Photographs by Molly Yeh
I could talk about my love of Mandel Bread until the cows come home. Not that a crispy almond cookie needs any explanation, but the reasons I love Mandel Bread so much go past its delicious flavor and satisfying texture.
My go-to recipe, which is inspired by Tori Avey’s, doesn’t require any planning ahead in the way of softening butter or acquiring obscure ingredients, and you don’t need to dirty up your electric mixer to make the dough. In that sense, it’s a very portable recipe, so if ever you find yourself in someone else’s kitchen with a hankering for a cookie, you can whip some up easy peasy.
Mandel Bread also has a super long shelf life because of its dry nature, so that paired with a strong sturdiness makes for a perfect addition to a care package for a loved one. Whenever I make a batch, it’s pretty much a given that half of it will be sent off to far away friends.
Photograph by Shulie Madnick
North African and Yemeni Jews, among other Sephardic Jews, break the Yom Kippur fast with a sweetened hot coffee or tea. Balkan Jews break the fast with laboriously extracted chilled almond milk and melon seed drink. Here’s a modern twist on the break-fast beverage tradition — a refreshing recipe from a charming little artisanal soda shop at the Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv.
Note that the syrups should be made a few days in advance — so consider starting now…
There’s nothing like knowing you can’t eat to make a person want to eat. For many Jews, Yom Kippur means a 25-hour fast bracketed by two meals – the pre-fast seudat mafseket and the meal to break the fast. But just because you’ve managed to make it through those 25 hours without eating doesn’t mean you should scarf down a greasy shawarma the minute you’re allowed. If you do, your stomach may not be very thankful afterward.
True, breaking the fast the wrong way is unlikely to land you in the hospital, but it may leave you feeling unwell. While Magen David Adom treats an average of 2,000 people every Yom Kippur, including many who feel unwell due to fasting, rescue service spokesman Zaki Heller says he cannot recall any cases of people calling in the paramedics because they broke the fast with the wrong food.
The director of the nutrition and diet service department at Petah Tikva’s Rabin Medical Center, Sigal Frishman, agrees. She says that while you’re unlikely to do real damage to your digestive system by overloading it immediately after a fast, you might regret it afterward.
During a fast the digestive system is relatively inactive. “If we then put in lots of things that are difficult to digest, there’s no way the digestive system can cope. That will give you a stomachache,” she says.
Read more at Haaretz.com.
After 25 hours of abstinence from food and water on Yom Kippur, your family and guests will treasure each dish on your table — even if it’s just peanut butter and jelly. So why go crazy in the kitchen? There are times when simple is best: save your efforts for Passover, and go with an easy idea like a bread and wine trifle borrowed from the Jews of Piedmont, in North-Western Italy.
The region is famous for producing some of the finest wines in the world, including Barolo, which even made its way into the local break-fast tradition. While most Italian Jews break the fast with cakes or other sweets accompanied by lemonade, a little coffee and the occasional shot of liqueur, the Piedmontese are quite proud of their Bruscadela — basically a wine and bread trifle. Layers of toasted bread or challah are soaked overnight in mulled wine with sugar and spices.
While wine after a fast may not be the healthiest option (it’s likely to go quickly to your head), somehow the richness of the challah and the somber, contemplative mood still lingering from the holiday, temper its effects. Yet, if you have low alcohol-tolerance and are not in the mood for a deep mystical experience, you may want to try a grape juice version.
After a day of atoning and fasting, the last thing any of us want to do is walk into our kitchen, fire up the stove and start cooking a meal that won’t be ready for a few hours. The key to preparing a lovely and delicious break fast, whether it’s for your family or a large group, is to cook dishes that store well and to reheat or finish them at the last moment. We’ve outlined a complete meal here. If you have family traditions for break fast, consider incorporating a dish or two from this menu to try something new.
While baking challah in advance isn’t the ideal situation, these two recipes call for apples or apple cider, which gives the challah a bit of extra moisture to help it stay fresh a day after it’s baked.
After a long day of prayers and atonement, the Yom Kippur fast ends at sunset and Jews gather to Break Fast and break bread.
Many people want to go home after synagogue services, putting together a traditional dinner, while some prefer to let a restaurant be the host, relax and be pampered like the chosen people. Here are a few suggestions should you want to let someone else do the cooking.
No need to make a reservation at Miriam’s, a Mediterranean-Jewish restaurant in Brooklyn. Eat at the wooden bar or grab a coveted place at the tall, communal table in the front window of this popular Park Slope spot. Families and couples can spread out at one of the cozy dining room tables. The long, colorful haunt is strewn with Moroccan lights and atmospheric candles. On Miriam’s menu for Break Fast: roasted, boneless free-range chicken with Israeli couscous, roasted butternut squash and pumpkin seeds. Grass-fed, braised short ribs with traditional kugel is another holiday entree. Those preferring lighter fare can sup on chicken noodle soup served with kreplach.
79 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, will be open until 10:30 Wednesday, 718-622-2250.
With the days of Yamim Noraim almost at their beginning not only have my thoughts turned to the dishes I want to make for all the glorious holiday meals that are coming up, but also to the fast of Yom Kippur that will end this time of introspection and atonement.
Fasting is a ritual that is not only central within Jewish tradition but stretches across other religious traditions. Muslims practice the month long fast of Ramadan, while adherents of various Christian denominations, such as Catholicism and the Eastern Orthodox Church, fast during the period of Lent. The Baha’I religion has a feast similar to Ramadan and the first Sunday of each month is a fast day for Mormons.
These periods of fasting offer us the opportunity for intense spiritual connectedness and spiritual nourishment. Yet there is no doubt that by the end of the fast people’s thoughts are begin to turn towards the long awaited break-fast meal.
Epicurious gives us some “Yom Kippur Recipes and Menus” including ones for Yemenite holiday soup, plumb dumplings and some traditional Jewish fare.
The LA Times explores different break fast traditions of Jews around the world.
“A former army man’s boutique brewery may change the face of Israeli beer,” according to Haaretz
Nikki Cascone, “Top Chef” alum, who is opening Octavia’s Porch, a global Jewish cuisine restaurant in New York speaks with The Village Voice.