Having Havdallah for a hungry mob Think fajitas and sides

About a year ago, a few of my friends got together to do Havdallah. It was such fun that we decided to do it again. But we are a busy group — among us, we have 15 children, ranging from 9 months to 16 years. By the time we got around to finding another date, it was a year later.

Our host, Shelley, and her partner, Tania, opted for Mexican food. Fajitas seem to work well with all the respective food needs, which include several vegetarians, a vegan and many children with highly selective palates.

“Of course, Havdallah is meaningful for its own sake,” Tania said. “But we like to celebrate Havdallah as a nice excuse to enjoy good food and nice music with friends.”

We start at 5 p.m., which allows plenty of time for shmoozing, eating, singing and welcoming in the new week. We finish early so the younger children can go to bed and the teens can leave to socialize with their friends. I love our Havdallah group. It’s a lovely way to gather, with food, music, and, above all, our community.

Mexican Cole Slaw

Serves 8-10

1 small cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and shredded

1 small onion, peeled and shredded

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 tsp. mustard powder

2 tsp. fine sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbs. chopped flat leaf parsley

2 Tbs. chopped cilantro

Mix the cabbage, carrots and onion together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, mustard powder, salt, coriander, cumin, cayenne, pepper and olive oil. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture, and allow to marinate for an hour. Just before serving, toss the cole slaw with the parsley and cilantro.

Arroz con Piñones (Rice with Pine Nuts)

Serves 8

4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cups long grain rice

1/2 cup pine nuts

3 3/4 cup water

2 tsp. fine sea salt

zest from 1 lemon

2 Tbs. chopped mint

2 Tbs. chopped flat leaf parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and cook until it is translucent. Add the rice and the pine nuts and sauté until the onions turn golden brown. Add the water and salt. Cook the rice over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the rice is dry on top. Cover the pot, and simmer on the lowest heat until ready to serve. Toss in the lemon zest, mint and parsley and serve.

Violet’s Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies

Makes about 60

8 oz. unsalted non-dairy/parve margarine

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

2 cups flour

powdered sugar for rolling the cookies

Beat together the margarine, powdered sugar and vanilla until very fluffy. Beat in the chopped pecans. Sift in the flour, and stir until well blended.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about one inch apart. Bake the cookies in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 12 minutes, until barely browned. Cool the cookies on racks, then roll in the powdered sugar.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a certified culinary professional. Visit her Web site at www.GoRebecca.com. She can be reached at Rebecca@GoRebecca.com.