Shanah Tovah from Rebecca!
In what is probably going to be one of the more ambitious meals featured on this blog (at least for a little while!), I decided to try and tackle a meal for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I was pleasantly surprised to discover although I spent most of the day cooking, the results were a delicious and festive meal and not a tale of woe and disaster. Read on for the full story!
I'm here! When do I get to do a feature?
A few days ago, the newest addition to our little group arrived. Although she was disappointed to hear she'd missed the first official post and all the photo sessions, Rebecca was excited to find out that she'd arrived in time to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. But then she discovered there was one small problem: Gwen isn't Jewish, and has never had to cook for Rosh Hashanah before.
Fortunately, Rebecca had an idea. Her new friend Josefina lives with Gwen's best friend, who happens to be Jewish, so we decided to ask if they had any ideas for what we should do.
Rebecca does think it's a little funny that she needed to ask Josefina for help for Rosh Hashanah recipes.
Fortunately, Ari had lots of good ideas, and gave us her family's recipe for beef brisket, and together we picked out a recipe for Kugel posted on the Food Network website and a recipe for Apple Cake from Food 52. Although Rosh Hashanah started properly on Wednesday, my grandparents were coming over for dinner on Thursday, so that was the day we decided to make the dinner.
This was pretty much an all day affair, and I was lucky to have my mom helping me out with a couple steps. Since the brisket was going to take the longest, that's what we started off with:
It doesn't look too appetizing in the pan, but it sure tasted good!
Ari's family cooks the brisket in the oven, but we decided to try cooking it on the stove instead. We almost didn't have a pan that could hold all the meat we'd gotten from the butcher - before it cooked, it was practically the size of Rebecca! My mom also added in most of an onion she needed to get rid of to add some extra flavor. The actual preparation took only about 10 minutes, but we left it cooking on the stove for almost five hours.
And the results were definitely worth it! It was tender and delicious, and flavorful enough that even our salt loving family didn't need to put much on it to suit our tastes.
As a side dish, we made kugel, which is a traditional sort of pudding/casserole hybrid. There are many different ways to make kugel, but our recipe used egg noodles, cottage cheese, sour cream, raisins and cinnamon.
The kugel was probably the easiest part of the meal to make, if only because I'm already very well versed in cooking pasta and dumping things on top of it. Sticking things in the oven to finish cooking is also another specialty of mine. Now, unfortunately I've never had kugel before, so I can't really speak to how this compares to other kugels, but I really enjoyed it! I was originally a little skeptical because the recipe sounded like it would be pretty sweet, and I wasn't sure how that would pair with such a savory main dish, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it wasn't too sweet at all and complimented the brisket well.
Finally, for dessert we made the apple cake. As I've said, I have had more experience baking than I have cooking, so this wasn't too much stress.
Apples and honey are traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah to evoke a sweet new year, so we served the cake with a little bit of honey drizzled on top of it as a finishing touch. The apples added nice texture and flavor to an already very tasty cake base.
Overall, I really enjoyed making this meal and I'm pretty sure everyone enjoyed eating it with me. It used up most of my day to make it, but that's holiday cooking for you - and maybe it would have been easier to just make one or two dishes instead of three! But it's nice to know that if I ever do need to host a holiday dinner, I can hopefully throw something together that tastes good and isn't too complicated to make.
Special thanks to Ari and her family, and my mom for acting as my sous chef!