Sep 22

And now for the main course…

We are in the final countdown until Rosh Hashanah, which this year presents Jewish cooks with an additional challenge. Because the two-day holiday falls on Wednesday night, it goes directly into the Sabbath, requiring the preparation of seven meals—two for each day of Rosh Hashanah and three for the Sabbath.

appleYou may be asking yourself at this point, Gentle Reader: After eating the apple dipped in honey and all the significant omens, who has room for real food? Who even has room for honey cake?

An excellent question. However, if one were to leave the main course off the menu, a great hue and cry would arise in the household: Where is the Rosh Hashanah brisket?

As you may have surmised from the above statement, brisket is de rigueur on the Rosh Hashanah menu chez Schaefer. Generally, I try to create a mix of savory and sweet dishes for the holiday. And due to all the cooking involved, most of my recipes are very simple. My late mother’s brisket recipe meets this requirement as it is very easy to make; plus it can be tossed in the crock pot in a pinch, and cooked with potatoes and carrots so that I don’t have to mess with additional side dishes. It also tastes equally good hot or cold, which means that it can be successfully recycled through a few meals—if there are any leftovers to be had.

If you haven’t finalized your Rosh Hashanah menu yet, or are just looking for easy, tasty recipes to use throughout the year, here are some suggestions, starting with the mandatory brisket.

But now, it’s time to stop blogging and start cooking. A Shana Tova (Good Year) to all!


1 cut brisket, trimmed, any size
Dash pepper
2 tsp. granulated garlic, or to taste
2 tsp. sweet paprika, or to taste
Dash back pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, optional
Catsup to taste
1 onion, halved
3-4 carrots, peeled
Potatoes, peeled and halved (as many as needed to feed the crowd)

Trim and rinse brisket. Place in large, heavy skillet, Dutch oven or cooking pot. Smear with catsup. Sprinkle with spices. Place onion halves on top. Optionally arrange carrots and potatoes around the brisket. Add approximately 1 or 2 cups water (or beer) to pot. Simmer on low heat over stovetop for several hours, basting and turning occasionally, until tender. Cool for at least 1/2 hour before slicing.

Chicken With Prunes and Apricots

1 chicken, cut into pieces, skin removed
5 prunes, halved
5 apricots, halved
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced
Olive oil
Garlic powder, paprika, and dash  of black pepper, to taste

Place chicken in baking pan. Sprinkle with spices and onion, then drizzle with olive oil. Smear it all around. (Don’t tell your children that you used your fingers for this step.) Arrange prunes and apricots on top of chicken pieces. Optionally add about 1/2 to 1 cup water to the bottom of the pan to make additional gravy.

Cover with foil and bake in preheated 400º F (200 º C) oven for about 2 hours or until chicken is tender. (Depending on your oven, the baking time may be much shorter—or even a little longer.) At the end of the baking cycle, remove the foil, baste chicken, and bake uncovered for about 5 minutes. Serve with potatoes or rice.

Mango Salad

mango1 head green leafy lettuce, washed, dried, and cut into smallish pieces,
or 1 bag precut lettuce
1 mango, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
1 small purple onion, thinly sliced (optional)
Chow mein noodles (optional)

Toss all ingredients together with a small amount of sweet salad dressing (below), and optionally top with kosher chow mein noodles.

Note: This recipe is also delicious using candied pecan bits instead of chow mein noodles.

Sweet Salad Dressing

3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp. salt
Place all ingredients in a sealed container and shake well before using. Store remaining dressing in refrigerator.

Challah Kugel

If you are like me, you are still trying to find room in your freezer for all the food you’ve just made, because at least 20 percent of your freezer space is taken up by half loaves of challah you’ve been saving for the French toast you never will make. Here’s a wonderful kugel (baked pudding) recipe to use up some of that challah and make space in your freezer for other food. Because this recipe contains apples, it’s perfect for Rosh Hashanah.

1 large challah (or enough challah remnants to equal one large challah)
5 eggs
1 c. oil
1 c. sugar
1 package vanilla instant pudding
Vanilla sugar
5 apples, peeled and sliced
Cinnamon and sugar for topping

Soak bread in water until moist, then strain with hands. Beat eggs, and mix well with challah, sugar, vanilla sugar, oil, and pudding mix. Mix in sliced apples. Pour into loaf pans and sprinkle with mixture of 3 tbsp. cinnamon and 5 tbsp. sugar.

Bake in 350º F (180 º C) oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.