Tradition, Tradition!


It's a tradition. First, we gulp down glasses of orange juice or sweet wine, then gobble a slice of sponge cake or something with chocolate chips to stave off the initial hunger. Later, when we get home to our tables, we gather round a collection of cheeses, fish and dairy dishes, which are customary to break the Yom Kippur fast.

That's the custom here in the United States. But the first food to break the fast differs for Jews in other countries, as well as for those who have emigrated here and who are determined to cling to their own customs. For Polish and Russian Jews, it might be a slice of sweet babka and a glass of lemon tea. Syrian and Iraqi Jews may nibble on ka'a'him – round, crunchy sesame cookies that resemble mini-bagels.

Turkish and Greek Jews will sip a sweet drink made with melon seeds. In my own Scottish home, my mother served homemade pickled herring and seltzer water, which were essential, she insisted, "to replenish liquids and salt lost during fasting."

This year, I'll bow to tradition, for there are those among us who would balk at a table without bagels, cream cheese and "maybe just a slice of that kugel." But to accompany the traditional platter and offset some calories, I plan to serve a delicate, lightly seasoned soup, along with an assortment of salads, all to be served chilled or at room temperature.

Middle Eastern herbs and seasonings make these dishes sparkle, but go easy – taste buds and palates are more sensitive after 24 hours without food or drink.

This may not be such a departure from break-fast customs. In Israel and other Mediterranean countries, where fresh produce is cheap and quality is high, Jews will be breaking the fast with salads, yogurts and cheeses. Baskets brimming with succulent fresh figs, dates and blushing grapes make for a stunning, edible centerpiece.

All the recipes below may be made a day or two ahead of time.

Simplify by using prepared vegetables or salads in a bag (remember to rinse first in cold water, even though it says prewashed), packaged rice mixes, chopped dried fruits and bottled herring tidbits.

L'Shanah Tovah – May we be inscribed for a healthy, happy year.

Break-fast Menu
Orange Juice
Sweet Wine
"Cream" of Green-Pea Soup
Cheese and Smoked-Fish Platter
Mixed Baby Greens With Balsamic Dressing
Poached-Salmon Salad
Vegetable Slaw With Seeds and Raisins
Basmati and Wild-Rice Salad
Scandinavian Herring
Honeyed Lentil Salad
Coffee Cake Stuffed With Fall Fruits
Basket of Fresh Fruits
Coffee and Tea

"Cream" of Green-Pea Soup

2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 tsp. minced garlic in a jar
1 package (16 oz.) frozen baby peas
21/2 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
salt and white pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onion and garlic. Reduce heat, and sauté 5 minutes, or until softened.

Add the peas and vegetable stock. Cover and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until peas are softened. Cool.

Pour into blender jar. Add the tahini and lemon juice.

Blend at high to purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If too thick, add a little more stock.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 154; protein, 5 g; carbohydrates, 12 g; fat, 10 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 92 mg.

Poached-Salmon Salad

This is equally delicious using other filleted fish, such as tuna, halibut or tilapia.

11/2 lbs. salmon fillet, skin removed
1/3 cup dry white kosher wine
1/2 medium cucumber, unpeeled, seeds removed and diced
1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
3 Tbsps. cider vinegar
2 Tbsps. capers, rinsed
3 Tbsps. snipped fresh dill
sliced cucumbers and radishes

Wash the salmon in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Cut into three or four pieces.

Place in a shallow microwave dish. Pour the wine and one-half cup boiling water over top.

Cover with plastic wrap venting at two sides. Microwave at medium for 10 minutes, or until flakes are opaque when separated with a knife. Drain well.

Place in a bowl and separate flakes with a fork removing any bones. Cool.

Add the diced cucumber, red-bell pepper, mayonnaise, vinegar, capers and dill.

Toss gently to mix. Chill.

Mound the mixture in the center of a plate. Surround with sliced cucumbers and radishes.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 265; protein, 23 g; carbohydrates, 1 g; fat, 18 g; cholesterol, 82 mg; sodium, 278 mg.

Vegetable Slaw With Seeds and Raisins

3 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsps. olive oil
2 Tbsps. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon or 1 teaspoon dried
1 package (16 oz.) shredded cole-slaw mix
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup coarsely snipped Italian parsley
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
2 Tbsps. sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, mustard and tarragon.

In a large bowl, place the cole-slaw mix, carrots, parsley, seeds and raisins.

Pour the lemon-juice mixture over top. Toss gently to mix. Chill.

Before serving, sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).

Note: May spoon into a lettuce- or cabbage-lined serving bowl and refrigerate.

Quick Tip: Use one-half cup bottled oil and vinegar dressing instead of mixing your own.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 170; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 18 g; fat, 11 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 150 mg.

Basmati and Wild-Rice Salad

1 package (6 oz.) Basmati and Wild-Rice Mix
2 tsps. mild curry powder
1 jar (6 oz.) marinated artichokes, drained and sliced
1 can (2.25 oz.) sliced black olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or 1 Tbsp. dried

Prepare the rice mix according to package directions.

When cooked, stir in the curry powder, artichokes, olives and half the mint. Spoon into a serving dish.

Before serving, scatter the remaining mint over top.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 134; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 24 g; fat, 3 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 475 mg.

Scandinavian Herring

1 jar (12 oz.) herring tidbits in sour cream
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled and diced
1 jar (15 oz.) beets, well-drained and diced
1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
chopped dill sprigs to garnish

Drain the herring reserving the creamy liquid.

Cut herring into small pieces and place in a bowl. Add the apple and beets. Stir gently to mix.

Mix the reserved cream with the mustard. Pour over the herring mixture. Refrigerate.

Before serving, garnish with dill sprigs.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 138; protein, 7 g; carbohydrates, 15 g; fat, 5 g; cholesterol, 31 mg; sodium, 650 mg.

Honeyed Lentil Salad

3/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 can (about 8 oz.) chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup dried currants
1/4 cup honey-mustard salad dressing (dairy)
1 Tbsp. honey, warmed
2 tsps. ground cumin or to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to boil. Add lentils.

Reduce heat and bring to simmer. Partially cover. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender but still slightly chewy, about 20 minutes. Drain well.

Transfer lentils to a bowl.

Add all the remaining ingredients. Stir gently to mix. Refrigerate.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 198; protein, 8 g; carbohydrates, 30 g; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 168 mg.

Bundt Cake Studded With Fall Fruits

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cup plus 2 Tbsps. sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 cup vegetable oil
5 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
1 large peach, seeded and diced
4 prune plums, seeded and snipped in 1/4-inch pieces
2 cups diced dried apricots
1 cup chopped pitted dates
2 tsps. cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a nonstick Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In mixer bowl, stir together the flour, 2 cups sugar, baking powder, oil, eggs, vanilla and orange juice. Mix at medium-low speed for 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, mix the peach, plums, apricots, dates, cardamom and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Spoon half the batter into prepared pan.

Spread about three-quarters of the fruit mixture over top. Pour on remaining batter. Scatter remaining fruit on top of that.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 75 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center.

Cool for about 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Cool completely.

Slice with a serrated knife.

Approximate nutrients per slice: calories, 344; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 55 g; fat, 13 g; cholesterol, 53 mg; sodium, 90 mg.

Ethel G. Hofman is a cookbook author and a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Reach her at: www.kosherfoodconsul


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