As most of you know, I’ve got a very exciting family history…I’m adopted and Japanese, my father is Jewish, and my mother is Christian. As a child, my parents taught me about my heritage and exposed me to Japanese holidays (Girls Day, Tanabata, Obon, etc.) but I also celebrated Jewish and Christian holidays. As a result, I now enjoy celebrating all of the traditions of my family and sharing them with Steve. Last night was the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the culmination of a week’s worth of food preparation!
It is traditional to eat apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah to signify a sweet new year. Challah usually comes in a round beehive loaf rather than the traditional braid to symbolize the cycle of the year. My post title comes from the strange absence of round challah in Winchester. For some reason Winchester usually stocks an amazing amount and variety of Jewish products prior to any major holiday; sometimes, I end up purchasing things that my parents can’t find in Virginia Beach and stockpiling them until they visit. I never have any issues finding braided challah in the local Martin’s grocery store and usually they begin stocking round challah the week before Rosh Hashanah.
For some reason the Martin’s closest to me didn’t stock round challah this year. I checked daily and was promised that it would be here by Saturday. On Saturday, no round challah. Before pulling out challah recipes (which I’ve never really had luck with), I decided to call the Martin’s in Winchester…thankfully someone in the bakery department actually answered and pulled the last round challah aside for me. We drove in and picked it up but after closer inspection of the bag at home it appeared that the bag had been previously ripped…in general, it was a little sketchy looking. So on Sunday, I went back to my Martin’s and of course, they didn’t have any round ones, but they did have one last braided challah. I picked it up, rejoiced that I didn’t have to make my own, and decided that this year would be twisty (hopefully in a good way…)!
So anyway, food preparations for Rosh Hashanah began Wednesday with the homemade chicken soup. It simmered all day Wednesday and Friday, was strained Friday evening, and defatted on Saturday. We ended up with plenty of soup for the holiday and 6 2-cup bags of soup to freeze for the next time someone gets sick! I also reserved about a cup of chicken fat for future cooking. On Thursday we had a slow cooker pot roast and I used the remaining pot roast as filler for homemade kreplach (meat filled pasta) for the soup. On Sunday I finished the rest of the meal: apple cider-roasted chicken, kasha and farfalle, potato kugel, pomegranate roasted brussel sprouts, and taiglach. Here’s the recipe rundown…unfortunately it was so tasty that I forgot to take photos!
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup water
leftover shredded pot roast or other meat for filling
Make the dough by combining the flour, 2 eggs and water in the bowl of a standing mixer and mixing till the dough is baby’s-bottom smooth. You may have to finish it by hand (or do it start to finish by hand). Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil with a little salt.
Using a pasta roller or rolling pin, roll out to less than 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 inch squares. Fill each square with a mounded tsp of filling. Beat remaining egg with a little water and brush edges of each square with egg wash. Fold over edge to form a triangular shape and pinch edges to seal.
Boil the dumplings in salted water until cooked for 3-4 minutes. Drain and chill under running water. Spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer and place in freezer until hard. Once frozen they can be placed in a freezer safe plastic bag until needed.
When I heated up the soup for dinner I added a few frozen kreplach and carrots and cooked until the carrots were tender and the kreplach were heated through.
2 vidalia onions
1/2 cup schmaltz (rendered chicken fat)
7 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 lbs russet potatoes
1/2 cup matzo meal
1/4 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Peel onions, and dice into small pieces. Heat a large sauté pan, add about 1/4 cup schmaltz and fry the onions until caramelized and dark brown.
Peel and shred potatoes. Take a piece of cheesecloth, fold it into a square, place shredded potatoes in a mound in the center, pull up edges of cheesecloth and squeeze excess moisture from potatoes. You want to drain as much water from the potatoes as possible because it will result in a super crispy kugel! You’ll want to work with the potatoes as quickly as possible because they’ll turn brown the longer they are exposed to air.
In a large bowl mix potatoes, onions, salt and pepper, matzoh meal, eggs, and baking powder together until well combined. Grease an 8×8 pan with a little schmaltz and spread potato mixture into pan. Press down lightly and add a few dabs of the remaining schmaltz to the top of the kugel.
Bake for 45-60 minutes or until light brown and crisp on top. Try not to fight over the top crust too much!
I’ll add the rest of the recipes in a second post!