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For Ashkenazi Jews, the primary symbolic food of Rosh Ha-Shanah is apples dipped in honey, a way of wishing for a sweet new year. Before eating apples and honey, say the following blessings:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam borei pri ha-eitz.
Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the universe, who creates fruit of the tree.
Yehi ratzon lifanecha, Adonai Eloheinu, v'Elohai avoteinu, she'te'hadesh aleinu shanah tovah u'metukah.
May it be Your will, Adonai our God, to grant us a good and sweet year.
For centuries, Sephardi Jewish families have gathered to celebrate a special Rosh Hashanah ceremony with a plate or meal of symbolic foods. Each food is eaten after requesting a specific kind of Divine blessing that sounds like the name of that food in Hebrew.
Before eating dates ( tamar ):
May it be your will, God, that hatred will end. ( Tamar resembles the word for end, yitamu. )
Before eating pomegranate:
May we be as full of mitzvot as the pomegranate is full of seeds.
Before eating apple:
May it be Your will, God, to renew for us a good and sweet year.
Before eating black-eyed peas or string beans ( rubia ):
May it be Your will, God, that our merits increase. ( Rubia resembles the word for increase, yirbu. )
Before eating pumpkin or gourd ( k’ra ):
May it be Your will, God, to tear away all evil decrees against us, as our merits are proclaimed before you. ( K’ra resembles the word for tear and proclaimed, likroah. )
Before eating spinach or beet leaves ( selek ):
May it be Your will, God, that all the enemies who might beat us will retreat, and we will beat a path to freedom ( Selek resembles the word for retreat, yistalku ).
Before eating leeks, chives, or scallions ( karti ):
May it be Your will, God, that our enemies be cut off. ( Karti resembles the word for cut off, yikartu. )
Since Rosh Hashanah means the head of the year, we eat foods that symbolize our wish to be heads, not tails in the year to come. Traditionally, families ate the head of a fish or sheep. You may want to instead enjoy a head of lettuce, or a more whimsical option involves gummy fish.
May it be Your will, God, that our heads remain clear and focused on creating a better world this year.
Finally, time to begin eating! Challah is a yummy egg bread eaten on most Jewish holidays. On Rosh Hashanah the challah is in the shape of a circle, to symbolize the circle of time, and the fullness of the year that is coming. Many people eat raisin challah on Rosh Hashanah, and drizzle honey on top of it, for extra sweetness. Yum!
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
הַמּֽוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam,
hamotzi lekhem min ha-aretz.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God,Ruler of the universe,
Who brings forth bread from the earth.
Yields 1 1/2 Cups
4 Pitted Dates
3 Chopped Roasted Red Peppers
1/2 Cup Pomegranate juice
1/2 Cup toasted walnuts
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Toasted whole-grain pita bread
Soak dates in hot water until softened, about 10 minutes; drain. Pulse dates, red peppers, pomegranate juice, walnuts, and red-pepper flakes in food processor until smooth. With machine running, slowly add olive oil until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Dip can be stored in refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve with pita bread.
Black-Eyed Pea Stew (Lubiya)
Adapted from Gilda Angel’s Sephardic Holiday Cooking
Black-eyed peas are a traditional food for Rosh Hashanah in Sephardi communities, as well as in African-American homes, as symbols of abundance, wealth and fertility. Katherine Romanow adapted two of Gilda Angel's recipes to create this stew for the Jewish Women's Archive.
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 small onions
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas
4 tablespoons tomato sauce
A few tablespoons tomato paste if you feel the stew needs thickening
2 cups vegetable broth or water
Sauté onion and garlic in oil. Add salt, paprika, oregano, cinnamon to the onions and garlic. Add peas, tomato sauce and broth or water.
Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
1 pound carrots peeled & sliced vertically
1 pound green beans trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil divided
2 tablespoons za'atar divided
1 teaspoon salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper divided
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and have two large baking sheets ready to go.
Using two large bowls or resealable plastic bags, fill one with carrots and one with the green beans.
Drizzle each bowl with half of the remaining ingredients: olive oil (two tablespoons for each), za'atar (one tablespoon each), salt (1/2 teaspoon each) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon each.)
Toss both batches to coat and spread on to even layers in two separate baking sheets.
Place carrots and green beans in the oven and roast until nicely browned: 15-20 minutes for the green beans and 20-25 minutes for the carrots.
Remove from the oven and serve separately or in one dish.
Lilya's Summer Beet Borscht
Liz Alpern, Co-Founder of the Gefilteria introduces this recipe: One summer day, Jeffrey and I headed to Little Odessa in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. We were visiting our business partner Jackie’s ninety-two-year-old Russian-born great-aunt, Lilya. She had immigrated to Brighton Beach from the Soviet Union in 1989. Lilya was known for her borscht, and she’d invited us to spend time with her while she salted and seasoned three varieties of the soup.
SERVES 6 TO 8
2 pounds whole beets, scrubbed but unpeeled
2 carrots, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks with leaves, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions:
1 quartered, 1 diced
5 garlic cloves: 2 left whole, 3 minced
2 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
4 cups cold water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Sour cream, store-bought or homemade (page 24), or crème fraîche, for garnish
Chopped fresh dill, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400oF. Wrap 1 pound of the beets individually in aluminum foil and set on a baking sheet. Roast until they can be easily pierced with a fork, 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the beets (larger beets take longer). The skin should peel off easily under cold running water. Dice the beets into bite-size pieces and refrigerate until serving.
2. While the beets are roasting, in a large soup pot, combine the remaining 1 pound beets, the carrots, celery, quartered onion, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, caraway seeds and 9 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from the heat.
3. Fill a large bowl with water and ice. Remove the boiled beets from the pot and place them in the ice-water bath. When cool, peel and coarsely chop them. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, discarding the solids.
4. Rinse and dry the soup pot and set it over medium heat. Add the olive oil and diced onion and sauté until the onion is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes more, until the onion begins to turn golden. Add the beet broth and coarsely chopped boiled beets to the pot and simmer over low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender. (Alternatively, transfer it in small batches to a standing blender and puree—just be careful!) Add the honey and vinegar and simmer over very low heat for 5 minutes.
6. If serving hot, place 2 tablespoons of diced roasted beets in the bottom of each bowl and then ladle the hot soup over them. Garnishing with sour cream and chopped fresh dill. If serving chilled, remove from the heat and let the soup cool completely and then refrigerate overnight. Be sure to stir the soup well and taste immediately before serving. Once cooled, many soups require a touch more salt. If necessary, add more salt, a teaspoon at a time. As with hot borscht, place 2 tablespoons of the roasted beets at the bottom of the bowl and ladle the soup on top. Serve garnished with sour cream and chopped fresh dill.
Excerpted from the book THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO by Jeffrey Yoskowitz & Liz Alpern. Copyright © 2016 by Gefilte Manifesto LLC. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Lauren Volo.
Beet and Citrus Ensalada
Symbolic silka dish by Liliana Fuchs (Colombia)
2 roasted, peeled, and sliced golden beets
2 roasted, peeled, and sliced red beets
2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced into quarters
2 blood oranges
¼ cup roasted pistachios, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes
Fresh basil leaves
Prep | 2.5 h (beet roasting)
Ready in | 20 m
Duration | 5 days
Yields | 4 portions
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small baking dish, rub the beets with olive oil. Add water and cover tightly with foil and roast for 2.5 hours, or until tender when pierced with a knife.
When cool, peel the beets and slice them. Transfer to a large bowl.
Peel oranges with a paring knife to remove any pith. Slice oranges crosswise into 1/4" rounds.
On a serving plate, arrange beet, orange, and avocado slices. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Tuck a few basil leaves into the salad. Enjoy!
Carrot Ginger Roasted Vegetable Tsimmes
Jeffrey Yoskowitz, Co-Founder of the Gefilteria, introduces this original recipe: Tsimmes is generally known as a sweet vegetable stew quite commonly prepared by eastern European Jewish cooks for the high holidays in the fall. The tsimmes I grew up with as a kid was usually drenched in a sugary syrup. It didn’t feel healthy nor look particularly appetizing. I wanted to change that, since there’s so much color and flavor in these vegetables, and therefore, so much potential. Think of this version of the dish as more of a roast vegetable side, perfect for the Jewish high holidays, Thanksgiving or anytime in the fall or winter. Much of the sweetness comes from the carrots, sweet potatoes and plums, though there is honey added, as well. And there’s a little kick from the ginger and the optional addition of red chili flakes.
3 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
3 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 lb. carrots, cut into 1/2" rounds (about 3 cups)
1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1/2 lb. pitted prunes, chopped coarse (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup orange juice
Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together ginger, honey, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes (if using), and lemon zest to make a glaze; set aside.
In a large oven-safe skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add carrots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sweet potato and prunes and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables just begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
Stir in orange juice, scraping up bits of vegetables that have stuck to the bottom. Add reserved glaze to skillet and stir to coat.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake until carrots and sweet potatoes are fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
JIMENA was created in 2002 by former Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, and work for Jewish diversity and inclusion for people often left out of the narrative of Jewish life.
Enjoy their carefully curated collection of authentic Rosh Hashanah recipes and food articles from our favorite Mizrahi and Sephardic food bloggers and editors. The list includes Moroccan fish, pumpkin bourekas, Tunisian couscous, quince stew, Persian upside-down cake with dates and pistachio biscotti.
Read it here: https://www.jimena.org/mizrahi-sephardic-rosh-hashanah-recipes/
Roast Chicken with Barley & Vegetables
Liz Alpern, co-founder of the Gefilteria introduces this recipe: This dish makes for a fragrant meal that is unique enough for Friday night and simple enough for a weekday evening. While roast chicken is a classic centerpiece on the contemporary Jewish table, the earthiness of the mushrooms and barley in this recipe give it a decidedly Old World feel.
SERVES 4 TO 6
¾ cup pearl barley
1 dried bay leaf
3½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
1 pound mixed fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil or schmaltz (page 35)
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2½ to 3 pounds chicken pieces, cleaned and patted dry
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1. In a medium pot, combine the barley, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Add enough water to cover the barley by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes, until the barley is half cooked but still al dente. Strain and remove the bay leaf. Toss the barley with the scallions, mushrooms, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil or schmaltz. It may seem like too many mushrooms, but they will shrink in the oven.
2. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
3. Combine the remaining 2½ teaspoons salt, the garlic, and the pepper. Rub the mixture on the chicken pieces, getting it between the skin and the flesh if possible. Place the chicken pieces on a baking sheet, skin side up. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil or schmaltz. On a separate baking sheet, spread out the barley-mushroom mixture in an even layer.
4. Transfer both baking sheets to the preheated oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the barley is cooked through and the chicken is evenly colored when sliced in the thickest part. You can also test the internal temperature, which should register 165ºF when done.
5. Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour any juices from the baking sheet onto the barley-mushroom mixture. Add the parsley and vinegar to the mixture and stir to combine. Taste and season with additional salt if necessary. Serve the chicken pieces with a heaping portion of the barley-mushroom mixture. Garnish with additional parsley.
Excerpted from the book THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO by Jeffrey Yoskowitz & Liz Alpern. Copyright © 2016 by Gefilte Manifesto LLC. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Lauren Volo.
When I was growing up, my Mom would always serve seasonal fruit after dinner. When she would occasionally forget, my siblings and I would sit at the table longer than usual wondering where our nightly serving of fruit was. Because we expected fruit every night instead of a sweeter dessert like cakes or pies, none of us really developed much of a sweet tooth.
On very special occasions, we would pick up a cake from the Japanese or Chinese bakery nearby. I love Asian cakes because they often incorporate fruit and have just a hint of sweetness. When we got older and would go to friend's birthday parties, American sweets were a shock to the palate. To this day, I don't care for most American sweets! I sometimes wonder if my Mom knew exactly what she was doing.
The most famous dish of all on Rosh Hashanah is perhaps the simplest; apples dipped in honey, an edible prayer for a sweet year. Here's my updated take on a classic apple and honey cake for dessert: Light and airy Japanese sponge cake with whipped cream, spiced apples and honey rolled in. The end result is an unexpected take on a classic with a beautiful presentation and just a touch of sweetness to last all year.
Total Prep Time: 1.5 hrs
Total Cook Time: 4 hours
Ingredients – For the cake:
- 4 large eggs (separate yolks from whites and place the whites in the refrigerator)
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup organic white sugar
- 2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream at room temperature
Ingredients – For the cream:
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 1 tablespoon white confectioner's sugar
Ingredients – For the apple filling:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 fuji apples, cored, peeled and chopped into roughly 1/2" pieces
- juice of 1/2 of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9"x 13" baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the apples with lemon juice.
- In a medium pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Pour in the honey and stir constantly until the honey and butter are incorporated. Reduce the heat to low and slide the apples in, along with the spices. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the apples have softened and are cooked through.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whipping attachment, whip the refrigerated egg whites at medium speed and 1/4 cup sugar. Once that's incorporated, add another 1/4 cup of the sugar until stiff peaks form. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whip again until everything is well-incorporated and stiff peaks have formed.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the last 1/4 cup of sugar until it's an airy, custard-like consistency. It should double in volume and become thick and lighter in color. Add the cake flour a little at a time and stir until just incorporated.
- Add the yolk mixture into the egg white meringue mixture and stir very carefully with a spatula until just combined. You want to stir carefully so as not to deflate the mixture.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet (the sides of the baking sheet should be at least 1" high). Spread the mixture out evenly and bake for 10-12 minutes or until cooked through (use a cake tester or toothpick).
- Place another piece of parchment over the cake, then place another baking sheet on top of that. Using oven mitts while the cake is still hot, flip the cake over. The bottom side of the cake should be facing up underneath the parchment paper. Gently remove the parchment paper (that the cake was baked in). Place the cake on a large cutting board and slice one edge of the cake at a slight diagonal (just slice a thin sliver of the short end of it- so if it's in landscape orientation, slice a bit off the short end). Gently roll the cake up and wrap it in a clean cotton towel on a cooling rack to dry. This will help the cake hold its shape later.
- While the cake is cooling, whip the heavy cream with the sugar until it's the consistency of whipped cream (light and fluffy), being careful not to over-mix (it will start to visibly break down). Reserve about 1/2 cup of whipped cream, in case you would like to use it to frost the top of the cake as pictured. Fold in the apple mixture to the whipped cream.
- After about 15-30 minutes (or whenever the cake has mostly cooled), remove the cake from the kitchen towel and unroll it. With the bottom side still facing up, spread the whipped cream and apple mixture on the cake with an offset spatula. Leave 1/2" on all sides of the cake unfrosted, and use a little less frosting as you approach the end of the cake.
- Carefully but tightly roll the cake back up (roll it away from you, with the length of the cake going away from you). The angled cut you made should be on the opposite end of the cake from where you are standing (the end of the wrap). Wrap another piece of parchment around it, twisting each of the sides shut. Refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours.
- Frost the top of the cake if you'd like. I also added crushed freeze dried apples and pistachios to my cake for crunch and color. Enjoy!
Majestic and Moist Honey Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen by Deborah Missel
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm strong coffee or tea, prefer Chai
½ cup fresh orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
¼ cup rye, whiskey, or spiced rum
½ cup slivered or sliced almonds, optional
½ cup dried cranberries, optional
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour baking pans.
Toss cranberries in 1 tsp flour and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all four spices. Make a well in the center and add oil, honey, white and brown sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee/tea, orange juice, orange zest, and liquor. [If you measure your oil before the honey, it will easier to get all the honey out.] Using a strong wire whisk or in an electric mixer on low speed, stir together making a thick, well-blended batter. Make sure no ingredients are stuck to the bottom. Fold in cranberries.
Spoon batter into well-greased and floured pans. Sprinkle top of cakes evenly with almonds, if using.
Place baking pans on one or two baking sheets. This will help evenly distribute heat and prevent the bottom of the cake from baking faster than the top and center. Place cake pans in center of oven or spaced evenly between racks to ensure even baking. Bake until cake tests done and the cake springs back when gently touched in the center.
Baking Time By Pan Size
Angel food and tube cake pans – bake 60 – 75 minutes
Loaf pans - bake 45 – 55 minutes
Sheet cake pan – bake 40 – 45 minutes
Muffins – bake for about 20 minutes
Mini-bundt pans (4) – bake 30 – 35 minutes
Mini-loaf pan (4) – bake for 20 minutes, rotate and bake for another 25 minutes
Symbolic rimon dish inspired by Femina Travel (Cuba)
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
4 cups pomegranate juice
2 cups of lemonade
3 cups of white rum
A big bunch of mint
2 limes, quartered, plus slices to garnish
Prep | 10 m
Ready in | 20 m
Duration | 3 days
Yields | 6-7 cups
A day before the gathering, freeze some pomegranate seeds along with water in an ice cube tray.
Setting aside half the mint for garnish, tear the rest into a large jug with the lime quarters. Muddle the mint and lime to release the flavors.
Pour the pomegranate juice, lemonade and white rum into the jug. Put ice cubes into each glass, strain the pomegranate mix through a sieve. Garnish with lime and mint.
Recipe by Paige Erlich
I love cooking and hosting events so much that I’ve turned it into a side hobby, sharing my favorite recipes and hosting tips on Instagram at @PaigePlates. When hosting Shabbat dinner or picnicking in the park with my friends, I’m particularly fond of sharing charcuterie or cheese boards, which are fun to both make and eat. And while they’re so beautiful that they always look impressive, they’re fairly easy to assemble – especially with a little bit of forethought and planning.
I always like to choose a theme for my cheese boards, and as it turns out, Rosh HaShanah is a built-in theme! Traditional holiday foods like apples, honey, dates, figs, and pomegranates are all perfect for cheese boards, and each pairs nicely with various cheeses.
Here’s how to go about creating your own Rosh HaShanah cheese board, whether to serve as a holiday appetizer or a lunchtime indulgence during the Yamim Noraim.
First, choose your cheeses. Lots of varieties of cheese pair well with apples and honey, so you have plenty to choose from. I'm no expert, but I recommend choosing three to four types (depending on the size of your cheese board) that vary in degrees hardness and softness.
I chose three cheeses, two hard and one soft: manchego, which is popularly paired with honey; white cheddar, which complements the crisp tartness of apples; and Brie, a soft cheese that goes well with just about everything. You may wish to use goat cheese, blue cheese, gouda… truly, the combinations are endless, and the good news is that all of them will taste great.
Jewish cooking expert Tina Wasserman explains, “Apples and honey: For Ashkenazi Jews, these words are an inseparable pairing. We dip a slice of apple in honey to express our hopes for a sweet and fruitful year.”
For your cheese board, choose whatever kind of apples you like best or find in season – or even pick your own at an orchard! I went with my favorites, Red Delicious, and arranged them in a long, swirling design as the vibrant centerpiece of my cheeseboard.
I put a small bowl of honey on my cheese board, complete with a little honey stick, both for show and for functionality. I recommend getting creative with different types of honey, mixing up the kinds (wildflower, raw, etc.), flavors (spicy, lavender, etc.) and even the hues.
Another special treat, and one that I love using on cheeseboards, is honeycomb, which is completely edible, oozes with honey, and lends an interesting, chewy texture. I purchase mine from a local company (with thanks to Busy Bees NJ) for a special Rosh HaShanah touch on my holiday cheese boards.
OTHER ROSH HASHANAH FRUITS
I wanted to add a few other Rosh HaShanah and fall-themed food elements to my cheeseboard, so I turned to figs and pomegranates.
At Rosh HaShanah, we eat “new fruits,” those that have just ripened with the coming of the season. Figs are one such fruit, only in season for a short amount of time in late summer and early fall. They’re delicious and look beautiful on a cheese board board, adding color and texture; importantly, they also pair well with both cheese and honey.
Pomegranates are commonly associated with Judaism because they are thought to contain 613 seeds, the same number of mitzvot (commandments) we find in the Torah. Chris Harrison writes, “This allegory encourages us to fulfill mitzvot and live righteous lives.” Cut open a pomegranate to add color, texture, and sweet, juicy bursts of flavor to your holiday cheese board.
I didn't use dates on my cheese board, but they're often found on the Sephardic seder plate this time of year, and they're another possible addition. Tamar, or “date” in Hebrew, is similar to the word yitamu, which means “to end.” In addition to its sweetness, the date wishes an “end” to those who wish us ill will. Sweet dates make for a great, textured addition to your Rosh HaShanah cheese board.
Cheese and fruit both pair well with a variety of nuts, which fill up space on your cheese board and add a little bit of protein. When the rest of my board elements were in place, I filled up the remaining nooks and crannies with walnuts.
Sephardic Jews often enjoy tispishti, a walnut cake with sweet syrup, to celebrate the Jewish new year, which make walnuts a nice and traditional choice for a Rosh HaShanah cheese board. You can also try pecans, almonds, pistachios, or anything else that sounds good to you.
JAMS AND JELLIES
While I chose to feature honey as the star of my cheese board, other condiments like jams, jellies, preserves, and chutneys can make for a tasty addition, too.
To stick with the Rosh HaShanah theme, consider options like fig jam, apple butter, quince paste, pomegranate spread, or even homemade dulce de manzana (apple preserves). If you want to go in a more Sephardic direction, you can incorporate flavors like pumpkin ( k’ra ), traditionally consumed at the start of the new year – and also very much in keeping with the autumn season!
Don’t forget to add some crackers to your cheese board to make it easy to create tiny, handheld bites. Simply choose whatever cracker(s) you like best! I went with round multigrain crackers, but you can also add any other type of cracker, pretzel crisps, pita chips, bagel chips, dried fruit- and nut-studded crisps…… whatever suits your fancy.
You can also set out a traditional round challah to use instead or in addition to crackers.
Once you’ve chosen all of the elements of your cheese board get to work assembling it in a way that’s creative and beautiful – and then go wild creating your own small bites with various combinations of ingredients. Here are a few I love:
- Pile a fig with manchego, some walnuts, and a little bit of honey on top.
- Top a slice of Brie with a small piece of honeycomb and an apple slice.
- Layer a cracker with an apple slice, a cheddar slices, and a few pomegranate seeds.
What combinations will you choose? If you create your own Rosh HaShanah masterpiece, be sure to tag us on social media (we’re @ReformJudaism on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) so we can ooh and ahh over your creation!