By Linda Morel
Falling seven weeks after Passover, the most observed of all Jewish holidays, Shavuot is the most overlooked holiday on the Jewish calendar.
That is remarkable since Shavuot honors the anniversary of God giving the Torah to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. Where would the Jewish people be without the Torah?
After fleeing from Egypt, it took Moses and the Israelites seven weeks to trek through the desert to reach Mount Sinai. When they received the Torah and read the laws of kashrut, they realized their cookware and meat were not kosher.
Because butchering and preparing fresh meat would take a long time, the hungry and tired Israelites ate what was around. Just like modern Jews grabbing a yogurt, they relied on milk products until they kashered their supplies.
From the onset, Shavuot has been associated with dairy foods. Because it is pure and white, milk has come to symbolize the Torah.
In the weeks following Passover, cows, goats and sheep in Israel graze extensively on new grass. By late spring, the females are producing abundant milk. With fresh milk in season, it’s no wonder dairy products are whipped into creamy foods of all kinds at Shavuot.
This year, Shavuot begins on Sunday evening May 16, a perfect time to invite family and friends, even if you’ve never done so before. The Torah has guided the Jewish people from Mount Sinai to the present. A document that precious deserves to be celebrated with an elegant dairy dinner.
Broiled Salmon with Curry Cream Sauce | Dairy
Nonstick vegetable spray
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt to taste
1 pound salmon filet, cut into 4 oblong slices
Heat the broiler. Set up a broiler pan and coat it with the vegetable spray. Sprinkle garlic powder and salt on all sides of the salmon filets. Place the filets on the broiler pan, skin side up.
Broil them for 3 minutes. Turn them over and broil them for 4 minutes. Turn them again so the skin side is up. Broil the salmon for 3 minutes, or until the filets are cooked through and the skin is brown and crunchy.
Serve immediately with the curry cream dressing below.
Curry Cream Dressing
½ cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup reduced fat sour cream
¼ cup 2% fat Greek yogurt
⅛ cup 1% milk
1½ teaspoons curry powder
Place the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk them together until they are well combined. Serve the dressing on the side in a small bowl.
Savory Pancakes with Mushroom Cream Sauce | Dairy
Yield: approximately 12 pancakes, serves 4 as a side dish
Mushroom Cream Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10-ounce) package of mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon rosemary needles, crumbled
A dash of nutmeg
Kosher salt to taste
1 cup whole milk
⅓ cup cream
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over a medium flame until the butter melts.
Scatter the garlic and stir it briefly. Add the mushrooms, rosemary, nutmeg and kosher salt.
Sauté until the mushrooms are browning. Lower the flame if the garlic browns. Add more olive oil if the pan becomes dry.
Remove the skillet from the flame and let it cool for a minute or two. Add the milk and cream and stir it to combine. Return the skillet to a medium flame and stir until warmed through and the sauce thickens slightly. Remove it from the flame and reserve while making the pancakes.
¾ cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
A dash of white pepper
⅛ teaspoon onion powder
½ cup whole milk, or more milk if needed
4 tablespoons sweet butter, or more if needed
In a medium sized-bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through onion powder).
In a second medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Whisk until the flour disappears. If the batter is stiff, add milk a teaspoon at a time, whisking briefly until combined. Don’t overwhisk. Plenty of lumps will remain.
You’ll need to make pancakes in two batches. In a large skillet, melt the butter on a medium flame. Using a tablespoon, drop the batter into the butter, creating silver dollar-sized pancakes. Add more butter at any time, if needed.
When tiny craters form in the batter and it turns golden around the edges, flip the pancakes and cook them on the other side until golden. Move them to a platter.
Repeat the directions for the first batch with the second. When the second batch of pancakes is nearly ready, heat up the mushroom cream sauce on a medium flame until rewarmed.
When all the pancakes are on the platter, pour the sauce over them. Serve immediately.
Crazy Caprese Salad | Dairy
⅛ cup pine nuts or blanched slivered almonds
2 beefsteak or extra-large tomatoes
1 large ball of mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt to taste
Red wine vinegar for drizzling
Olive oil for drizzling
Place the pine nuts or almonds on an aluminum lined baking sheet in the toaster oven or a standard oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant and golden. Nuts burn easily, so watch them almost continuously. Reserve.
Slice the tomatoes and the ball of mozzarella cheese on the thin side. Peel the clementines, discarding the peel and pith.
Arrange the tomatoes, mozzarella and clementine sections attractively on a platter, letting them overlap a little. Tuck the basil leaves in between. Sprinkle the salad with salt. Drizzle on the vinegar and olive oil. Scatter the nuts on top. Serve immediately.