A bowl of borscht garnished with dill and a dollop of smetana. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Every year, it’s the same standard setup: brunch for Mother’s Day and a barbecue for Father’s Day. But why fight the Sunday-morning breakfast crowd? And why sweat on a hot June day if you don’t have to? More than that, why be so predictable? There’s nothing that says a hearty Shabbat meal couldn’t satisfy; plus, you get an entire evening to relax and share stories, mixing fine food and company without having to get up early for work the next day.

There’s also no commandment that says chicken soup and roast chicken must be served on Shabbat. In fact, for many, meat has been completely replaced, with vegan dishes making center-stage on Friday-night tables.

On the island north of Scotland where I grew up, fish was fresh and abundant. We ate it every night — from gefilte fish and crisp oatmeal herring to the ubiquitous fish and chips, all homemade. My mother cooked up fish in a score of different ways, her Ashkenazi cuisine marrying deliciously into her neighbors’ Scottish recipes. Varieties such as herring, haddock, sole and halibut was dished up in a matter of hours, so fresh that the tails curled up.

But on cool-weather Shabbats or when the family craved comfort food, she prepared Shepherd’s Pie, bubbling and enticing from the oven. Ground lamb stew studded generously with root vegetables, seasoned with plenty of onions and crowned with clouds of mashed potatoes, it not only was a glorious dish but a thrifty one as well. And it could be prepared early in the day and then reheated before dinner time.

It’s said that Shepherd’s Pie originated in Scotland (makes sense). Root vegetables and potatoes were cheap, and it wasn’t uncommon for families to slaughter a lamb, and salt and wind-dry it to store over the winter. If the dish is made with another meat, such as beef and a pastry crust, replacing the potatoes, it’s referred to as Cottage Pie.

My mantra, as always, is to make the preparation easy. Use your freezer. Frozen items like veggies and fruits are nutrient-rich and sometimes even better than fresh, which may have been trucked in over days from miles away. As for meats, when on sale, stock your freezer and save. I offered a vegan recipe for the main dish, to be accompanied by the borscht and broccoflower salad — perfect with fresh challah and wine.

Happy Mother’s Day! Happy Fathers’ Day! And Shabbat Shalom!

Menu:

  • Challah and Wine
  • Vegetable Beet Borscht
  • Shepherd’s Pie
  • Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
  • Crunchy Broccoflower Salad
  • Sabra-Soaked Bananas with Frozen Vanilla Yogurt 

Vegetable Beet Borscht (Pareve)

Serves 4-6

Cook’s Tips:

*Start off with a jar of store-bought borscht.

*Cooked beets are available in markets.

*Store-bought packaged shredded salad veggies.

*May be made ahead of time, chilled and reheated.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups bottled beet borscht
  • 2 medium beets, cooked and coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups shredded salad vegetables
  • 1 (8 oz.) can stems and pieces mushrooms, drained
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar or to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a saucepan.

Heats over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are wilted.

Serve hot.

Shephard’s Pie. Photo by Ethel G. Hofman.

Shepherd’s Pie (Meat)

Serves 4-6

Cook’s Tips:

*Ground beef or mixture of beef and turkey may be used instead of turkey.

*Use store-bought pareve mashed potatoes or make your own; 3 cups mashed potatoes, moistened with 2 tablespoons melted pareve margarine or non-dairy creamer.

*Correct seasonings? It just means season to taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ¼ cup frozen chopped onion
  • 1½ cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 1 (8 oz.) can stems and pieces mushrooms, drained
  • 1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon chopped bottled garlic
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and fresh ground pepper or to taste
  • 3-4 cups mashed potatoes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add turkey and onion. Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until no pink in turkey remains.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, except the mashed potatoes.
  4. Cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Correct seasonings.
  5. Transfer to a 2-quart ovenproof casserole dish. Spoon mashed potatoes over top, roughing with a fork.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, or until meat mixture is bubbling and potatoes beginning to brown.
  7. Serve hot with a crunchy salad.

 

Vegan Shephard’s Pie. Photo by Ethel G. Hofman.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (Pareve)

Serves 4-6 

Cook’s Tips:

*Fresh sliced leeks and cubed butternut squash are available in markets.

*If using whole leeks, separate leaves and wash well in cold water.

*Vacuum-packed, precooked lentils are available in markets.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sliced leeks
  • 2½ cups cooked lentils
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
  • ½ cup vegan tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil, divided
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the leeks. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often, until leeks are softened.
  4. Add the lentils, mixed vegetables, tomato purée, thyme and ½ teaspoon basil. Stir to mix. Transfer to a 2-quart ovenproof casserole dish. Set aside.
  5. Place squash in a microwave dish. Cook for 7 minutes on High, or until squash is tender.
  6. Spoon over the lentil mixture. Sprinkle with remaining basil.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until lentil mixture is bubbly. Serve hot.

 

Crunchy Broccoflower Salad. Photo by Ethel G. Hofman.

Crunchy Broccoflower Salad (Pareve)

Serves 4-6

Cook’s Tips:

*Use bottled Asian sesame ginger dressing.

*Broccoflower salad may be prepared up to 8 hours ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate.

*Roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds available in markets.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (approximately 12-oz.) fresh or frozen broccoli and cauliflower florets
  • ½ cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • ⅓ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • ⅓ cup sesame ginger (Asian) salad dressing.

Directions:

  1. Microwave broccoli and cauliflower in bag for 1 minute to soften very slightly.
  2. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the pumpkin seeds and cranberries.
  3. Pour the dressing over and toss to mix.
  4. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

Sabra-Soaked Bananas (pareve)

Serves 4-6

Cook’s Tips:

*For a dairy meal, substitute butter for the margarine.

*Bananas may be soft, though firm enough to hold shape.

*Substitute any fruit liqueur for Sabra, (i.e., cherry brandy).

*May make ahead of time and chill. Zap for 30 seconds on High or until warm.

*Substitute shredded coconut or grated pareve chocolate for the almonds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons pareve margarine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Sabra liqueur or other fruit liqueur
  • 3 medium bananas, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds (optional)

Directions:

  1. Melt margarine in a medium nonstick skillet.
  2. Add the brown sugar and stir over medium heat until bubbly, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the bananas, stirring to coat with sugar mixture. Cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, stirring often, until bananas are barely softened.
  4. Serve warm in compote dishes.
  5. Sprinkle with slivered almonds, shredded coconut or grated pareve chocolate (optional).

Key Lime Tarts. Credit: Pixabay.

Key Lime or Lemon Curd Mini-Pies (Pareve)

Makes about 1¼ cups

Cook’s Tips:

*For sweet, tangy lemon curd, substitute fresh lemon juice for lime juice. For a dairy meal, substitute butter for the margarine.

  • ¼ cup bottled Key lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime rind or juice and grated rind of 3 limes
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pareve margarine, melted
  • Store-bought kosher pareve phyllo cups or mini-tartlet shells, ready to eat

Lemon Tarts. Credit: Pixabay.

Directions:

  1. Place the lime juice and grated rind, eggs and sugar in blender jar.
  2. Turn on to medium speed; pour in the melted margarine gradually.
  3. Whirl 15 seconds to thoroughly blend.
  4. Pour into a small heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Do not boil.
  5. Chill. Mixture will thicken as it cools.
  6. Spoon into phyllo cups or tartlet shells after filling has cooled a bit, but before it sets.
  7. Serve same day and refrigerate leftovers.

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