Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rosh Hashana

In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year." Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight drinking bash and daytime football game. There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, making "resolutions." Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. The shofar (ram's horn) pictured above is highly symbolic and is blown 100 times to ring in the new year (kind of like a trumpet).

A popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (tash-leek) or ("casting off"). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off.

My commitment to the new year is pretty much the same as it is every year and that's to do the best that I can to somehow make this world a better place. I'm a very strong believer in following deeds. It's not always important what people say; it's far more important to follow what they do and why. My greatest wish is to see a world where people respect one another no matter of religion, colour, creed or beliefs; to create an environment where equal opportunity is not a dream and where all children have enough to eat.

The celebration of Rosh Hashana follow the Hebrew Calendar and arrives at a different date each year on the Julian Calendar. This year we celebrate:

Jewish Year 5770: sunset September 18, 2009 - nightfall September 20, 2009

And what's a celebration without the food. Family and friends gather after sunset on Friday night to enjoy one of two evening meals together (read: eat til you bust)

Typically the meal will begin with gefilte fish.

You can find the recipe here This is generally served with a hot horseradish contiment and challah bread.

Next comes chicken soup with matzo balls. Normal people would by this point already say, okay, enough I'm really full. This is where the cook says "you better be kidding because we're just beginning".

This year we're doing two entrees - chicken and beef brisket. This year's brisket recipe comes from my very favourite standby Norene Gilletz from her book Meal Lean Yumm! which is now in its umpeenth reprint and has changed its name to Norene's Healthy Kitchen

I may have only mentioned about 20 times that I raised my children on Norene's recipes and have yet to find one that hasn't been well tested both in the Gourmania kitchens as well as my own.

Coke Brisket


3 onions, sliced
4 1/2 to 5 lb. beef brisket, well-trimmed
4 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp paprika
1/4 cup apricot jam
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup coke (or diet coke)

Spray large roasting pan with non-stick spray. Place onions in pan; place brisket on top of onions. Rub meat on all sides with garlic, seasonings, jam and lemon juice. Pour cola over and around brisket. Marinate for an hour at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Cook covered. Allow 45 minutes per lb as the cooking time, until meat is fork tender. Uncover meat for the last hour and baste it occasionally. Remove from oven and cool completely. Refridgerate overnight, if possible. Discard hardened fat which congeals on the surface. Slice brisket thinly across the grain, trimming away any fat. Reheat slices in the defatted pan juices.

You can also take the defatted juices and onions and give them a ride in the food processor until smooth. Pour through a sieve into a medium sized pot. Bring to a boil and add 1/4 cup water with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch or flour. If the gravy isn't thick enough, repeat the cornstarch process until you reach desired thickness.

When the brisket is placed on the table people whisper to one another "exactly where am I supposed to put this" as the cook then brings in a mountain of oven roasted chicken breast with dilled fingerling potatoes, Israeli couscous salad, green fruit and nut salad topped with pomegranate and toasted pecans, as well as the cauliflower pancakes I posted about the other day.

And no New Year dinner is complete without either a honey cake or an apple cake.

You can find the recipe here .

The beauty of the celebration is that we get to do it all over again for a second night!!! To all who celebrate this holiday - L'Shana Tova (to a happy new year) and may you all be inscribed in the book of life.



kat said...

Oh wow, that brisket looks fabulous! Happy New Year to your whole family!

Julia said...

What a feast! Shanah Tovah! Wishing you a sweet and healthy new year.

That Girl said...

I'm making challah as I type! And I'll stick the brisket in the oven right before Tashlikh. L'Shana Tova!

Bellini Valli said...

I know you had a New Year filled with blessings with family and friends...I'm still open for you shipping me some latkes.

Lori Lynn said...

Great post. Sounds like an absolutely wonderful menu.
Happy New Year to all your family and friends!

Rebecca (Foodie With Family) said...

Shana Tovah! From the lamest ever adopted blogger. I wish you a blessed sweet New Year.

5 Star Foodie said...

The brisket sounds very flavorful, love the recipe! Shana Tova!

Steph said...

Everything looks really good! I like the way you shaped your challah. I hope you have a great new year!

Joan Nova said...

I really enjoyed the sentiment and information provided here and, of course, the peek into the kitchen. All the best to you and yours.

rented life said...

Happy New Year, and thank you for the background information for the uninitiated!

The meal makes me think of my family's holiday gathering--also an eat til you bust event.

Joelen said...

Happy New Year and what a delicious feast to celebrate with!

George@CulinaryTravels said...

Oh my goodness, what a beautiful feast.

L'Shana Tova!!

DCRose said...

Happy New Year Giz. Fondly, Rosie

Adam said...

Happy New Year to you, if I may say so. It's a nice way to keep the resolutions going and keeping up to date on them... I dig this idea :)

Simply put, awesome food. I got excited at the word horseradish (and is that a beet I see?) and then you followed with brisket and honey cake. I swear we share common a European eating brain :)

And thanks for the congrats on my soon to be home. I hope you find what you're looking for. Keep me posted!

KennyT said...

I'm sure I'll love Jewish New Year if I can come across one in Hong Kong. Thank you for sharing, this is very interesting!!! ^^

Ricki said...

Hope you had a very happy new year!

Norene Gilletz said...

Thanks SO much for posting my brisket recipe as part of your Rosh Hashanah feast. Wow, your food looks amazing!

Shana tova to you and yours.

Norene Gilletz (Cookbook Author)

Juliana said...

Yummie! Love them all with the exception of the gefilte fish :-)

Daniel said...

Happy New Year and thank you for sharing an amazing looking recipe!

Casual Kitchen

Neen said...

Looks beautiful!! A belated Shanah Tovah to you both!