Fresh takes on classic entrees and dessert for the High Holy Days


Celebrated close together, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the High Holy Days, but each offers its own special food customs.   

Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sundown Sept. 13, celebrates the Jewish New Year. It is a joyous occasion enlivened with a variety of delicious foods, symbolizing a bountiful year to follow. Many traditional dishes include honey and apples to assure “a sweet new year,” accompanied by a round challah, seen by some as representing the cycle of life.

Yom Kippur, on the other hand, is an austere fast day. Not a drop of water or a bite of food passes the lips of worshipers from sundown to sundown, beginning Sept. 22. The pre-fast dinner traditionally consists of bland foods, and after the fast the meal can consist of a light dairy repast or a full-course dinner, accented by the spicy and salty flavors that were absent during the fasting period. 

It is an ancient custom to serve fish for both holidays. A symbol of fertility and immortality, the fish is traditionally cooked whole to express the wish for total success. A wonderful recipe that can be made without spending a lot of time in the kitchen is Baked Salmon, especially for the break-the-fast meal.

Chicken is a must in my family for the High Holy Days, and I have a few delicious recipes that are both traditional and modern, and which can be prepared in advance.  

The Chicken Fricassee — halfway between a sauté and a stew — combines turkey meatballs with chicken pieces cooked in a tomato sauce until tender and delicious. For a sweet-and-sour taste, add equal parts of lemon and brown sugar. Another of my favorites is a classic Roast Chicken, almost like Grandma made, using lots of garlic, shallots and potatoes.

Serve a light dessert for Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. The recipe for a Holiday Apple Cake combines apples and honey, symbolizing a sweet year, a tasty tradition that dates back centuries.     

BAKED SALMON

  • 1 (3-pound) salmon fillet, skin removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions
  • 1/2 cup minced basil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

 

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Place the salmon in a glass or stainless-steel roasting dish and season it generously with salt and pepper. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice and drizzle evenly over the salmon. Cover and marinate for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the onions and basil. Scatter the mixture over the salmon fillet. Pour the wine around the salmon.

Bake the salmon, uncovered, for 15 minutes until firm with just a strip of undercooked salmon in the center. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and allow to rest 10 minutes. Just before serving, cut salmon crosswise and serve hot or cold.

Makes 8 servings.

ROAST CHICKEN WITH GARLIC, SHALLOTS AND POTATOES

  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, patted dry
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 large fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra for garnish
  • 24 small red potatoes, unpeeled pricked 
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 large heads garlic, separated into unpeeled cloves
  • 1/4 cup water 

 

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Rub chicken with 1/4 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place 4 thyme sprigs in the cavity. Scatter the potatoes, onion, carrots, garlic and remaining 4 thyme sprigs on the bottom of a roasting pan. Sprinkle the water and remaining 1/4 cup oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, breast side down, on top of the vegetables. Bake for 1 hour or until tender.  

Makes 8 servings.

CHICKEN FRICASSEE WITH TURKEY MEATBALLS

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small potato, peeled and grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup dry red wine 
  • 1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut in pieces  

 

In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, egg, potato, 1 garlic clove, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. Shape into balls and set aside.

In a large roaster, heat oil and sauté onions, green pepper and remaining garlic until transparent. Using a wooden spoon, stir in paprika and sauté for 2 minutes until paprika is well blended.  Add tomato sauce and wine, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer mixture over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place meatballs and chicken into tomato sauce mixture, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour or until chicken and meatballs are tender. Shake pot every 15 minutes to prevent meat from sticking to the pot. Serve in shallow bowls.  

Makes 8 to 10 servings. 

HOLIDAY APPLE CAKE

  • Crumb Topping (recipe follows)
  • 5 large tart apples, peeled, cored and diced (about 5 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted nondairy margarine, melted and cooled
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Prepare Crumb Topping, cover, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine apples, lemon juice, honey, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar; set aside for 20 minutes.

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, blend flour, remaining 2 cups sugar, salt and baking powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together margarine, eggs, vanilla and orange juice. Add to flour mixture and blend until smooth.

Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with margarine, line with wax paper and brush wax paper with margarine. Spoon 1/3 of the batter into prepared baking dish and then spoon on half of the apple mixture. Pour half of the remaining batter over the apple mixture, cover with the remaining apple mixture and then remaining batter. Sprinkle Crumb Topping over batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.  

Makes about 12 servings.   

CRUMB TOPPING

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

 

In a food processor, blend brown sugar, walnuts, honey and cinnamon.  

Makes about 1 cup.

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