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Celebrating Hand-Me-Down Traditions

September 19, 1996|ABBY MANDEL

Nostalgia plays a big role in food passion; this is especially true of holiday get-togethers.

Many years ago, when I moved to Detroit, the Fineman family embraced my family and included us in their Jewish holiday rituals. Inexperienced as I was in Jewish cooking, I embarked on a delicious process of learning the recipes of Becky Fineman, a warm and wonderful mother and hostess.

To this day, 30 years later, I find myself yearning for those dishes that were part of her break-the-fast meal at the end of Yom Kippur.

These recipes can be handed down to new generations of family cooks. Fineman's daughter, Arlene, continued the tradition of this holiday meal and now her niece, Cheryl Gutow, has taken it over. There's no doubt that cooking provides a unique connection between families and friends.

MOM'S PICKLED FISH This classic sour cream coffeecake recipe persists through the years because it's appealingly plain and satisfying.

Those who love pickled fish will enjoy the light touch in this recipe. For a less traditional recipe, which may appeal to cooks who are squeamish about fish heads, use 1 cup of clam broth instead. The brine will taste similar enough but it may not gel as strongly.

2 (2 1/2-pound) whole trout, cleaned, heads reserved

6 small onions, about 1 1/2 pounds total, thinly sliced

2 carrots, sliced

3 celery ribs, sliced

1 lemon, sliced, plus 8 to 10 slices for garnish

1 quart water

5 cups white vinegar

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons pickling spice, tied in cheesecloth

2 teaspoons salt

Freshly ground white pepper

1/4 cup whole blanched almonds

8 to 10 cloves

Cut fish crosswise into 8 to 10 (1 1/2-inch-thick) steaks.

Simmer fish heads, onions, carrots, celery, lemon, water, vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, salt and pepper to taste in 4-quart stockpot 30 minutes. Use slotted spoon to remove and discard fish heads.

Add 1/2 of fish steaks to brine in single layer. Simmer, uncovered, until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning once if brine does not cover fish. Use slotted spoon to transfer fish to crock, large glass bowl or enameled casserole. Top each fish steak with onion, lemon and carrot slices from cooking brine. Scatter 1/2 of almonds over fish. Repeat with remaining fish, layering over first batch if necessary. Strain brine and ladle over fish. Cover container. Refrigerate 1 week.

To serve, remove fish from brine. Arrange on platter. Remove cooked garnishes and top each fish steak with fresh lemon slice, secured with clove. Serve chilled.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

449 calories; 666 mg sodium; 103 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 55 grams carbohydrates; 40 grams protein; 1.08 grams fiber.

Depth from the top of the recipe to here is 31p9



1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch salt

In small dish, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and salt.


2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto piece of wax paper. Set aside.

Use mixer to cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well between additions, then vanilla extract and sour cream. Add flour mixture. Mix well.

Transfer 1/2 of batter to buttered and floured 9-inch square baking pan. Spread in thin layer. Sprinkle 1/2 of Topping over batter. Repeat with remaining batter and Topping.

Bake at 325 degrees until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Cut into 16 small squares.

Makes 10 to 16 servings.

Each of 16 servings contains about:

239 calories; 191 mg sodium; 48 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.13 gram fiber.



1/2 cup small-curd cottage cheese

1 1/2 cups farmer's cheese

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch salt

The blintz batter makes very tender, ultra-thin wrappings for this delicate filling. Once you're in a blintz mode, making the thin pancakes and filling them is easy. They can also be made ahead and frozen. Baking the blintzes--rather than sauteing them on top of the stove--makes them easy to cook for a crowd. Serve the blintzes topped with sliced sweetened strawberries or berry preserves with sour cream. This recipe is easily cut in half or doubled, depending on your needs. Low-fat cottage cheese works fine.


Combine cottage cheese, farmer's cheese, egg yolk, butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in 1-quart bowl.


4 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 cups milk

For brushing, 3 tablespoons melted butter

For serving, powdered sugar, sliced sweetened strawberries or berry preserves and sour cream

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