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September 21, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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September 21, 2018

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PAGE 10A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 21, 2018 J By Sonya Sanford (The Nosher via JTA)--There can never be too many toma- toes. August's heat is always made more bearable for me by peak tomato season. I love to eat them cut into thick rounds and topped on crusty well-buttered toasted bread, or chopped small in a simple Israeli salad alongside cucumber and herbs. Stuffed vegetables of all kinds were regularly made and eaten in our home, just as they are in many other Russian Jewish kitchens. Stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers and stuffed mushrooms are regional staples. As I've explored and learned to cook the food of the former Soviet Union and of my family, Georgian cuisine has always stood out for its uniqueness. Georgia's food is an intersection of cuisines from the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, due to Georgia's location on the eastern edge of the Black Sea, north of Turkey, and south of Russia. Ingredients like hot peppers and Ajika (a hot sauce made out of them), fenugreek and pomegranate molasses appear in Georgian dishes along- side more familiar Eastern European staples such as beets, cabbage, dil, and mushrooms. One of my favorite books on Georgian cooking is Carla Capalbo's "Tasting Georgia, A Food And Wine Journey in the Caucasus." Capalbo offers an encyclopedic account of Geor- gian cuisine filled with detailed history and delicious recipes. I especially love her recipe for stuffed tomatoes. With her recipe as a guide, and inspired by a few other Georgian stuffed tomato recipes, over time I've adapted the dish to my taste and simplified some of the steps. What makes this stuffed tomato unique is the addition of the herb fenugreek, which adds a complex and almost curry-like flavor to the tomatoes. You can find fenugreek at most Middle Eastern and Persian markets, or online. The stuffing is made of earthy garlicky sauteed mushrooms, rice, and fresh parsley and dill. The tomatoes are nestled into a simple aromatic sauce, and then each one is topped with mozzarella that gets melty and burnished in the oven. This dish is substantial enough to be served as a vegetarian main course, but it is not too rich and could easily be served as a side dish to a heartier meal. Like any good stuffed food, these taste even better when they are reheated the next day. Ingredients: 8 large firm tomatoes Olive oil or sunflower oil, as needed I medium yellow or white onion, diced fine 1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon dried red hot pepper or red pepper flakes, or to taste 1/2 cup water, or as needed 14-16 ounces crimini/oyster/maitake mushrooms, diced small 2 large cloves garlic, minced fine Salt and pepper, to taste I cup cooked rice 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill 4 ounces mozzarella, sliced to cover the top of the tomatoes, about 1~2-inch thick Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 375 F 2. Start by hollowing out the tomatoes: Cut off the top fifth, then run a small knife around the interior of the tomato. Care- fully scoop out the inside. Finely chop up the remaining tops and what has been scooped out of them. Reserve. 3. To make the sauce: Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions to the oil and saute until softened and translucent. Add the fenugreek, coriander and hot pepper to the onions and saute for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the reserved scooped-out and chopped-up tomato mixture to the pan and 1/2 cup of water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Depending on how much liquid you have from your tomatoes, you may need to add more or less water. You want the sauce to resemble a thick tomato sauce in consistency. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce slightly while you prepare the filling. If desired, you can blend the sauce with an immersion blender or blender, although I prefer to keep it with its small pieces of tomato intact. 4. To make the filling: Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large pan over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Saute the mushrooms until their liquid has been fully released and the mushrooms have begun to brown. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the minced garlic to the pan and saute until the garlic is fragrant. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add a cup of cooked rice, the chopped parsley and the chopped dill to the mushroom mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. 5. To assemble: Add the sauce to a baking or casserole dish that can snuggly fit all of the tomatoes. On top of the sauce, place the hollowed out tomatoes. Generously fill each tomato with the mushroom mixture, and top with slices of mozzarella. 6. Bake the tomatoes for 30-40 minutes, or until hot, bubbly and with the cheese beginning to brown. Serve warm. Leftover tomatoes can be reheated in either an oven or microwave the next day. Serves 6-8. Sonya Sanford is a chef, food stylist and writer based out of Los Angeles. The Nosher food blog offers a dazzling array of new and classic Jewish recipes and food news, from Europe to Yemen, from challah to shakshuka and beyond. Check it out at www. By Rebecca Rosenthal time, bring your kids on holiday. You just might not Sukkot. If you bring your know ityet. (KvellerviaJTA)--Ifyoukids to the High Holidays, Sukkot is particularly awe- leave your kids home on then bring them back on some for kids who love buiid- the High Holidays so you Sukkot. ing, engineering or arts and can have grownup praying Sukkot is the best kids crafts (so, most kids). You get Beth Shalom Memorial Chapel Prouc[[9 Serving Our C .ommuni l Por Over Years Tradifi al Jewish Funerals Children love the sukkah--they get to decorate it. to build a sukkah atyour home or synagogue, or if you don't have access to those, build one out of a cardboard box in your living room. Once you have a structure, you get to design and decorate it. A sukkah is a great place to hang all that artwork that comes home from school, or to encourage fine motor skills by cutting and creating paper chains. Then you get to hang out and admire your handiwork, or even add to it, for a whole week. Sukkot is a holiday that encourages movement dur- ing services. Instead of all the sitting and standing, and more sitting and standing, that characterizes most ser- vices, on Sukkot you get to both shake the lulav and walk around the sanctuary with it. As a bonus, the lulav is a great sensory tool for your kids to look and interact with if they are in services and looking for something to do. Sukkot is a holiday when we get to be outside. After the hours of Rosh Hashanah and Yore Kippur inside a building, Sukkot is a literal breath of fresh air, as we eat our meals in the sukkah. And for kids (and adults) who enjoy being outdoors, we are encouraged to do as many of our regular indoor activities outside. Sukkot is a time when we can draw, do homework, chat with our friends and even sleep outdoors, making it Judaism's official camping holiday. Finally, the messages of Sukkot are very powerful: First, there's the message of welcoming. The sukkah is open, welcoming in anyone who wants to join. Second, in a tradition called ushpizin, we symbolically welcome characters from the Torah to join each day, but your family could discuss other people you want to invite to join you, whether it be a grandparent who is far away or a refugee family. Each day you can welcome someone else, and even hang up photos Anita Gould/Flickr or drawings of that person as a reminder of their presence. Sukkot also reminds us to think about ourvuinerability, as we sit outside in a tempo- rary structure exposed to the elements. We are reminded of the blessings of having a roof over our heads. Sukkot is a perfect time to contribute good deeds or tzedakah to a community in need, volunteer at a homeless shelter or even buy someone on the street a sandwich. Sukkot asks us to remember that at any moment, we could no longer be protected by physical space--so we walk through this holiday trying to leave the world a little better than it was before. Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal is the director of youth and family education at Central Synagogue in New York City where she gets to spend her time dreaming about ways to engage families with children. She and her husband live in New York City with their three children.