Rosh Hashanah Sweets and Savories

Tomorrow at sundown marks the beginning of year 5767 in the Jewish calendar and the beginning of the High Holidays (Yom Kippur follows 10 days later on Oct. 1). As is the case with several other Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah is rich with food symbolism.

Challah, the egg-based dough that's typically braided for weekly Sabbath dinners, "is coiled into rounds of a higher symbolic order" for the auspicious occasion, explains Post Food section's Bonnie Benwick.

Apples and honey also play a central role, representing hopes for a sweet and joyous year ahead. Variations on the theme include an apple cake with honey sauce, a cozy apple coffee cake or, if you're in need of something gluten free, an apple cake made with almond meal, a Passover classic equally good at this time of year.

In his cookbook "Olive Trees and Honey," Gil Marks includes several savory ideas using winter squash, which has made its debut at local markets. He's thinking pumpkin soup, accented with aromatic warmers such as ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. I like his idea of adding chickpeas for heft.

Marks extends the pumpkin theme to include turnovers, which have me excited to revisit one of fall's new crops.

The filling (called Gomo de Calabaza) goes something like this:
2 pounds winter squash (about 4 cups), peeled, seeded and diced gets steamed, drained and then mashed. To that, add 1 cup crumbled feta, ½ cup parmigiano, 1 beaten egg and ½ teaspoon salt.

For the turnovers, Marks offers a simple recipe for "Sephardic Oil Pastry Dough," which includes the following:

½ cup lukewarm water, ½ cup vegetable oil and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, which go into a mixing bowl.

Add 1 cup of all-purpose flour, then gradually add another 1 ½ cups of flour until a soft dough ball forms.

Wrap in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

When ready to bake, form dough into 1 ½ inch balls and flatten into 4-inch round. Spoon 1 tablespoon of pumpkin filling in the center of each round and fold in half, in half-moon shape. Seal edge with the tines of a fork.

Bake at 375 degrees on a parchment-lined baking sheet, for about 20 minutes, until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do you have a tried-and-true Rosh Hashanah favorite to share? Please add to the mix in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  September 21, 2006; 12:22 PM ET Jewish Holidays
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Kim,
The apple cake with almond meal sounds terrific -- I am a huge fan of almond meal, I regularly sub it for 1/2 to 1/3 of the AP flour in muffin and quick bread recipes. It makes it moister and just yummier.

I don't have a springform pan. Can I bake this in a well-greased bundt pan? Or what about a parchment-paper lined dish of some sort? Thanks!

Posted by: Alexandria, Va. | September 21, 2006 2:41 PM

Alexandria, I don't know if I'd do a deep pan like a bundt. Because it's dense, I think it would be difficult to invert. I think I prefer the idea of parchment paper-lined cake pan, with enough paper sticking out on the sides to lift up cake after baking.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | September 21, 2006 3:22 PM

Saturday is the beginning of Ramadan too. :)

Posted by: Layla | September 22, 2006 9:25 AM

Layla: Thanks for posting. In the past, I have focused on the big feast at the end of Ramadan, but would love to know what people like to eat on a daily basis after the fast. I will build a post just for that purpose, beginning Monday. Please check back!

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | September 22, 2006 9:33 AM

I'm not of the Jewish faith but think those folks have the market cornered on comfort food. I have become addicted to kugel, the sweet noodle pudding, especially with crushed pineapple. I found a recipe in the Post years ago that just hit the spot on dreary, depressing days of winter, but have unfortunately misplaced it somewhere. Not to mention homemade chicken soup, potato cakes, and brisket. Perhaps there is Jewish blood in me somewhere -- great great grandparents came from Germany in 1840's during some kind of unrest there.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | September 22, 2006 11:37 AM

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