Menu #6: Shabbat Lunch

Appetizer Chicken and steak sushi
Salad 1 Avocado, orange, and pomegranate salad
Salad 2 Israeli salad
Entree 1 Chulent
Entree 2 Deli roll surprise
Entree 3 Kishka-stuffed chicken
Side 1 Sweet potato pie
Side 2 Noodle kugel
Side 3 Mushroom barley dish
Side 4 Broccoli with shallots and walnuts

Chulent is, for those who are not familiar, a beef stew, with beans, potatoes, barley, onions, and various spices, slow-cooked for about 24 hours. It’s prepared on the day before the Sabbath (one is permitted to cook on the holiday for the Sabbath) and is extremely yummy. The surprise in the deli roll is pepper steak — we stick it in the middle and the dish is a big favorite. And yes, there’s the Israeli salad again. But what really makes this meal stand out in my mind is the appetizer.

Last year’s appetizer at this meal was gefilte fish. Granted, it was the nice kind of gefilte fish — the loaf kind, cooked in a tomato-basil sauce. But a couple of months ago my husband and I went to a really nice steak and sushi place in Lakewood, NJ, where I had a duck sushi appetizer, which to date is still one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. And it sparked an idea of trying to do something similar. Raw fish won’t work for a number of members of my family, but there’s no rule that says I have to serve fish, right? So in keeping with my husband’s carnivorous reputation, we’re going with two kinds of sushi — chicken and steak. (No duck, though… I’m not that ambitious — yet.) I’m thinking of making the chicken one with avocado, but I’m not sure what else yet. The steak will likely be pepper steak with roasted peppers. I’ll be cooking the ingredients in advance, but assembling everything right before the meal (with the sushi kit I have yet to order… mental note: DO THAT). So this, along with the Turducken, are the two major innovations for this year’s Sukkahpaloozah… and that concludes the menu planning portion of this blog.

As of next week, I’ll be cooking and freezing for three weeks, then taking a week off to cook for and celebrate Rosh HaShanah, and then comes the big push — one and a half weeks of cooking and packing my refrigerator full of everything that can’t be frozen. I will be posting as many pictures of the finished components as I can manage, but there will be some things that won’t make the blog, unless I remember to take pictures of the leftovers, since a significant number of dishes will be made or at least finally assembled over the holiday, when I will not be using my camera (salads, for instance, as well as the chulent for this meal and the previous nights vegetable soup come to mind immediately). I hope you’ll all stick around… the fun (and utter madness) hasn’t even begun!

Menu #5: Friday Night

Appetizer Mini broccoli-salami quiches
Soup Vegetable soup
Salad 1 Chicken salad
Salad 2 Israeli salad
Entree 1 Stuffed cabbage
Entree 2 Cherry chicken puffs
Side 1 Yerushalmi kugel
Side 2 Mashed potato pie
Side 3 Zucchini in tomato sauce

…And we’re almost done! With the menus, at least. The vegetable soup is my own concoction, and to be honest, I never even got around to serving it last year. I had left cooking it for Friday during the actual holiday, since I was cooking it to be eaten on Shabbat, but it didn’t get done in time — and truthfully, no one missed it. But I’d like to make it anyway — it’s a pretty good soup, if I say so myself, and also pretty light — so I’m going to try and start it early and just reheat it a few hours later. Hopefully that will work.

I made the stuffed cabbage last year, and it went over extremely well — and it freezes wonderfully, which is a good thing in my case. The Israeli salad is the only item on any of the menus, in case anyone has noticed, that is getting repeated (but I think I’m allowed one item, right?). Yerushalmi kugel is a noodle pudding made with fine noodles, caramelized sugar, and a lot of pepper. I was lucky enough to find a recipe on the internet somewhere that provides enough of a kick to make me happy but does not set my guests’ mouths on fire. And the mashed potato pie is my lovely mother-in-law’s recipe, to which I added soymilk, which I think makes a huge difference in how light it tastes.

One more to go, and the cooking commences next week!

Menu #4: Friday Lunch

Soup Strawberry-watermelon gazpacho
Salad 1 Terra chip salad
Salad 2 Cut vegetables with dip
Entree 1 Salmon two ways (lemon pepper/garlic and honey teriyaki)
Entree 2 Tuna potato scallop
Entree 3 Deli platter
Side 1 Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes
Side 2 Curried rice with raisins and almonds
Side 3 Apple-cranberry crisp
Side 4 Green beans with garlic and mushrooms

After such heavy fare, this meal is meant to be much lighter. We’re going with mostly fish for the entrees; there’s a deli platter since my husband and I don’t do dairy meals for a festival meal, so there’s meat available for those who want it; but there are no kugels either, and most of the food is on the lighter side in general.

The Terra Chip salad comes from a cookbook by Susie Fishbein (I’ve forgotten which one, as she’s written several); it’s mostly greens and some peppers tossed with a a yummy ketchup-and-onion-based dressing, with Terra Chips thrown in for crunch and color. It looks pretty and is rather popular among my guests.

Menu #3: Thursday Night

Appetizer Salmon cakes with garlic aioli
Soup Sweet potato soup
Salad 1 Asian steak salad
Salad 2 Baby spinach salad with strawberries, mango, and mandarin oranges
Entree 1 “Fire popper” chicken
Entree 2 Spaghetti with meat sauce
Side 1 Potato kugel
Side 2 Apple kugel
Side 3 Cauliflower

This meal is going to follow the Ribs meal, so it’s only got two entrees, although one of the salads almost counts as one anyway. We’re also going to be eating it pretty late (after twilight, which in October is at about… 8pm or so, I think). Hopefully that will give lunch some time to digest. Most of the dishes for this one are ones that have been really popular with everyone, so I know people will at least make an effort to eat some of everything.

The salmon cakes are from an internet recipe… they’re fabulous, and have a really eclectic list of ingredients, which is what caught my attention when I first saw it: couscous cooked in orange juice, frozen spinach, canned pineapple, canned salmon, garlic, cumin. The result is delicious. The sweet potato soup is also culled from the internet, although in this case I studied a lot of different recipes and just made my own version… which I could consume an entire gallon of just on my own. The “Fire Popper” chicken is so named after a chicken appetizer at a local NY/NJ restaurant named Dougie’s that was a big college hangout for me and my husband back in the day; theoretically this dish tastes just like that appetizer. It’s basically breaded chicken cooked in a sauce made from paprika, lemon juice, sugar, and pepper (among a few other things). The recipe came from my SIL, who got it from a friend…. and I have no idea who originated it. But it’s also quite yummy.

We are now halfway done… 3 more menus to go, and then the cooking plans commence!

Menu #2: Thursday Lunch

Appetizer Potato-chicken croquettes with citrus green curry sauce
Salad 1 Deli salad
Salad 2 Israeli salad
Entree 1 (Beef) ribs 3 ways (“Way Down South” sauce, honey mustard, and plain S&P for my FIL)
Entree 2 Hush puppies
Entree 3 Sweet & sour chicken
Side 1 Roasted red potatoes
Side 2 Rice with caramelized onions and cumin
Side 3 Butternut squash kugel
Side 4 Moroccan carrot salad

 

Ribs! Ribs! Ribs!

Sorry, got carried away. This is generally my (and everyone’s; let’s be honest) favorite meal. Also, for me, because of the carrot salad… it’s nice and garlicky and even though it’s a love-it-or-hate-it kind of dish, I’ll just eat all the leftovers anyway.

The last couple of years I served ribs I went with the honey-mustard sauce, a really spicy rub, and a bottled hickory BBQ sauce (mostly because the decision to go with three types rather than two was last-minute, and the sauce I picked went over really, really well so we kept it). But after some insistence from my husband that no one eats the spicy ribs except me, they have been retired in favor of the “down south sauce” (that’s what the book called it) which I recall used an entire bottle of wine (among other ingredients) when I last cooked 8 lbs of beefy goodness. Also, my FIL likes his food tres simple, so I’m just going to go with basic seasoning for a bunch of them. Time-wise, it looks to be about the same preparation time as last year, so I’m good with it.

I reconsidered the salads on the menu from the previous meal and this one, and thus have swapped a couple of them; the Israeli salad was moved to this meal, and a hearts of palm salad will take its place for Wednesday night. (I also will be updating the menu post.)

Menu #1: Wednesday Night

Appetizer Acorn squash with cranberries
Soup Split pea soup
Salad 1 Caesar salad
Salad 2 Hearts of palm salad
Entree 1 Turducken with stuffing and roasted potatoes
Entree 2 Pot roast
Side 1 Bread stuffing (technically, dressing)
Side 2 Grandma’s lukshen kugel
Side 3 Baked sweet potatoes
Side 4 Asparagus

Yes, you read that right. A turducken. Since it seems we have to top ourselves from last year, and my husband has crazy, crazy ideas.  Also a crazy sense of confidence in my cooking ability.  But he did do some preliminary research, and found out that we may be able to order deboned fowl from our butcher with which to create this infamous dish.  So we shall see….

Thankfully, the rest of the first night’s menu is entirely comprised of things I have made multiple times before.  Grandma’s lukshen kugel is a noodle pudding made in an heirloom pan that my husband managed to abscond with before she (horrors!) almost threw it away because it was stained.  It doesn’t taste right unless it’s made in it.

Thoughts?  Just how insane is this plan?

It begins…

Most Jewish hostesses’ years revolve around the holiday of Passover.  Their cooking, cleaning, and recipe compilation is all done with that festival lurking in the back of their minds.  Mine revolves around an event on the other side of the calendar:  Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.  “Why,” you ask?  Read on.

The Quest:

In just under eight weeks from now, I’m going to be throwing six festive meals, for approximately 20 people at each meal, over the course of three days, with about ten dishes at each meal, with virtually no repetition of dishes.  And I will be cooking everything, except dessert.

Again.

Yes, I am insane.  But I prefer to think of my ambitions as quixotic, perhaps (hence my name).

I’ll be updating this blog throughout my adventures in preparing for the holiday, in an effort to keep myself on track for what will hopefully be a fun, chaotic weekend, full of family and good food.  That last part, of course, hinges on me keeping my act together and staying on schedule.

I have pantries and freezer contents to inventory and clear out; recipes to consolidate; menus to finalize; cooking schedules to assemble, and shopping lists to write.  And that’s just over the next two weeks, before the cooking actually starts.

Hopefully you’ll stick around and see whether it all comes together… and whether I am still able to think straight by the end. 🙂