In the Kitchen Jewish Food

Lessening the labor of Labor Day Rosh Hashanah

By Ethel G. Hofman

(JNS) This year, the holiday starts the evening of Sept. 6 – on Labor Day itself in the United States – and lasts through the evening of Sept. 8.

With the tastes of summer lingering on our palates, make the menu fresh, local and lighter than the traditional Rosh Hashana brisket and kugels. 

Here I have adapted old favorites – lively flavors reminiscent of overseas travels along with the variety of fresh fruits and veggies still abundant in an Indian summer. L’Shanah Tovah – to a sweet, joyous and healthy New Year!

Chicken Masala (Meat)
Serves 6-8

2 large onions, coarsely chopped (in processor)
4 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
2½-inch piece ginger root, grated on the coarse side of a grater
2 teaspoons turmeric
6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (about 2½-3 pounds)
freshly ground pepper and ¼ teaspoon sal
1 pound little potatoes, quartered
1 can (13 to 14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
water to cover
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ cup water
⅓ cup each of cashews and raisins
¼ cup snipped fresh parsley (optional)

Sauté onions over low heat until soft and golden. Stir in garlic, ginger and turmeric.

Sprinkle the chicken with pepper. Add to the onion mixture. Cook 5 minutes over medium heat, turning occasionally. Add salt, potatoes, coconut milk, cinnamon and enough water to barely cover (1 cup or less).

Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Mix cornstarch and ¼ cup cold water to a smooth paste. Stir into the chicken mixture. Simmer 2 minutes longer, stirring often. Adjust seasoning with pepper and salt. Stir in the cashews and raisins. Serve with hot rice, spiked with snipped fresh parsley (optional).

Adapted from a recipe in Claudia Roden’s “Book of Jewish Food.”

Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Tzimmes (Pareve)
Serves 6-8

1 pound butternut squash, cut in ½-inch pieces
3 sweet potatoes, about 2 pounds, cooked
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into coarse 1-inch chunks
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup dried apricots, halved
½ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
3 tablespoons margarine, melted
¼ cup honey, warmed
¾ teaspoon Chinese Five Spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Place squash in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon water. Cover and cook on High for 3 minutes. Drain. Peel sweet potatoes and cut in ½-inch slices. Place the sweet potatoes, squash, apple, cranberries and apricots in a prepared baking dish. Add the orange juice, margarine and honey. Sprinkle with Chinese Five spice. Stir gently to mix. Cover and bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 degrees. Bake uncovered, for 15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Serve hot. Do not freeze.

Oma’s Noodles and Blueberries (Pareve)
Serves 6

12 ounces medium egg noodles
¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons margarine, melted

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. While noodles are cooking, in a small saucepan, mix honey, lemon juice, blueberries and 3 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring. Immediately remove from heat. In a large bowl, toss hot noodles with margarine. Pour blueberry mixture over top. Serve hot.

Plum Kuchen (Pareve)
Serves 8-10

1 stick (4 ounces) margarine, melted
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
⅔ cups, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1¼ cups, plus 2 tablespoons, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 pound plums, pitted and quartered
3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the margarine and vinegar. Blend in 2 tablespoons sugar and 1¼ cups flour to make a smooth dough. Press into the bottom of a 10-inch pie plate. Prick all over with a fork. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, ⅔ cup sugar and cinnamon. Add plums and toss to coat. Arrange plums, cut-side up, on top of the dough to cover. Sprinkle any remaining flour mixture over the plums. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of water. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes or until pastry is golden at the edges. Cool before cutting into wedges.

Simple Salmon (Pareve)
Serves 4

Boiling water
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ small onion, sliced thinly
1 to 2 bay leaves
4 (4- to 5-ounces each) salmon steaks, ½- to ¾-inch thick

Pour about 1-inch boiling water into a large heavy skillet. Add vinegar, onion and bay leaves. Arrange salmon on top in a single layer. Add more water to almost cover if needed. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until salmon is opaque when flakes are separated with a knife. With a wide spatula, transfer salmon to a serving dish. Pour a little liquid around to keep it moist. Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature.

Best-Ever Honey Cake (Pareve)

Makes 1 average loaf (approximately 8×4 inches), plus 3 mini-loaves, or bake in a Bundt pan to serve 15 to 18 people.

4 eggs
½ cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup molasses
½ cup honey, warmed
1 cup dark-brown sugar
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pans or Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray with flour. In a large bowl, beat eggs and water to blend. Add remaining wet ingredients. Mix well. Stir in the brown sugar and flours, about ½ cup at a time. Add the baking soda and spices with the last ½ cup of flour. Fold in raisins. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Mini-loaves will bake in 35 minutes or so. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Loosen edges by running a knife around. Turn onto a wire tray to cool completely. To freeze: Wrap tightly in aluminum foil.

Ethel G. Hofman is a widely syndicated American Jewish food and travel columnist, author and culinary consultant.

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