“Just Us” Shabbos Menu
* Charred eggplant, Israeli salad, chummus, and chickpeas
* Pepper-crusted tuna with diced avocado
* Chicken soup with chicken dumplings
* Whole chicken slathered with chopped garlic, fresh thyme, and lemon
* French roast with herb crust
* Roasted cauliflower
* Potato kugel
* Apple crisp
3 ways I cater to my guests
* Colored techinah. Along with the fish, I serve a variety of salads with vibrant-colored techinah: golden techinah made with turmeric, pink techinah made with beets, and green techinah made with fresh parsley or mint (inspired by the Sababa cookbook). I add complementing flavors of roasted vegetables as a garnish in the center, like crispy smoky Brussels sprouts and roasted baby yams. As a shortcut, I buy store-bought prepared techinah and add the fresh ingredients into it.
* Beet-and-horseradish cured salmon. This makes a beautiful presentation and has an amazing flavor. The bonus is that whatever’s left over you have as lunch for the next week.
* Personalized menu and seating cards. My friends all make fun of me for this, but they secretly love it. Besides making my guests feel like the meal was specifically tailored to them, it also forces me to be super organized, since I need to know exactly what I’m serving well in advance.
How do you challah?
The Never Fail Challah recipe from Dining In has been my go-to for years, along with the tefillos from The Mitzvah of Challah by Esther Rivka Toledano. This book elevated my challah making into a real spiritual experience. Each ingredient you add has a correlating tefillah for your family.
I always weigh the pieces of dough on a small digital kitchen scale before I roll them out and braid them so that all my challahs come out the same size.
My Cooking Style
I spend a lot of time curating my menu to my guests and their food preferences. If they’re more daring, I create a more experimental and interesting menu; otherwise I’ll serve traditional foods with a twist.
I especially love having guests for Yom Tov and going all out with a Yom Tov theme. Inviting people over is an excuse for me to experiment with all kinds of recipes!
I also like to factor in the time of year and make use of seasonal produce. For example, during Succos I’ll incorporate different types of apples and cranberries into my menu. In the winter, I’ll feature a deep-flavored mushroom or root vegetable soup. During the spring, it’s fresh berries, lemons, and heirloom tomatoes in salads.
Organization and planning is key! When I create my menu for Yom Tov, or if I’m having guests for Shabbos, I always take the time to print out each recipe and clip them all together so that I’m not flipping through five different books or searching for a recipe that someone texted to me. This is especially helpful when cooking on Yom Tov, when you can’t check your phone. (We’ve all been there!)
Brisket with Thyme, Mushrooms, and Marrow Bones
- olive oil
- 6 shallots, sliced
- 6 cubes frozen garlic
- 6–8 sprigs thyme
- 6 oz (170 g) baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 6 oz (170 g) cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 6 oz (170 g) shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 3-lb (1½-kg) first-cut brisket
- kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 6–8 marrow bones, whole or sliced in half from the butcher
- 1 cup red wine
Heat olive oil in a deep and wide cast-iron pot and sauté shallots until they’re shiny. Add garlic and thyme and sauté a few minutes longer. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft.
Season brisket with salt and pepper and lay on top of mushrooms in the pot. Layer marrow bones on top of brisket. Add red wine and a bit of water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and simmer for 3–4 hours.
Crispy Smoky Brussels Sprouts
- 10 oz (280 g) brussels sprouts
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ Tbsp honey
- ½ Tbsp mild harissa
- salt and pepper, to taste
Trim brussels sprouts and cut into quarters.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Add the brussels sprouts and cook until it starts to get crispy, about 5 minutes.
Add smoked paprika, honey, harissa, along with salt and pepper. Cook 5 more minutes.
To serve, spread techinah on a plate and top with cooked brussels sprouts.
(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 746)
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