Eight Rosh HaShanah Foods to Prepare in Advance for a Stress-Free Holiday
Whether you’re preparing a meal for four or for 40, making a successful holiday dinner can be an overwhelming, frantic experience. But with some advance planning, it doesn’t have to be! Here are eight tips for a stress-free preparation of some of Rosh HaShanah’s most iconic dishes.
You probably know that brisket tastes best if you cook it the day before – but did you know that it can still taste great prepared weeks in advance? Just make sure that once you’ve prepared the brisket, you separate the meat from the gravy. Leave the meat whole and place it in a freezer bag or plastic wrap. Tina’s Tidbit: When using a freezer bag, place a straw in a partially closed bag and suck out all the air through the straw until you see the bag collapse around the contents of the bag. While still sucking, pull the straw out and completely seal the bag. This will help to protect the flavor and consistency of all your frozen foods.
When it’s almost time to eat, defrost, slice, and combine with the gravy before reheating in a microwave. Whatever you do, don’t reheat your brisket in the oven! The oven will make it dry and overcooked.
Strained of all meat and vegetables, chicken soup can be refrigerated for up to one week. Tina’s Tidbit: Freeze the meat without skin and bone, and use it to make the best, most flavorful chicken salad you’ve ever had.
Whether you make it as a loaf or rolled into balls, gefilte fish freezes beautifully. Freeze the loaf right in the pan. Freeze shaped balls on a cookie sheet, and once frozen, remove and place in a freezer zip-lock bag, then return to freezer. Shortly before you’re ready to eat, defrost it in the refrigerator.
Teiglach is that beautiful tower of crisp dough balls cooked in honeyed syrup that can be tough to get just right. For many of us, when we attempt to make this dish we end up with undercooked dough or overcooked, hard syrup. Here’s a foolproof solution: bake the teiglach balls in advance and freeze them. When you’re ready to assemble, which can be two to three days before you’re ready to eat, defrost the balls, make the syrup, and assemble.
Kreplach is more than just a Jewish dumpling. It’s traditional Rosh HaShanah food because it’s sealed, signifying our hopes for being sealed in the Book of Life. Once you’ve prepared your kreplach, freeze it on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and then remove kreplach and place in a freezer bag. No need to defrost: simply place frozen kreplach directly into soup and heat until soup is hot and kreplach are warm.
Asparagus season is almost over, so Rosh HaShanah is a great opportunity to get your fix in until next summer. Blanche your asparagus in boiling salted water for two to three minutes until bright green, remove from hot water and place in a bowl of ice water to set the color. Once finished, drain and wrap in paper towel. Refrigerate for up to five days. To eat, either serve cold or reheat in the microwave.
Planning on grilling or oven roasting additional vegetables for your Rosh HaShanah dinner? Make them three to four days in advance and refrigerate them. Serve at room temperature, or heat them up in the microwave before serving.
If your kugel has enough eggs to bind the ingredients, once completely cooked you can freeze in an airtight container. Defrost slowly in the refrigerator and reheat in a 325F oven. If you like your kugels edible, be sure not to reheat it in a microwave!
Tina Wasserman, the Food Editor of ReformJudaism.org, is the best-selling author of Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora and Entrée to Judaism for Families: Cooking and Kitchen Conversations with Children. She is a respected and well-known cooking instructor living in Dallas, Texas. Her hands-on approach to all facets of food, (that also happens to be kosher), and its preparation have appealed equally to her non-Jewish and Jewish students for over 40 years. Find recipes by Tina on ReformJudaism.org and on her website, Cooking and More.