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by Louise Fiszer

The week long holiday of Succoth begins on the fifth day after Yom Kippur. For some it is the Jewish Thanksgiving because it is known as the "Festival of the Harvest." It is a time of rejoicing for the goodness and bounty of the earth and therefor food plays an important role in its celebration. The word "succoth" means booths and refers to the makeshift huts which the Jews called home during their 40 years of wandering. Today, it is customary to build a succah in one's garden or patio for this festival and decorate it with fruits and vegetables of the season. Sharing a meal with family and friends in the succah is considered very much part of the festivities.

While the following menu is perfect for this holiday because of the seasonal ingredients, it can be made throughout the fall and winter. It is meant as picnic fare which can be served outdoors (or in) at room temperature.

Butternut Squash Vichyssoise
serves 6

2 tablespoons oil
2 leeks white part only, chopped
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into one-inch cubes
1 cup half and half or cream
1 bunch watercress leaves
salt and pepper

Heat oil in medium saucepan. Cook leeks until soft. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add squash and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 20 minutes. Puree mixture in blender or food processor with about 3/4 of the watercress. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve garnished with remaining watercress leaves. May be served room temperature, cold or hot.

Greek Tuna Salad Pita Sandwich
serves 6

1/2 pound imported Feta cheese, crumbled
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup imported black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 7 1/2 ounce can tuna, drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper
6 large pita breads
2 cups spinach leaves

In large bowl combine first 8 ingredients. In small bowl whisk together vinegar, oil and oregano. Toss with salad ingredients and taste for salt and pepper. Heat pita breads just until warm. Make a slit at one end and fill with salad and some spinach leaves.

Carrot and Zucchini Salad
serves 6

3 carrots, shredded
3 medium zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper

In large bowl combine carrots, zucchini, parsley, walnuts and cranberries. In small bowl whisk together remaining ingredients. Toss with carrot mixture and taste for salt and pepper.

Ginger Almond Shortbread
makes 2 dozen

1 cup butter at room temperature
2/3 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 cup finely ground almond
24 whole almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar and almond extract until smooth. Add flour, ginger, and ground almonds and beat mixture until well combined. On a floured surface, roll dough out to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into two-inch round and place one inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press a whole almond into the center of each cookie and bake about 20 minutes or until very lightly colored. Remove to rack and cool.

Louise Fiszer is a Bay Area freelance food writers and the co-author of several books including Sweet Onions & Sour Cherries and A Good Day for Soup.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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