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Jewish Journal

A Hearty Meal to

by Judy Zeidler

September 16, 2004 | 8:00 pm

Ease out of the fast with bouillabaisse (fish stew).

Ease out of the fast with bouillabaisse (fish stew).

This year Yom Kippur begins on Friday night and continues until sundown on Saturday. Since many families do not cook on Shabbat, I planned a menu that will solve the problem.

The meal has to be hearty to prepare for the 24-hour fast ahead, but it should not be heavy. Fried, highly seasoned or salty foods are not advised.

A simple solution to your Yom Kippur menus is to serve a fish stew, bland one night and spicy the second. Inspired by a recipe for Bouillabaisse, it is based on a rich fish stock, seasoned with wine, tomatoes and herbs.

The fish stew can be prepared in advance for the Friday meal using a small amount of seasoning. On Saturday night, simply reheat the leftover broth, add additional fish and pass a spicy red pepper-garlic sauce, which can be made ahead and refrigerated.

Both menus include a flavorful fresh salad as a first course, assembled and tossed just before serving. The clean, fresh flavor of sliced raw fennel that is enhanced by its faint hint of anise, and combined with diced tomatoes, is a perfect dish to serve at the beginning of the meal.

Honey symbolizes hope for a sweet year ahead. For break-the-fast Saturday evening dessert serve traditional Honey-Fruit Cake, which can be made several days ahead.

Whether fasting or feasting, both dinners are appealing and allow the cook time to concentrate on the holiday rituals, while spending time with family and friends.

Fennel and Tomato Salad

3 medium fennel bulbs

2 to 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

6 cups assorted baby lettuce

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

2 to 3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Cut off and discard the tops of the fennel and trim the base. Discard tough outer layers. Rinse well under cold water.

Cut the fennel in half then horizontally into thin slices and place them in a large salad bowl. Add the tomatoes and baby lettuce. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss gently. Spoon the olive oil and Balsamic vinegar over the fennel salad and toss gently.

Serves six to eight.

Bouillabaisse (Fish Stew)

5 cups Fish Stock (recipe follows)

Red Pepper-Garlic Sauce (recipe follows)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 leeks, thinly sliced

4 celery stalks, sliced

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes or 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 bay leaves

3 cups dry white wine

Dash saffron, optional

3 small potatoes, peeled, diced and parboiled

4 to 5 pounds firm-fleshed fish fillets (halibut, whitefish or sea bass) cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 carrots, julienne, parboiled and drained

Prepare the Fish Stock and set aside. Prepare the Red Pepper-Garlic Sauce, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

In a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté onions, garlic and leeks, about five minutes or until tender but not browned. Add celery and carrots and simmer five minutes. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, fennel seeds, bay leaves and white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes. Add saffron and fish stock and simmer one hour. Add potatoes and half of fish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Do not overcook. Ladle into hot soup bowls (reserving enough broth for the following night) and garnish with julienne carrots.

When serving Saturday night to break-the-fast, add remaining fish and pass the Red Pepper-Garlic Sauce along with toast to spread it on.

Makes about 12 servings.

Fish Stock

4 pounds fish heads and bones

2 onions, thinly sliced

4 carrots, thinly sliced

3 celery stalks, with tops, sliced

2 bay leaves, crushed

10 parsley sprigs

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

6 to 8 cups water

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

In a large heavy pot, place the fish parts, onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, parsley, fennel seeds, wine and water to cover completely. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, allowing the liquid to reduce to two to three cups.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.

Red Pepper-Garlic Sauce

2 slices egg bread, crusts trimmed

4 cloves garlic

1/2 roasted sweet red pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 to 1 cup stock from fish stew

Soak bread in cold water and squeeze dry. In a food processor or blender, blend bread, garlic, sweet red pepper, tomato paste, paprika, olive oil and 1/2 cup fish stock, until smooth paste. Add additional fish stock if needed. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes about two cups.

Italian Honey-Fruit Cake (Pan Forte)

6 ounces dried figs

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup unsulphured dried apples

Grated peel of 1 orange

Grated peel of 1 lemon

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon mace

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup sugar

Juice of 1 orange

1 1/2 cups whole toasted almonds

1 1/2 cups whole toasted filberts

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Place figs, golden raisins, dried apples, orange and lemon peel in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Or place in chopping bowl and chop fine. Transfer fruit mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, mace and pepper. Add to dried fruit mixture and mix well.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the honey, sugar and orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Carefully pour hot liquid into dried fruit mixture. Add nuts and stir well. Line an 8- or 9-inch round baking pan with parchment or wax paper and spoon in mixture. Bake at 300F for 50 minutes to one hour or until cake browns around the edges and paper comes away from the pan. (Cake will be sticky on top.)

Cool in pan 10 minutes. Dust a 12-inch square of foil with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Turn cake upside down onto prepared foil. Peel off paper used to line pan and invert onto cake plate. Before serving sprinkle with additional powdered sugar.

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