Photograph by Len Zangwill
My son decided that he wanted to pick apples so that the family could make applesauce together. He had just read “Apple Days”, by Alison Sarnoff Soffer, the PJ Library book that had taught him how to do it. My wife and I figured it would be a stretch to find any apple variety so early in the season, but since he had the idea to go pick apples it was worth a try. We had actually been waiting for a couple of years for him to grow tall enough to take him to an orchard to pick fruit.
This gluten-free take on a Rosh Hashanah classic incorporates Italian plums for a seasonal twist. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein
4 Italian plums, halved lengthwise and pits removed
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon raw sugar, divided
1½ cups almond flour/meal, such as Bob’s Red Mill
½ cup gluten-free all purpose flour, such as Bob’s Red Mill
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup coconut oil or olive oil
3/4 cup honey
¼ cup coffee
1) Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Spray a nonstick bundt pan with cooking spray, and lay plums skin-side down evenly around the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar.
2) Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine eggs, oil, honey, and coffee. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring to combine. Pour into bundt pan and cook on middle rack of the oven for about one hour, until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes. Slide a thin sharp knife between the cake and the pan before turning cake out onto a cake plate.
Liza Schoenfein is the new food editor of the Forward. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Year’s Balm (left) and Spiced Honey-Rosemary Roasted Nuts. Photograph by Liza Schoenfein.
Growing up, there were exactly four bottles in the Sussman family liquor cabinet — if you could call an out-of-the-way cubby above the microwave, reachable only by footstool, a “liquor cabinet.”
The Kahlua was used for brownies or chocolate cake when we ran out of vanilla extract. Chocolate-and-orange-flavored Sabra, an Israeli invention, served no purpose other than to allow us to use our last liras at Ben Gurion airport, simultaneously reaffirming our Zionism. (I’m not convinced anyone has ever actually tasted Sabra.) Throat-clearing, high-alcohol Slivovitz was an occasional tipple my dad would share with his father-in-law, and also served as the inspiration for my one misguided preteen attempt at a flambé dessert.
Photograph by Liza Schoenfein
In this simple cocktail, sweet notes of apple and honey are tempered with tart lemon juice and a hint of rosemary — rumored to be one of Drambuie’s secret ingredients.
Yields one cocktail
2½ ounces Drambuie
1 ounce apple cider
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce lemon juice
1 drop Angostura bitters
1 sprig of rosemary
Apple slices dipped in honey for garnish
1) Combine first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.
2) Top with a splash of seltzer and garnish with a thin slice of honey-dipped apple.
Adeena Sussman is a food writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in Food & Wine, Martha Stewart Living, Epicurious and Gourmet. Her most recent cookbook, co-authored with Lee Schrager, is “Fried and True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Recipes and Sides” (Clarkson Potter, 2014).
On Rosh Hashanah, we manifest the greeting, Shanah Tovah u’Metukah, “may it be a good and sweet year” through our apples dipped into honey, or the raisins added to our customary round challah, or our honey cake and taiglach (small donuts) we drown in honey. Nu, where’s the chocolate? Chocoholics have to wonder.
Photograph by Liza Schoenfein
Ishai Zeldner was a 20-something college graduate doing an ulpan on Kibbutz Beit HaShita in northern Israel when he was assigned to work with Yusuf Gidron, the kibbutz beekeeper.
“I had no clue about bees,” Zeldner said. “One night I was working with Yosef, moving the bees, and I got stung on the top of my head and I didn’t collapse or run away. He was looking for a strapping young guy to help him, and that’s all it took. It was total serendipity; the rest is history.”
What Zeldner means by “the rest” is the 9,000-square-foot operation he heads today, the Woodland, California-based Z Specialty Foods, which sells many gourmet products, the largest category by far being his impressive array of honeys. Now 67, Zeldner traces his love of honey and bees back to that fateful night in Israel over 40 years ago.
Photograph by Jonathan Lovekin © 2014
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, finely chopped (1 1/3 cup)
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
2 lemons, rind shaved in long strips from one, finely grated zest from the other
1½ cups Arborio or another risotto rice
18 ounces trimmed Brussels sprouts (7 ounces shredded and 11 ounces quartered) lengthwise
Scant 2 cups dry white wine
Scant 4 cups hot vegetable stock
About 1 2/3 cups sunflower oil
1½ cups Parmesan, coarsely grated
2 ounces Dolcelatte, broken into ¾-inch chunks (The Forward substituted gorgonzola dolce)
1/3 cup tarragon leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
1) Place the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly caramelized. Add the garlic, thyme and lemon rind strips, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the rice and shredded sprouts and cook for another minute, stirring frequently. Pour in the wine and let it simmer for a minute before you start adding the stock, 1 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper. Turn down the heat to medium, and carry on adding the stock in ladlefuls, stirring often, until the rice is cooked but still retains a bite and all the stock is used up.
2) While the rice is cooking, pour the sunflower oil into a separate large saucepan; it should rise ¾ inch up the sides. Place over high heat and, once the oil is very hot, use a slotted spoon to add a handful of the quartered sprouts. (Take care that they are completely dry before you add them; they will still splatter, so be careful.) Fry the sprouts for less than 1 minute, until golden and crispy, then transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep them somewhere warm while you fry the remaining sprouts.
3) Add the Parmesan, Dolcelatte (or Gorgonzola Dolce), tarragon and half the fried sprouts to the cooked risotto and stir gently. Serve at once with the remaining sprouts spooned on top, followed by the grated lemon zest and the lemon juice.
Reprinted with permission from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.
I can never decide what I like better about this Alsatian and southern-German tart: the quetsches (similar to Italian Blue Plums, which are available for a short time in the fall) or the butter crust (called sablé in French and Mürbeteig in German ). On a recent trip to France, I learned a trick for making it: if you bake the tart with no sugar over the fruit, you won’t get a soggy crust. Just sprinkle on a small amount of sugar after baking. Italian Blue Plums are only available in the early fall, so I tend to serve this tart at Rosh Hashanah. If you make it at another time of the year, other varieties of plums can be used.
Reprinted with permission from “Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France”
Yield: 8 servings
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1stick butter 8 tablespoons
1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup plum jam
1 tablespoon brandy
2 pounds Italian blue plums (or greengage plums in the spring)
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
To make the crust, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter or margarine together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade until crumbled. Then add the egg yolk, and pulse until the dough comes together.
Put the dough in the center of an ungreased 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Dust your fingers with flour, and gently press out the dough to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and bake the crust for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven to 375 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, and let cool slightly. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Mix the jam with the brandy in a small bowl, and spread over the bottom of the crust. Pit the plums, and cut them into four pieces each. Starting at the outside, arrange the plums in a circle so that all the pieces overlap, creating concentric that wind into the center of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and lemon zest.
Return the tart to the oven, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the plums are juicy. Remove the tart from the oven, sprinkle on the sugar, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Variation: This pie can be made with apricots, peaches, or blueberries.
“You know tomatoes are ready when they easily pop right off at the stem,” announces Marybeth Lybrand, the Master Gardener at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center’s Gan Tzedek, or Justice Garden. “If you have to really tug to on the tomato, leave it on the vine because it needs more time to grow”, she says to a group of young children and their parents on a Sunday afternoon Garden Service Day.
Having never before seen a purple tomato and uttering “It’s so purple!” more than once, I was urged to try one. I pulled lightly at the stem of one with dark purple, almost black skin. Deep in color all the way through, it had an intensely sweet, smoky flavor.
When we were younger, my cousins and I had an aptly named band called “The Cousins”, where we rocked out in the basement on inflatable guitars and microphones from bar mitzvah give-aways. We grew up in the same schools, with mostly the same friends, living just a couple miles apart from each other–except for a little while when all 6 of us lived under one roof. And yet, even though we were already spending most of our time together, I always was particularly excited to see my cousins on the holidays. Something about the way chicken soup flavored the air of our house and moving the furniture to make room for 30 people and watching my mom make 5 desserts without getting any flour on the floor (unless we offered to help), made seeing my cousins on the holidays something separate from the ordinary, something holy. Or maybe, it was simply because the holidays drew a bigger audience for “The Cousins” than a regular Shabbat dinner.
To me, Rosh Hashanah feels like the pinch of white dress socks with lace sticking out of shiny black party shoes, like the stiffness of a skirt that makes it so much more difficult to run around a synagogue lobby. I hear the distinct vibrating sounds of an apple going through the peeler for my mom’s apple cake, and can taste the remaining stringy apple peel as I collect it in my hand before letting it fall to the garbage. I remember the excitement of the doorbell ringing as our house fills up with guests, always beginning with my grandparents and ending with my cousins who were notoriously late to everything, significantly cutting into our pre-meal practice time.
The fall holidays are a time when we re-evaluate, take stock of our actions and future endeavors. Starting with Slichot and moving towards Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we spend time thinking about the big questions in our lives. However, as I cook and can foods, putting up jam and chutney and pickles, freezing apples for wintertime pies and applesauce and arranging with a farmer for my freezer lamb, I reflect on my future in a different way. I do these preparations, in part, to commit to thinking about food—where it comes from, and how we eat it—for months to come. It also tastes good, is less expensive, and likely healthier than some of the other options. It’s also “fast food!” In winter, I grab a jar from my basement pantry and put it on the table. It’s ready to eat faster than take-out.
In a bigger sense, asking why and where are Jewish concepts. Long discussions in Talmud tractates cover the smallest details of our lives by asking why and how and where and how much. While many of us don’t manage Daf Yomi — studying a page of Talmud a day —we can continue asking these important questions. I heard the beginnings of that kind of traditional questioning recently.
Before my blood ran Michigan maize and blue, I would not be surprised if it were apple cider for 4 months out of the year. Beginning every Labor Day weekend and lasting through Thanksgiving, my neighborhood mill has churned out the best cider one could hope for—pure, unadulterated, unpasteurized, unfiltered, fresh, and preservative-free.
As far back as the photo albums go, there are pictures of my brothers and me sitting on a stoop at the Franklin Cider Mill drinking cider. Each time the fall albums come out, we remember our annual treks to be the year’s first customers every year and of the apple press and fresh cinnamon spice doughnuts, beckoning us to head over for just one more… or maybe it is the tashlikh ceremony that we used to hold during the 10-days where our parents reward us with delicious and fresh doughnuts when we cast our stale-bread sins into the river.
For once I have not stopped to ponder all the ups and downs of the last year, which is something I tend to do monthly, if not weekly. So the fact that I’ve forgotten to do this in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah is a minor victory for the semi-neurotic.
Frankly speaking, the last year was a long one that rode in on an even worse one. So when I began to bake and write about my baking through a life-affirming lens, I forced myself to focus on the very positive, and the very now. It occurred to me that with all that’s wrong here and all over the world, looking straight ahead was hard enough – forget looking forward and forget looking backward.
As a college student in New York, potluck Shabbat meals were a weekly occurrence. Of course, not everyone could cook, or even had time to, so those guests were assigned the shopping jobs — drinks, fruit, and challah. As a rule, anyone assigned to bring challah really only had one choice — Bagel City. Anything other than the sweet, doughy loaf was unacceptable.
There are quite a few local challah companies in the Chicago area, though in the store-bought challah category, none inspire my taste buds quite like Bagel City. Native Chicagoans seem to prefer Breadsmith, a Skokie-based bakery with franchises across the Midwest and Texas, but many feel there aren’t enough good options. A quick Facebook poll resulted in multiple commendations of Whole Food’s challah, what many would deem a non-traditional source. Others recommended Mindy’s Homemade, but unfortunately only whole wheat loaves were available, so in the interest of consistency, I left it out of the line up.
Scroll down to read descriptions of some egg challot available in Chicago grocery stores:
Don’t live in New York, or in need an easy fix? We’ve got you covered. Below are three brands available in supermarkets across the country.
The Challah Fairy Sesame Challah
The problem with tasting store-bought challah right after a freshly baked loaf is that you instantly taste the difference. Thoughts like “This is a crust? Really?” and “Nice bread, barely recognizable as challah,” overshadowed the great texture.
Zomick’s Egg Challah
Maybe it was the lingering taste of failed health inspections, or the nagging fear that a bug would suddenly appear, but this challah got a resounding “No” from all tasters. The neon yellow color stood out among the surrounding white loaves, and though the crust was acceptable, “looks don’t make up for ugly insides.” When a challah is described as “nightmarish,” it’s best to stay clear.
Trader Joe’s Egg Challah
While this was the best out of the tested supermarket challahs, participants found the texture clumpy and too much like white bread. “On the scale of dry vs. moist, I prefer my challah moist, but this is too much,” one taster wrote. A perfectly browned and glazed crust was this challah’s salvation.
The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the largest Jewish populations in North America. But unlike communities in places like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto, it has no identifiably Jewish neighborhoods filled with Jewish bakeries, butchers, delis and food shops.
The lucky few who live near one of the local Jewish bakeries can stop by to pick up their bread. But for everyone else, supermarkets and even the front desks of Jewish community centers and synagogue nursery schools are the way to get the good stuff, thanks to challah distribution networks around the city.
With the High Holidays fast approaching, store shelves (and those front desks) will soon be stocked with round challahs with raisins and other treats. Here is a taste of five different plain loaves popular with Jewish residents of the Bay Area. Prices range from $2.99 to $6.75 per challah.
For bakery fiends in Israel, choosing the perfect combination of fluffy, soft, delicately sweet and lightly crispy challah for Rosh Hashanah can be a real challenge with all of the wonderful bread options available. Trying to avoid the larger, older and more industrial bakeries such as Tzvi and Viznitz bakeries in Bnei Brak or Angel in Jerusalem, we’ve compiled a list of boutique bakeries that literally take the cake. Find out where to get addicting, uniquely braided and perfectly doughy challah for this Jewish New Year.
Teler Bakery Yerushalmim (Jerusalem residents) are quick to name Teler Bread as their ultimate favorite place to buy fresh challah on a weekly basis. Avishai Teler moved his bakery from the industrial center right into the heart of Mahaneh Yehudah market on chaotic Agripas street where he also opened up a neighboring coffee shop. The store sells dozens of yeasty varieties daily and uses leavened sourdough and old-school, more traditional baking methods. Preparing its breads in a brick oven, it has already become the “house-bread” of the King David Hotel and many other top-tier hotels and restaurants.
For Rosh Hashanah, the bakery prepares round whole wheat, white and raisin challahs to keep up with the holiday spirit. The bakery boasts a rich, cakey and sweet dough. Avishai Teller, a humble and sweet man says his challahs are made to last longer, an especially important fact on long holidays. Avishai promises his challahs won’t dry up and will taste fresh throughout the long weekend. And we trust him. Prices stay between 12-15 NIS and don’t sky rocket just because of the holiday.
How do Jewish foodies satisfy their urge to engage in tikkun olam? They bake for a good cause! Challah for Hunger is the best known of these organizations, but not the only one. In Israel, one baker’s commitment to tzedakah has found a permanent home in Bakery29. For Rosh Hashanah, its pastry chefs create the moistest, most fragrant, and most decadent honey cake in Tel Aviv — all for a good cause.
Located in a restored Bauhaus building in the gentrifying Ahad Ha’Am Street in Central Tel Aviv, Bakery29 turns out gourmet baked goods with a mission. All profits go to the IMPACT college scholarship program for low-income combat soldiers who have served in the IDF.
Local wildflower honey is combined with a sprinkling of cinnamon, Muscat wine, a hint of grated orange peel, and a touch of coffee in the cakes which are baked fresh daily. The recipe has been handed down in the family of Bakery29’s proprietor, Netta Korin. “My mother is an amazing baker,” Korin shared with me. “This is the Rosh Hashanah cake I grew up with. My family brought it to Israel from Eastern Europe. They called it ‘lekach’ in Yiddish. It doesn’t feel like Rosh Hashanah unless the smell of this cake baking fills my home.”
The only High Holiday where alcohol is a requirement is Simchat Torah. This is a mistake.
Let me explain: Drinking is a part of Simchat Torah because a rabbinic interpretation for the commandment to rejoice on festivals is to drink wine. Yet the rabbis never specify Simchat Torah. As it says in Sifra Emor 12:4, “And with what do you sanctify the day [of sukkot]? With eating, drinking, and nice [literally ‘clean’] clothes.” The Rambam later re-interpreted the idea of “eating, drinking and nice clothes” along gender lines. He wrote that men should buy beautiful clothes and “ornaments” for women and celebrate for themselves by eating meat and drinking wine. But a plain sense, sources suggests that all Jewish holidays are times for drinking and dandyism.
The other reason it’s a mistake to drink only on Simchat Torah is all the great seasonal and traditional flavors. If you’re feeling ambitious, there’s plenty of time left to make your own seasonal alcoholic drink for the high holidays. This year, my friend Josh suggested we try an Apfelwein (German hard apple cider) recipe that only takes a month to ferment. The recipe is simple, though buying the necessary equipment is a high upfront cost. Unlike beer, which has to be brewed in stages, Apfelwein is a one stage process. This is especially true if you start with 100% apple juice, rather than pressing whole apples for their juice. In the end, the scariest part of fermenting your own Apfelwein is actually sanitizing the brewing equipment.
Rosh Hashanah is the perfect holiday to bring out all the stops in your kitchen. Without the restrictions of Passover, it’s a great time to get creative (I’m thinking Asian BBQ brisket) or lovingly revive a special family recipe.
But cooking a holiday meal for your family or friends can be intimidating, whether you’ve done it 50 times or it’s your first time. We’re here to help! Consider the us your virtual bubbe. Need a chicken recipe? A great pareve cake? Wondering how to host a Sephardic holiday Seder? We’ve got you covered.
Send us your Rosh Hashanah cooking questions by Wednesday, August 21st and cookbook author Adeena Sussman will answer them. Don’t worry if your questions are simple or complicated — it’s like calling the kosher Butterball hotline; any question is fair game.
Ask us your questions in the comments below; or tweet at @jdforward using the hashtag #roshrecipes or comment on our Facebook page. And don’t forget to send this along to your friends. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!