We Jews are not known for under-catering, and around New Year most of us go into overdrive.
I went big on pomegranates and apples for my table display. I also baked a lot of honey cakes. I also filled up with fresh figs. They’re my favourite and the fruit I choose as my new fruit to start the new year.
And now it’s Succot — another reason to stockpile food. I love walking into shul with its display of fruits and vegetables. Pine wafts from the branches on the succah and the zingy scent of etrog is all around. It’s all about the smells and flavours.
But the harvest festival means more of nature’s bounty to consume and, as I can’t abide food waste (something we’re all being constantly reminded to reduce) some creativity is required to use up those excess supplies.
These rosey orbs are packed with hundreds of jewel-like seeds said to symbolise the mitzvot we’re hoping for in the coming year. The deep ruby juice is also delicious. They last a long time refrigerated whole, but once seeded, tend to go vinegary within a couple of days. The seeds make any salad — savoury or sweet — Instagrammable.
Use them in:
- Fennel, cucumber and pomegranate salad: thinly slice 2 medium-sized, thinly sliced fennel bulbs (cores removed and leaves reserved for garnish) and scatter over a large flat plate. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon to prevent browning and add a halved, seeded and sliced cucumber (thinnish slices) then scatter with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with good olive oil, season and spritz with more lemon juice to taste.
- Pomegranate, vanilla sponge cake: bake a plain vanilla sponge or madeira cake then drizzle with pomegranate syrup. To make the syrup, warm the juice of half a pomegranate (sieved) with the juice of half a lemon, 75g of caster sugar and half a teaspoon of vanilla. Spoon it over the cake whilst warm and once cooled, scatter over the seeds from the other half of the pomegranate.
- They also make great jam.
You may have an endless supply from an apple tree — or perhaps you just overbought for Rosh Hashanah like me.
Use them in:
- Apple toast: For a quick and healthy breakfast, grate apples into a bowl — strain out excess juice into a glass to drink later if they are very wet — and mix the flesh with a little cinnamon. Spoon onto hot, toasted grainy bread spread with a schmear of honey or peanut butter. Don’t try this with challah or regular sliced loaves or it will end up soggy.
- Autumn orchard salad: add chunks of apples (tossed in lemon juice to prevent browning); toasted walnuts (or their sweeter and less bitter cousins, pecans) and juicy black raisins to a bag of bitter salad leaves and add some crumbled feta. Dress with a maple vinaigrette — 120ml olive oil; 60ml cider vinegar; 3 tbsp of maple syrup, salt and pepper. You can also add cut up pears or plums if you have some around.
This fruit is one of four symbolic species used to mark Succot’s harvest which together spell God’s name. It should never end its days in the bin. The nobbly citrus is not the easiest to work with, as it has little juice (1 -2 tbsp per fruit) and is awash with pips. The zest, however, is packed with zing.
Use them in:
Etrog liqueur: makes a lovely Chanucah gift. To make, scrub the fruit well, then then cut away the zest, trying to avoid the pith. Soak the zest in cold water overnight, dry it, then put it into a jar with a lid with 500ml of vodka for at least a week. At the end of the week add 300g of caster sugar, close the lid and shake to dissolve the sugar. Add another 250ml of vodka and stir until clear. Close and leave in a cool, dark cupboard for six weeks. Then strain out the peel and decant into clean bottles
You can also candy the peel or make etrog marmalade.
- Freekeh fig salad — halve or quarter ripe, jammy figs and combine with a 250g bag of cooked freekeh; half a pack of flat leaf parsley (chopped); 100g goat’s cheese; 40g toasted flaked almonds and dress with a pomegranate vinaigrette, made from 3 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Roasted figs with ice cream – cut crosses into the tops of the figs, drizzle with honey and roast them at 180°C for 15 – 20 minutes until soft and caramelised.
If you do have honey cake knocking about — and believe it or not, I do — it makes a fabulous trifle base. We have two honey cake trifle recipes at www.thejc.com/recipes.
Or, you could do as Hanna Geller-Goldsmith of food blog www.Buildingfeasts.com does and crumble your cake — either by hand or pulsed in a food processor — and then spread them in one layer on a rimmed baking tray and toast in the oven at 170°C (fan) for about 10 minutes.
They won’t seem crispy at first, but will firm up as they cool.
She says to watch them like a hawk, as they burn easily. Larger crumbs may need a few more minutes but do keep an eye on them. Once the edges are on the verge of burning, they are ready.
Honey cake crumbs are great sprinkled over baked apples, over fruit crumbles or sprinkled over trifles or ice cream.