Rosh Hashanah falls late on the calendar this year, at the end of the back-to-school month and at the beginning of the first signs of fall. No matter; somehow, there are always those last-minute guests and added recipes that cause a flurry of activity in Jewish households right down to the wire. This year, the holiday starts after sundown on Sept. 29, a Sunday — a gift for those cooks and hosts who have just a few more preparations to make before they welcome the new Jewish year, 5780.
Since summer seems long-gone and families are knee-deep in activities already, make it a little easier on yourself. Make the freezer your friend. With the time ahead of the holiday, whip up a few dishes, slip them into the freezer and forget about them until that Sunday morning. Besides the ubiquitous brisket and chicken, soups and casseroles galore may be cooked, cooled, sealed and frozen. Just don’t forget to label each one, adding key codes such as pareve, meat or dairy.
It’s no big deal to cut up salads the night before (remember, the clocks start to go back, and there will be time after Shabbat for thawing and finalizing the menu). Chunks of tomato, cucumber and shredded basil stay just fine overnight. Toss with a little olive oil, some lemon or lime, and salt and fresh pepper just before serving. Cream soups, however, do not freeze well. The soup will separate, and the texture will become grainy; those are best prepared fresh or make the night before and refrigerate. For thawed soups, the seasonings may need to be adjusted as flavors are reduced by the cold.
And what’s a Jewish holiday without a kugel? Another must-have on the table is the ubiquitous honey cake. Try a seasonal variation: Pumpkin Honey Cake, which is moist, dark and delicious.
All of the dishes here may be served at Rosh Hashanah or to break the fast after Yom Kippur.
Ophra’s Mushroom Soup
Dairy, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free
Serves 6; recipe may be doubled.
Longtime home cook Ophra Kimberg generously shared this recipe with me.
• Cauliflower is the soup thickener.
• Chopped onions are available fresh or frozen.
• Buy canned mushrooms, pieces and stems.
• Cauliflower should be soft before adding to onions and mushrooms.
• When doubling the recipe, freeze in two batches.
• For a pareve dish, substitute olive oil for butter.
• For a dairy dish, top with a spoonful of sour cream or plain yogurt.
1 cup cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup diced onions
1 can (14 oz.), plus 1 (7 oz.) can mushrooms, stems and pieces, drained
2 teaspoons bottled chopped garlic
⅛ teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons pareve bouillon powder
3 cups vegetarian broth
White pepper and salt to taste
Place cauliflower in a microwave-safe dish with 1 to 2 tablespoons water.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave 4 minutes or until very soft. Drain. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, garlic, thyme and bouillon powder.
Cook over medium heat until onion is transparent. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Cool slightly before transferring to food processor.
Add the broth and process until slightly grainy (longer if a smoother mixture is preferred).
Season to taste with white pepper and salt.
Cool before pouring into a container. Cover tightly, label and freeze.
Easy Vegetable Lasagna for a Crowd
• Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list or directions. Ingredients are all ready to use.
• May divide ingredients into two containers each that serves 10 to 12.
• Full-fat ricotta, sour cream and milk may be used, if desired.
• Dry thawed chopped spinach by rolling tightly in clean tea towel.
• Reheat, thawed, at 325 degrees, for 40 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
1 (16 oz.) package skim-milk ricotta cheese
1 (16 oz.) package low-fat sour cream
½ cup skim milk
1¼ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 (16 oz.) jar meatless spaghetti sauce
1 (10.5 oz.) “no cook” lasagna noodles
1 (12 oz.) jar roasted sliced red peppers, drained
1 (12 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1½ cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 teaspoons garlic powder
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup water
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a 13×9 inch lasagna pan with nonstick vegetable spray.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, sour cream, skim milk and pepper. Set aside.
Spread half the spaghetti sauce over the bottom of prepared pan. Cover with 3 lasagna noodles and top with about ⅓ cheese mixture. Cover with roasted pepper and half the artichokes.
Repeat with 3 lasagna noodles and half the remaining cheese mixture.
Cover with remaining artichokes and the spinach. Top with remaining cheese mixture. Sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.
Pour ¾ cup water into one corner of pan, tilting to distribute water to other corners. Cover tightly to seal with heavy-duty foil.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.
Cool completely before sealing with foil. Label and freeze.
Pumpkin Honey Cake
Makes 1 loaf (9x5x3-inch dish) and 1 extra mini-loaf (not individual, but mini-size), or 4 mini-loaves.
• Substitute 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon nutmeg for pumpkin-pie spice.
• Substitute ¾ cup candied citron peel instead of raisins.
• For full-proof nonstick effect, line bottom of loaf pan with waxed paper and spray with nonstick vegetable spray.
1 cup dark-brown sugar
½ cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
(not pumpkin-pie) mix
¾ cup molasses
½ cup honey, warmed
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1¼ cups dark or golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray loaf pan and extra mini-loaf pan (or 4 mini-loaf pans) with nonstick vegetable spray with flour.
Beat eggs and sugar until blended. Add the water, vegetable oil, pumpkin, molasses and honey. Mix well.
Stir in the flours, about ½ cup at a time, mixing to blend between each addition.
Stir in the baking soda, spice and 1 cup raisins. Spoon into prepared pan(s). Scatter remaining raisins on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Bake mini-loaves 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center.
Cool in pan 10 minutes. Loosen edges by running a round bladed knife around. Turn out onto a wire tray. Cool completely. Wrap and freeze. pjc