Shabbat, A Dinner with Friends

Shabbat is usually something I don’t “practice” often, but on occassion I’ll host or take part in a Shabbat dinner. According to Jewish tradition, Shabbat is the day of rest. Starting at sundown on Friday till sundown on Saturday, it is custom to relax and spend time with family and friends, while doing our best not to use electricity or exert any energy. Since I consider myself more traditional, my observance of Shabbat pretty much consists of a home cooked meal shared with friends on a Friday night. Though I try not to use my phone during dinner, I am quite guilty of using the television, computer, and any other electrial equipment or appliance I normally would.

But regardless of my degree of observance, my Shabbat dinners revolve around the original principles of Shabbat; good company, cuisine, and conversation. Well, maybe Shabbat didn’t stress the importance of food, but it is a very important part of Jewish get togethers, as all of us can attest to. Thankfully Birthright Israel, an organization founded to strengthen the connection between Israel and Jewish communities around the world, was able to sponsor my Shabbat. And for that reason alone, I was sure to make it a special one.

A Shabbat wouldn’t be a Shabbat without two very important things; Challah and wine. The Challah was luckily brought over from Tal’s Bagels by a friend of mine. And since our Shabbat dinner was on a $25/pp budget, I stocked up on some reasonably priced bottles of wine at Trader Joe’s. Since I decided to serve a rack of lamb I picked up a variety of reds such as Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz which pair up very nicely. And for those who prefer white I went with Fetzer’s Sauvignon Blanc and Robert Mondavi’s Chardonnay. Any of these wines go well with the menu I’d prepared:
  • Hummus & Babaganoush served with warmed pita and baby carrots
  • Kalamata Olive and Bulgarian Cheese Bites
  • Arugula salad prepared with pear, goat cheese, pine nuts and dried cranberries in a honey balsamic vinaigrette

Main Course

  • Rosemary & Mustard Crusted Rack of Lamb
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Shallots
  • Homemade Brownies (with and without nuts)

I must admit that preparing for this dinner definitely took some time. And because I was hosting the Shabbat dinner at someone else’s apartment, the preparation was a bit more complicated. The preparations were as follows:

1 Day Ahead
  • Cook the Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Bake the Brownies
  • Cut and trim the Brussels Sprouts
  • Slice and dice the Shallots

* You may bake the brownies two days in advance, if needed

Day Of

  • Dice the Rosemary
  • Make the homemade Breadcrumbs
  • Dress, sear, & cook the Rack of Lamb
  • Bake the Brussels Sprouts
  • Put the salad components together
  • Make the dressing & dress the Salad

Needless to say, we had a phenomenal dinner and a wonderful time spending a Friday night without any distractions, except maybe the wine… So if you’re Jewish, or if you’re not, sometimes it’s just nice to relax with friends over a nice home cooked meal. But if you are Jewish, definitely check out Birthright Israel’s site so you can have your Shabbat meal sponsored! And please know that non-hebrews are very welcome at my Shabbat gatherings!

And stay tuned for the recipes to all of these delicious dishes!