At sundown on Tuesday, May 30, Jews around the world will begin the two-day holiday of Shavuot (celebrated only one day in Israel). Shavuot means ‘weeks’ – because the holiday marks the completion of the counting of the Omer period. Shavuot is also a time in which we celebrate and renew our acceptance of the Torah, which was given to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai more than 3300 years ago.
It is customary to eat dairy foods on the first day of Shavuot. One reason: With the giving of the Torah the Jews became obligated to observe the laws of kashrut. As the Torah was given on Shabbat, no cattle could be slaughtered nor could utensils be koshered; thus, on that day they ate dairy. Another reason: The Torah is likened to nourishing milk.
What to eat for Shavuot? There’s always blintzes – or perhaps we should say there always seems to be blintzes. So, to change things up a bit, we offer these two off-the-beaten path recipes to enhance your Shavuot celebration.
Israeli couscous mac and cheese
From Shannon Sarna, editor of The Nosher
(Via JTA) – Mac and cheese is one of those comfort food dishes that is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. With this recipe, I decided to combine a more American-style pasta dish with some Israeli flavors, like cottage cheese and feta. This baked dish is cheesy and familiar enough to feed the kids, but just different enough to grab the attention of adults. You can make it ahead, serve it for a weeknight dinner or serve it alongside some baked salmon for Shavuot.
2 1/2 cups uncooked Israeli couscous (also called Middle Eastern couscous or pearl couscous)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk or half & half
8 ounces 4% cottage cheese (around 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
For the topping:
1/3 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Cook couscous 5 minutes. Drain in a large mesh sieve. While couscous is cooking, combine 4 tablespoons butter and all the cheeses, milk, salt and pepper in large bowl. Grease an 8-by-8 or 9-by-9-inch square pan. Drain couscous and add to bowl with cheeses. Mix well. Add couscous mixture to greased pan. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon melted butter, paprika and pinch of salt. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over couscous. Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serving.
The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www.TheNosher.com.
Gluten-Free Brownie Cheesecake
Courtesy of Koshermoms.com and Pereg Natural Foods
For those on gluten-free diets, the traditional baked dairy foods often served for the Shavuot holiday can present a challenge. Pereg Natural Foods offers this unexpected and delicious gluten-free brownie cheesecake dessert.
6 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate baking bars
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup Pereg Natural Foods Gluten Free Teff Flour
1 tablespoon tapioca flour
Ingredients – topping:
2 packages softened cream
1/2 cup sugar plus 2 teaspoons for swirl
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries
1-2 drops red food coloring optional
Directions – brownie layer:
Preheat oven to 325º. Use an 8×8 pan and grease with butter or oil. Melt Butter and Chocolate in the microwave (careful not to burn it) or use the double boiler method. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla. Whisk in the Pereg Gluten Free Teff Flour, tapioca flour and salt into the batter and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting.
Directions – cheese cake layer:
Puree strawberries with 2 teaspoons of sugar. Strain to remove seeds. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, lemon and vanilla extract and beat well. Remove 1 cup of batter and add the strawberry puree. Mix well. If the color is not red enough, you can add red food coloring to provide a nice contrast. Pour regular cheesecake batter into pan and smooth evenly. Pour strawberry batter into pan and make swirl lines with a knife to marbleize Refrigerate until cool. Serves 6.
CAP: Gluten-Free Brownie Cheesecake