We are now in the month of Elul, and in a few weeks we’ll have the chance to celebrate the Creation. One of the ways we are told to do so is by having a nice meal, in fact two nice meals — one in the afternoon and one in the evening.
While much of the religious observance during Elul is in preparation for the upcoming High Holy Days and the month of Tishrei, the 25th of Elul marks the first day of Creation. (Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day, which is also Rosh Hashanah.) It is considered propitious that day to consume two meals featuring bread and meat. We also are directed to eat something sweet to celebrate the Creation and as a wish for a sweet year. This year the 25th of Elul is Sept. 12.
Be sure to pick up some soft challah or crusty artisan bread to serve with the Ground Beef with Kale, Olives, Raisins and Almonds. The recipe comes together quickly and makes a good dinner for any weeknight, not just the 25th of Elul. For something sweet, use your favorite cereal — I used Kashi GoLean Crunch — to make the Not-Your-Kid’s Marshmallow Treat Bars.
Ground Beef with Kale, Olives, Raisins and Almonds
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper
1⁄4 tsp. dried oregano
1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 lbs. ground beef (lean or very lean)
6 cups chopped kale, packed
2 Tbs. tomato paste
141⁄2-oz. can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
1⁄2 cup thinly sliced green olives stuffed with pimentos
1⁄2 cup blanched, slivered almonds
1⁄2 cup raisins
Heat oil in a very large fry or sauté pan. Sauté onions over medium-high heat until they begin to soften and turn brown. Add garlic and sauté until just golden. Add salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, red pepper and cinnamon. Stir for a minute and then add beef. Brown the beef, breaking up any clumps (work in batches if your pan is not large enough and combine when all the beef is browned). Add kale. Sauté until kale begins to wilt, then add tomato paste and diced tomatoes with liquid, stirring often until beef and vegetables are cooked through. Lower heat to medium. Stir in olives, almonds and raisins. Sauté for a few minutes. Taste and correct seasonings if needed. Serve with bread and over cooked rice, couscous, pasta, grains or mashed potatoes if desired.
Not-Your-Kid’s Marshmallow Treat Bars
Makes about 24-36 bars
1⁄4 cup parve margarine, plus extra for greasing pan
4 cups kosher marshmallows (about 7-8 oz.)
4 cups parve, crunchy cereal
1⁄2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 cup total raisins and/or dried cranberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 oz. bittersweet parve chocolate
Grease a 9×12- or 9×13-inch pan. Melt 1⁄4 cup margarine over low heat in a large saucepan. Add marshmallows and stir until completely combined and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in cereal, pecans, dried fruit and cinnamon until well combined. Turn out into greased pan. Cool until firm and not tacky to the touch.
Use a sharp knife to cut into bars as desired. Melt chocolate over double boiler or in microwave. Either drizzle chocolate across top of bars or spoon it into large plastic bag with zipper-style closure. Squeeze air out of bag and seal. Snip off corner of bag and pipe chocolate over bars.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.