At the End of the Day, Solace


At the conclusion of Yom Kippur — a day of reflection, atonement and fasting — friends and family come together to exchange greetings and renew their strength, spiritually and physically. Foods served to break the fast should be light and simple restoratives, which include sweet and savory dishes.

The following break-the-fast menu can be prepared in advance; in fact, the flavors are enhanced by a day or so of melding. It begins with soup, always a welcome nourishment and comfort. Toasted or fresh bagels are accompanied by two spreads — eggplant and artichoke — that are just piquant enough after a day of fasting.

The easy-to-prepare Pear-and-Almond cake satisfies a natural craving for something special after a long day of worship and self-examination, offering a culinary promise of sweet things ahead.

Fresh Vegetable Soup With Chicken and Noodles


3 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, deveined, and diced
1 small fennel bulb, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 cups kosher chicken broth
3 cups water
8 oz. fine egg noodles
3 whole boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat the oil.

Cook the onion, leek, celery, carrot, red pepper, fennel and cabbage till barely tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, zucchini, oregano and parsley. Cook until bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Add the broth and water, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the noodles and chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Cool and refrigerate.

Just before serving, reheat and taste again for salt.

Serve hot.

Serves 10 to 12.


Eggplant Spread


2 medium eggplants (about 2 lbs.)
1 small onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
1 small red pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded
2 Tbsps. tomato paste
3 Tbsps. lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 tsp. cayenne
salt and pepper
8 bagels, halved and lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prick the skins of the eggplants and place them on a baking sheet. Bake until eggplants collapse, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely.

Discard the stems from eggplants and cut into chunks.

Place the eggplants in a food processor with the onion, garlic, parsley, basil, red pepper, tomato paste, lemon juice, olive oil and cayenne.

Process until a rough paste is formed.

Taste; add salt and pepper. Spread on toasted bagel halves.

Serves 8.


Artichoke- Red-Pepper Spread


2 jars marinated artichoke hearts
2 roasted red peppers, seeded
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup pitted imported black olives
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3 Tbsps. mayonnaise
8 bagels, halved and lightly toasted

Drain artichokes and reserve about one-half cup of marinade.

Place all ingredients, plus reserved marinade, in food processor. Process until the mixture is of spreading consistency.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Serves 8.


Spiced Pear-and-Almond Cake



4 cups cored and coarsely chopped ripe pears (about 5-6 pears)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsps. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped almonds
confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 10-inch round cake pan.

Combine pears and sugar in a medium bowl, and let stand 15 minutes. Combine oil with eggs and add to pears.

In another bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, baking soda and salt.

Stir into pear mixture. Add vanilla and almonds.

Pour into prepared pan and bake until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool on a rack about 20 minutes before turning out.

Invert onto a serving platter and dust with confectioner' sugar.

Serves 12.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Among the six books she's co-authored is Jewish Holiday Feasts.


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