Cook | Dining under the stars with friends in the sukkah

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Eating meals in a sukkah not only fulfills a mitzvah but connects us with our ancestors’ experiences during the Exodus. I, however, always seem to focus on the delicious over the religious on Sukkot. The prospect of eating in a sukkah with friends inspires me to create new dishes for this eight-day holiday, which runs through Wednesday, Sept. 25.

The Pineapple and Blueberry Upside Down Cake is not too sweet and features the tang and texture of cornmeal. It is a great dessert for a Sukkot potluck or to serve at a kaffeeklatsch with coffee or a glezel tai (glass of tea).

Using falafel mix makes the Falafel “Pizza” an easy weeknight treat. Falafel mix is available in boxes or by bulk in specialty and Middle Eastern stores and in some supermarkets. Mixes vary, so adjustments to yield and topping amounts may be needed. Spicing also varies. To test your mix, fry a tablespoon of batter before forming the crust and taste. If needed, stir in cayenne pepper, salt or other seasonings to taste.

Pineapple and Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Serves 8 or more
2 Tbs. margarine or butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
20 oz. can pineapple slices packed in juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavored applesauce
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thickly grease 8×12-inch baking pan bottom and lightly grease sides with margarine or butter. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly in pan. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Place rings evenly over sugar (save any extra for another use). Place blueberries in center of and between pineapple slices.

Sift together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, applesauce, oil and extract. Measure reserved pineapple juice and add water to equal 2 cups. Stir into egg mixture. Add dry ingredients to wet in 1/4-cup batches, whisking well after each addition. Gently pour over fruit in prepared pan. Bake about 45 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch and toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool on rack for 5 minutes. Invert onto serving platter.

Falafel “Pizza”

Serves 4-8 (as main course or appetizer)
oil spray
12 oz. falafel mix
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. chopped parsley
3/4 cup cold water (see note below)
2 cups diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onions (white and light green parts)
2 cups (about 8 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbs. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking tray. Combine falafel mix with 1⁄4 cup chopped parsley. Stir in water. Let sit 30 minutes until water is absorbed and mix holds shape. Spread falafel mixture in tray in a 1⁄4-inch-thick rectangle that’s about 10×12 inches. Use a knife to score into 8 sections (two pieces each for a main course) or 16 sections (for appetizers). Lightly spray oil on top. Bake 10 minutes until falafel crust is firm and slightly browned. Remove from oven and slide spatula under crust to loosen.

Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees. Toss drained tomatoes with mint, oregano and black pepper. Scatter tomatoes, green onions and feta on top of crust. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake 10 minutes until heated through and cheese is lightly browned. Garnish with remaining parsley. Cut along scored lines and serve.

Note: Mixes differ. Refer to directions on package for making patties and adjust water as directed.


Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. Faith blogs about her food at Contact her at [email protected].

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].