kosher kitchen

Preparing for Rosh Hashanah in summer heat


When Rosh Hashanah comes so close to Labor Day, I find it hard to get into the mindset of brisket and chicken soup. I just don’t want summer to end, and I certainly don’t want to eat heavy, hot foods in temperatures of 80 or higher.

So what to do? How can I make a holiday meal and satisfy family and friends who expect chicken soup and brisket and more?

First, I need to warn them that if they want chicken soup, they are all welcome back for a dinner during the later fall holidays. And if they want brisket, they can all come for Hanukkah. This holiday I need to tweak the menu and keep us all cool and healthy.

We have all been eating light summer foods, so a sudden meal of heavy meats and soup might not sit well, especially if it is still hot out.

Save those heavier, fattier foods for the winter, because they take more time to digest and can make us feel full for longer. Stay with lighter and easily-digested “summer” foods that contain lots of water — like lettuces and carrots, peppers and fresh corn and lots of juicy fruits. A sudden assault of heavy foods might affect our systems in an adverse manner.

Personally, I like to extend the summer style of eating as long as possible. I much prefer salads, fruits and fish to meat and hot soups.

Today I offer you some alternatives to that hot soup and heavy brisket as we head into the joyous days of the holiday season. Indulge in those glorious summer foods while the temperature allows it, and make summer last even into the holidays.

Herb and Mustard Potato Salad (Pareve)

Instead of offering potato kugel or another hot potato dish, why not try a cool potato salad with less fat and fewer calories? You can make it a day ahead and save yourself some time. This recipe is gluten-free.

3 lbs. small new potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds

1/3 cup olive oil

3 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced 

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup roughly chopped green onions, plus more for garnish

3 to 5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 to 4 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/3 cup finely chopped red or Vidalia onions

1/4 cup minced fresh chives

1/3 cup potato cooking water

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Slice the potatoes and place in a large pot filled with water. Bring to a boil and heat until just fork tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the potato water. 

While the potatoes are cooking, place the olive oil, garlic, parsley, green onions, lemon juice and Dijon mustard in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add half the potato cooking water and process to emulsify. If too thick, add a bit more of the water. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Add the onions and chives, and toss to mix. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and gently toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate. Taste and adjust seasonings and lemon juice. Can be made one day in advance. Serves 8 to 12.

Hummus Dips and More (Pareve)

For this recipe, buy your favorite plain hummus in large quantities and divide into several containers. Add the various ingredients and then serve with pita and veggies. Super easy! 

Each recipe uses 1-1/2 cups of hummus and can be made two days in advance. 

Roasted Garlic and Herbs: Roast several heads of garlic, peeling the cloves and adding them to a small saucepan. Add canola oil, just to cover, and heat on low heat until the cloves are golden and softened, about 12 to 30 minutes. Stir often. Let cool, pour into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for up to two weeks. 

Place several cloves of roasted garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Add two Tbsp. each fresh snipped chives and parsley. Pulse to finely mince, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the hummus and process until smooth and fully blended. Add a bit of lemon juice and olive oil to taste. Scrape into a bowl and cover and refrigerate. Can be made two days in advance. 

Lemon and Garlic Hummus: Add 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 cloves of garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mince, scraping bowl as needed. Add the hummus and pulse to blend. Taste and adjust lemon and garlic. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate. 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: Take 1 large red pepper and cut in half, remove the seeds and white membrane. Place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and place in a 425-degree oven. Roast until charred and shrunken, about 30 to 45 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and place the peppers in a paper bag. Fold the bag closed and let cool. When cool, remove the peppers from the bag and scrape off the charred skin. Place the peppers in the bowl of a food process with 1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil. Pulse until smooth. Add the hummus and process until smooth. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate. 

To serve, place the hummus in pretty bowls and serve next to a platter of garnishes such as chopped chives, spicy chickpeas, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, and sprinkles such as za’atar, Everything spice, various olives, smoked salt and smoked paprika and more. Add some pita, veggies and even corn chips for a delicious, cool and easy appetizer.

Cold Poached Salmon (Pareve)

This uses a classic court bouillon (pronounced “core boo-yon”) to poach the fish. The difference here is the addition of some orange juice to sweeten the stock. You can serve this as a first course or as a main dish. Allow about 3 to 4 ounces per first course and 5 to 7 ounces as a main. 

Poaching Liquid

1 cup dry white wine

1 qt. plus 1 cup water 

3 oz. white wine vinegar

1/2 cup orange juice

1 large onion, diced 

2 carrots, scrubbed and diced 

2 stalks celery, diced 

2 bay leaves 

2 tsp. sea salt 

12 black peppercorns

3 to 4 pounds salmon fillet

Fresh dill sprigs

Note: If using a poacher, cook on top of the stove; if using a roasting pan, cook in a 375-degree oven.

Place all the poaching liquid ingredients in a stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Let cool.

Place the salmon on a large piece of cheesecloth and then place on the rack of a fish poacher or in a deep roasting pan. 

Pour enough of the liquid over the fish to cover completely. Cover the pan tightly and, if using a roasting pan, place in the oven.

Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until the fish is completely cooked through. Remove from the heat or oven and let cool in the liquid. 

Use the rack or cheesecloth to life the fish onto a platter. Place fresh dill sprigs evenly over the fish, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. 

To Serve: Cut the fish into equal portions of about 3 to 4 ounces. Place on small plates lined with lettuce leaves and garnished with small tomatoes and cucumber slices. Pass with dill sauce or seafood sauce. Serves 10 to 14.

Dill Sauce with a Kick (Pareve)

1 Tbsp. grated onion

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp. white prepared horseradish

2 to 3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, fine leaves only, to taste

1/2 cup pareve sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper, to taste

Place the onion, garlic lemon, horseradish, and dill in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the pareve sour cream and the mayonnaise and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes about 1 cup. 

Spicy Seafood Sauce (Pareve)

1 Tbsp. white horseradish

1 tsp. grated garlic

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. hot pepper sauce such as Tabasco or Sriracha 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Makes 1 cup. 

Serve the sauces with the salmon.