serves 4

Miso is an amazing secret ingredient, flavor enhancer. I keep all varieties in my refrigerator, white, red, and brown and use it in salad dressings, marinades, chickens, and meats. The white is the mildest, then red, and brown is the strongest. White pairs well with lighter fish dishes, and brown is best in Miso soup and with bold meat dishes. It is a bit tangy and salty so adjust accordingly.

  • 1 2" piece fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced
  • 4 4–6-oz. skin-on salmon fillets (can be made with skin-off too)
  • Kosher salt

For the honey-miso sauce: Peel 2" piece ginger. Finely grate ginger with a Microplane into a small bowl. Add miso, oil, vinegar, honey, and 1 tablespoon water to the bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add sesame seeds and stir until seeds are a light golden color and slightly fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan. Cool pan completely.

Lightly season the flesh of 4 salmon fillets on all sides with salt. Place pieces skin side down in a COOLED cast-iron skillet. (This makes the skin get crispy or creates a crust on the top) Heat the skillet over medium and let the salmon cook undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Press down lightly on flesh with a spatula to ensure all parts of the skin are making contact with the pan. At this point it should be opaque at least halfway up the flesh side. Continue to cook skin side down until fish is mostly opaque and skin is crispy, about 5 minutes longer. If the skin is still sticking to the pan at this point, don't try to un-stick it—you'll know that it's ready to flip when it releases on its own.

Using a spatula, gently flip the fillets, then remove the pan from the heat. Continue to cook off-heat (the pan will still be plenty hot) until cooked through, about 1 minute longer for regular-sized fillets, but very thick ones might take up to 3 minutes more.

Serve salmon warm or at room temperature with miso-honey sauce. Sprinkle with scallions and toasted sesame seeds.

Spiced Baked Rice

Photo by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 6 - 8

The original version of this recipe comes from Israel’s famed chef Yotam Ottolenghi. He uses the freshest, most flavorful ingredient combinations. I did a kosher and GKC twist on it. The cinnamon, garlic and tomato combination are perfectly paired.

  • 1 ¾ lb. cherry tomatoes
  • 12 large garlic cloves (or 25 small), peeled (2/3 cup)
  • 4 large shallots, peeled and cut into 1-1/4-inch pieces (1 cup)
  • 1 ¼ cups cilantro stems, cut into 1-1/2-inch lengths, plus 1/2 cup leaves, roughly chopped, to serve (the stems are very flavorful and can be eaten)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 small cinnamon sticks
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups basmati rice
  • 2 ½ cups boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Arrange the tomatoes, garlic, shallots, cilantro stems, thyme, and cinnamon sticks in a large high-sided baking dish, about 8×12 inches. Pour in the olive oil, add ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, and place in the oven for 1 hour, until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the rice evenly over the vegetables, without stirring them together, and set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper over the rice and then carefully pour the boiling water over the rice. Seal the dish tightly with foil and place in the oven for 25 minutes, until the rice is cooked. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes, still covered. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cilantro leaves, stir these very gently into the rice, and serve warm.

Roasted Peppers, Cucumber and Ricotta Salad

Serves 6

This is an unusual and bright salad and a wonderful new addition to your Shavuos menu. Ricotta is creamy but a nice alternative to feta or goat cheese that are commonly served atop a salad.

  • 12 baby colored peppers
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1½ cups whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice, plus a bit more lemon juice
  • 6 medium Persian cucumbers (about 1 lb.), sliced on a deep diagonal
  • ½ cup mint leaves, torn if large
  • 4 cups wild lettuce
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped coarsely

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place peppers on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Cook peppers, for about 15 - 21 minutes, or until charred but not too black and flesh is tender but still intact. Cut peppers in half when cool enough to handle.

Combine ricotta, 2 tablespoons oil, zest and juice in a small bowl, then season with a bit of kosher salt and pepper.

Combine lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, mint, and half of walnuts in a large platter. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, about 1 more tablespoon lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Dollop lemon ricotta over and top with remaining walnuts.

Lotus Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake

Photo by Hungry Twins

Serve 12

YUMMMMM! No bake, kid-friendly, and make ahead, it’s a winner! Make this a day or two ahead of time, decorate it anyway you like or with any add-ons you have on hand. Defrost it for a few minutes before slicing with a clean sharp knife.

  • ½ cup Lotus butter or cookie butter
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 2 cups whipped cream (whip about 1 cup cream or pareve cream to yield 2 cups whipped), more for topping if desired
  • 24 chocolate chip cookies (store-bought variety is fine)
  • 12 Oreo cookies or other crumbled chocolate cookie
  • 2 cups M & M’s or other candy
  • Chocolate sauce

In a medium bowl, whisk Lotus butter with cream cheese, until smooth. Fold in whipped cream.

Line a 8 or 9 inch spring-form pan with parchment paper. With a spatula, spread ⅓ of the Lotus mixture onto the bottom of the pan. Place chocolate chip cookies on top in a fan like pattern, not overlapping, and cutting cookies to fill in any spaces. Add the next ⅓ of the Lotus mixture, top this layer with crumbled Oreos and M&M’s, then top with the final ⅓ of the Lotus mixture. Drizzle chocolate sauce on top and decoratively top with more cookies, Oreos or M&M’s.

Freeze for 2 hours or up to 3 months. Defrost slightly before cutting and serving.

Click here for more Shavuot recipes.