Susan Barocas has made this family-favorite, holiday-birthday cake since she was 8 or 9. She has tweaked the original recipe, using more citrus and less sugar in her version, which is suitable for Passover as well.
Barocas has discovered that spongecake fits in with her Sephardic heritage. Known as pan d’Espagne (bread of Spain), it was a favorite of Iberian Jews long before the Inquisition, which was when her father’s ancestors fled Spain to find a safe haven in the Ottoman Empire. Their descendants arrived at Ellis Island more than four centuries later.
You’ll need a 10-inch tube pan with a removable bottom.
Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries or fruit compote.
9 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (no pith) plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (no pith) plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup matzoh cake meal
1/4 cup potato starch
Pinch kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low, then medium-high speed until lightened, creamy and thick. Stop to scrape down the bowl, then add the sugar, orange zest and juice and lemon zest and juice. Beat on medium-high speed until thoroughly incorporated.
Whisk together the matzoh cake meal, potato starch and salt in a mixing bowl. On low speed, gradually add the cake meal mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat just until incorporated.
Rinse the beaters until completely clean, then run under cold water to chill them slightly.
Place the whites in a separate mixing bowl. Beat on low, then medium-high speed to form stiff peaks that are not dry.
Gently fold the beaten whites into the cake batter, one-third at a time, just until no white streaks of white remain and the batter is lightened. Use a light touch to spread the batter evenly in the (ungreased) tube pan. Bake undisturbed for 65 to 70 minutes; the top of the cake should be golden brown, and it should spring back when lightly pressed.
Immediately invert the cake (in the tube pan) so it rests on the pan’s supports, or invert onto a sturdy long-necked bottle. Cool completely.
Turn the cake right side up. Use a large, rounded knife to release the cake from the pan, then transfer the cake to a serving plate. Slice using a serrated knife, to keep from squashing the cake.
Quinoa With Dried Fruit and Honey-Lime Dressing
Makes 8 cups (8 servings)
This is easy to make in large quantities for entertaining. Feel free to change the amounts of the salad ingredients or to add other dried fruits as you wish.
2 cups dried quinoa, rinsed in cold water and drained thoroughly
4 cups water
10 dried apricots, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup dried currants
1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (see NOTE)
Lettuce leaves, for serving
Crumbled feta cheese, for garnish (optional)
Finely grated zest from 2 limes, plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 to 2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup sunflower, safflower or walnut oil
1 teaspoon salt, or more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
Meanwhile, combine the dried apricots and currants in a heatproof bowl. Cover them with just-boiled water to plump them up; drain after 10 to 12 minutes, then add the fruit to the quinoa along with the scallions.
(At this point, the salad can be refrigerated for 1 to 2 days in advance.)
When ready to serve, mix in the toasted almonds. Line a platter with lettuce leaves, then spoon the quinoa salad over the leaves. Scatter the feta over the top, if using, or serve alongside.
Sephardic Leeks With Tomato
Makes 2 1 / 2cups (10 servings)
Leeks are one of the seven symbolic foods blessed and served at a Sephardic Rosh Hashana seder.
Susan Barocas’ father, whose parents were from the Ottoman Empire, grew up eating this dish. Although he cooked quite a bit, inexplicably he had never made it for her or her siblings until it was introduced to them in the early 1960s by a cousin from Cuba. There was never a written recipe, so this is Barocas’ best attempt to re-create it. Serve as part of an appetizer assortment, mezze style, or as a side dish over rice, quinoa or pasta.
The recipe doubles easily.
4 large leeks, trimmed
4 to 6 overripe tomatoes (may substitute 28 ounces canned, no-salt-added whole tomatoes plus their juices, kept separate)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed (see VARIATION)
Juice of 1 small lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Seat a colander or large strainer inside a large bowl.
Cut the white and light-green parts of the leeks into 1-inch pieces, transferring them to the colander as you work. Rinse under cool running water, separating the pieces to dislodge as much grit as possible. Once the bowl is full, drain and refill. Soak the leeks for 5 to 10 minutes, giving them a swish with your hand once or twice. Drain and rinse a final time, then drain.
Seed, then coarsely chop the tomatoes, separately reserving 1 to 1 1/2 cups of their juices. If the tomatoes do not yield the amount of juice needed for this recipe, add water.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Carefully add the tomatoes, without their juices, mashing them slightly. Stir, then cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic (to taste) and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, then add the leeks and the reserved tomato juices. Stir to incorporate, then cover and cook for about 1 hour, until the leeks are soft and flavors have blended.
Add the lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper to taste. For a more concentrated flavor and drier consistency, cook uncovered; otherwise, cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve right away, or cool completely before storing.
Beef, Farro and Prune Overnight Stew
Makes about 12 1/2 cups
For centuries, Jews relied on overnight stews to nourish them during Shabbat and holidays. Because Jewish law forbids any work, including cooking, during days of observance, assembling a dish the day before and baking it overnight, usually in the town’s communal oven, was the way Jews throughout the Diaspora could serve warm, cooked food while observing the religious restrictions.
Eastern European Jews had cholent, a stew of beans, potatoes and beef. Northern African communities served a similar dish, dafina, with the addition of chickpeas. Iraqi Jews made tbeet, a dish of stuffed chicken with rice, and Yemenite Jews would bake a variety of breads and rolls and serve them with a spicy tomato salsa.
The overnight stews were then served for lunch, ready for the hostess to simply open the pot lid and reveal the steaming-hot dish.
This dish is a personal modern version of the traditional stews. It can be done in the slow cooker; do not skip the bean-soaking and searing steps. Skin-on fava beans are available where Goya dried products are sold, and at Middle Eastern markets.
8 ounces dried fava beans (not split fava, but skin-on; see headnote)
One 2-pound boneless beef chuck roast
4 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
12 ounces uncooked farro (a generous 2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons tomato paste
10 pitted prunes
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks (may substitute 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
5 cups water, at room temperature
Place the fava beans in a bowl and cover with water to soak overnight. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have a narrow, deep ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid at hand; the food should fit in snugly. The pot should be about 9 inches across, with a capacity of a little over 4 quarts.
Use paper towels to pat the meat dry. Season all over with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.
Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the meat and sear for about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion and stir to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onion has softened and picked up some color. Remove the pot from the heat.
Add the farro, fava beans, the remaining 3 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and the remaining teaspoon of pepper, the nutmeg and cardamom; mix well. Stir in the tomato paste and prunes until well incorporated.
Push the farro mixture to one side so you can return the seared beef to the pot alongside it. Place the cinnamon sticks on top of the meat.
Add the water, which should just about cover what’s in the pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; skim off and discard any foam that rises to surface. Remove from the heat.
Cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil, then seal with the pot’s lid. Slow-cook in the oven for 8 hours or overnight. Uncover and taste for seasoning. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Serve hot; or cool completely, cover and refrigerate for a day or two.
Smoked Whitefish and Apple in Cream and Chives
Makes about 3 1 / 2cups
This is a delicate, German-inspired version of the standard whitefish spread you find next to the lox on many Jewish holiday buffets.
Serve with bread or on its own.
1 1/2 pounds skin-on smoked whitefish
3/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 medium green apple, such as Granny Smith
Use your hands and a knife to remove/discard the skin and bones from the fish. Break the remaining meat into large chunks and place in a large bowl. Check for missed pin bones; do not skip this step.
Beat the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, just until slightly thickened. Stop and fold in the chives.
Pour the cream over the whitefish and toss gently to coat.
Cut the apple into eighths, discarding the core and seeds, then cut each section into very thin slices. Add to the whitefish-cream mixture and toss gently to incorporate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (to meld flavors) and up to 1 day.
MAKE AHEAD: The salad needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day before serving. From Washington caterer Vered Guttman, who blogs about food for Haaretz.com.
Apricot and Cinnamon Rugelach
Makes 50 to 60 pieces
This take on rugelach results in moist slices that show a spiral of crust and filling.
Soy cream cheese has been a great addition to the kosher baker’s pantry, as it behaves like regular cream cheese in dairy-free desserts. You can always use regular, but not whipped, dairy cream cheese and unsalted butter in this recipe.
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) pareve margarine, at room temperature
8 ounces soy cream cheese, slightly softened (see headnote)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, plus more for rolling
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 cup apricot jam or preserves
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted then coarsely chopped (see NOTE)
Combine the margarine, soy cream cheese, flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor; work in batches as needed. Pulse until a ball of dough forms. Divide the dough in half and flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for a few hours or up to overnight.
To roll out the rugelach, remove the dough from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature until a finger pressed into the dough leaves an impression. Lay a large sheet of parchment on the counter and sprinkle it with flour. Unwrap one disk, sprinkle it with flour as well, then top it with a second large sheet of parchment paper. Working from the center, roll out the dough to form a rectangle that’s about 10 inches by 15 inches. As you roll, peel back the parchment a few times to sprinkle more flour so the dough doesn’t stick.
Spread half of the apricot jam or preserves evenly on the dough, to the edges.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle half of it on the jam or preserves, then scatter half of the chopped pecans on top. The filling should not be too thick; if it is, the dough might tear or break when you’re rolling or as it bakes. If you have leftover filling, that’s okay.
Fold in the short sides of the dough 1/2 inch toward the center to keep the filling contained. If desired, use the parchment to help you roll the long side of the dough, working slowly and rolling as tightly as you can, to form a loaf that’s 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. The seam should be on the bottom; flatten the loaf slightly. Carefully transfer to the baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining disk of dough, jam or preserves, sugar-cinnamon mixture and pecans. Arrange the second loaf a few inches from, and parallel to, the first one. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the tops have lightly browned.
Cool; if serving within a few days, cut each loaf crosswise into 25 to 30 slices. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.