Rosh Hashanah, starting Sept. 24, is the Jewish New Year and is a happy holiday, full of hope and optimism. The traditional foods--apples, honey, raisins, "first fruits" and round hallah all have a special meaning. They symbolize a new year that will be smooth, sweet and well-rounded. Fish symbolizes immortality. I have included all these foods in a menu that allows for advance preparation, leaving time for attending services, instead of spending too much time in the kitchen.
We usually serve apple slices dipped in honey with a round hallah to greet family and friends. This is a very special hallah that contains four dried fruits plus honey and some whole-wheat flour for an unusual flavor and texture. A glass of wine adds a holiday spirit.
The first course is a simple salad with pears, a "first fruit" and mushrooms. This can be quickly assembled while the foil packets of fish are popped in the oven. This method of cooking fish seals in all of the juices and makes cleaning up easy. Small red potatoes form fans, and carrots are cut into coins to symbolize prosperity.
The molded apple dessert is a salute to the new year with the wonderful flavors of tart apples, Marsala wine and ladyfingers. Dry white wine is served throughout the dinner, and honey is passed with the tea to ensure an especially sweet new year.
Rosh Hashanah Sundown Dinner for 8
Round Fruited Hallah
Pear-Mushroom Salad Vinaigrette
White Fish With Vegetables in Foil
Red Potato Fans
New Year Molded Apple Dessert
Suggested beverage: Dry white wine
ROUND FRUITED HALLAH
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 package dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter or margarine
1 cup warm milk (110 to 115 degrees)
1/3 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup diced dried apples
1/4 cup diced dried apricots
1/4 cup diced prunes
Combine 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour in bowl with yeast, honey and salt. Add butter and mix well. Gradually add milk and water, and continue beating 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer to well-floured board and add remaining flours to make soft dough. Add raisins, apples, apricots and prunes, kneading 5 minutes. Place in oiled bowl and oil top of dough. Cover and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down and knead 3 minutes, then return to bowl and let rise 20 minutes. Form dough into large rope, about 24 to 28 inches long and about 2 inches thick. Starting in center, begin making concentric circles of rope until large snail-like shape is created. Tuck loose end under and seal.
Place round loaf on well-oiled baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and crust forms on top. Cool on wire rack. Makes 1 hallah.
PEAR-MUSHROOM SALAD VINAIGRETTE
4 large pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups fresh mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
2 heads bibb lettuce
Toss pears and mushrooms in large bowl. Pour Vinaigrette Dressing over pear mixture and toss to coat completely. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately on chilled salad plates lined with lettuce leaves. Makes 8 servings.
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup minced parsley
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine lemon juice, water, parsley, onion, sugar to taste and olive oil in small bowl. Blend well. Makes about 1 cup.
WHITE FISH WITH VEGETABLES IN FOIL
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 thick white fish fillets
2 small zucchini, unpeeled and cut julienne
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup Garlic-Herb Butter
8 lemon slices
8 basil leaves
Cut foil into 8 (12-inch) squares. Lightly oil center of each square. Combine spinach and parsley. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons spinach-parsley mixture in center of each and top with 1 fish fillet.
Top with zucchini, green onions, slices of Garlic-Herb Butter, lemon slices and basil leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Carefully fold and seal each packet tightly.
Line heavy-duty baking sheet with foil. Arrange packets, seam side down, in single layer 1-inch apart on baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees 5 minutes. Carefully turn packets over and continue baking 5 minutes more. Serve immediately, either in packets or on serving plates with foil removed. Makes 8 servings.
1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine
3 or 4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
Pulse butter and garlic in food processor until well blended. Pulse in parsley and tarragon. Season to taste with salt. With rubber spatula, transfer to sheet of plastic wrap and mold into cube. Chill in refrigerator. Butter can be frozen for later, if desired. Makes 1/2 cup.
RED POTATO FANS
16 small red potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup grated cheese