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JewishJournal.com

September 28, 2006

Easy smorgasbord to break the Yom Kippur fast

http://www.jewishjournal.com/articles/item/easy_smorgasbord_to_break_the_yom_kippur_fast_20060929

During Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a strict fast is observed -- no food or drink for 24 hours. So, it is always important to remember that the Yom Kippur Eve menu has special requirements.
 
The prefast dinner should be quite light, ending with a delectable dessert to help the sweet tooth stay on hold. Cut down on salt so that the thirst that comes with fasting will not be unbearable, and for the after-the-fast meal, people will want to savor the flavors and spices again, but the food should not be too heavy.
 
My bubbe always told me that after fasting on Yom Kippur, our bodies needed a lot of salt, and I remember that her break-the-fast dinners always included several types of cured herring.
 
The Scandinavians can take credit for inventing a perfect menu for this occasion. The creators of the smorgasbord enjoy an array of salads and pickled and smoked fish served on their favorite breads that offer a large variety of open-face sandwiches. It is a meal that combines the perfect ingredients necessary for your post-Yom Kippur meal.
 
To begin, greet your guests with apple slices dipped in honey and challah or honey cake when they return from the synagogue. Then serve this simple meal either as a buffet or in separate courses: several salads, open-face sandwiches and delicious, homemade strudel for dessert. The menu is amazingly easy to prepare. Everything can be made in advance and refrigerated. It is not necessary to spend a lot of time in the kitchen while everyone suffers from acute hunger pangs.
 
My Signature Strudel had been a family tradition since we lived on a ranch in Topanga Canyon and our children were very young. After making strudel for family and friends for several years, a local restaurant asked me to bake it for their dessert menu -- and I was in business. I would deliver the strudel wrapped in aluminum foil, frozen, and they would bake it to order. When customers asked for the recipe, they said it was a secret -- but, not any more. Enjoy!
 
Cucumber Salad With Dill
 
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large (hot-house variety) cucumbers, sliced paper-thin
2 tablespoons dried dill weed or 1 tablespoon fresh minced dill
1 head Bibb lettuce
1 bunch arugala
Cherry tomatoes for garnish
 
In a large glass bowl, mix the water, vinegar, salt and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the cucumbers and toss. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Drain; serve on lettuce leaves and garnish with watercress and cherry tomatoes. Serves six to eight.
 
Beet and Onion Salad
 
5 pickled beets, drained and sliced (recipe follows)
1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 cup minced parsley
Lettuce leaves
 
In a large salad bowl, toss together the beets, onion and cucumber.
 
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and lemon juice. Just before serving, pour the olive oil mixture over the beet mixture and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl or in individual servings on a bed of lettuce. Garnish with chopped egg and parsley. Serves eight to 10.
 
Pickled Beets
 
5 large raw beets
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 (2-inch) stick cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
 
Trim the beets, leaving one inch of the stem. Wash the beets, place them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer for one hour or until the beets are tender. Reserve one cup of the liquid. While the beets are still warm, slice off their stems and peel off and discard the outer skins. Transfer the beets to a large ovenproof bowl. Set them aside.
 
Place the mustard seeds, allspice, cloves and cinnamon stick in a cheesecloth bag and tie securely. In a large saucepan, combine the vinegar, reserved beet liquid, sugar and the spice bag. Bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Pour this mixture over the beets, cover and refrigerate. Chill overnight.
 
Serves eight to 10.
 
Kerstin Marsh's Beet and Herring Salad
 
From the first taste of this salad, you will be hooked. The contrasting flavors of the herring, pickled beets, noodles and crispy apples are so delicious.
 
This recipe comes from the Swedish kitchen of our good friend Kerstin Marsh's mother. We have been enjoying it in Kerstin's home every year during the holidays for at least 20 years. I finally got Marsh to copy her cherished recipe from the original tattered and torn pages of her handwritten cookbook.
 
1 (8-ounce) jar herring in wine sauce, drained and diced
1 1/2 to 2 cups pickled beets, chopped or thinly sliced (see recipe)
2 cups cooked macaroni
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf, crumbled
 
In a large bowl, combine the herring, beets, noodles, apples and onions and toss to blend. Blend in the mayonnaise and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix well with the bay leaf. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Serves eight to 10.
 
Open-Face Herring Sandwiches With Horseradish Sauce
 
12 thin slices limpa bread 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 (16-ounce) jar herring in wine sauce, drained and thinly sliced
6 red radishes, thinly sliced
6 green onions, minced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Horseradish Sauce (recipe follows)
12 tiny sprigs of dill
  Spread the limpa bread slices with butter and arrange a few slices of herring on top of each. Add the radishes, green onions and onion decoratively on top.
 
Then fit a pastry bag with a star tip and fill it with the Horseradish Sauce. Pipe the sauce onto each sandwich. Transfer the sandwiches to individual plates or a large platter; garnish them with sprigs of dill and serve immediately. Serve the remaining sauce separately.
 
Horseradish Sauce
 
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced onion
3 tablespoons horseradish, drained
1/2 cup cream, stiffly beaten
Salt>BR> 1 teaspoon fresh dill, optional
 
In a glass bowl, whisk the sour cream, lemon juice, onion and horseradish until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Season to taste with salt. Fold in the dill. Makes 12 sandwiches.
 
Open-Face Gravlax (Marinated Salmon) Sandwiches With Dill Sauce
 
These open-face sandwiches are best prepared just before serving, but can be assembled a few hours before, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated.
 
12 thin slices pumpernickel bread
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (optional)
12 thin slices gravlax or smoked salmon
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced chives
1/2 cup Mustard-Dill Sauce (recipe follows)
12 small leaves Bibb lettuce
12 small cherry tomatoes
12 tiny sprigs of dill
 
Place the bread slices on a work surface and spread them with butter. Arrange a tiny lettuce leaf on top, then add the gravlax and cucumber slices decoratively on top. Transfer the sandwiches to individual plates or a large platter and garnish them with chives, Dill Sauce, cherry tomatoes and a sprig of dill. Makes 12 sandwiches.
 
Mustard-Dill Sauce
 
This sauce can be prepared several days ahead, while the salmon is marinating. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. It is especially good with the gravlax and also many others, such as fresh tuna, cold sliced chicken, turkey, corn beef and pastrami. Try replacing the dill with basil leaves, cilantro, water cress, parsley or sorrel.
 
3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons fresh chopped (or snipped) dill
 
In a small, deep bowl, combine the mustard, powdered mustard, sugar and vinegar and blend well. With a wire whisk, slowly beat in the oil until it forms a thick mayonnaise. Stir in the chopped dill. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
 
Open-Face Sardine and Red Onion Sandwiches
 
12 thin slices pumpernickel bread
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
12 very small Bibb lettuce leaves
2 (4-ounce) cans sardine filets, drained
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
12 small sprigs of parsley
12 paper-thin lemon slices, halved
 
Place the bread slices on a work surface and spread them with butter. Place a lettuce leaf along one edge of each slice of bread, like a decorative fringe. Arrange the sardines on each slice. Top each with an onion slice. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices. Makes 12 sandwiches.
 
My Signature Strudel
 
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine
2 cups flour
1 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 (2-pound) jar apricot-pineapple preserves
1 (1-pound) package shredded coconuts
3 to 4 cups toasted chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, blend the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the sour cream and beat until the mixture comes away from the sides of the bowl.
 
Turn the dough out onto a pastry board lined with generously floured waxed paper. Toss the dough around on top of the floured waxed paper to coat it lightly with the flour. Flatten it with the palm of your hand, shaping it roughly into a rectangle. Then use a well-floured rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle about 6-by-10 inches.
 
Drop six (1/2 teaspoon) small pieces of the shortening equally spaced on top of the pastry; with your finger, smear them down, then fold the pastry into thirds. Turn the pastry 90 degrees with the ends facing you. Roll it out again, dot with the shortening and fold into thirds again. Turn and repeat this procedure two more times. Wrap the pastry in waxed paper and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
 
Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Roll out each piece on floured waxed paper into a rectangle about 6-by-10 inches and as thin as possible. Spread generously with the preserves; sprinkle with the coconut and walnuts. Lifting the pastry with the waxed paper as a guide, roll up the strudel jellyroll fashion.
 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the strudel on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Lift the edges of the foil to transfer the strudel to a wooden board; loosen the strudel with a knife, if necessary, and carefully roll it off the foil so it rests on the board seamside down.
 
Cut it while still hot into one-inch slices and transfer them to a cake plate or platter. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
 
Note: If you wish to store the strudel before baking, follow these steps:
 
Place the strudel seamside down on a sheet of foil large enough to enclose it completely. Seal the foil securely around the strudel. It will keep for up to three weeks in the freezer. The strudel does not need to be defrosted before baking. Just open the foil, place the strudel on a baking sheet and bake as directed.
 
Each strudel serves six to eight.
 
Judy Zeidler is the author of "The Gourmet Jewish Cook" (Cookbooks, 1988) and "The 30-Minute Kosher Cook" (Morrow, 1999). Her Web site is members.aol.com/jzkitchen.

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