kosher kitchen

Warm kitchen aromas greet Shabbat in winter


I love Shabbat. I love the routine and the majesty that heralds a time of rest after a busy week. I especially love Shabbat in the winter. And, even though I absolutely do not like the cold, snow and ice that winter brings, I love the early arrival of dark that means an early Shabbat and more hours to relax in the evening and reflect on the past week.

I also love making winter Shabbat meals; the preparation makes the house so warm throughout the day. It reminds me of my grandmother who got up at the crack of dawn every Friday to cook her foods for Shabbos, as she called it. Her challot rose half the day, her chicken soup simmered all day, and in between she made gribenes. These filled her whole apartment building with the perfumes of the weekly holiday.

I love making all kinds of challot and different breads for Shabbat during the winter. I’m blessed in that my teaching schedule usually leaves me free on Fridays, so I can indulge in this activity. Besides being a great workout for arms and hands, rising dough smells so wonderful that I often move my computer to the kitchen, or I grade papers there while the bread rises.

At the same time, while the bread is rising, I can make soup and let it simmer all day while it fills the kitchen with warming steam and delicious scents. These endeavors may take time, but there is nothing like the perfume of yeast dough rising in the morning and the steamy warmth of soup gently simmering on the stove all day when the wind chill drops below zero.

Shabbat in the winter is wonderfully warm and cozy and a lovely, relaxing time. We get to spend more time with our grown children when they visit, which is always wonderful.

As I write this, there are 72 days of winter left. I will enjoy each Shabbat within those weeks as it brings warmth to my heart and soul during this especially cold winter. I hope you all have wonderful, warm and healthy winter Shabbatot.

Pumpkin Rolls for Shabbat (Pareve)

Every so often, we opt for twisted rolls in addition to challah. These are easy and delicious and, according to my friends and family, addictive. Allow 3-1/2 to 4 hours for prep and baking. You can make 18 rolls and 2 small challot shapes. Just bake the two larger ones a bit longer. 

1 cup warm water, 105-110 degrees

1 envelope active dry yeast

4 Tbsp. pure dark amber, maple syrup

1 tsp. agave syrup

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup canola or corn oil

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3-1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 tsp. salt

Oil for Basting:

2/3 cup canola oil or extra virgin olive oil for a stronger flavor, or a mix of the two

3 to 5 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press or grated, to taste

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Place the yeast in a large bowl. Add the warm water, maple syrup and agave syrup and mix to dissolve the yeast. Let sit for 15 minutes to proof the yeast. You should see foam on top and lots of small bubbles.

Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the last half cup of flour and the salt and begin to knead the dough right in the bowl. The dough should become smooth, soft, and elastic. Place a teaspoon of olive oil in another large bowl and place the dough in that bowl. Turn the dough so the oiled side is up. Cover lightly with a piece of plastic wrap (this dough is too soft for a towel) and place in a warm place to rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size. This dough will be very soft and, if a bit too sticky, add a dusting of flour.

Make the garlic oil by place the oil in a small bowl and adding the garlic and salt. Mix until the salt dissolves. Set aside.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Punch down the dough and gently knead 2 to 3 times. Let sit covered for 15 minutes in a warm spot. Divide dough in half and divide the two pieces in half. This will give you 6 rolls per quarter.

Take off 1/6 of one piece and roll into a long thin rope. Tie the rope as you would to make a knot and then tuck the ends under. Shape the roll so it is rounded on the sides and place on the parchment. Complete until you have 12 rolls per pan. Let sit in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Gently, but generously, brush the tops of each roll with the garlic oil. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and immediately generously brush the rolls with more garlic oil. Let sit for 5 minutes. Makes 24 rolls.

Kamut with Roasted Root Veggies (Pareve)

Kamut is an ancient grain that looks a bit like a pine nut. It is delicious and can take on any flavors from sweet to savory. It is very healthful and can be found in health food stores and, now, sometimes in larger grocery stores.

For soaking:

1 cup kamut berries

2 cups water

For cooking:

Soaked kamut berries

3 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

For roasted vegetables:

2 to 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, grated or pressed through a garlic press

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 –inch cubes

2 to 3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced, slices cut into quarters

Salt and pepper to taste

1 bunch scallions

Optional: 1/2 to 1 tsp. Garam Marsala seasoning or other seasonings such as sumac, cinnamon, cumin, etc.

Optional: You can top this with any roasted nuts you like, such as pistachios, pine nuts or even sunflower seeds, etc.

Place the kamut berries in 2 cups of water, cover loosely and let sit overnight. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set aside.

Pour the oil into a large bowl and add the garlic. Stir to mix. Set aside. Dice the squash and slice the carrots and add to the bowl. Slice the onion and add to the bowl. Toss to coat with the garlic and oil.

Pour onto the prepared pan, season with salt and pepper, or as you like, and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until golden and tender. Remove from the oven.

While the vegetables are roasting, drain the kamut and place in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 35 to 50 minutes, uncovered, until kamut is tender, but not mushy. The liquid should be almost completely absorbed.

Pour the kamut into a large bowl and add the roasted vegetables. Toss to mix. Thinly slice the scallions and add to the bowl and toss. Top as you like with nuts or seeds or serve as is. Serves 6 to 10.

NOTE: You can easily substitute farro or wheat berries for this or, if you are following a GF diet, use rice.