Enjoying the Harvest: Cooking for Sukkot

I did not grow up celebrating Sukkot. Lou built our first sukkah when our son was 2 years old. Each year Lou drags the sukkah pieces up from the basement and our now 36-year-old son comes over to help him put it together. We cut the schach from grasses that we grow in our yard and Lou spreads it on top of the sukkah. And then I hang the decorations – stained glass and metal ornaments that we’ve collected over the years.

We’ve developed our own rituals and customs for celebrating the holiday. We wave the lulav and esrog each night before dinner in the sukkah. We pray for it NOT to rain so that we can eat in the sukkah every night; and we hope for warmer temperatures so that we can linger in the sukkah. We invite family and guests several nights of the holiday. And pre-pandemic we hosted Taste of Shabbat at our home every year.

There are no traditional foods specifically for Sukkot. My choice of foods is based on the harvest origins of the holiday, including seasonal fruits and vegetables such as apples, cabbage, potatoes and squash. These are some of my favorites.

Chicken with Apples and Raisins

2 chickens, cut up
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
½ stalk celery, chopped
½ cup of raisins
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon curry
2-3 apples, peeled, cored and cut in chunks
¼ cup of slivered almonds
Zest from 1 lemon (1 teaspoon)
1 cup dry white wine

PREHEAT` oven to 325 degrees.
1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add some of the chicken pieces skin side down (Don’t crowd the chicken or it will steam rather than brown.). Cook undisturbed until the chicken skin is browned (5 minutes or 7-8 minutes for a browner skin). Turn chicken over; cook undisturbed for 4-5 minutes. Remove to casserole. Repeat to brown remaining chicken pieces, adding more oil if needed.
2. Add onion & celery to the pan and sauté until brown.
3. At the same time, soak raisins in warm water to cover for about 10 minutes. Add the soaked raisins to the onion mixture with the honey, curry, apples & almonds. Spoon over the chicken.
4. Mix together the lemon zest & wine and pour over the chicken. Cook in the oven for 1½ hours.

Pareve Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
8 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add potatoes, garlic and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, covered, at a brisk simmer until potatoes are tender (15 minutes).
2. Drain potatoes and garlic, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Mash potatoes and garlic. Beat in olive oil and ½ cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Add more of the cooking liquid to obtain the desired consistency.

Glazed Sweet Potatoes and Squash

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons margarine, cut into small pieces

PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees.
LINE a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
1. Mix sweet potatoes and squash together in the baking pan; spread out into a single layer in baking pan (It’s okay if pieces are a bit crowded).
2. Spread brown sugar & cinnamon over the potatoes & squash. Dot with the margarine.
3. Bake for 40 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes so that the potatoes & squash become glazed.

Cabbage and Coconut

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon mustard seed
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
1 small cabbage (1 pound), quartered, cored and sliced ½ inch thick

1. Heat oil in 6-quart pot. Add mustard seeds and stir fry until seeds start to sputter and burst (1-2 minutes).
2. Lower heat to moderate. Add cayenne & onion; stir fry until the onion is golden (5 minutes). Add coconut; stir fry 2-3 minutes.
3. Add cabbage and toss well. Stir fry until well glazed (5 minutes). Lower heat to low; cover and cook 12-15 minutes until crisply tender and starting to brown. Toss before serving.

Apple Cake (shared by Judy Wildman)

5 large apples (Granny smith), peeled, cored and sliced
3 tsp cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 cup oil
⅓ cup orange juice
2½ tsp vanilla

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.
GREASE AND FLOUR a tube pan.
1. Mix apples with cinnamon, sugar & walnuts and set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, mix together the other ingredients.
3. Layer the ingredients in the pan: one third of the flour mixture; half of the apple mixture, another third of the flour mixture; the rest of the apple mixture; and the final third of the flour mixture.
4. Cook for approximately one hour until a toothpick comes out clean. (Do not overcook.)

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