Holidays are a wonderful time to relax and be with family and friends. Rosh Hashanah also starts a period of reflection. It’s an opportunity to enjoy good food, and if you read a few days ago, many of the foods are full of symbolism and maybe forgotten meanings (see Sept 29 post). I thought you all might be wondering what I cooked for our dinner.
The menu fit the bill for a traditional New Year dinner – our guest brought the challah and gefilte fish (one of her musts at holidays). We made our wishes for a Sweet New Year with the round challah and apple and honey. I made the chicken soup and chopped liver for starters. Dinner was a roast chicken with roasted vegetables, a kugel of leeks, spinach, and zucchini, and a Sephardic seasonal favorite – leek keftedes. Dessert was a new recipe for apple pie. Quite a tasty spread.
I’ve already written about chicken soup and kugel (the usual noodle kugel) a while ago (see July 12 post). The soup was a rotisserie bone chicken soup – with some meat saved on them saved for just this occasion. Also add the saved packages of necks and giblets into the pot. After the scum from the bones is skimmed off, simmer for an hour; when cool take out the bones and remove the meat and add with the usual parsnip, carrots, onion, celery, a bunch of parsley, and salt and pepper to the broth. Simmer another hour. This is a day-ahead job. I was so happy when I removed the soup from the fridge the next day and saw it was naturally gelled (from all the bones). There was also had a nice layer of fat to skim off. Yes, I do wash and save my ziplock bags.
Chopped liver – in this case chicken livers (bought at the beloved and late Penn Dutch [see Sept. 21 post]). First, clean the small bits of fat off the livers, brown some chopped onions, and add the livers to saute til done.
To about a pound of livers, add 2 chopped hard boiled eggs. Best chopped with a hand chopper (see July 26 post), I used the food processor. Many cooks add their lovely schmaltz (chicken fat); I use my saved duck fat. When I cook a duck, I put the fat in the freezer for uses like this. For serving, I add some chopped parsley and chopped hard-boiled egg.
Roast chicken in my house is always studded with slivers of garlic (carefully inserted into the breast and thigh meat), lots of fresh lemon juice (put the squeezed lemons into the cavity) and oregano. Very Greek style, thanks to Mom. The chicken goes into the oven set at 350 Fahrenheit for about an hour, breast side down (this way, the breast meat usually does not dry out). After about 45 minutes turn the chicken to get the thighs nicely browned. This time, the bird stuck, so there was no lovely, crispy breast skin, oh boo.
Roasted vegetables included quartered fennel bulbs, carrots (both from Penn Dutch), and diced eggplant (about 2”, not too small), all tossed in olive oil. The chicken pan was too full for all of the vegetables, so the rest went onto a cookie tin lined with a Silpat. Add them to the oven with the chicken about ½ hour before the bird is done.
Kugel in the strictest sense is a noddle or potato pudding. With the proliferation of Jewish cookbooks and new ingredients, kugels have been reshaped. At Passover, I often make a tasty parsnip and carrot kugel; the sweetness of both shines through. Our New Year kugel was leeks, spinach, and zucchini from Jewish Cooking, the traditions, techniques, ingredients, and recipes by Marlena Speiler. This book is one of a series of cook books published by Hermes House. The late Borders Books carried them all; a good number are on my book shelf.
The recipe for this tasty dish is here -https://tbtam.com/2012/06/leek-spinach-courgette-kugel-aka-persian-kuku.html. Thanks The Blog that Ate Manhattan.
The prasa keftedes, or leek fritters, were a first for me. There are many recipes on the web for these, with or without ground meat. I chose no meat. Cut 2 leeks into about 2” lengths, boil for about 5 minutes; when cool, chop. Next, add 2 beaten eggs, and about ½ cup of matza meal (you can use fine bread crumbs), and some dry dill. Fry the patties until brown on both sides. I think I should have chopped the leeks much finer. My husband loved them, and the kugel. Leeks 2 ways!
Apple pie – apples for the New Year. The recipe for “Layered Apple Pie with Phyllo Crust” came from Epicurious (https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food
/views/layered-apple-pie-with-phyllo-crust-56390160). Thinly slice the apples in cross sections with a mandolin (very carefully) and layer then into the phyllo (which is dusted with cinnamon sugar). The apples cook into themselves into a sweet goodness and are beyond delicious. I recommend this recipe highly.
And that’s how we started the New Year gastronomically with the wishes as we say in our home – Xronia Polla, kai kala, kai kalutera tou xronou!