Rosh Hashanah: New year, new food!
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Rosh Hashanah: New year, new food!

Debbie Collins looks at how you can zhuzh up your cooking for Yom Tov

Busy in Brooklyn's Kale Crunch Salad
Busy in Brooklyn's Kale Crunch Salad

Rosh Hashanah has a habit of creeping up on us. It’s the sudden realisation that we don’t know what we’re wearing to shul, let alone what we’re making or who we’re inviting over for lunch. Perhaps a more appropriate name would be ‘Rush’ Hashanah?

Having said that, the head of the year fills us with fresh hope, reflection and wishes for a sweet new year; a means to start again and at the same time keep traditions going. Or simply to celebrate as Jews do best, over delicious festive food. Many of us will turn to well-thumbed recipe books, lovingly handed down from generation to generation: bubba’s kichel, Yenta’s apple-glazed chicken, ima’s tzimmes.

However, while no one has necessarily complained about your food – except, perhaps, a pernickety mother-in-law – has anyone really raved about it? Traditional dishes still have their place, but we are living in modern times and a contemporary menu should at least try to reflect, and indeed respect, those who may no longer be sated by a humble slab of gefilte fish.

Add the following guests to your extended trestle table, and some of your trusty recipes of ‘yester Yom Tov’ are possibly redundant: the vegetarian uncle, the dairy intolerant toddler, the newly-diagnosed gluten-free friend, and the vegan son, back for Rosh Hashanah from a two-week initiation into university life. “No food with a face,” he requests. (This must be to impress a girl…)

Perhaps it’s your first time hosting as a newly-married couple, or the family rota has come around and it’s your turn. First impressions count. Rosh Hashanah weather is never guaranteed, so while your starter of chicken soup is fail-safe in the popularity stakes, the jury is out on whether to serve it to guests on a stiflingly hot day.

Grazing platters are a popular alternative – a simple concept involving a pick ‘n’ mix of different textures, colours and flavours. Alongside her incredible dishes, such as whole roasted cauliflower with tahini dressing, Gingr Kitchen is the expert at creating beautiful grazing platters of colourful crudités, crackers, dips and olives (she can even deliver them to you if you already have too much on your ‘plate’).

Gingr Kitchen – grazing platter

On the topic of having things delivered, if a simple selection of platters is what you’re after, the deli dons at Yummies can sort you out with all the essentials – salmon rissoles, mini bagels and even a low-carb option served on baby gem lettuce.

Caterer and private chef Alex Nitka takes it up a notch; she can help create the most incredible menu of inspirational-looking and divine-tasting food that will leave your guests wanting more.

Yummies’ mini salmon balls

The trend for colourful and spice-laden dishes shows no signs of abating, especially if you head to Instagram page Meliz Cooks for inspiration. Delicious Middle Eastern dishes such as summak salata (sumac salad) would look fantastic on your table, so perhaps it’s time to make room in your spice cupboard for previously intimidating ingredients such as sumac and herby za’atar, all now widely available in your local supermarket.

Incorporating simanim (symbolic foods) on Rosh Hashanah is a beautiful tradition. Instagram foodie queen Peas Love n Carrots gives us recipe after recipe. Highlighted for simplicity on her home page and drawing you in with funny step-by-step cooking on her Insta Stories, Danielle’s food is child and adult approved.

Across the pond, Busy in Brooklyn constantly updates her Instagram page, giving you dishes such as the delectable-sounding Kale Crunch Salad featuring holiday-relevant pomegranate seeds.

Gingr Kitchen cauliflower

As new and exciting as all of these recipes are, Rosh Hashanah wouldn’t be the same without a traditional slice of honey cake to end the meal, so what about making an extra one, gluten-free, under the expert guidance of Lisa Roukin? The sublime recipes in her cookbook and Instagram page of the same name, My Relationship with Food, are easily adaptable for the Yom Tov table. The thought will certainly be appreciated by guests who avoid gluten, and sometimes that version ends up being the preferred recipe for all.

So, good luck if you’re hosting and just a thought if you’re attending a contemporary-style lunch – perhaps your dried fruit basket for the host might not cut the mustard. Check out our gift suggestions on page 34, or take along some delicious protein/vegan balls created by Natra Snack, tailored to suit all palates – dark chocolate, peanut butter, banana, carrot cake and, by popular demand at this time of year, apple and honey.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and delicious New Year.

For more inspiration, follow:

@alexnitka_chef

@busyinbrooklyn

@gingrkitchen

@melizcooks

@myrelationshipwithfood

@natra_snack

@peaslovencarrots

@yummiesdeli

 

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