Mac and Cheese
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In the USA, we celebrate Shavuot for two days, so there is more opportunity to experience the holiday’s many traditions.

Next week is quite a week. On Sunday, May 16, we begin the two-day festival of Shavuot, a harvest holiday. Like Sukkot, homes are festooned with fruits, flowers, branches and greenery. And for many reasons, it’s long established that dairy foods are served during this holiday along with seven-species of foods, including wheat, barley, grape, fig, pomegranates, olives (and olive oil), and dates (or honey). It truly is the land of milk and honey.

In the USA, we celebrate Shavuot for two days, so there is more opportunity to experience the holiday’s many traditions. 

Baked Marinated Goat Cheese Appetizer with Honey and Fig

Ingredients

  • 1 log (about 10-ounces) soft goat cheese, such as Chevre
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme 
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 4 fresh or dried figs, chopped or diced
  • ¼ cup honey or date syrup

Directions

Place the cheese log in a small attractive glass or ceramic baking dish and mash it down with a spoon (do not smooth it). Sprinkle the pepper, pepper flakes, garlic, thyme and lemon peel over the cheese. Drizzle the olive oil over the cheese. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and marinate for up to 5 days. To serve, preheat the oven to 300ºF. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the cheese for about 20 minutes, or until it is bubbly and hot. Top with fig pieces and drizzle with honey and serve as a spread for gourmet crackers or French bread rounds. Makes 6-8 servings.

Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese with Toppings Bar

Ingredients

  • 1 quart half-and-half
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 lb. of pasta (Campanelle is good), cooked very al dente (do not overcook)
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Havarti cheese, 
  • 1 cup shredded White Cheddar cheese 
  • 1 cup Mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, melted

Topping Suggestions: 

Minced scallions or chives (white and green parts); more cheese — any flavor; minced jalapeno peppers; hot sauce; sun-dried tomatoes; fresh chopped tomatoes; roasted bell peppers; sauteed mushrooms; pitted olives; diced avocado; sauteed spinach, pepitas (squash seeds) or any other nut or seed.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray and 9×13-inch baking dish (or equivalent) with nonstick cooking spray.

Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 6-9 minutes (should still be somewhat hard). Drain well and set aside. Do not rinse.

Simmer the half-and-half and salt in a large saucepan over medium-heat for 10 minutes, until very hot. Add the cheeses and stir until smooth.

Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir well.

Adjust salt to taste.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Combine the crumbs and butter in a small bowl and mix well. Sprinkle this mixture over the pasta and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot with the toppings in bowls, on the side. Makes 10 servings,

Kale Feta Salad with Cherries, Pomegranate and Pine Nuts

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 8 ounces fresh kale (1 bunch), large stems removed and torn or into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup uncooked barley (cooked according to package instructions, drained and cooled)
  • 1 cup diced ½-inch cucumber (with or without peel)
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup dried sweetened cherries or cranberries
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds or arils
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing: 

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp.  honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Directions

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Add about half the dressing to the salad and toss well. Adjust dressing amount and salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes 6-8 servings.