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Rosh HaShanah

Swiss Chard, Potato and Cheese Gratin

By: 
Stella Cohen

This delicious gratin is known also known as quajado di pasi kon patata i keso (sfongo) in Ladino.

Swiss chard gratin of Turkish origin is characterized with small mounds of mashed potato and cheese mixture interspersed in a bed of Swiss chard, egg, cheese, and potato. It is traditionally served during Passover week, on Rosh HaShanah, and for the festival of Shavout. Served piping hot, this makes a wholesome light family meal.

Ingredients: 
GRATIN
1 pound 2 ounces (500 grams) Swiss chard (silverbeet), stalks removed, washed, and finely shredded
1 pound 2 ounces (500 grams) potatoes, unpeeled
7 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups freshly grated kashkaval or Parmesan cheese mixed with 1/2 cup crumbled feta
sea salt
white pepper, finely ground
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IN SEPARATE BOWL
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon milk
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TOPPING
1/3 cup grated kashkaval or Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Directions: 
  • Brush a 14 x 10-inch (35 x 25 cm) earthenware ovenproof dish with oil.
  • Dry the Swiss chard in batches in a salad spinner. Spread out the shredded chard on kitchen towels and pat gently ensuring that it is thoroughly dry. I like to do this step the night before so the leaves dry thoroughly.
  • Put the potatoes in a pan with enough cold salted water to just cover. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and, whilst still hot (using a fork to hold the potato steady and tongs to peel off the skin), peel and return to the pan for about 1 minute to dry off any excess moisture. Put through a potato ricer. Divide the potato mixture into two thirds and set aside the remaining third.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC) and heat the oiled dish in the oven for 5 minutes.
  • In a very large bowl, and using your hands, mix the Swiss chard with two-thirds of the mashed potato and 1 1/2 cups of grated mixed cheese, salt, and pepper. When evenly incorporated add the 7 beaten eggs and combine well.
  • In another bowl, combine the remaining third of the mashed potato with 2 beaten eggs, the remaining 1/2 cup mixed cheeses and the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Remove the heated dish from the oven and spread the Swiss chard and potato mixture evenly into the dish.
  • With a spoon, scoop out golf ball-sized hollows in the layer of the Swiss chard and potato mixture spacing them evenly in rows about 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. Fill with teaspoonfuls of the potato and cheese mixture, forming small mounds.
  • Sprinkle the gratin with cheese and dot with a few small knobs of butter. Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is crusty and golden brown. Serve directly from the dish, hot or cold, cut into squares.

Reprinted with permission from Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes © 2012 by Stella Cohen, The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection. Photography by Marc Hoberman.

Sephardic cuisine expert, artist, textile designer, and cookery writer, Stella Cohen is a passionate ambassador for the Jewish community, dedicating her life to the celebration, preservation, and education of Sephardic values and traditions. Stella’s heart lies in Southern Africa as well as in the Mediterranean, as she was born and raised in Zimbabwe and has a family tree entrenched in Sephardic history. Her parents originate from Rhodes, Greece, and Marmaris, Turkey and she is the great-granddaughter of Yaacov Capouya, the Rabbi of Rhodes.

Tina's Tidbits: 

Stella's Hints

  • Use ricotta or fresh goat’s cheese instead of feta for a blander taste.
  • The volume of the trimmed Swiss chard seems large but it reduces significantly when cooked.

Mom’s Honey Cake with Apple Confit

By: 
Michael Solomonov

Chef Michael Solomonov will be a featured speaker at the Union for Reform Judaism's 2017 Biennial in Boston, December 6-10, 2017.

Honey cake is traditionally eaten for Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year—the honey’s sweetness symbolizes our wishes for a sweet year. This is my mother's recipe, which she makes in Israel, freezes, and sends to me in the mail. I’ve stopped reminding her that I’m a chef and accept the package gratefully. The cake holds up really well and is very easy to make. I love a slice with coffee in the afternoon, but this cake also works in savory applications—think goat cheese spread on top, beneath a piece of seared foie gras, or—don’t tell your grandma—with chopped liver.

For dessert, we serve the cake with apple confit; apples that have been cooked very slowly in syrup until they are a beautiful, translucent amber color with an incredible jelly-like texture. Treated this way, the apples keep well in the fridge and I love to have them around during the fall.

Ingredients: 
CAKE
2½ cups flour
2 heaping teaspoons baking soda
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup honey
1¼ cup brewed coffee
6 tablespoons canola oil
Salt
Pinch cinnamon
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APPLE CONFIT
3 apples, peeled and sliced thinly crosswise
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon honey
3 cloves
Directions: 

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Line two 5-by-9 inch loaf pans with oiled parchment paper. Combine the flour and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer and a big bowl), combine the eggs, sugar, honey, coffee, canola oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and cinnamon. Mix on low speed until blended. Add the flour mixture and continue mixing just until combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

For the Apples

  1. Preheat the oven to 275°F. Toss the apple slices with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, and cloves. Arrange in a single layer in an ovenproof skillet or a baking pan. Add enough water to just cover the apples. Press a sheet of parchment onto the surface of the water.
  2. Put the skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, cover tightly in foil, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the apples are just tender, about 1 hour. Cool to room temperature, transfer to a lidded container, and chill until cold. Serve apples on top of a slice of honey cake.

Excerpt from ZAHAV by Michael Solomonov. Copyright © 2015 by Michael Solomonov, Steven Cook. Photography © 2015 by Mike Persico. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Chef Michael Solomonov was born in Israel and grew up in Pittsburgh. He and Steven Cook are the co-owners of CookNSolo Restaurants, home to some of Philadelphia's most distinctive culinary concepts, including Zahav, Federal Donuts, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Rooster Soup Co., and Goldie. They are a combined four-time James Beard Award Winners, including the 2016 "Best International Cookbook" and "Book of the Year" awards for their first cookbook, Zahav, and a 2011 "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic" win for Solomonov and who in May, was named the 2017 JBF's "Outstanding Chef".

Learn how you and your family can pursue social justice during the Jewish high holidays.

Use this guide to explain to your young child the customs associated with the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah

Sally Rosenkranz's Honey Cake

By: 
Sally Rosenkranz

Sally's daughter Rita writes, "My late mother, Sally Rosenkranz, who was from Radom, Poland, lost her mother in the Holocaust. Mom learned to cook and bake from her aunt, refining recipes over the years. I bake this crowd-pleasing honey cake for the holidays, and also freeze individual slices for drop-in guests."

Ingredients: 
1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled
3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon powdered cloves (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger (optional)
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups dark honey
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts or almonds
1 cup raisins (optional)
Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease two 9-inch loaf pans or a 16 x 11 x 4-inch baking pan.
  2. Brew the coffee and set it aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. 
  4. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs on medium speed, gradually adding the sugar and beating for several minutes, until the mixture turns a pale yellow.
  5. Beat in the oil, honey, and cooled coffee. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, beating on low speed to prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl. Turn the speed up to medium and beat for several minutes, until a smooth thick batter is formed.
  6. Stir the chopped nuts into the batter. If adding raisins, stir them in at this time.
  7. Fill the prepared pans halfway with batter. The cake rises considerably when baking. (Any extra batter can be used to make delicious muffins). Bake at 325°F for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until the top of the cake is a cinnamon brown, but not burnt, and a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.

Primer on Honey 

Honey is a great way to sweeten just about anything. Your taste buds interpret it as being sweeter than sugar, so start slowly when adding it to your dish. Honey is one of the only foods that does not spoil. Some say honey was actually found fresh, in the unearthed tombs of the Pharaohs, so when adding honey to your cakes and recipes you prolong their freshness. If the honey crystallizes, place the jar or container in a warm water bath and let it liquefy. You can do this over and over. Important to note, honey should never be given to an infant, their bodies cannot always process it safely.

Reprinted with permission from Recipes Remembered: A Celebration of Survival by June Feiss Hersh (Ruder Finn Press, 2011)

Spilled cereal? “Sorry!” Broken bongos? “Oops!” Overturned plant? “Sorry!” Stolen comic book? Accusations fly and tears fall as the cloud playhouse and Plony home confront the chaos of careless apologies and misplaced blame. A laser beam trap and giant basketball magically help Rafi and Ben learn that sometimes just saying sorry isn’t enough.

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