Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah! Who
doesn't look forward to that first smear of honey dripping slowly off a crisp
apple slice? Well, this year I am saying, 'Put down the Honey Bear and try the
honey from Israel.' I am not talking about honey from bees; I am referring to
Silan or date-honey.
Biblical foodies and Torah scholars that
have bandied about the notion that "the land flowing with milk and honey" refers
to date-honey, though beekeeping was an ancient practice.
Either way, I
am in love with the rich sweetness and sophisticated, dried fruit flavor of
While in Chicago, I can be in touch with my Israeli spirit
by using some Israeli ingredients, and my favorite right now is Silan.
Date-honey is a puree of dates and water. Easy to purchase at kosher
stores and those that carry Mediterranean foods, I prefer to make my own.
Sometimes the store bought products have added sugar which, in my mind, defeats
the point of date-honey. I am looking for the natural sweetness from the fruit
and not from sugar. My son Jonah calls dates "nature's candy." He is right! And
the puree is a perfect natural sweetener that is perfect for most recipes where
sugar, maple syrup or honey is added.
Date-honey is commonly used in
Israel, and if I can't be in Israel for the holidays, I can use the exclusive
and delicious sweetener for my apple-dipping, cooking and baking.
L'Shana Tovah u 'Metuka! Happy new year!
Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Date-Honey
not your mother's meatballs! Skip the cloying, overly sweet sauce and use subtle
and stylish date-honey.
a sophisticated sweetness that is rich and earthy.
is modern with no added sugar
and you can easily substitute the ground
*Chef's tip-I use a panade in my ground
meat dishes. A panade is a starch and liquid mixture that adds moisture
to meatballs, meatloaf and other dishes. It is not a way to "stretching" the
meat. It is there because meat shrinks as it cooks, and ground meat, more so,
and squeezes out moisture in the process. The panade is a moist "place
holder" and keeps the meat from contracting so much as to be dry and flavorless.
A panade can be made with soft bread crumbs, oats, cooked rice, barley
or other cooked grains. The liquid can be wine, stock, beer, water or any
For the sweet and sour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow
onion, grated on a box grater
2 garlic cloves, grated on a box grater
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce or 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Silan (date-honey)
Kosher salt and
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup soft bread crumbs (leftover challah works well
1/2 cup chicken stock, white wine or water
ground beef chuck
1 small onion, grated on a box grater
2 garlic cloves, grated
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
Heat a medium sauce pan,
with the olive oil, over medium heat. Add the grated onion and cook, stirring
occasionally until the onion is very fragrant and beginning to caramelize. Add
the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Decrease the heat to low
and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes.
Place the bread crumbs in a small
bowl and add the stock or other liquid. Stir to combine.
excess liquid out of the bread crumbs. Transfer the breadcrumbs to another bowl
and discard the liquid.
Add the remaining ingredients for the meatballs
and gently mix together. With light and slightly wet hands form the meatballs.
You can also use an ice cream scoop for this and then all the meatballs will be
the same size.
Heat a sauté pan, lightly coated with olive oil, over
medium heat. Brown the meatballs in batches until caramelized.
the meatballs to the sauce and continue cooking in the sauce.
meatballs with rice, potatoes, or favorite vegetable. Garnish with chopped
parsley and pomegranate seeds
Homemade date-honey is easy and fast to make.
Sometimes I keep it neutral without spices, but I like the added OOMPH of flavor
cinnamon brings to it.
20 Medjool dates, pitted
1 cup very hot
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Combine the dates, hot
water and cinnamon, if using, and steep for 1 hour.
Puree the mixture in
a blender or food processor until very creamy and thick.
Store the date
honey, covered in the refrigerator for 1 month.
Vegetable Tzimmes with Date-Honey
This stylish version of the
classic side dish takes center stage with rich fall root veggies and warm toasty
spices. The date-honey compliments the vegetables without being too sweet. I
serve this as a side for my favorite Pomegranate Chicken Recipe (my own recipe
of course!), or with a large salad as a vegetarian meal.
virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced thinly
1 medium sweet
potato, unpeeled, cut into large dice
1 medium butternut squash, peeled
and cut into large dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large
2 medium red beets, peeled and cut into wedges about ½ inch
1 medium gold beet, peeled and cut into wedges about ½ inch
4 garlic cloves
½ cup date honey
½ cup golden
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup water
cinnamon stick, or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 star anise
teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
teaspoon ground coriander
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 325°
Place a large Dutch oven or sauté pan,
lightly coated with EVOO, over medium heat.
Sauté the root vegetables, in
batches, until they are browned on all sides. BE SURE TO SEASON EACH BATCH WITH
SALT AND PEPPER!
Add back all the vegetables to the Dutch oven or to a
pan with a tight fitting lid. Add the date-honey, raisins, water, spices and
salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and roast the vegetables about 45 minutes
or until the vegetables are tender. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until
all the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are browned, caramelized and
Serve with chicken, brisket, fish, or as an entrée.
with fresh parsley, pomegranate seeds, and chopped dates
Crustless Pumpkin Custard with Date-Honey
equipment: 8 ¾-cup ramekins
1½ cups canned pumpkin puree
2½ cups coconut milk, or whole milk for dairy recipes
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon sea
Preheat the oven to 350°
Heat a tea kettle with
Whisk all the ingredients together and divide the custard into 8
Place the ramekins in a pan with high sides. Pour the hot water
into the pan so the water level comes up about halfway up the ramekins.
Bake the custard for 45-555 minutes or until it is set but still jiggly in
Remove the whole set up from the oven and allow the custards
to cool for 30 minutes in the water before refrigerating.
at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.
Garnish with pumpkin seeds,
chopped dates, and pomegranate seeds.
Laura Frankel is the Executive
Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering at the Spertus Institute for Jewish
Learning and Leadership in Chicago.
Chef Laura Frankel’s Facebook page (Chef Laura Frankel) to find out where she is
teaching cooking classes around town, including an upcoming cooking
demonstration at North Suburban Congregation Beth El. Watch the film
'The Sturgeon Queens' at Spertus on Sunday, Sept. 7, and join in a discussion
and “Herring Pairing” with Frankel after the movie. Visit www.spertus.edu for more details.