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If you are like me, the weeks before the holiday are a hustle and bustle. Kids are back in school, and we have to shop for holiday and school clothes, Shabbat shoes and more. Like any cook, in the weeks before a holiday, I look for new ideas, something to breathe fresh air into the holiday and create new interest in the foods I prepare for family and guests.
Here are some new—and some old—recipes for Rosh Hashanah, that I would like to share with you. To honor the tradition of eating pomegranate on the holiday, try my Pomegranate Balsamic Glazed Chicken. It’s a delicious, healthy chicken dish. Honey Cake is a classic on this holiday. Honey is traditionally used to create sweet dishes in the hopes of a sweet year ahead. My Honey Cake is light and airy, while still very sweet.
I am also sharing two recipes for the brachot said by Sephardic Jews on this holiday. My leek patties are a take on egeh, and a different way to meet the brachot for leek. My grandmother’s Hilu, or candied squash, uses spaghetti squash for the bracha.
All of these recipes are included in my upcoming cookbook, which will be out at the end of the year and will include cooking tips, hundreds of new and many traditional recipes, entertaining tips, food preparation and several other sections.
The Sarina’s Sephardic Cuisine cooking app is available for iPhones and iPads and is receiving an update. It has over 200 recipes. Understanding that today’s cooks look for recipes with technology, and do not cook from cookbooks, the app is embedded with over 50 videos to help young cooks learn traditional recipes, in which we demonstrate how to make difficult recipes and provide viewers with important cooking tips. There are tricks to preparing many recipes and we share those in the videos.
Proudly, I am my mother’s daughter and the granddaughter of Esther Salem, the first caterer in the Syrian Jewish community in Bensonhurst. Esther’s older sister was the Egyptian Rose (Rose Misrie), who ran a restaurant of the same name on the Lower East Side, for new immigrants from the Middle East in the early 20th century. So the recipes in the app—as well as the cookbook—were handed down from mother to daughter for generations.
There are many ways to prepare the recipes we need for the brachot on Rosh Hashanah. You can prepare Lubya as vegetarian, with no meat. There is no right or wrong way to cook. There are Syrian, Moroccan, Persian and Lebanese varieties of the same or similar foods. Cooking is an adventure and with these ancient recipes, I hope you will renew the traditions of our Sephardic past.
This chicken recipe is easy and seasonal, and especially elegant and delicious. It’s a very different holiday main course, plus it incorporates pomegranate, typically eaten on Rosh Hashanah.
• 4 tablespoons oil
• 6 chicken cutlets, seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano
• 1 package baby carrots
• 2 small onions, peeled and sliced
• 1 cup chicken broth
• ¾ cup pomegranate juice
• ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 2 teaspoons brown sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¹/³ cup pomegranate seeds
• 1 teaspoon basil
• ¼ teaspoon oregano
Heat oil in skillet. Add cutlets, onions and carrots. Brown cutlets 5-6 minutes on each side until tender and cooked through. Remove chicken from pan.
Add chicken broth to deglaze skillet. Add chicken back to skillet and simmer 15 minutes, covered. Remove chicken and vegetables and place on serving platter. Reserve ¹/³ cup cooking liquid.
Add cooking liquid to skillet and stir in pomegranate juice, vinegar, brown sugar, salt, oregano, basil and cornstarch. Reserve a few pomegranate seeds for garnish and add the rest to the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer 3-4 minutes. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken. Garnish with seeds.
Classic Honey Cake
• 3 eggs
• 1 ¹/³ cup honey
• 1½ cup sugar
• 1 cup strong black coffee
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 3 tablespoons margarine
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 4 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 2 cups confectioners sugar
• 2 teaspoons orange juice
• 2 teaspoons orange zest
Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease 9 x 13 inch cake pan or bundt pan by spraying with cooking spray and coating with flour.
In mixing bowl of mixer, beat eggs and honey together. Add sugar and mix again. Mix coffee with baking powder. Add to egg mixture with margarine and mix again.
Sift baking soda, flour and cinnamon together. The sifting lightens the cake. Add slowly to egg mixture, beating well after each addition.
Pour into baking pan and bake one hour or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and turn onto serving plate.
Mix orange juice with confectioners’ sugar and zest. You may need to add a few drops more orange juice. Do not add too much. You want a smooth consistency, not too loose. Pour onto honey cake and allow to drizzle over sides.
Pomegranate Strawberry Cocktail with Sorbet (Virgin)
• 2 cups pomegranate juice
• 2 cups strawberries
• 2 peaches
• 5 tablespoons honey
• 30 large mint leaves, plus more for garnish
• 1 cup ice
• Sorbet of your choice
Pour juice, strawberries, peaches, ice, honey and mint into food processor. Puree and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Pour into wine glasses and fill half way. Add a scoop of sorbet. Fill glass with seltzer. This adds fizz. Garnish with mint leaf.
Candied Spaghetti Squash or Halu
1 spaghetti squash
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 small lemon, squeezed
Dash of salt
Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut spaghetti squash in half. Scoop out seeds and place open side down on baking sheet. Bake one hour in preheated 350˚oven.
Mix the sugar, water, lemon and salt in saucepan and simmer on low flame until thick.
Scoop out the squash with a fork tine, so that it is like spaghetti. Squeeze out all the liquid. Add squash and mix. Store in a jar in refrigerator.
We eat leeks at Rosh Hashanah to protect us from our enemies. These mini patties are perfect for the brachot before the meal.
• 3 Leeks
• 3 tablespoons oil
• 1 chopped onion
• 2 eggs
• 2 tablespoons matzo meal
• 1 tablespoon salt
• ½ teaspoon pepper
• Oil for frying
Cut off ends of leek and peel off hard outer shell. Slice the long way to quarter the leek and then slice. Soak and clean leek in cold water. Drain.
Heat oil in saucepan and sauté onion and chopped leek for 5 minutes. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Pour into colander to drain and cool. Squeeze out all excess water (by taking handfuls at a time).
In bowl, mix leeks, eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper.
In skillet, heat oil and drop by spoonfuls into oil. Brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Can be frozen at this point. Serve warm.