High Holidays Feature (1): Adding Honey to Festive Meals Signifies Sweetness of New Year
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High Holidays Feature (1): Adding Honey to Festive Meals Signifies Sweetness of New Year

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Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, which begins on the eve of Oct. 1. As with most of our holidays, it has both serious and joyous aspects.

The holiday calls for a period of reflection on the deeds of the past year and it asks for repentance. It is also a joyous time as we look forward to a good sweet year.

Food is always an important part of our holidays and is taken literally, with the dishes served symbolizing sweetness. The traditional challah baked in a round loaf, often studded with raisins, is blessed, sliced and served with slices of apple. Both are dipped in honey before eating.

Preparing a dish not eaten at any other time acknowledges the newness of the year. The following recipes are sweetened with honey which has a higher sweetening power than sugar. For easy measuring lightly coat measuring cups or spoons with vegetable cooking spray or oil. One 12-ounce jar of honey measures one cup.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 tablespoons margarine

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

4 carrots, diced

2 celery ribs, sliced

1 potato, peeled, and sliced or cubed

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced

3 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken broth

1/2 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

salt and pepper to taste

ground nutmeg (optional)

In a large pot, melt margarine over medium heat. Stir in onions and garlic. Cook until tender.

Stir in all ingredients, except salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Working in small batches, transfer mixture to blender or food processor and process to smooth. Return pureed mixture to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a dash or two of nutmeg, if desired. Heat until hot and serve.

Honey Chicken with Tomato-Olive sauce

1/2 red jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons honey

1/8 teaspoon salt or more to taste

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about five ounces each)

Tomato-Olive Sauce:

2 tablespoons honey

1 medium tomato, peeled and diced

1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

12 kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Place red jalapeno pepper, 2 tablespoons honey and salt in a food processor and puree. Rub mixture over chicken. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons honey, tomato, green pepper, onion, olives, vinegar, oil and salt.

Broil chicken until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn chicken over and broil until it is no longer pink in the center, 8 to 10 minutes.

Pour tomato-olive mixture over chicken and serve. Garnish with fresh springs of parsley.

Honey Almond Carrots

2 cups sliced carrots, (about 4-6 carrots) sliced 1/8-inch thick

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

3-4 tablespoons margarine, softened

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

2-3 tablespoon honey

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine carrot and water. Cover and cook over medium heat until carrots are crisp-tender. Drain. Stir mustard, nutmeg and honey into the butter. Add this mixture to the carrots. Stir and heat through.

Sprinkle with almonds before serving.

To toast almonds: spread almonds in a single layer in a baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven or until light golden brown.

Honey Cake

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup cool coffee (3 teaspoons instant dissolved in 1 cup boiling water)

1 cup honey

1-2 teaspoons grated orange rind

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. In a large bowl of an electric mixer at low speed, combine oil, sugar and eggs. Beat at high speed until thick and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Combine coffee and honey in a bowl and mix well.

At low speed add flour mixture to sugar-egg mixture in fourths alternately with honey mixture in thirds, ending with flour. Add orange rind. Beat until combined. Pour into a well oiled and lightly floured 10-inch bundt pan.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 55 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Note: chopped nuts may be added to the batter or sprinkled on the bottom of the pan.

Chocolate (cocoa) Honey Cake

2 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 cup honey

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 3/4 cup sifted flour pinch of salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup almonds, chopped

2 tablespoons cognac coffee syrup (see recipe below) non-dairy whipped topping

Oil or vegetable non-stick spray a 9-inch square pan. Line with waxed paper and repeat.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs until thick, adding sugar gradually.

In a small bowl, combine and blend well cocoa, hot water, honey and oil. Beat into egg mixture. Combine the dry ingredients and add to batter.

Stir in the nuts. Add the cognac. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile make the coffee syrup.

Pour the syrup over the cake when it comes out of the oven. Cool. To serve, dollop with whipped topping cut into squares.

Coffee Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

2/3 cup water

1 tablespoon dark rum

In a saucepan, mix the sugar, coffee granules and water. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Cool slightly. Add rum. Pour over hot cake.

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