Shanah Tovah Umetukah. Have a good and sweet year.To bring that sweetness into the New Year, we cook with a lot of honey — in dishes ranging from traditional honey cakes to less traditional servings of honey briskets and chicken.
Honey is mentioned in the Torah as the hallmark of Israel, “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deut. 31:20). A fact that I discovered years ago while doing a paper for a comparative religion course is that honey is mentioned in the holy books of every religions. I guess humans developed a sweet tooth very early on.
Honey is the most ancient of sweeteners. An 8,000 year old rock painting in Italy depicts a honey gatherer subduing a colony with smoke and then breaking apart the hive to get at the honey. Now, honey is now a huge agra-business worldwide.
Honey has different undertones of flavors depending on the food the bees eat and where it is grown. Clover honey is the most common, but other, specialized, honeys are also popular. Orange Blossom Honey is a common type and comes from bees kept in orange groves. Buckwheat honey is as hearty and earthy as the grains that produce it. New kinds of honey, including rainforest and African honey, are becoming popular.
An interesting fact about honey is that it never goes bad. Honey found in ancient archeological digs is still viable. If honey solidifies, just heat it in a bowl of very hot water and it will be fine.
Experiment with honey as a sweetener in all kinds of sauces and baking. It has some health benefits, but it is still a sweetener, so those with health issues need to be aware that it acts like sugar on blood glucose levels. Also, remember: never give honey or any food with honey to a baby younger than 12 months.
Cranberry Glaze for Chicken or Salmon (pareve)
This is perfect for a first course fish dish or for a company chicken dish
1 tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger, more to taste
1/4 cup sugar or honey
1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. dried cranberries
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup pomegranate juice, a bit more if needed
1/2 cup store bought teriyaki sauce
Pinch black pepper
Heat oil. Add onion and cook until softened. Add ginger, garlic, sugar and dried cranberries. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat, for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook for another 5-10 minutes at a simmer.
Remove from heat. Process in blender or use an immersion blender until evenly chunky. Serve over chicken or salmon. Makes about 2 cups. Can be easily doubled.
Capon with Sabra, Honey, and Apricot Glaze (meat)
Serve this with any wild rice recipe (I add mandarin orange segments) and pass the extra glaze around to spoon over the rice.
1 cup honey
1 jar apricot preserves (12 ounces)
1/3 to1/2 cup Sabra or orange or apricot liqueur
Optional: 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or 1/2 tsp. finely minced garlic, or tbsp. tamari sauce
1 (6 to 9 pound) capon
6 tbsp. canola oil, divided
2 large onions thinly sliced
1 package dried apricots (8 ounces, or more if you like)
1 to 2 cups chicken stock
1 to 2 cups water
Optional: 2 to 3 cans Mandarin orange segments, drained
Place the honey, apricot preserves and Sabra liqueur in a medium sauce pan and heat until simmering. Add one of the optional ingredients if you like and mix well. Remove from heat and set aside.
Clean the capon and place on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Rub with 2 tablespoons of canola oil.
Heat a large skillet and add the rest of the canola oil. Add the onions. Sauté until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Place the onions in the bottom of the roasting pan. Cut the apricots in half and place them evenly around the pan. Add stock and water so that the liquid comes one inch up the side of the pan. Reserve the rest. Cover the capon with an aluminum foil tent. Roast in a 350-degree oven until about a half hour from done. To judge when it’s about 30 minutes from done, I move the drumstick. It should move, but be a little stiff. At that point, begin basting the capon every 7-10 minutes, with the apricot glaze. Check the pan frequently and add more liquid if needed.
Continue to roast until juices run clear or until a meat thermometer shows 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast and the thigh. The capon should be a rich, golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
To serve, slice the white meat and cut the capon into pieces. Garnish with the onions and apricots from the pan; add any leftover glaze to the pan. Add the mandarin oranges to the roasting pan and heat over a medium flame until heated through, about 3-5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Mix well and serve the gravy with the chicken. Serves 6 to 9.
Not Your Average Honey Cake (pareve)
This cake has delicious undertones of coffee and cocoa and just a hint of the Amaretto to bring it to a new taste sensation.
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup canola oil
1 cup very strong black coffee (1 tbsp. in 1 cup hot water)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup Amaretto, Whiskey or Rye (I use Amaretto)
4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup (generous) honey (I used blueberry or buckwheat)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 30 minutes before placing the cake in the oven to assure a hot oven. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9 or 10-inch tube pan and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place the eggs, oil, coffee, orange juice Amaretto and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until completely blended. Set aside. Place the sugar, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, cinnamon and ginger in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to blend. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and blend by hand until just blended. Add the honey and mix by hand.
Place the bowl onto the mixer stand and attach the paddle. Blend on slow speed until completely blended, scrape the bowl, and increase the speed to medium for 90 seconds or until the batter is the consistency of sour cream or thick sauce. Scrape into the prepared bowl, tap the pan once or twice to free any air bubbles, and place on the rimmed baking sheet.
Place in the lower half of the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Rotate the pan — back to front; lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake another 25 to 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Use a thin silicon or plastic spatula to loosen the cake around the edges and around the tube.
Cover two plates with Confectioner’s sugar and invert the cake onto one of the plates. Immediately invert the cake onto the serving plate. Dust with more sugar or drizzle with vanilla glaze.
Vanilla Glaze (Pareve)
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-3 tbsp. almond milk, soy milk, or water
Cut a vanilla bean in half and then slice open with a small sharp knife. Scrape the seeds into a bowl. Add the sugar, extract and milk and whisk until it reaches the consistency that will drizzle.
Drizzle over cake. Makes 1/2 to 3/4 cup.
Optional: Omit the vanilla bean and add 1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tsp, hot water.
Use orange juice instead of almond milk. Omit the vanilla bean. Add 1 tbsp. honey and reduce milk to 1 tbsp. or less.