As we all lead lives dictated by work, family, Jewish holidays and other factors, it is usually around three weeks before a Yom Tov that many of us begin to contemplate our holiday menu.
Will it be the same as last year? Or should we scrap the favourites in favour of something new?
As my shopping cart makes its way through the aisles and I visit with many members of the community, we all are in Rosh Hashanah mode.
As much as we complain about the stress of cooking, and all it entails, we must admit it has to be easier now than when previous generations did not have food processors, microwaves, pre-salted and soaked meat, cleaned chickens, etc.
And when the family’s favourites hit the table and I reap the benefits of the pleased and smiling faces, all the toil becomes worthwhile.
So, what am I making?
Certain foods – brisket, noodle pudding and apple cake – are synonymous with Rosh Hashanah. Depending on your family’s ethnic origins, you either like your food savoury or sweet. In our home, a noodle pudding always has a dash of cinnamon and a cup of pineapple, apricots or orange segments.
The other addition I love to use is cranberries. Either fresh, frozen or dried, their tartness embellishes any recipe. I have used cranberries in both a main and a dessert. A sweet year to everyone!
Brisket with portobello mushrooms and dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen cranberry juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup soya sauce
1/2 cup flour
1 large onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
6 lb brisket
2 cups portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Place the first 5 ingredients into a large roasting pan and mix well. Add the onion and garlic.
Season brisket with salt and pepper and place in roaster. Spoon the liquid mixture over the brisket.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 3 1/2 hours. Cool and slice.
Place brisket back in pan and surround with 2 cups sliced portobello mushrooms and 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries. Cover pan with foil.
Increase oven temperature to 350 F and bake 30 minutes.
Apple and cranberry pie in phyllo
8 cups sliced peeled apples
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup bread crumbs
8 sheets phyllo pastry
1/2 cup melted margarine
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Combine apples, cranberries, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
Combine breadcrumbs and walnuts.
Place 1 sheet of phyllo pastry on the counter. Brush with margarine. Sprinkle with some of the nut mixture down the middle of the pastry and then fold over right side and then left side. Place 1/3 inside 10-inch springform pan letting the other 2/3 hang out over the side of the pan. Repeat this with the other 7 sheets of phyllo so that the entire pan is covered. Sprinkle remaining nut mixture in the centre of the pan.
Spoon in the apple cranberry mixture.
Fold pastry one sheet at a time over the apples so they are completely covered.
Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 F, cover the pan loosely with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Note: Do not be intimidated by phyllo. Just cover the sheets with a damp tea towel and it is very easy to work with.
Breaking the Yom Kippur fast
I like my food to look round and neat. Especially for a buffet, I dislike heaping casseroles and rather prefer individualized units that can be scooped easily off a platter. When our family gathers, there can be upwards of 30 to 40 people. That’s a lot of food to cook!
I am always conscious of being able to prepare as much as I possibly can ahead of time. At Passover this year, I made these fishcakes instead of gefilte fish, and they were a huge hit. The best part was they could be made days ahead and then either reheated or served at room temperature.
The smoked salmon blintz cups were first attempted for a ladies’ bridge day and also were well received. I have frozen them individually, and they reheated beautifully.
The final recipe, caramel s’mores, is a crowd pleaser. They take two minutes to assemble and are a real treat.
Makes 8 patties
1 pound of skinless cod or haddock
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 green onions sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 egg beaten
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
4 tsp vegetable oil
Pulse fish in processor until it’s in small pieces, but not a paste. Transfer to a bowl and add bread crumbs, onions, parsley, egg, mustard, salt and pepper. Shape into patties.
Heat oil on medium heat in fry pan and cook on both sides until golden.
Note: I multiplied this recipe by 4 and produced 40 fish cakes.
Smoked salmon blintz cups
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup chopped smoked salmon
1/2 cup softened cream cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
4 tbsp melted butter
4 tbsp sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine first 5 ingredients and set aside
Combine next 3 ingredients in a bowl and make a well.
Whisk next 4 ingredients in a separate bowl and add to well. Whisk together until smooth.
Pour a small amount of batter into each of 12 greased ramekins. Spoon smoked salmon mixture over batter. Cover with more batter.
Bake for 18 minutes until puffed but firm to the touch. Let stand 5 minutes, then remove blintz cups from ramekins.
Can be served warm or at room temperature.
Makes 12 servings
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place 12 brownies (you can use bought) on the sheet.
Top each brownie with a marshmallow. Broil for about 1 minute until marshmallow is golden.
Push a wooden skewer through each marshmallow-covered brownie and place on a serving platter.
Pour caramel sauce around brownies. Yummy!