Jewish Journal

Family Table: Recipes from our families to yours

Posted on Sep. 8, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Naomi Pfefferman's brisket.   Mmmmm, brisket!

Naomi Pfefferman's brisket. Mmmmm, brisket!

Our favorite memories of the High Holy Days often come from food -- especially the food we ate growing up at our family tables. Some of the following recipes have been handed down through the generations, others are borrowed from friends, neighbors, friends of friends. All have stories of origin, and most draw on the Rosh Hashanah tradition of sweetness, in hopes for a sweet New Year. However they got on our tables, they are here to stay for generations to come. Our writers share some of their favorites.
Carrot Pudding
by Jane Ulman, Contributing Editor

Carrot Pudding
"Carrot pudding was in the family when I got there," my mother said.
Norma Waxenberg Brecher was first introduced to carrot pudding in 1947 as a new bride. It was a staple in my father's large family, with Grandma May or Great-Aunts Millicent or Adeline serving it at every holiday gathering. "We never made it for anything else," my mom recalls.
It was also a staple of the Jewish community in the Tri-Cities (Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline, Ill.) and always a favorite at the annual Temple Emanuel Sisterhood Interfaith Dinner.
My sister, Ellen, and I have continued the tradition. And like our mother, we always double the recipe. After all, as mom says, "There's no sense in making a single carrot pudding."

3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 tablespoon cold water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Cream together vegetable shortening and brown sugar. Add carrots, water, lemon juice and well-beaten egg yolks (save whites).
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder into a separate bowl. Add to mixture.
Beat egg whites and fold into mixture.
Grease ring mold or bundt pan (must have hole in middle) well with vegetable shortening. Bake at 325 degrees about 1 hour in pan of hot water. For double recipe, bake about 1 1/2 hours.
Makes eight servings.

Patata Chops
by Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

Orlee Raymond, my daughter, says she first encountered patata chops when her mother-in-law, Rachel, and Rachel's mother, Rivkah -- both of whom were born in India and made aliyah -- came from Israel for her wedding to Dani.
"The first thing they did was to sit me down and tell me that I had to learn how to make it because it was Dani's absolute favorite. They sat on both sides of me trying to teach me how to make it and I wound up crying," she says.
Eventually Orlee learned how to make it, but it was a really involved process -- it can take a day or a half a day, even for experienced patata-chop makers like Rachel, who lives in Ashdod and who can make 100 chops in one sitting.
"For our recent family party she made 50 one day and 50 the next because it was so important to Dani," Orlee says.
She makes it for every family occasion -- including the High Holy Days.
"When she knows that we are coming to Israel, she starts freezing them in advance," she says.

8 red potatoes
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 hot chili pepper, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala
salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
breadcrumbs, as needed
oil, as needed

Boil potatoes until soft, about 45 minutes.
While potatoes are boiling, sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic, chili pepper and ground meat, cook together until meat is browned. Drain off excess fat. Add garam masala to mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Remove potatoes from heat, peel and mash while still hot. Add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and oil. Mix well until dough is formed (it should not be sticky). Let dough cool for about l5 minutes.
Reserve beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in separate bowls for dredging.
When potatoes are cooled and meat is ready, form potato dough into small ball. Take each ball into palm of your hand and with your fingers form it into basket. Take a spoonful of meat and put in the center of the basket and then roll the potato mixture around the meat so that the meat does not show.
Coat each chop in beaten egg and then roll in breadcrumbs. Sauté chops in oil until brown and crispy.
Makes about 20 servings.

Bukharian Rice
by Dikla Kadosh, Contributing Writer

In my house, the food is prepared by two strapping young Israeli men -- my boyfriend and his brother -- so it makes sense that the following recipe does not come from my own mother's Rosh Hashanah table, but rather from their mom's.
Irit Mashiah lives in Holon, Israel, and is an incredible cook. Her passion for good food (and the need to feed four growing boys) has led her over the years to gather recipes from the many different cultures around her: Turkish, Kurdish, Persian, Yemenite, Israeli and Bukharian. Irit got this rice dish from a Bukharian friend who played basketball with her.
Bukharian Jews are from Central Asia. Their name derives from the ancient Uzbek city of Bukhara, where there once was a thriving Jewish community. Cut off from the rest of the Jewish world for more than 2,000 years, they developed their own distinct culture. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the vast majority has moved to the United States and Israel.
Having tasted this delicious dish at her friend's home, Irit asked for the recipe and has been serving Bukharian Rice at the start of the New Year for six years now.
"As soon as I put this dish down on the table, it's snatched right up," she said in Hebrew. "No one ever gets a second helping of Bukharian rice. You get one shot, and that's it."1 cup margarine
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 finger length of ginger, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery
1 teaspoon of cardamom
2 sticks of cinnamon, chopped into large chunks
1 cup grams of dried apricots, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup of pistachios, raw and unsalted
3 cups of rice, washed and drained
1 cup of cilantro, chopped
1 cup of pomegranate seeds
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt margarine in a large pot on medium heat. Add onions, garlic, ginger and celery; stir for several minutes. Add cardamom, cinnamon, apricots and pistachios; stir for another 2-3 minutes. Add rice, cilantro, pomegranate seeds, salt and pepper. Add 4 1/2 cups of hot water, stir for a few seconds. Place towel over pot, then cover towel with lid.
Cook on low heat for 25 minutes.
After 10 minutes, uncover rice and poke several holes in the rice, then re-cover.
Makes eight to 10 servings.

Naomi's Brisket
by Naomi Pfefferman, Arts & Entertainment Editor

It's 9 p.m. and I'm standing over the three last briskets at my local supermarket, wondering (and worrying) about whether "flat cut" means the same thing as "lean center cut" brisket. This is the third year I've been assigned to make the family's High Holy Days brisket, but since I rarely cook anything more complicated than broiled salmon, the task still feels daunting. I can't even remember exactly what cut of meat to buy. So I phone my mother, who asks whether the hunks of meat at the market are square or triangular. "Square," I say. Apparently I have hit brisket "bingo."
The urgency is that I need to cook a "test brisket" so that I can:
1) Write down my recipe for this story (previously I've improvised my own variation on the brisket theme).
2) Practice so I don't feed my relatives brisket swill.
Back in my kitchen, I try to recreate my recipe by remembering how I cooked my first brisket back in 2004.
At the time, I decided I did not want to make the usual Ashkenazi dish, which to me meant mildly flavored boiled meat in a thin broth. My taste buds prefer brash, over-the-top flavors, so I decided to "invent" my own fantasy brisket as a kind of beef tsimmis. I wanted the meat braised, not boiled -- preferably with booze involved. I rifled cookbooks for a recipe I could embellish upon, and finally settled on one called "Pot Roast Braised in Red Wine." I spiked the shiraz with Madeira, added twice the onions and garlic, plus prunes, currents, carrots, celery and leeks, which are so much nicer than onions. The resulting brisket turned out like a sweet-savory stew.
My relatives smacked their lips -- but being a Jewish family, there was at least one raised eyebrow. When I mentioned that the dish had taken me five hours to cook -- because of the constant readjustment of flavors, and my not-so-reliable Wedgwood stove -- I heard the refrain, "Huh? That should only have taken two hours!"
Please feel free to adjust flavors, veggie amounts, etc. to your own tastes.

3 pounds boneless brisket
2 cups of red wine, preferably a fruity shiraz cabernet
splashes of Madeira, a Portuguese dessert wine
2 cups sliced onions
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 can beef stock
1 cup of baby carrots, sliced lengthwise
1 cup prunes
1/4 cup currants

Place whole brisket in a bowl, add wine, Madeira, onions and garlic. Cover and refrigerate overnight for no more than 16 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove beef from marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle salt on all sides. Reserve marinade, including onions and garlic.
Pour enough oil to cover bottom of a frying pan. Add beef and cook over medium-high heat until browned on all sides. Remove meat from pan. Place reserved onions in pan and cook over medium-low heat, until slightly browned. Chop up reserved garlic and stir it in with onions.
Add stock and reserved liquid marinade. Bring to a simmer, while scraping bottom of pan. Stir in salt to taste.
Line bottom of a deep casserole dish with tender green celery stalks, leeks, carrots, onions, prunes and currants. Arrange brisket in center. Pour cooked broth with onions and garlic over meat.
Cover and bake for about 1 hour, or until the meat is cooked halfway. Remove brisket from oven and slice thinly, against the grain. Return meat to dish and mix together so it resembles a stew. Adjust sauce to taste.
Cover and return to oven for an additional hour or until meat is tender.
Makes six servings.

Bubie Doris' Apricot Chicken
by Shoshana Lewin, Contributing Writer

Apricot Chicken
It was always a treat when my Bubie Doris, my mother's mother, made her Apricot Chicken. Maybe it was because she would always make it with dark meat. Maybe it was because you could smell the seasoning as soon as you walked through the door.
She doesn't remember how long she's been making Apricot Chicken or even where she got the recipe. But she's been making it for more than 20 years. When I went away to college, I would return home to Chicago every year and spend the first day of Rosh Hashanah with my Bubie and Zayde. She would always make Apricot Chicken knowing it was my favorite (being the only grandchild does have its advantages).

1 3-pound fryer chicken, cut up
1 15-ounce jar apricot jelly 1/4 cup French dressing
1 packet onion soup mix

Mix jelly, French dressing and soup mix. Brush marinade on chicken covering each piece completely. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for two to three hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake, uncovered, skin side up for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Turn and baste chicken a couple of times, but not too early, as skin will burn.
Makes four servings.

Honey Drizzle Cake
by Danielle Berrin, Contributing Writer

My mother began baking chocolate chip cookies when she was in college. On their first date, my father ate an entire box of the chewy Toll House delectables that were intended as a gift for a birthday celebration they were attending. He encouraged her to parlay her talents into profit.
After "hearing" of a popular 1977 adult film, Sheryl and Larry Berrin found the perfect name for their new business: Hot Cookies. For the next 30 years, Hot Cookies would become a homegrown bakery business in South Miami, Fla., continuously fueled by my mother's culinary efforts and my father's taste buds.
Each year on Rosh Hashanah, we receive hundreds of orders for this sweet, nutty honeycake that sits in a pool of sticky sauce. My siblings and I love to flip it over and eat from the bottom with our fingers, which Mom also loves. I can still hear her admonish, "Be a lady, Danielle! Use a fork." My mom always says she is drawn to recipes with unique ingredients, and the clincher on this one was the vanilla wafer. It is the honey cake of choice at our synagogue, Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, Fla. And with each bite, the New Year truly becomes sweeter and happier -- but not necessarily healthier.

5 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup sugar)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups finely chopped vanilla wafers
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease an 8-inch square glass pan.
Separate eggs. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat egg whites at high speed until foamy. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Continue beating until soft peaks form. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla extract at high speed until thick and creamy (at least 3 minutes).
In another large bowl, combine pecans, vanilla wafer crumbs, baking powder and cinnamon.
Gently pour egg yolk mixture over egg whites. Fold in with a light hand until blended.
Add pecan/crumb mixture gently until well combined.
Pour batter into glass pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until tester comes out clean.
Makes eight to 10 servings.
Honey sauce
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups water

Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Place over low-medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until first boil bubbles form. Remove from heat.
While cake is still warm, prick with a fork throughout and then pour honey sauce all over cake so that it seeps into the holes.

by Amy Klein, Religion Editor

Although it is a tradition not to eat nuts on the High Holy Days, my father always had Taiglach on Rosh Hashanah.
The Ashkenazi custom not to eat nuts -- either on the first night or the entire holiday -- is because of gematria (Hebrew numerology): The numeric value of the Hebrew word for nuts, egoz, is 17, and the word for sin is 17 or 18 (plus or minus one is OK in gematria), and people would like to avoid any affiliation with sin on the High Holy Days.
Taiglach, which means little pieces, features bits of fried dough dipped in honey. The dessert is served on Rosh Hashanah because of its sweetness, but all variations of Taiglach also include nuts -- mostly hazelnuts and almonds.
So if it is a tradition not to eat nuts because of gematria, why Taiglach specifically on Rosh Hashanah? Maybe because the word egoz, which often refers to all nuts, really means walnuts.
My father has a different explanation: the gematria of egoz, although the same as sin, is also the same numerical value of chai: living.

Recipe from recipecottage.com.
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup honey
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 cup nuts, coarsely broken

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat eggs lightly, then add the oil and mix. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder together. Stir in the egg and oil mixture to make a soft, but not sticky, dough. Add more flour if necessary.
Place the dough on a board lightly sprinkled with flour, and twist the dough into a rope shape about 1/3 inch think. Dip a knife into flour and cut the rope of dough into small pieces about 1/3 inch long.
Place the pieces on a well-greased, shallow pan and bake in a moderately hot oven, 375 degrees, for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Shake the pan occasionally to keep the pieces separated and evenly browned.
Prepare the honey syrup by mixing the honey, sugar and ginger in a saucepan. Stir until the sugar is completely melted, then cook gently, stirring constantly so the honey does not burn. Add the baked pieces of dough and the nuts. Stir gently with a wooden spoon over low heat until the pieces are well coated with syrup.
Pour onto a wooden board that has been wet with cold water. Use a wooden spoon to separate the pieces and break up large clumps.
To store, wrap in wax paper.
Makes 36-48 pieces.

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