Baked Chicken and Rice

This is one of my favorite chicken dishes. It’s quick and easy. And it’s perfect for Sukkot! Baharat is a blend of spices that may include cinnamon, cloves and chile peppers. If the spices in this recipe don’t appeal to you, substitute others, like oregano, dill or tarragon.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 ½ cups brown rice, rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon ground baharat (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups water
2 ½ – 3 pounds chicken, cut into pieces and skin removed

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).

Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onion, stirring, until golden. Put the onion into a large shallow baking dish or casserole. Add the rice to the onions and mix together.

Mix the spices and salt in a small bowl. Set aside a few teaspoons of the mixture and add the remaining spices to the water. Pour this over the rice in the baking dish. Place the chicken pieces on top and sprinkle with the remaining spice mixture.

Cover tightly and bake for one hour. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and browned.

4-6 servings

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Soup and Cornbread in the Sukkah

Soup and quick breads – breads made with baking powder or baking soda rather than yeast, are a great lunch or dinner choice during Sukkot. You can prepare soup ahead of time and make the bread just before dinner. The beauty of quick breads is that they really are quick – you can mix them together in less than five minutes!
Here’s a quick cornbread recipe. Try it with Red Lentil Soup for a delicious warm meal in your Sukkah. Chag Sameach!

Buttermilk Cornbread (Dairy)

¾ cup cornmeal

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 ½ cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).

Line a 9 “(23 cm) square baking pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt.

Using the same whisk beat the eggs slightly and then mix with the oil and buttermilk to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just to combine.

Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 15-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

6-8 servings

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An Easy Soup for Chol Hamoed Sukkot

We’re coming down the home-stretch of the holiday season. We’ve been cooking a lot. And most likely eating a little too much.

With Shabbat and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah ahead of us, I’m trying to keep things easy – less fussing in the kitchen and fewer calories will have everyone feeling better.

Here’s a simple recipe from my book – a nutritious, warming soup that is perfect for cool nights in the Sukkah.

Moadim B’simcha! Chag Sameach!
Red Lentil Soup (Parve)
Small red lentils cook quickly and give this soup a golden hue.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash cayenne pepper, optional
6 cups water

1 1/2 cups red lentils, sorted, checked and rinsed well in a strainer
1 small can diced tomatoes (14 to 16 ounces/400 gm), with their juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and saute the onion until soft. Add the garlic and spices and cook, stirring for a minute or two. Add the water or broth, lentils and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer the soup, partially covered, until the lentils are cooked and the soup is thick. You may want to add more water if the soup is too thick.
Season the soup with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Serves 6 to 8
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Stuffed Turkey Breast and Thoughts on Tishrei

I received numerous questions about how to prepare the turkey breast that I described.

We ended up cooking ours for Shabbat dinner, when we were fortunate to have two “last-minute” visiting student guests. (Ben Gurion University has an impressive overseas student program, for anyone thinking about “junior-year-abroad” here.)

The turkey turned out delicious! Here are instructions:

1. Saute thinly sliced fennel and leeks in olive oil until soft. Season with freshly ground pepper. (My husband did this a few days ahead of time.)

2. Purchase half a turkey breast and ask your butcher to make a pocket. In Israel, turkey breasts come already skinned and boned.

3. Lard the turkey with garlic. (No, that doesn’t have anything to do with using treif fat. Just slice a few garlic cloves into quarters, cut small “pockets” for them on the surface of the turkey and stick in the garlic pieces.) Fill the pocket with the stuffing. (My husband did all of this too. I’m very lucky!)

4. Put the breast into a covered cassorole or baking pan. We used a clay pot. (These need to be soaked in water and placed in a cold oven – read the manufacturer’s directions before using.) There was no need to tie the turkey. Any extra stuffing can be spooned around the turkey.

5. Surround the turkey with sliced carrots and potatoes (winter squash would be good too). Add dry white wine, a few sprigs of rosemary (we took it from our garden; you can use other herbs as well) and pour olive oil over it all.

6. Cover the turkey breast and bake it. With our clay pot, we use a very high oven temperature. Using a regular baking pan, 350 degrees Fahreinheit (180 Centigrade) should be fine.

Cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahreinheit (71 Centigrade). This is very important, so I always use a thermometer.

If you cook white meat of poultry beyond this temperature, it will be tough and dry. (Dark meat, on the other hand, should be cooked to 170 Fahreinheit/77 Centigrade, and is more forgiving of overcooking.) You don’t want to undercook the meat either, as this could lead to food poisoning.

7. Uncover the pot for the last few minutes of cooking, to crisp the vegetables. Baste with the pan juices a few times. If it’s not Shabbat or a holiday, slice and serve. We cooked ours in the morning, refrigerated it whole until just before Shabbat. Then I re-heated it in the microwave for about five minutes and set it on the plata/hot plate until dinner. Slice it (another of my husband’s specialties) just before serving and enjoy!

Our medium size half breast (about 2 pounds/1 kilo) served 6 people.

Thoughts on Tishrei

This time of year I feel like I’m swimming the breast-stroke: Holiday, Shabbat, up for a breath. Another holiday, Shabbat again and another breath before the next chag.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy every one of the chagim. There’s nothing like the holidays – especially in Israel where you see and feel them everywhere.

This morning my green grocer was juggling half a dozen customers while trying to restock his shelves. Flowers stands pop up on street corners overnight. Women at my gym share holiday recipes while trying harder to burn off extra calories. And now sukkahs are popping up next to apartment buildings, in back yards and even at the mall.

But I started feeling a little worn out this afternoon. Sukkot menus started getting a little blurry in my mind. What was I planning to serve for lunch on Monday? Or is it Tuesday? Should I be baking yet another batch of challah?

Then I thought about what I love about Sukkot. Eating leisurely meals of hearty soup and bread in the sukkah. Not running off to work and classes right after a meal. How, instead of doing laundry almost every day, I’d use that time to relax. Read a book or two, even bring out a pad of drawing paper and pastels. The last time I did that was on vacation last June!

So my husband and I cooked a few things this evening, and I plan to go to bed early tonight. Tomorrow I want to try a new recipe for cabbage soup that looks easy and sounds satisfying. With a few soups in the refrigerator I won’t have too much cooking to do during the holiday. My goal is to end this rather hectic month of holidays on a more laid back note.
I wish all of you a joyful and relaxing Sukkot.

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Chana Rubin, RD

Food for the Soul

Traditional Jewish Wisdom for Healthy Eating
By Chana Rubin, RD

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