Summer is rapidly drawing to a close and the High Holidays are quickly approaching. The usual question on everyone’s mind is what to prepare for their holiday table and what can be prepared in advance in frozen.
When I asked some of my foodie-friends for their tried and true holiday dishes, I received several recipes for brisket, which is always a favorite, along with chicken and cabbage rolls. When it comes to preparing for the holidays, meat dishes definitely take center-stage. They’re excellent for the busy cook because they can be prepared in advance and frozen successfully.
Here are some tasty dishes that my pan-pals near and far will be enjoying with family and friends at their tables for the upcoming High Holidays, along with some sweet dishes and wishes for a sweet year. Enjoy in good health!
Wendy Baker of New York offered the following suggestions: “There are several things I always make ahead for most holidays. Chicken soup can be made well ahead and frozen. Brisket also freezes well, but if you don’t want to freeze it, can still be made a few days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. I find that honey cake freezes well. Apple or other fruit pies freeze well if frozen unbaked. They can be baked without thawing, by putting them in the oven right from the freezer and they taste as good as never frozen ones. Challah, if you bake your own, also can be made well ahead and frozen. I generally make a whole bunch of fairly small challot and freeze them for the whole month of holidays. If you have a decent bakery, this is something that you can buy and save that fuss if time is short.
Here is my recipe for Easy Chicken Bake that is included in “Kosher Catskill Cooking” (Congregation Bnai Israel, Fleischmanns, New York), which I edited. I find that I put this in the oven and then go take my pre-shabbat shower while it cooks unattended. You can serve this with rice or noodles, or just stick potatoes into the oven to bake along with the chicken, as the oven is hot enough to bake the potatoes. You could also set this up Thursday night, refrigerate it and then cook it Friday afternoon. Enjoy!”
WENDY’S EASY CHICKEN BAKE
1 chicken in parts or just the parts you like – with or without skin, but with bones
1 medium onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, smashed or pressed
1 small green pepper, sliced
3 to 4 plum tomatoes (or a 14 1/2 oz. can tomatoes, undrained)
Salt and pepper to taste
Thyme to taste (I use quite a lot here)
A glug of wine, optional
Chunked mushrooms, optional
Put all the ingredients into a pan that can be covered with the chicken in a single layer. Cover the pan or use foil to cover.
Bake in a 425 to 450 F degree oven for 35 to 45 minutes. Keep warm until dinner.
Yield: Serves enough for 4 – easily doubled or halved.
My dear friend, Dalia Carmel of New York, has a collection of several thousand cookbooks. She writes, “Here is a favourite dish that I have prepared in the past for the holidays. It has been adopted by friends and colleagues from work with great success. It is a super recipe which I received from my friend Ani Stern, who got it from her Hadassah friends.”
Ani Stern is the owner of the notebook of recipes “In Memory’s Kitchen” handwritten in German and Czech by a group of women interned in Teresienstadt concentration camp. Many years later, the notebook was brought to Ani from someone who had received it from someone else who was in Teresienstat and to whom Ani’s mother, Mrs. Pachter, entrusted the notebook to deliver it to Ani in Palestine. Dalia Carmel was the catalyst in getting the manuscript published. She was credited by the director of the Holocaust Museum in Washington as performing “a great mitzvah.”
DALIA’S BRISKET WITH CRANBERRY SAUCE
3 to 5 lbs. brisket, trimmed of as much fat as possible
1 can of light beer
16 oz. can whole cranberry sauce
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1/2 cup chili sauce or ketchup
2 onions, sliced
1 large bunch of parsley
5 cloves garlic, peeled (do not chop)
Pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste
In a bowl, mix the beer, cranberry sauce, onion soup mix and chili sauce or ketchup. Mix well. In a heavy pot that can hold the brisket flat, spread the onions and parsley on the bottom of the pot, then throw in the garlic. Place the brisket on top and pour the liquid mixture on top. Rub the meat with the liquid mixture, then with the pepper and red pepper flakes.
Place in a preheated oven (350 F degrees) and cook for an hour. Turn the meat over and cook for another 30 to 60 minutes. If the meat is not tender yet, let it cook for another 30 to 60 minutes. When done, let it all cool. Store the brisket separately from the sauce. Refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, remove the fat from the sauce. Before serving, slice the meat into serving pieces. Blend the sauce into a smooth sauce with a hand blender or in the blender. Place slices in a Pyrex casserole, pour the sauce over the slices and reheat.
Bring to the table and serve with mashed potatoes, rice or couscous. Perfect with creamed spinach, carrot salad and cucumber salad.
Yield: 6 to 12 servings.
Another friend, Barbara Wasser of Schenectady, is the co-author of the wonderful cookbook, Divine Kosher Cuisine. She says, “I have been making this brisket for 35 years. I got it from the Jewish proprietor of a small neighborhood grocery store when we lived in Pawtucket, RI. It’s a winner! Our two older children who are now vegetarians still remember the taste of this gravy, and our youngest son always asks if I have cooked brisket.”
5 lbs. beef brisket, preferably first cut
3 large onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and paprika to taste
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup A-1 steak sauce
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups water (or more if needed)
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place 2/3 of the onions and garlic on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Rub meat all over with salt, pepper and paprika. Place meat fat side up on the bed of onions and garlic. Cover with additional onions and garlic. Combine ketchup, steak sauce, chili sauce, wine vinegar and water; pour over the meat.
Cover the roasting pan with foil or a lid and roast for 3 hours, or until fork tender. Check while cooking, adding more water if necessary.
Allow to cool, slice and put back in the gravy that has been put in the blender to incorporate the onions. Gravy may also be chilled to remove the fat.
Yield: 10 to 14 servings.
This tasty recipe for tongue comes from the late Leah Perez of Montreal, who usually served it as a side dish along with another meat or poultry dish. Leah said, “I learned how to make this from my Moroccan friend, Rutie, years ago. The last time I made it, the ‘I don’t eat tongue’ people tasted it and were actually surprised! Too bad, because by then there was hardly any left.”
LEAH’S TONGUE WITH MUSHROOMS
1 large beef tongue (or 2 veal tongues)
1 tbsp. oil
3 or 4 sliced garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. turmeric
Fresh chopped parsley (about 1/2 a bunch)
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup water (approximately)
Boil tongue until tender, about 2 to 3 hours, depending on size. Peel and let cool. When cool, slice tongue into thin slices.
Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add garlic and saute on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add tongue slices and brown lightly. Season with salt, pepper and turmeric. Add parsley and mushrooms. Cook 3 or 4 minutes longer. Add water and cook until mushrooms are cooked through.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings as a meat side dish.
Judy Sobel of Atlanta wrote, “This is my late mother-in-law’s recipe for stuffed cabbage. It is quite different as it has no addition to the filling – just beef. The sweet and sour sauce is exceptional and I use it for other dishes. When I prepare this, I always make meatballs along with it for the kids. I haven’t seen another recipe that calls for adding flanken. It is better when made in advance and chilled so fat can be removed easily and the flavors can blend. It freezes beautifully. My family likes it in mini portions in grape leaves served warm as an appetizer.
Leftover sauce can be frozen and used for meatballs or even chicken fricassee. It is necessary to experiment with the sugar and sour salt to get just the right taste. Go easy on the sour salt!”
ROSE SOBEL’S CABBAGE ROLLS (PRAAKES) WITH FLANKEN
2 large heads of cabbage
3 pounds flanken (short ribs)
2 tbsp. oil
3 pounds lean ground beef
1 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
3 large onions, sliced
1 large can of tomato paste
1 cup hot water (approximately)
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. sour salt (citric acid)
Put cabbage in plastic bags and place in the freezer overnight. Take out several hours before using. Cabbage will wilt and it will be easier to roll. Leaves will not need to be cooked or steamed in advance. Take off the dark green leaves. Use the rest for other cabbage dishes (e.g., cole slaw or steamed cabbage). Turn each leaf over and carefully slice the thick vein parallel to the leaf. (This makes them more flexible and easier to roll.)
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot , brown the flanken on low heat in a little oil. Meanwhile, mix the ground beef with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Take about 1/4 cup of meat mixture and roll it into an oval. Place in the middle of the cabbage leaf and fold over sides of leaf. Bring up the bottom of the leaf and roll up very tightly. If you have sliced off the vein, you won’t need string or toothpicks to hold it together.
Place cabbage rolls in a layer over the flanken. When you have a tightly packed layer, add 1/3 of the sliced onions and 1/3 of the tomato paste. Repeat until cabbage leaves are used up. You should have leftover ground beef. Make small meatballs and add to pot. End with the onions and tomato paste. Add a cup of hot water. Sprinkle with sugar and sour salt, cover pan and simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until everything is cooked and tender.
Remove the cabbage and meatballs to a serving dish or a freezer-safe container. Remove bones from flanken and discard. Cut meat into serving size pieces, trim off any fat and add to cabbage rolls. Taste the sauce and adjust with either sugar or sour salt. (Add sour salt sparingly.)
Pour sauce over cabbage rolls and either freeze or serve. (If you freeze it first, you can remove the hardened fat.)
Yield: 8 or more servings.
My very dear friend and pan-pal, the late Eileen Mintz of Mercer Island, WA, wrote a terrific food column for the Mercer Island Reporter and also did public relations for many restaurants and chefs. She generously shared some sweet dishes along with sweet wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.
Here are some sweet dishes from Eileen Mintz’s recipe collection and her thoughts on preparing for the upcoming holidays:
“I’m so happy to share some of my favorite recipes with you! Because my daughter Gina married someone Sephardic, each Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Break-the-Fast and Hanukkah we will be trying to add a Sephardic dish into our usual repertoire. Being Ashkenazi, I like the traditional dishes that I grew up with and of course, adding something from your cookbooks. Recently, my associate was entertaining the Seattle food critic at a book group and brought your confetti vegetable kugel to demonstrate Jewish food!
I go over ALL my recipes a few weeks before the holidays and oh, are they coming up fast! I love to put away Apple Strudel, Rugelah (apricot and chocolate), apple cake, a sour cream coffee cake and my mother in law’s honey cake. That works for sweets for Rosh Hashanah and Break-the-Fast.
My husband Dave’s garden produces an abundant crop of tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, lettuces and green beans. I will incorporate all of them in side dishes. Dave and his twin brother Joe will be making raisin crown challahs and this year I will feature them in my colorful recipe column for the Mercer Island Reporter. Joe likes to add in some whole wheat flour and Dave doesn’t. They are something to see and each works at home separately on the bread making. I am putting the twins to work together! What fun.
My favorite dish to serve is a sweet and sour brisket that is a winner in our family. I always make a Kosher turkey, a big hit too. As one of the side dishes, I make an upside-down cinnamon pecan kugel, my late sister in law’s favorite. It is a sweet side dish for a sweet year!”
EILEEN’S UPSIDE-DOWN NOODLE KUGEL
16 ounce package egg noodles (medium to wide width)
8 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup (1 stick) non-dairy margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 to 1 cup pecan halves
1. Grease a Bundt cake pan well with margarine. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Boil noodles until just tender – no more. Drain well.
3. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs until blended. Then add in sugar and cinnamon and continue to beat until light. Stir in raisins by hand; then add the cooked noodles and mix well.
4. In a saucepan, melt margarine with brown sugar. Put into the bottom of the greased Bundt pan. Then add pecans in a pattern at the bottom, pressing them into the butter and brown sugar mixture. Pour the noodle mixture on top.
5. Bake about 55 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Take a knife and loosen all around the Bundt pan, then invert the kugel onto a serving platter. Now you will see how the topping on the bottom becomes the topping for the kugel! Enjoy!
Yield: 12 servings.
Eileen Mintz wrote, “This is my mother in law’s honey cake recipe. My husband Dave always said she made the best one and so I followed her directions, but I use toasted pecans instead of walnuts. A good hint is to use fresh spices for optimum flavor. It’s best to bake it at a lower temperature, 325 degrees so it won’t burn as easily. You don’t need to frost it – it’s just a tremendously delicious cake as is! I often come in after services and enjoy a hunk while I am warming the holiday meal.”
MAMA MINTZ’S HONEY CAKE
1 1/2 cups toasted chopped pecans (if you like nuts – or you could substitute walnuts)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup of warm honey (Eileen uses clover honey)
4 large eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 cup of strong coffee (Eileen lets the coffee cool down and then adds the baking soda. You can use decaf if you like)
1. To toast pecans, put them on a baking sheet and let them lightly toast for around 7 minutes in a 300 degree oven. Check done-ness and see if you need a bit more time. Also, if you smell them roasting, take them out – they are done!
2. Increase oven temperature to 325 degrees F. In an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar with the honey. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the oil and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and allspice and add to batter alternating with the coffee mixture. Stir in the toasted pecans.
3. Pour batter into a greased 9 by 13 inch pan and bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. Then check to see if the middle of the cake springs back. If not, then bake for another 5 to 8 minutes. Check with a toothpick – if it comes out without any batter clinging to it, then take the cake out of the oven. Enjoy!
Yield: 12 to 15 servings.
EILEEN MINTZ’S FAVORITE APPLE CAKE
“This is the kind of cake that my family enjoys during the high holidays. It freezes well, thus allowing me the peace of mind that it will be perfect when I defrost it! I like to serve this luscious cake while it is slightly warm, so I often put slices into the microwave. It can be stored covered with foil at room temperature and it freezes well.”
4 medium size Golden Delicious apples (1 1/2 pounds) peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh)
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Additional ground cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting on top of cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 cup Bundt pan.
2. Filling: Mix the sliced apples with sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Cake: Combine the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar with the eggs, oil, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Blend on medium speed until light. After measuring the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt), sift them and add to the mixing bowl. Shake in a little more cinnamon. Beat until blended.
4. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of batter into the Bundt pan. Top with half of the apple mixture. Cover the apples with another 1 1/2 cups of batter. Top with remaining apples and then top with remaining batter. Mix some of the juices from the bottom of the bowl from the apples into the batter on top of the cake and blend them in.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven until the top is golden brown and a cake tester shows that the moist crumbs are attached, about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 25 minutes.)
6. Cool cake (still in the pan) on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Run a knife around the sides and center tube of the pan to loosen the cake. Turn cake onto the rack and cool it for at least an hour. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Yield: 12 to 15 servings