Rosh Hashanah: Old and new favorites

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins this year on Sept. 16 at sundown. In planning the holiday menu, I like to include some of the traditional recipes that many of us learned in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens, but I always add some new, modern ideas.

Apple-Meringue Tartlet. Photo by Dan Kacvinski

The symbolic foods for the New Year include apples and honey, representing “a sweet year,” and pomegranates, one of the first fruits of the harvest.

Round loaves of challah promise a well-rounded year, and I have included many of these in my menu.
The traditional round shape of the Rosh Hashanah challah symbolizes unending happiness, and mine gives it a new twist. It is covered with sesame seeds, and honey is added to the dough. Braided and baked in a ring, it has a hole in the center to place a small bowl of honey for dipping. There’s nothing like combining tradition with creativity to sweeten the New Year for your family.

Chopped chicken liver is an old family favorite many of us, remember from our childhood. I used to watch my mother, sitting on the back-porch steps chopping away at beef livers, hard-cooked eggs and chicken schmaltz in a huge wooden bowl. I have preserved the integrity of Mom’s recipe, using chicken livers, apples, mushrooms and a little brandy for flavor as well as for a preservative. It is served with a sweet-tart pomegranate aspic in the French manner.

Roast chicken breasts, the old standby, have both eye appeal and flavor when they are stuffed under the skin with a tangy blend of vegetables. This year, glazed beets will add color to your festive plates.

For dessert, make delicious individual apple tartlets, a perfect Rosh Hashanah dessert. Topped with meringue, they can be made in almost no time at all. The pastry and the apples slices can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. For a crispy crust, bake just before serving.

With this holiday menu, serve a Hagafen or Hertzog Chardonnay from one of the California kosher wineries, and include tea with honey to go with dessert.

∗ 1 package active dry yeast
∗ 1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 F)
∗ Pinch sugar
∗ 3 whole eggs
∗ 1/3 cup honey
∗ 1/4 cup melted margarine
∗ 1 tablespoon kosher salt
∗ 1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron (optional)
∗ 2 tablespoons brandy
∗ 5 to 6 cups unbleached flour
∗ 1 cup raisins, soaked in sweet wine and drained (optional)
∗ Yellow corn meal
∗ 1 egg white, lightly beaten
∗ Sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water with the sugar. Beat together eggs, honey and margarine in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the remaining 1 cup warm water, salt, saffron and brandy; blend well. Blend in the yeast mixture. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, blending after each addition, until the dough is thick enough to work by hand.

Spread 2 cups flour onto a pastry board; place the dough on the board and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, gradually incorporating the raisins and enough additional flour to make a smooth and elastic dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl; oil the top of the dough. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Form each one into a rope about 26 inches long. Braid the ropes together and seal the ends by pinching. Join both ends to form a ring.

Line a heavy baking sheet with foil; oil the foil and sprinkle with corn meal. Remove the label from an empty 16-ounce can; oil it and place in the center of the baking sheet, open end up. Place the challah onto the baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Brush the loaf with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack. Serve with a bowl of honey in the center.
Makes 1 extra-large round challah or 2 smaller ones.

∗ 2 tablespoons olive oil
∗ 1 onion, finely diced
∗ 2 garlic cloves, minced
∗ 4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
∗ 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
∗ 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
∗ Salt and freshly ground black pepper
∗ 8 chicken breasts, skin on
∗ 1 tablespoon each dried thyme and tarragon
∗ 2 cups dry white wine or chicken stock
∗ Vegetable Stuffing (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Prepare the vegetable stuffing; cool.

Heat oil in a skillet and sauté the onions, garlic, carrots and celery until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Place the onion mixture in a foil-lined baking pan. Add parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Loosen the skin of each chicken breast and spoon some of the prepared stuffing under the skin, spreading it evenly. Place each stuffed chicken breast on top of the vegetables in the baking pan. Sprinkle thyme, tarragon, salt, pepper and oil on top of the chicken breasts. Pour in wine.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until chicken is tender when pierced with a fork; add liquid during cooking, if needed.

To serve, spoon the vegetables and sauce on heated plates and, using a spatula, place the stuffed chicken breasts on top.
Makes 8 servings.

∗ 2 tablespoons oil
∗ 1 onion, finely chopped
∗ 3 garlic cloves, minced
∗ 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
∗ 4 large carrots, peeled and grated
∗ 1 large zucchini, unpeeled and grated
∗ 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
∗ 1/4 cup raisins
∗ 2 tablespoons rolled oats
∗ 2 tablespoons flour
∗ 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
∗ 1/2 teaspoon each thyme and tarragon
∗ 2 to 3 tablespoons dry red wine or chicken stock
∗ Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet and sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add celery, carrots, zucchini and parsley; simmer until tender. Add raisins; simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Blend in the oatmeal, flour, bread crumbs, thyme and tarragon, and enough wine to moisten the mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes.

Chicken Breasts With Vegetable Stuffing and Glazed Beets. Photo by Dan Kacvinski

∗ 2 to 3 pounds small beets, trimmed
∗ 2 tablespoons margarine
∗ 2 tablespoons sugar
∗ 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
∗ Juice of 1 orange
∗ Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the beets in a saucepan; cover with cold unsalted water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat; reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until barely tender, about 25 minutes. Drain under cold water, slide the skin off each beet and cut into 1/4-inch slices.

In a large skillet, melt the margarine. Stir in sugar, vinegar and orange juice; bring to a boil. Add beets and simmer, shaking the saucepan occasionally, until beets are glazed and the sauce thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes 8 servings.

∗ 3 cups flour
∗ 1 teaspoon salt
∗ 2/3 cup powdered sugar
∗ 1 cup unsalted margarine or butter
∗ 6 tablespoons water or nondairy liquid creamer or milk
∗ Glazed Apple Slices (recipe follows)
∗ Meringue (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 375 F.

Combine flour, salt and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut in the margarine until mixture is crumbly. Blend in water until the dough begins to come together. Do not over-mix. Knead the dough into a ball, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

(At this point, the dough can be covered with plastic wrap and foil and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for several days. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. On lightly floured board, roll each piece to about 1/8-inch thickness.

Cut dough into 3-inch rounds; drape one round over each tartlet pan, gently pressing dough into bottom and up the sides of each pan. Press dough firmly around the edge of the pans; remove scraps. Continue with the remaining pans and dough.

Place a sheet of waxed paper on each tartlet pan, overlapping around the outside. Fill the center of the waxed paper-lined pans with uncooked rice or pie weights. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sides of the tartlet shells begin to brown. Carefully remove the waxed paper with the rice and continue baking until the bottom of the pastry is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool.
Arrange Glazed Apple Slices in concentric circles on each pastry. Top with Meringue. Serve immediately.
Makes 12 to 14 tartlets.

∗ 1/2 cup sugar
∗ 2 tablespoons honey
∗ 1/2 cup orange marmalade
∗ 1/2 cup orange juice
∗ Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
∗ 6 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Combine sugar, honey, marmalade and orange juice in a large, heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar and marmalade have dissolved. Bring the syrup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, just until it begins to thicken.

Place apple slices in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring. Add the apples and lemon juice to the syrup in the skillet and toss to coat the apples. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples are soft. Transfer them to a glass bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator. Spoon into baked tartlets pastries.

∗ 3 egg whites
∗ Salt
∗ 1/2 cup sugar

Beat egg whites with salt in a large mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, a little at a time, beating well until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry tube, fitted with decorative tip, with the meringue. Cover the glazed apple slices with meringue rosettes. Place under the broiler until meringue is lightly toasted or use a flame torch to lightly toast each tartlet.

∗ From “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” by Judy Zeidler
∗ 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
∗ 1/4 cup olive oil
∗ 1 pound chicken livers (prepared according to kosher dietary laws)
∗ 4 large mushrooms, thinly sliced
∗ 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
∗ 2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
∗ 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
∗ Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
∗ Pomegranate Aspic (recipe follows)

In a large, heavy skillet, sauté onion in oil until lightly browned. Add the livers, mushrooms, apple and sauté, turning the livers on both sides, until lightly browned. (Do not overcook.) Add the brandy and simmer 3 to 4 minutes.

Spoon the mixture into a meat grinder with the eggs and grind into a large bowl, making sure to add the juices from the skillet. Add salt and pepper; stir well. Cover and refrigerate. Or line a mold with plastic wrap, spoon in the liver mixture, cover and refrigerate. The plastic wrap enables you to lift the molded chopped liver out of the bowl and invert onto a serving platter; then remove the plastic wrap. Serve with Pomegranate Aspic and crackers or slices of challah.
Makes about 4 cups.

∗ 1/3 cup water
∗ 1/2 cup sugar
∗ 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
∗ 1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
∗ 1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
∗ 1 package plain gelatin

Cook water and sugar over low heat in a heavy saucepan until sugar dissolves and syrup thickens, about 2 minutes. Heat the vinegar, orange juice concentrate and 1 1/4 cups pomegranate juice in a saucepan. Add this to the sugar syrup and blend. Simmer for 10 minutes. Soften the gelatin in the remaining 1/4 cup pomegranate juice. Add to the hot mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch glass dish and chill until set. When cold, garnish terrine as desired.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

This entry was posted in Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.