Its Simchat Torah &mdash eat your scroll foods

At the end of Sukkot, Simchat Torah, the joyous and final day of the High Holy Days season, is celebrated in the synagogue. Concluding the reading of the final verses, we immediately follow with the reading of Genesis to show there is no end to learning or teaching … it is a continuous circle.

Children march around the sanctuary carrying flags, often topped by apples, sometimes candied or caramel, to assure the minds of youngsters that learning and Torah are sweet. For the adults, drinking schnapps is often part of the merriment. There are no foods or culinary traditions associated with this holiday other than sitting down to a festive meal with foods that resemble the Torah scrolls such as dolmas and blintzes.

Vegetable Blintzes

Makes about 18

Blintz batter:

3 eggs

1 cup water

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. oil

3/4 cup flour, sifted

butter or oil, for frying


1 cup shredded cabbage

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 cup finely sliced green pepper

3/4 cup diced onions

3 Tbs. butter or oil

1 tsp. salt

1 dash cayenne pepper

To make the blintzes: Beat the eggs, water, salt and oil together. Stir in the flour. Heat a little butter or oil in a 6-inch skillet. Pour about 2 Tbs. of the batter into it, tilting the pan to coat the bottom. Use just enough batter to make a very thin pancake onto a napkin, browned side up. Make the rest of the pancakes. Spread 1 heaping Tbs. of any of the fillings along one side of the pancake. Turn opposite sides in and roll up like a jelly roll. Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven until browned.

To make the filling: Cook the cabbage, carrots, green pepper and onions in the butter or oil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with the salt and cayenne. Fill the pancakes.

Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Makes 40-45 appetizers

8 oz. grape leaves, in brine (about 40 to 45 leaves)

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

2 cups cooked long grain rice

4 green onions, finely chopped

1 small red or white onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh chopped mint

1 Tbs. zest of lemon

salt to taste

1/2 cup pine nuts, finely chopped

1/3 cup dried currants

juice of 1 lemon

Drain the grape leaves and place them in a large, heatproof bowl. Pour just enough boiling water over the leaves to cover and let them soak for about 20 minutes. Drain again and rinse under cold running water.

In the meantime, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the rice, mint, lemon zest, salt to taste, pine nuts and currants. Mix thoroughly; making sure the rice is well coated with oil.

To fill the grape leaves, spread out one grape leaf in front of you, vein side up and stem end toward you. Place about 2 tsp. of the rice mixture in the center, fold stem end over the filling, bring the sides of the leaf toward the center and roll tightly, forming a cylinder. Repeat until all the filling in the dolmas recipe is used.

Place the dolmas close together and seam side down in a large skillet, in a single layer, if possible. If not, separate the layers with extra grape leaves. Drizzle the lemon juice and the remaining olive oil over the dolmas and add boiling water to cover. Cover the pan tightly and simmer for 1 hour. Let the parcels cool in the liquid, then transfer them to a serving platter. Serve at room temperature.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].