Will You “Bee” My Honey?

Rosh Hashanah is associated with honey, symbolizing sweetness for the coming New Year. Honey cake and carrot tzimmes are traditional staples, but below are some recipes that will add special sweetness to your yom tov table!

How Sweet It Is

Honey has an indefinite shelf life. Store it at room temperature in a tightly closed container away from direct sunlight.

If honey crystalizes, heat it on low heat and the crystals will melt and dissolve. You could also transfer it to a glass measuring cup and microwave for 30 to 60 seconds.

When baking with honey, your cakes and quick breads will brown faster than those made with sugar. To prevent overbrowning, reduce the oven temperature by 25°F.

Baked goods made with honey will stay fresh longer and the flavor will improve. That’s why honey cake always seems to taste better after several days and stays moist longer.

Honey is sweeter than sugar. When baking, instead of using 1 cup of sugar, use 3/4 cup of honey and reduce the total amount of liquid called for in the recipe by 1/4 cup.

Children under one year of age should not be given honey because of the risk of botulism.

Yields 8 servings

My friend Cheryl Goldberg uses this sticky and scrumptious sauce over chicken pieces. It is also wonderful on spare ribs.

3 pounds chicken wings
Pepper and garlic powder to taste

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce (low-sodium)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper (this helps with the cleanup).  Spread chicken wings in pan. Season with pepper and garlic powder. Cover pan with foil and bake wings for 45 minutes.

Sauce: In a small bowl combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and garlic. Mix well.

Remove pan with chicken wings from oven. Uncover, remove accumulated fat and discard. Pour sauce over wings and place them back in the oven.

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn wings over and bake them 20 minutes longer, until glazed and golden, basting occasionally.

Honey Garlic Spare Ribs
Broil Miami beef ribs (thin strips of meat) on both sides to drain out the fat. Cut into individual ribs and place in a greased casserole dish. Pour sauce over meat and bake for 40 minutes, basting occasionally.

Honey Chiffon Cake. Photos: Estee Gestetner

Yields 10 to 12 servings
Adapted from my book Healthy Helpings (Utah, 2004)

Instead of sweet and sour meatballs, make this tender, tasty brisket for the High Holidays. It’s a winner!

3 onions, sliced
4 1/2–5 pounds beef brisket, well-trimmed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup salsa
3 tablespoons honey2 tablespoons lemon juice

Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Place onions in pan. Place brisket on top of onions and rub with garlic and paprika.

Combine remaining ingredients and spread mixture over brisket. Marinate brisket for 1 hour at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Cook covered for 45 minutes per pound, until meat is fork tender.

Uncover meat for the last hour and baste occasionally.

Cool completely. Refrigerate overnight, if possible.

Discard congealed fat. Slice brisket thinly across the grain, trimming away fat. Reheat slices in the de-fatted pan juices.

Note: Reheats and/or freezes well.

Yields 10 to 12 servings

This elegant chicken dish is marvelous for any special occasion, especially the High Holidays as it contains honey, wine and dried fruit. This recipe is a triple blessing—it’s easy, can be doubled for a large crowd and can be prepared in advance. It’s guaranteed to inspire rave reviews.

2 whole chickens (3 pounds each) cut into pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (or a mixture of basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary)
6 to 8 cloves garlic (about 2 to 3 tablespoons minced)
3/4 to 1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1/2 cup dry-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, halved or coarsely chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 bay leaves
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Rinse the chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. Trim the excess fat. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Season the chickens inside, outside and under the skin with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic. Add the apricots, olives and sun-dried tomatoes to the pan. (The dried apricots and sun-dried tomatoes will plump up during marinating and cooking.)

In a measuring cup, combine the balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil. Drizzle evenly over the chicken; mix well so that the chicken is thoroughly coated.

Pour the wine around the chicken and add the bay leaves.

Cover the pan and refrigerate for several hours or for as long as 2 days.

When the chicken is marinated, remove from the refrigerator, uncover and bake in a 350°F oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, basting often. When done, the skin will be golden and the juices will run clear when pierced with a fork.

Remove the bay leaves and discard.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a serving platter.

Drizzle with some of the pan juice and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley. Place the remaining pan juice in a gravy bowl, skim off the fat and serve alongside the chicken.

Note: Keeps for up to 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 4 months.

Honey Roasted Parsnips and Carrots.

Yields 6 servings

Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of carrots and parsnips. Parsnips are also known as white carrots. Back to our roots!

1 large or 2 medium onions, halved and sliced
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in 2-inch lengths
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut in 2-inch lengths
3 to 4 cloves garlic (about 3 to 4 teaspoons minced)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.

Place onions, carrots, parsnips and garlic in prepared baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste; mix well. For best results, carrots and parsnips should be in a single layer in the dish.

Roast uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until golden and tender, basting occasionally.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Note: Keeps for up to 2 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Don’t freeze.

Yields 15 to 18 servings

My late mom loved to make this family favorite with buckwheat honey because of its incredible, intense flavor. Sometimes she made it with creamed honey, which she melted until it was syrupy, and the cake had a milder flavor. I’ve also made it with clover honey and it’s always moist and wonderful. My son Steven loves honey cake all year round and it never matters to him which kind of honey I use!

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 1/3 cups honey
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold brewed tea or coffee

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place oven rack in lower third of oven. Spray a 10-inch bundt pan with non-stick spray.

Combine eggs and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high speed until light. Gradually pour in oil and honey and blend well.

Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl and mix well. Gradually add to batter, alternating with tea or coffee, starting and ending with dry ingredients.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 15 minutes (it’s best to set a timer). Reduce oven temperature to 300°F and bake 1 hour longer, or until cake tests done. A wooden skewer inserted into the center should come out dry.

Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.

Loosen cake from pan with a flexible spatula. Carefully invert onto a serving plate and remove from pan.

Note: Freezes well.

Copyright ©Norene Gilletz

Norene Gilletz of Toronto, Canada, is the author of nine cookbooks, including The NEW Food Processor Bible: 30th Anniversary Edition (Vancouver, Canada, 2011) and Norene’s Healthy Kitchen (Vancouver, Canada, 2009). She is a freelance food writer, culinary consultant, cookbook editor, lecturer and culinary spokesperson.

This article was featured in the Fall 2012 issue of Jewish Action.