SHAVUOT FEATURE (1) Cooking with seasonal fruits marks spring harvest holiday

MILWAUKEE, May 18 (JTA) — Shavuot, the Hebrew word for weeks, falls seven weeks after the first day of Passover. Originally an agricultural holiday, Shavuot marked the beginning of the wheat harvest. It also occurred around the time of the first fruit harvest in Israel. In ancient days, Jews baked 2 loaves of bread and took them to the Temple as offerings of gratitude. Among modern American Jews, the harvest has been overshadowed by Shavuot’s significance as the holiday in which the Jewish people received the Torah, and were given the Ten Commandments. Dairy foods are the most popular on this holiday, as well as seasonal fruits that reflect the harvest theme.

Easy Cheese Knishes

1/2 cup flour
1/2 stick butter or margarine
4 ounces cottage cheese, drained
In a mixing bowl combine flour and butter with a pastry blender or two forks. Stir in cheese and form into a ball. Wrap dough in waxed paper and chill overnight.
FILLING:

3 ounces (about 1/2 cup) cottage cheese or farmer cheese, drained
2-3 tablespoons beaten egg
sugar and cinnamon to taste if you want sweet filling
In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. On a lightly floured board with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8th-inch thickness. Cut dough into 2 inch circles (larger if preferred). Place a teaspoon of cheese mixture in center and fold edges over pressing closed with tines of a fork dipped in flour. Bake on a non-stick vegetable sprayed baking sheet in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Serve piping hot. Makes 24 knishes.

Noodle Kugel

1 pound wide egg noodles
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, cut into pieces
8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups sour cream
3/4 cup apricot preserves

TOPPING:

1/2 cup corn flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Cook noodles as directed on package until tender but still firm. Drain well and return to the hot pot. Stir in butter and toss until noodles are well coated. In a large bowl beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream and eggs and whisk until blended. Stir in buttered noodles. Spoon half of noodle mixture into a well buttered or non-stick sprayed 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Dot with preserves. Spoon remaining noodle mixture over. Sprinkle with corn flake crumbs. In a small bowl combine cinnamon and sugar; sprinkle evenly over the crumbs. Bake in a 350 degree over until top of kugel is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut into squares and serve.

Dried Fruit Noodle Kugel

1/2 cup white raisins
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots
1 pound egg noodles, medium width
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
6 eggs
3 tablespoons brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon

TOPPING:
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Soak the dried fruits in water to cover overnight or cook in water to cover until fruits are soft, about 30 minutes. Drain fruits. Cook noodles as directed on package; do not overcook. Drain and spoon into a large mixing bowl. Toss with melted butter or margarine and let cool slightly. In a small bowl, beat eggs with brown sugar and lemon juice. Stir in noodles together with soaked dried fruit and mix well. Place in a non-stick sprayed or oiled ovenproof casserole. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, chopped nuts and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the noodles and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes until browned.

Luncheon Tuna Cheese Casserole

10 slices of any kind of bread (slightly stale)
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cup sliced black olives; optional
1 can white meat tuna, flaked
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese of choice) shredded
3 tablespoons butter
Trim crusts off bread. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk and seasonings, beating well. Brush a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil. Place half of the bread slices on the bottom. Spoon on the tuna, pepper, onions and cheese. Cover with the remaining bread slices. Pour egg mixture over all. Cover and chill 4 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature, dot with butter and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

Easy Cheese Danish

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 8-ounce containers crescent roll dough
1 cup chopped walnuts
cinnamon
In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, egg yolks and vanilla on high until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes. Unroll 1 package of dough evenly in a 9 x 13-inch pan pressing down to close perforations. Spread cheese mixture evenly on dough. Unroll other package of dough evenly over filling. Whip egg whites with whisk until frothy; spread evenly over dough. Sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, for color, and nuts. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack; then slice into bars.

Cheesecake

CRUST:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 16 squares)
1/4 cup margarine (room temperature)

FILLING:
6 ounces Neufchatel cheese
1 1/2 cups low fat (2%) cottage cheese
1 whole egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and margarine mixing with 2 forks or a pastry blender. Press mixture into a 9-inch pep pan. In a blender or processor, blend cheeses until very smooth. Add egg, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla; blend well. Pour mixture into crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Turn off oven and allow pie to remain in oven 5 minutes longer. Chill. Serve with frozen or fresh berries or preserves spread over chilled top if desired.

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