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Happy New Year {Rosh Hashana 2014}

It is hard to believe that another year has past, and soon it will be the Jewish High Holidays.....quickly followed by Sukkot. In honor of Rosh Hashana, I wanted to braise lamb shanks. But per usual, life's responsibilities took precedence over cooking and blogging.

With that said, brisket and lamb shanks are not the only dishes that grace the Rosh Hashana table. In fact, there are many other dishes, both traditional and contemporary, which families can enjoy during the holidays.

To this end, I thought that I would share some recipes which I hope will inspire and delight. Happy New Year! 

What would a holiday (or Shabbot for that matter) be like without Matzo Ball Soup? This recipe is very special, as the matzo balls are made from schmaltz which I rendered myself. The homemade stock is also dotted with gribenes, carrots and parsley flakes to add both color and texture.

And just in case you are wondering, these matzo balls are definitely "floaters" (not "sinkers") despite their size! 

On Thursday, Lakir and Faye Levy wrote a lovely piece in the LA Times food section about the significance of fish on the Rosh Hashana table:

According to tradition, having fish on the table is an omen for blessings in the year to come. When the fish is served, observant Jews recite a prayer expressing the wish "that we be fruitful and multiply like fish." 

Not surprisingly, this recipe for Salmon Rosettes with Pistachio-Mint Pesto was one of the most popular blog posts on my site this week -- with most of the traffic coming from an online forum for frum (i.e. religiously observant) Jewish women.

This recipe might not be the perfect Rosh Hashana fish dish, but it comes close. Because the recipe contains neither butter nor cream (which are dairy), the fish can be served with a meat course in a Kosher home. It is also a very practical recipe, as the pesto and salmon rosettes can be made in advance. I typically serve the fish warm from the oven, but it would work equally well to serve it at room temperature.

Entering into the realm of non-traditional dishes: this Mushroom Lasagna is a lovely vegetarian alternative for guests that do not eat meat.

I typically use a combination of wild mushrooms from the farmer's market, which imparts an earthy, toothsome quality to the dish. If you do not like mushrooms (or don't have access to them), feel free to substitute any vegetable you like. Artichokes, spinach or kale would all work well. 

But whatever you do, be sure to make a big pan. Everyone raves about this lasagna.

David Ruhlman's Parisienne Gnocchi with Spinach, Onion and Poached Eggs is the perfect dish for a holiday luncheon or brunch.

This dish is a riff on Thomas Keller's herbed gnocchi at Bouchon Bakery. Not to be confused with Italian gnocchi (which have a potato base), these gnocchi are made from pâte à choux -- the same dough used to make gourgeres, cream puffs and eclairs!

Ruhlman uses schmaltz in this recipe, but feel free to substitute butter. The gnocchi will be equally as good.

This recipe makes a lot of gnocchi, which can be made ahead and frozen. They also stay well in the refrigerator for a few days; just be sure to put some schmaltz, butter or oil on them, so that they don't stick together. 

Just as berries and stone fruit became a lingering memory, pears and apples appear to usher in fall and the holiday season.

I have previously written about this Spiced Pear Cake, which is a moist, lightly spiced cake with a cream cheese frosting. As you can see, the cake is very substantial and will easily feed a large crowd.

Left-overs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Just be sure to bring the cake back to room temperature before you serve it. 

And finally! Just in case you want a little something to hold you over, with a cup of coffee or tea, look no further than this Apple and Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

This coffee cake has a lovely oatmeal crumb topping, and is chock full of apples and nuts. The batter can be baked in two large loaf pans (as above) or in a large 14 cup bundt pan. Either way, the coffee cake keeps well in the refrigerator for several days and the second loaf can be conveniently frozen for later use.



Nature's Deception

It happens every year: The dog days of summer fade away and in a blink,  fall peaks its head around the corner. That is, after Indian summer teases us for a few weeks with balmy weather and the illusion that its bounty is endless. 

Who can say goodbye to summer while heirloom tomatoes and fairy tale eggplant still delight? 

Or while dahlias continue to strike a provocative pose?

No one.


Up on the Roof {Pier 25 and beyond}


Quinoa with Kale and Goat Cheese

This time of year, I am always on the look-out for innovative and unique recipes that use kale. So when I saw this recipe on the food52 website, it immediately caught my attention. Hopefully, it will catch your attention as it is fabulous!

I love whole grains and brown rice, but I loathe the time it take to cook them. Quinoa, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.  Like bulgur wheat, it is ready to eat in under 20 minutes and it requires little attention to prepare.  

The quinoa and kale in this recipe are cooked in "one pot", which significantly cuts down on clean-up time.  The technique also produces perfectly cooked kale, which adds both texture and color to the finished dish. (I was initially a little skeptical of this step. But trust me, it works.)

After the quinoa and kale are cooked,  the mixture is tossed with a bright lemon vinaigrette, scallions, goat cheese and pine nuts. Super easy and fast.

With the addition of quinoa, goat cheese and pine nuts, this salad is protein-packed. I often eat it as a light main course, with a tossed salad. It is also lovely as a side dish, served with grilled meat.  Best of all, this recipe makes a lot, so there is always plenty left for brown-bag lunches! 

I would give it a try. The printable recipe is here.

* * * 

If you would like to read more about the global politics of quinoa, this is a very interesting article in the NY Times.  We sometimes forget how privileged we are to pay $5.00 for a bag of quinoa.

*The original recipe called for walnut oil.  I substituted olive oil which worked well.  I also increased the amount of oil to 1/4 cup, which is a more traditional vinaigrette ratio. (i.e. 3 parts oil to 1 part lemon juice)