While there are many rituals that enhance the experience of Shabbat, the meal is just as vital. Preparing Shabbat dinner does not have to be time consuming in order to be festive and yummy. Here are some great recipes to get you started.
Challah is a staple in Jewish life and the essential beginning to any Shabbat dinner. If you’ve never made your own bread, this challah recipe is a good one to begin with. We’ll cut down on cooking time later in the meal, but you will be happy you set aside the time to bake your own bread!
Quick & Easy Cuisinart Challah
I spent months adapting this recipe until my family thought it was just right. I initially found it online.
3 ¾ cup flour
1 tsp salt
¼ cup brown sugar
2 pkgs yeast (3.5 – 4 tsp)
¼ cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
3 egg yolks
¼ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup honey
Place the flour in the Cuisinart, along with the salt and brown sugar. In a small bowl, proof* the yeast in the warm water and 2 tsp sugar. Set aside.
In a large measuring cup, put the egg yolks, canola oil, vanilla and honey. Mix with a fork. Add enough water to make it 1¼ cup. Mix. Turn on the food processor. While it is running, add ½ the egg mixture (about ¾ cup) and then the yeast mixture. Slowly add the rest of the egg mixture. Mix for another minute or two.
Turn out onto a slightly floured board. Knead for a minute or two with lightly floured hands.
Put dough into a large oiled bowl and turn to oil on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Allow to rise until double in size (about an hour). Punch down dough (literally).
Divide dough into six balls and braid into two separate loaves. Place loaves on oiled baking sheets. Allow covered loaves to rise – about an hour. Paint loaves with a mixture of one egg and 1 T water. Bake at 350 until golden brown and tapping on the bottom produces a hollow sound.
* Proofing the yeast may be the most nerve wracking part of challah baking. Your water must be warm enough but not too hot. Read the directions on the package and do some online research if you are nervous.
Gefilte fish and/or soup at Shabbat dinner are traditions that should be experienced. To save time, you can purchase fish or soup that’s already prepared. Instead of gefilte fish in the jar, try the frozen kind. You just pop it into boiling water with some onions and carrots and simmer away! It’s much sweeter and yummier than the kind in the jar. Don’t forget the horseradish.
If you don’t want to spend time preparing homemade soup, you can buy a box of Imagine or Pacific brand soup. They have some great pareve varieties. Trader Joe’s also has a carrot ginger flavor that tastes great with matzo balls (made from the box, of course).
Here is a chicken recipe that is easy to prepare ahead and warm up before the meal. It will stay moist and delicious.
Garlic Orange Chicken
¾ cup orange juice
¾ T soy sauce
½ tsp garlic powder
¾ pkg. onion soup mix
1 cut up chicken
Preheat oven to 350. Stir together the first four ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Place the chicken in a 9x13 baking dish. If you want to save on clean up time, purchase some aluminum tins to do your cooking in.
Pour orange juice mixture over the chicken. Marinade overnight if you have time.
Bake uncovered for one hour (more or less depending on your oven), basting occasionally. With boneless chicken, you will reduce cooking time.
Kugels are a staple in a Shabbat meal. They can be prepared ahead of time and are easy to warm up. This happens to be one of my favorites given to me by my friend, Lisa.
Butternut Squash Kugel
16 oz. bag of frozen butternut squash cubes
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup pareve soy milk
1 stick pareve margarine
Place squash in a pot of water and cook until soft. Drain squash. Mash in margarine stick. In a medium bowl, mix other ingredients. Add squash. Mix.
Put in a 9x13 baking tin. Sprinkle top with cinnamon. Bake at 350 for 1 hour until top turns golden brown. Watch it carefully as different ovens work at different speeds. I use a convection oven and it significantly cuts down on cooking time.
Add a green salad, and you’ve got a complete Shabbat meal….. well, it’s not QUITE complete.
The nature of Shabbat calls for dessert, and dessert is not a time to skimp. For an easy solution, buy a non-dairy sorbet from your grocery store and add the following easy to prepare cookies. Everyone loves them!
Easy Lemon Cookies
1 box of pareve lemon cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp lemon extract
Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients except sugar. Drop teaspoonful of dough into small bowl of confectioner’s sugar. Roll until lightly covered. Put on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-15 minutes until bottoms are golden.
When preparing a Shabbat meal, you can certainly pick intricate and time-consuming recipes. But, they don’t have to be difficult to be delicious. Enjoy!