This year, those who celebrate the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will “attend” synagogue observances via internet broadcasts and forgo the large gatherings that characterize the season’s festive feasts. While some might engage in smaller, socially distant outdoor get-togethers within their quarantine bubbles, most will sit down to holiday meals with only their households.
So what’s a cook to do? Perhaps, if nothing else, breathe a sigh of relief. There won’t be the usual fun and fanfare, but there also will not be the endless planning, shopping, cooking, entertaining, dishwashing and late-night cleaning up.
Fewer guests gives you the time and energy to experiment with more ambitious cooking. Think of it as a low-risk opportunity to try something new.
On the heels of the quarantine sourdough craze, you can gussy up challah for the new year.
The Hebrew names of Rosh Hashanah’s symbolic foods are plays on words, each expressing a wish for the coming year. Often eaten one at a time as a Seder in a ritual order, these foods also can be cooked and eaten together.
Pomegranates represent the wish that our good deeds may increase like the seeds of the fruit.
Serving the head of a fish symbolizes the wish that we may be as the head and not as the tail.
With beets, we wish that our enemies may be dispersed.
Leeks fulfill the wish of enemies being decimated.
Carrots represent the wish that our merits may increase.
Apples and honey symbolize the wish that we may be renewed for a good and sweet year.
For Yom Kippur eve, try this matzo ball soup with a twist.
Break the fast with seasonal salads and a dip to go with leftover challah. Finish with a stunning fig cake.
Sukkot’s eight days of dining can feature the “seven species,” which are barley, grapes, pomegranates, dates, figs, wheat and olives. These foods are native to Israel and were brought to the temple as first fruits for harvest festivals during biblical times.
You will probably have enough leftovers to see you through the final meals of Simchat Torah and Shemini Atzeret at the season’s end. Still, it’s always nice to have a new dish or two.