Lifestyle

Jewish holidays mean great food

When I was newly married, we celebrated the Jewish holiday meals at my in-laws home in Seattle's Montlake neighborhood. Every Rosh Hashanah, the house was filled with the smells of freshly-made gefilte fish, oven-roasted chicken, noodle kugels and walnut honey cake. New Year's greeting cards stood straight on the mantel and the furniture gleamed from being richly polished. The kitchen was small but organized, and my mother-in-law cared for it as if it were a showplace.

Today, I make the holiday meals with the help of family. My house is filled with the smells of freshly-baked challah breads and sweet and sour stuffed cabbage rolls. Favorite honey cakes and apple pastries lay neatly on serving platters. Jewish New Year's cards are strewn on den tables. My kitchen is messy as I multi-task, but my husband follows me around, lovingly helping to clean up as I work feverishly. He washes all the pots and pans, which to me is the greatest gift of all. He did this for my mother-in-law, too. We are busy preparing for the Jewish holidays, just as our parents did and our grandparents before them. That is our tradition.

The holidays begin with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is a period of self-reflection and repentance. For Jews worldwide, it is a time of introspection and looking back. As is the custom, observance of the Jewish festivals begins on the eve of the holiday. So this year the Jewish New Year begins at sunset on Oct. 3.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most important Jewish holidays and the only ones not tied to historic events. They are observed in the fall season of the Western calendar and in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Tishri. This year 2005 translates to the year 5766 on the Jewish calendar.

Yom Kippur comes 10 days after Rosh Hashanah. It is a chance for a new beginning as the sacred day of Yom Kippur is spent worshipping and fasting. This year it begins on the evening of Oct. 12. Following Yom Kippur worship we all return to our homes to ``Break the Fast.'' It means just that, eating again after fasting.

Many traditional recipes for the Jewish holidays have been passed down from generation to generation as the holiday foods are symbolic, representing our traditions. I hope you enjoy the ones that I have included in the holiday column this year.

Another tradition is to extend the greeting to all who celebrate and wish them a Happy and Sweet New Year. ``L'Shana Tovah!''

JEWISH NEW YEAR CHALLAH CROWNS

During this festive meal to celebrate the New Year, a piece of challah and apple is dipped in honey. This ritual symbolizes the hope that the upcoming year will be a sweet one. The round loaf represents the cycle of the year.

2 packages (2 rounded teaspoons) dry yeast

1 tsp. sugar

21/2 cups lukewarm water

1 cup canola oil

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

9 to 10 cups bread flour

1 egg white mixed with 1 TBS. of water

1 cup raisins

Place yeast in a large bowl and sprinkle sugar on top. Pour water over and allow to proof (5 to 10 minutes). Whisk in oil, sugar and eggs. Stir in flour a few cups at a time. When dough is no longer sticky, begin to knead. After a kneading for a few minutes, add in the 1 cup of raisins. Knead until you have a smooth dough, about 5 minutes. Oil the bowl and roll the dough in oil, as this prevents the dough from drying out. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise for two hours in a warm spot. Punch down, divide dough into four sections. Grease two baking sheets. On a floured board, knead dough slightly, then break off a palm-sized piece of dough and form a small disc. Repeat with each piece. Roll rest of dough into a ``snake'' and coil and place on top of disc. Repeat with each piece. Cover with the towel again and allow to rise for another hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds if desired. Place two breads on each baking sheet. Bake approximately 45 minutes or until dough is golden and challah sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to racks and cool.

JOAN NATHAN'S SWEET AND SOUR STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS

This recipe has been in a past column, but I just couldn't resist using it for Sukkot, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the harvest. I think it could become a family favorite. Joan Nathan said in her new Jewish Holiday Cookbook that she obtained this recipe from the late Ada Baum Lipsitz, who came from Russia. Ada experimented with her sweet and sour sauce for more than 60 years. Her trick was to add frozen lemonade. Joan said she left out the lemonade in her new books, but got so many complaints through the years for the omission that she added it back in the updated cookbook. Serves 6 to 8.

1 large cabbage

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 Tbs. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 cup catsup

3 eggs

1/2 cup uncooked rice

1 medium onion, grated

SAUCE

1 28-ounce can tomatoes

1 16-ounce can tomato sauce

salt and pepper

2 large onions, grated

1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, chopped

1/2 cup catsup

1 12-ounce can frozen concentrated lemonade

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup raisins

Freeze the whole cabbage for two days. This way you won't have to boil any cabbage leaves. Defrost it the night before cooking. This ensures soft, tender leaves.

Combine the ground beef, salt, pepper, garlic powder, catsup, eggs, rice and grated onion. Set aside.

In a sauce pan, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste, onions, garlic powder, catsup, lemonade, brown sugar and raisins. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the cabbage rolls are ready to be cooked.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Remove the core from the head of the cabbage. Separate the leaves. Place one heaping tablespoon or two of the meat mixture on each leaf. Tuck the ends in and roll up. Place in a six-quart casserole.

Pour the sauce over the cabbage. Bake covered for four hours and then uncovered for one hour.

Mix all together and pour over stuffed cabbage. It's best to make a day ahead and reheat. It tastes even better the second day. It's an easy recipe to double and it freezes well.

CRANBERRY SAUCE FOR STUFFED CABBAGE

A Joan Nathan recipe from her ``Jewish Cooking in America.'' This sauce offers another choice for Stuffed Cabbage Rolls.

16 oz. can whole cranberry sauce

1 15 oz. or 16 oz. can tomato sauce

11/2 cups water

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup fresh cranberries (or frozen)

1 apple

Mix the cranberry sauce, tomato sauce, one cup water, lemon and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; then add the raisins and the fresh or frozen cranberries. Peel, core and dice the apple and add into the mixture. Simmer another five minutes. Pour the sauce over the stuffed cabbage rolls and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Then place the stuffed cabbage in a preheated oven at 300 degrees and bake, uncovered, for one-half hour more. It's a dish that tastes better if served a day later and re-warmed.

LAYERED GEFILTE

FISH LOAF

I was looking for another way to have gefilte fish and came upon this recipe from Shelley Zisook in the Daf Yummy Cookbook from the Seattle Kollel. It's really beautiful to serve and is it's all about doctoring up a defrosted gefilte fish loaf that you can find at Albertsons.

1 11/2 lb. gefilte fish loaf, defrosted

1 egg, beaten

1 TBS. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 TBS. finely grated onion or 1 tsp. onion powder

pepper

1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained

3 to 4 medium carrots, cooked and mashed

In a large bowl, combine defrosted gefilte fish loaf with egg, sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion and pepper. Divide mixture in half. Press half into a 4 x 81/2-inch loaf pan or into two mini loaf pans. Divide remaining mixture in half. Mix spinach into half of the mixture and mashed carrots into the other half of the mixture. Spread spinach mixture evenly over the plain fish in the loaf pan. Spread carrot mixture evenly over the spinach mixture. Bake, uncovered for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Slice to serve. Lay slices on a plate and garnish with bib lettuce or parsley and lemon.

TZIMMES (Meat)

Carrot tzimmes originated in late medieval times among Ashkenazic Jews. Due to its sweetness, it was a favorite for Rosh Hashanah. Some versions have dried fruits and apples added. Serves 5 to 6.

2 lbs. brisket or short ribs

1 quart water

1 onion, sliced

1 rib celery

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

5 sweet potatoes, peeled

5 carrots, peeled

5 white potatoes, peeled

1 cup prunes

2 TBS. flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 t. citric acid

Place brisket or short ribs in a large pot. Add water, onion, celery, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until meat in tender. Add sweet potatoes, carrots and white potatoes. Cook until tender. Place in large greased baking dish. Add prunes. Make a paste of some of the liquid with flour, brown sugar and citric acid. Pour over the tzimmes and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour.

RABBI ROSENBAUM'S FAVORITE KUGEL

Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum of Herzl-Ner Tamid shared this recipe at the men's cooking class. He said, ``It's so easy that even a rabbi can make it!'' I think it's perfect for the Jewish New Year. Use a 9 x 12 inch pan or 9 x 13 inch pan.

One package of Manischewitz fine noodles

6 eggs

1 cup raisins or more

3/4 cup sugar

4 oz. of margarine (non-dairy)

cinnamon

Place noodles in a pot of boiling water. Cook uncovered for 11 minutes. Drain. Mix eggs, sugar, and raisins in a large mixing bowl.

Melt margarine in a microwave for one minute. Pour into a baking pan, enough to coat it leaving a thin film on the pan. Pour the remaining margarine into the egg-sugar-raisin mixture and mix thoroughly.

Mix the cooked noodles into the egg-sugar-raisin mixture. Pour the mix into the prepared pan. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon on top and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

JEWISH NEW YEAR HONEY CAKE

Perfect to enjoy after synagogue.

1 cup honey

1 cup oil

2 tsp. instant coffee dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water

11/4 cup dark brown sugar

4 eggs

4 cups self rising flour (can also use 4 scant cups of all purpose flour mixed with 3/4 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. of salt)

2 heaping tsp. cinnamon

2 heaping tsp. allspice

1 level tsp. ginger

1 tsp. baking soda

Warm honey and set aside. Beat together the honey, oil, coffee and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Sift together the rest of the ingredients and beat in until blended. Bake in a greased shallow tin in the oven at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Check for doneness.

EASY APPLE DESSERT

It doesn't get any easier than this recipe.

5 to 6 apples, sweet or tart

1 TBS. sugar

1 TBS. cinnamon

Peel, core and cut into slices. Place into a nine-inch pie plate. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Add crust topping.

CRUST TOPPING

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup melted butter or margarine

Combine until well mixed and pour over apples. Bake at 350 degrees, 35 to 40 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven.

TENDER APPLE CAKE

This is a recipe from Sarah Chana that was her mother's, a tried and true cake. It always came out tender and was the favorite of her kids and friends.

4 eggs

13/4 cup flour

12/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup oil

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. almond or rum extract

10 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin

lemon juice

cinnamon

Peel and slice apples. Toss with lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Beat eggs and sugar; add oil and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan and pour in half the batter. Top with apples and cinnamon. Pour remaining batter on top; spread it with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is light brown.

Eileen Mintz can reached by e-mail at eileenmintz@comcast.net or by calling 232-1984.

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