Rosh Hashanah, if you are wondering

You might be wondering what became of the Rosh Hashanah dinner. It was different this year … Some of it was salvaged, more was not, after the refrigerator incident.

As I wrote last time (see Sept. 17 post), we had soup, a very extreme variation on Moroccan harira. We had chicken and salad and a different desert.

A knock on the door late in the afternoon, while I was resting, was our young neighbor with her three younger daughters. She brought us a small round challah. Remember, round to remind us of the circle of life that begins again at Rosh Hashanah. It was perfect, with added cinnamon sugar on top for sweetness for the New Year.

The harira soup had the entire menu cooked in it! Basically, this is a simple vegetable soup – start with boiling a chicken to make a rich, golden broth. Add chopped onion, carrots, celery, a la Joan Nathan* (interestingly, the carrots and celery are in none of the harira recipes in my Moroccan cookbooks). This is supposed to be a very herby soup filled with handfuls of chopped cilantro and parsley, and chopped tomato. Well that was not to be – my herbs were slimy victims of the broken fridge. Ok, I added the parsnip I’d bought before I decided to make harira. One of my originally planned side dishes was a Moroccan (get the theme) sweet potato and pumpkin stew. Instead, into the harira went the pumpkin. Leeks for the patties (prassa keftedes) were repurposed and went into the harira also. Finally the traditional can of drained chickpeas and a (20 minutes later) a cup of lentils were added along with turmeric and fennel seeds (in place of cumin) and salt.

The boiled chicken from the broth and a salad made by daughter joined the soup to make up the rest of the dinner.

That left desert. One of the zooms I’d watched a few weeks ago was sponsored by Ezra Bessaroth, one of two Sephardic synagogues in Seattle. The cook showed us how to make mazapan (marzipan). I wanted to give it a try … Put 8 ounces of raw sliced almonds, 1 1/3 cup of powdered sugar into the food processor for 4-5 minutes. Then add one egg white and a drop of rose water (if you’d like). Run until a ball forms. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and put in the fridge for about ½ hour.  Cut disc into quarters and roll into logs, cut at angles, and there you have it.

Three stages of marzipan

Along with the homemade marzipan we enjoyed poached pears (simmered for about 20 minutes in about 3 inches of water with about a teaspoon of whole cloves, 2 star anises, a cinnamon stick, and about 2 teaspoons of sugar). To top it off, we had the very untraditional Chinese moon cake. Earlier in the week I’d had an errand that took me past a Chinese grocery. I needed mirin and they had fresh moon cakes, a sweet everyone in the family enjoys.

Moon cake for the New Year!

Many families celebrate Rosh Hashanah on two nights. I returned partially to my fated menu on the second night. We enjoyed the harira again. I baked my two branzinos (cut diagonal slits into both sides of the fish, sprinkle with garlic powder, insert lemon or lime slices into the cavity, and bake for about 20 minutes in a hot [400 degree F] oven). It’s a mild fish that is melt in your mouth. The unused sweet potatoes scheduled for the previous night were simply rubbed with salt and baked. A golden vegetable to contribute to our wishes for the New Year.

Because I had a carton of cottage cheese that was nearing its “use by” date I turned to google to find possible ways to cook with it. Daughter does not like the traditional holiday noodle kugel, so that was nixed. An interesting cottage cheese and almond pie on Yummly caught my eye; it had few ingredients and was even fewer steps. I pulled a frozen pie crust out to thaw.

Almond, cottage cheese pie

Almond Cottage Cheese pie: Spray or butter your pie tin and put in the pie crust. Mix the container of cottage cheese (24 ounces) with 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yokes, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of flour, and “chopped almonds.” I had about ¼ of a package of sliced almonds in the freezer and used those. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about ½ hour, til the filling no longer jiggles and is slightly browned. What a delightful surprise, it almost tasted like cheesecake or ricotta cake.

So, on the first night, after dinner it rained – we have rainy season for another two months. Daughter ventured out and … the New Year was ushered in by a beautiful rainbow and my lovely pink flowers nestled into the roots of the mahogany are in bloom once again.

New Year rainbow

*Here’s Joan Nathan’s harira:, and access to the rest of her recipes from the zoom:

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