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From Mini-Bagels to Baked Fish, Yom Kippur Menu Pleases Every Taste : Great Ways to Break a 24-Hour Religious Fast

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Yom Kippur, which begins on the evening of Sept. 21, is a holiday observed by prayer and fasting. Those who choose to fast abstain from all food and liquids--including water--from sundown until sundown.

The meal served on the eve of the holiday is no problem. Traditionally, it begins with apples dipped in honey. Apples and honey are important, because they symbolize a sweet year. Then for the dinner some bland, poached, baked or boiled chicken or fish for protein, fresh vegetables, perhaps a lightly seasoned soup or salad, and a not-too-sweet dessert, along with plenty of liquids to drink. It is important to avoid salt and spicy seasonings which increase thirst during the 24-hour fast.

Although most Jewish families agree on the basic pre-fast dinner, very few agree on what to serve to break the long fast. Family food customs take us back to our roots and are influenced by our ethnic origin.

When I took an informal poll of friends, family and food fanciers, I received an amazing array of menus and recipes. Many people still believe that we must replenish the body’s salt lost during the fast. This is not very scientific, but it leads to salty fish like lox, herring or anchovies being included in many menus.

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Light Snacks Preferred

Most of the people I talked to said they like to serve a light snack when they return from the synagogue. This varied from baked delicacies, along with tea or wine to a menu that resembled a glorified breakfast, or a festive brunch, with the accent on dairy foods and some salty old-time fish favorites.

In my home, after the Shofar (ram’s horn) has sounded to mark the close of Yom Kippur, I will serve apples dipped in honey, along with my special holiday hallah, baked with apples and raisins and our favorite honey cake. This year, the traditional salt will appear in an Apple and Herring Salad.

The Moshe Salem family from Israel serve hot tea, cheese, quince jam and Bagella to the fasters. (I am including the recipe for Bagella, miniature pretzel-like bagels.) Later, those who are still hungry will sit down to a light dinner.

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Our cousin, Estelle Samson, said that all her family ever wanted to eat was simple breakfast-type food and big glasses of chilled orange juice, followed by coffee cake and chocolate milk.

Traditional Favorite

Lori Gross translated an old German cookbook to find a recipe for Anchovy and Caper Sandwiches, a traditional break-the-fast favorite in her homeland. Gross also appeals to the salt-seekers by serving marinated herring with home-baked hallah and a glass of Sherry.

Our friend, Tova Dershowitz, a rabbi’s wife, told me that her parents, from England and Russia, always served plenty of fresh fruit, homemade pickled herring or pickled lox, along with an old Jewish recipe called Farmer’s Chop Suey. This is a colorful blend of crisp vegetables tossed with farmers cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream. The meal always ended with a special holiday dessert that her mother and grandmother provided--homemade Danish pastries with a chocolate filling.

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Rabbi Zvi Dershowitz’s parents, from Czechoslovakia and Poland, usually began with honey cake and schnapps followed by a hearty dinner of soup, chicken, tzimmes and kougel. Dessert was a yeast coffee cake.

In their own home, the Dershowitzes invite young students and friends to break the fast with them, and they offer a light dairy menu. First, they serve the traditional apples and honey. This is followed by orange juice and an array of melons. After a pause, chilled beet borscht, topped with sour cream follows, with an accompaniment of rye and pumpernickel breads and plenty of hallah. Poached salmon and/or smoked fish with tiny boiled potatoes is served and the dessert is the famous family recipe--chocolate-filled Danish.

An Italian family from Livorno begins with a glass of sweet wine and Biscotti , the Italian version of mandelbrot . Then they serve baked fish with raisins and pine nuts. The recipe I am sharing is an original one, created by a master chef from Rome, Daniele Boari, for a kosher cooking class he taught at the Gritti Palace Hotel in Venice, Italy.

I hope that some of the recipes that follow will add interest to your Yom Kippur menus and help to restore the energy of those who have spent 24 hours without a bite of food, or a drop of liquid.

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YOM KIPPUR MENU

Anchovy and Caper Sandwiches

Bagella (Israeli Sesame Mini-Bagels)

Baked Fish With Raisins and Pine Nuts (Pesce Con Uvette e Pinoli)

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Biscotti (Italian Mandelbrot)

Danish (Chocolate Chip) Pastry

Farmers’ Chop Suey

Herring and Apple Salad

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ANCHOVY AND CAPER SANDWICHES

1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets with capers, drained

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

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Pepper

Olive oil

1 tablespoon minced parsley

36 (1 1/2-inch) squares, sliced egg bread

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Parsley sprigs

Dry Sherry

Puree anchovies with capers, egg yolk, lemon juice and pepper to taste in food processor or blender, scraping sides with rubber spatula, until mixture is smooth. Add 5 tablespoons olive oil in thin stream and blend until almost as thick as mayonnaise. Fold in minced parsley.

Brush both sides of bread with olive oil, place on foil lined baking sheet and toast under broiler, 4-inches from heat, turning once. Spoon anchovy mixture on tops, return to oven and broil until bubbling and puffed. Transfer to platter and garnish with fresh parsley sprigs. Serve with dry Sherry. Makes about 36 sandwiches.

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BAGELLA (Israeli Sesame Mini-Bagels)

1 egg

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons oil

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2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup sesame seeds

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Beat egg, water and oil in large mixing bowl until well blended. Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and sesame seeds. Add to egg mixture, 1/4 cup at time, mixing well after each addition until dough comes together.

Transfer to floured board and knead in remaining 1/2 cup flour until dough is no longer sticky. Roll dough out 1/2-inch thick and cut into strips 2-inches long.

Shape into ropes with hands. Bring ends together and pinch to seal. Place on greased foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees 10 minutes, or until light golden brown and crisp. Transfer to rack to cool. Makes about 4 dozen.

BAKED FISH WITH RAISINS AND PINE NUTS (Pesce Con Uvette e Pinoli)

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2 pounds fillet of sole

Olive oil

Salt, pepper

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice

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1/2 cup white wine

1 1/2 cups golden raisins

3/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Steamed new potatoes

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Wash fillets. Layer fish in well oiled large Dutch oven. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon on 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar and wine. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, shaking occasionally.

Sprinkle with raisins and pine nuts. Cover and bake at 375 degrees 20 minutes, or until tender. Do not overcook. Serve with steamed new potatoes. Makes about 6 servings.

BISCOTTI (Italian Mandelbrot)

2 cups flour

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1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash saffron, optional

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3/4 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon anise or almond extract

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1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sugar

1 egg white

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and saffron. Place mound on floured board. Surround outside of mound with ground and sliced almonds. Make well in center. Place eggs, anise, vanilla and sugar in well. Quickly beat egg mixture with fork, gradually incorporating flour mixture to make smooth dough. (Do not use electric mixer.)

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Divide dough into 3 portions. With lightly oiled hands, shape each portion into oval loaf. Place loaves 2 inches apart on greased and floured baking sheets. Brush with lightly beaten egg white. Bake at 350 degrees 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Remove loaves from oven and use spatula to transfer to cutting board and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices. Place cut side down on same baking sheet, turn heat off and return to oven. Bake 5 to 10 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to racks and cool. Makes about 4 dozen.

DANISH (CHOCOLATE CHIP) PASTRY

2 packages dry yeast

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Milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup margarine

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

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3 eggs, separated

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

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Oil

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup mini-chocolate pieces

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

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Powdered sugar

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm milk. Cream butter and margarine with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in large bowl of electric mixer. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add yeast mixture alternately with flour and salt. Place dough in oiled bowl, oil top, cover with towel and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Divide dough into 2 parts. Roll out each part on floured wax paper into 20x16-inch rectangle.

Beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Blend in remaining 1 cup granulated sugar. Spread 1/2 meringue over each rectangle. Sprinkle with walnuts, chocolate pieces and cinnamon, leaving 1-inch margin around edges.

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Starting from long side, roll up each rectangle, jellyroll fashion. Form roll into ring, joining ends and pinching them together. Place each ring in 10-inch pie plate. Brush tops with milk.

Bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 2 (10-inch round) Danish pastries.

FARMERS’ CHOP SUEY

2 cups farmers’ or hoop cheese

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2 cups small curd cottage cheese

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes

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1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

Salt, pepper

Lettuce leaves

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Radish roses

Cucumber slices

In large bowl, combine farmers’ cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream. In another bowl, toss together green onion, radishes and cucumbers. Add to cheese mixture and toss until well blended. Carefully fold in tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve on large platter lined with lettuce leaves and garnish with radish roses and cucumber slices. Makes 8 servings.

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HERRING AND APPLE SALAD

1 (12-ounce) jar herring in wine with onions, drained

1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped

3 hard-cooked eggs

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2 slices egg bread, trimmed and shredded

2 tablespoons olive oil

Rye, pumpernickle or hallah, optional

Place herring in food processor fitted with metal blade. Chop using on-off pulses, then transfer to large bowl. Chop apple, 2 eggs and bread in same manner and blend into herring along with olive oil. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish with remaining egg, sliced. Serve with rye, pumpernickle or hallah. Makes about 2 cups salad.

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Note: If using small processor, mix in small batches.


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