Monday, Yom Kippur, is a day of fasting on the Jewish calendar. In keeping with the fact that this is the holiest of holy days, I have chosen to serve my family a traditional menu of our favorite classic foods before the fasting.
Being a modern cook, I have added a few of my own updated touches, but not too many. My goals are simple. I want to serve food that is hearty enough to last through the sundown-to-sundown fasting period, and it must be food that is not too salty or overspiced, so that thirst won't become a problem or taste buds be overly stimulated.
Since the meal must be served early, most of it will be prepared in advance. About one hour before dinner, the chicken and kugel can be placed in a 375-degree oven. If the oven is small, the kugel can be baked earlier and reheated, or the chicken can be heated on the top burner.
The chicken broth, an all-time favorite, is heavy in rich chicken flavor and very light in salt. The Kreplach, oldest of all the stuffed doughs, is filled with kasha, or buckwheat groats, instead of the usual spicier ground meat.
A noodle and apple kugel supplies the necessary starch, and vegetables form a colorful garnish for the chicken--tiny onions, potatoes, carrots and mushrooms are roasted with the chicken.
For dessert, an aromatic classic honey cake, combined with bananas for a different flavor, is rich enough to make up for 24 hours of abstinence from sweets--or from any food at all, for that matter.
I'm including two interesting variations of the recipes in my holiday menu. In the first, the original apple kugel recipe can be transformed into a light-as-air Kugel Souffle. To do this, separate the eggs and fold in beaten egg whites at the end.
The other recipe turns classic chicken broth into a velvety vegetable soup via the blender or food processor.
If you fast, I offer encouragement; it's not easy. But remember, these days a lot of people do it for healthful reasons, even when there's no holiday involved.
GALA CHOPPED LIVER
2 onions, sliced
1/4 cup oil
2 pounds chicken livers
4 large mushrooms, sliced
1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons brandy or Cognac
2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
Saute onions in oil until lightly browned. Add livers, mushrooms and apple and saute, turning livers until brown on both sides. Do not overcook. Add brandy and simmer 5 minutes. Coarsely grind or chop liver mixture and eggs together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Line mold with wax paper or parchment paper and spoon in liver mixture. Cover and refrigerate. Serve with Wine Aspic. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1 1/2 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
1 1/2 cups Concord grape wine
2 teaspoons gelatin
Dissolve sugar in water. Cook rapidly until sugar becomes caramel color. In saucepan, heat vinegar, orange juice concentrate and 1 1/4 cups wine. Add to sugar mixture and blend. Simmer 5 minutes.
Soften gelatin in remaining 1/4 cup wine. Add to hot mixture and stir until dissolved. Pour into 8-inch square pan and chill until set.
CLASSIC CHICKEN SOUP
5 pounds whole chicken or chicken or turkey parts
3 onions, peeled and diced
5 stalks celery, with tops, sliced
16 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 to 4 large parsnips, peeled and sliced
8 sprigs parsley
Place chicken in large Dutch oven. Add water to cover and onions. Bring to boil. With large spoon, skim off fat that rises to top. Add celery, carrots, parsnips and parsley. Cover partially and simmer 1 hour. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes.
With slotted spoon, remove chicken and bones from soup. Remove meat from bones and return to soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool, then refrigerate.
When ready to serve, remove fat that hardens on top. Bring to boil, then simmer. Add Kreplach. Ladle into soup bowls with Kreplach. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine 2 cups flour, eggs, salt, water and olive oil in bowl. Mix to form firm dough. Knead until smooth and satiny. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.
Divide dough into 2 parts. Cover 1 part and roll out other part on floured board 1/8 inch thick. Cut dough into 3-inch squares.
Place 1 tablespoon Filling onto center of each square. Fold into triangle and seal. Place on towels. Repeat with remaining dough.
Drop Kreplach, 8 to 10 at a time, into boiling salted water. Simmer until Kreplach float to top. Remove with slotted spoon, then drain. Repeat until all are done.
1 cup kasha (buckwheat groats)
2 cups boiling water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 bunch spinach, washed, blanched, drained and chopped
Place kasha in heavy skillet. Add egg and cook until grains are separated and dry, stirring constantly. Add water and 2 teaspoons salt. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.