Yom Kippur

Spinach Gnocchi for Break-the-Fast

We never have a traditional smoked fish break-the-fast because one of my daughters is allergic to fish. Instead, we have a vegetarian-dairy feast. My friend Susan brings her famous, not-to-be-missed kugel. Another friend brings dessert, although I usually also make rugelach

The rest is up to me. For years I've served Mujadarah, either made with brown rice or bulgur wheat. Other usuals are Spinach Pie, a tomato salad of some sort, egg salad and hummus.

But this year I'm not doing the Spinach Pie.

No particular reason other than it's time for a change.

But not a huge change.

I decided to make Spinach Gnocchi. It's already in the freezer, ready-to-bake.

Spinach Gnocchi

  • 2 10-ounce packages thawed, frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Butter a baking dish. Squeeze the spinach to extract as much liquid as possible. Place the olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes. Spoon the spinach mixture into a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add the ricotta cheese and mix thoroughly. Add the flour and mix thoroughly. Add the eggs, the 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly to blend the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. With floured hands, shape the spinach mixture into balls about 1-1/2-inches in diameter. Gently drop the balls into the water. Keep the water at a simmer. Cook for 6-7 minutes or until the balls rise to the top and look fluffy. Lift the balls with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towels to dry slightly. Place the balls in the buttered baking dish. Drizzle them with melted butter and the 1/2-cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 18 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly crisped.

Makes 24

 

Eggplant, Mashed Potato and Portobello Gratin

Whenever I need a meatless or dairy meal -- for a meatless Monday (or any other day of the week when I am not in the mood for meat), or for during the Nine Days, or a Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast, or during Passover -- this is one of the recipes I turn to. It's filling enough for dinner (served with a salad) yet not heavy.

Another benefit? Set it up ahead and bake just before you need it.

I change the recipe occasionally, because -- why not! This dish is versatile. Sometimes I use zucchini instead of or together with eggplant. Sometimes I add feta cheese or a layer of cooked kale or spinach or some cooked carrots. But basically this is it.

 

Eggplant, Mashed Potato and Portobello gratin

  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes
  • 3/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium eggplant (or 2 medium zucchini)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven broiler or outdoor grill. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and cook them in simmering water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash them in the pot. Stir in 1/2 cup of Swiss cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and the eggs. Season lightly with salt and pepper. While the potatoes are cooking, trim the ends from the eggplant. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Brush both sides with the olive oil. Broil or grill the eggplant for 2-3 minutes per side or until softened and lightly browned. Place half the eggplant slices in a rectangular baking dish. Cover with the mashed potatoes. Layer the remaining eggplant on top. Slice the mushroom caps about 1/4-inch thick and place them on top of the eggplant. Slice the tomatoes and place them over the mushrooms. Scatter the basil and parsley on top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes or until crispy and lightly browned on top.

Makes 8-10 servings

 

Chocolate Challah Bread Pudding

I usually don't have leftover challah, even when I make my giant size recipe

But for Yom Kippur I make TWO giant size challahs, one for the pre-fast dinner and one for break-the-fast.

So, for the kids, there's usually a hunk or two left for French toast.

But this year I had bits and pieces left over: crusts from the pieces that went into the French toast (for the kids who don't like crust). And a few pieces of "insides" left from the grownups who picked off some of the crust.

I hate throwing food away, especially something as delicious as challah.

Waste not, want not.

I put all the leftover pieces into a bowl and made it into chocolate bread pudding.

You can't go wrong mixing challah, milk, sugar and chocolate.

 

Chocolate Challah Pudding

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 12 ounces leftover challah,including crusts, (about 7-8 loosely packed
  •                                                                         cups of small pieces)
  • 3 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Butter a large, deep baking dish or (8-cup) souffle dish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the chocolate and set it aside to cool. Break the bread into pieces into a bowl. Pour the milk over the bread and let it soak for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally so all pieces of bread absorb some milk. In the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the eggs with the sugar for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture is thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla extract. Stir in the melted chocolate. Mix in the bread-milk mixture. Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish. Place the dish inside a larger pan. Add enough water to the outer pan to come up one-inch of the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Makes 8 servings

 

GIANT Knish

Anyone who reads this blog knows that potatoes are my go-to comfort food. My magic medicine for when I'm stressed out.

So I'm definitely going to need something potato tonight when Ed and I have our debate-watch group over. (By the time this election is over my potato consumption for the year will be way over the limit.)

So I made a stuffed potato roll. Actually mashed potatoes with caramelized onions wrapped inside puff pastry.

Actually, a giant knish.

And guess what!? This dish is absolutely perfect for my Vegetarian Break-the-Fast, so I made one for that occasion too!

And also guess what!? It's also perfect for Meatless Monday. And also for Sukkot, when it is traditional to serve stuffed foods.

All in all, this is a big, big winner for whenever. Really. Whenever.

 

Giant Knish

  • 3 pounds all-purpose potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 sheets frozen parve puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a flat baking sheet. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and boil them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mash the potatoes until they are fluffy. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the onions to the potatoes. Add the egg, salt and pepper and stir gently to mix ingredients. Let cool. Using one sheet of puff pastry at a time, roll the dough slightly thinner. Place half the potato filling down the center of the dough, using up the middle 1/3 of the dough and leaving a one-inch margin at both of the short ends. Enclose the filling: place one side of the dough over the filling, then place the other side of the dough over the filling. Press the short ends to enclose the filling at the top and bottom. Place the roll, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until the dough feels cool and firm. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut with a serrated knife. 

 

Makes 2 rolls, each serving 6 people

 

 

Zimtsterne Cookies

When you see the first twinkle of stars in the night sky, the Yom Kippur fast is over.  You take your fist sips of that long awaited coffee, and with it …. Zimtsterne.  German star cookies. To remind you that we celebrate a new year, new beginnings, being with loved ones. Sweet. Lovely. Gluten-free too.  Zimtsterne  3 large egg whites  1-1/4 cups sugar  1/2 teaspoon salt  one pound finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts, approximately  2 teaspoons ground cinnamon  2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel  confectioners sugar**  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Beat the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks. Continue to beat the whites, gradually increasing the speed and gradually adding all the sugar and salt, for 6-8 minutes or until they whites stand in glossy, stiff peaks. Remove about 3/4 to one cup of this mixture to a small bowl and set it aside.**  In another bowl, combine the nuts, cinnamon and lemon peel. Fold the nut mixture into the egg white mixture in the bowl until it is uniform in color. Spoon the mixture onto parchment paper and flatten the “dough” sightly. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Place another piece of parchment paper on top. Roll the dough about 1/2-inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper. One at a time, cut out star shapes from the dough (the dough is sticky and difficult to work with). Place each star on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.  When all the stars are cut, use the reserved sugar mixture and spread on top of each star.  Let rest for 60 minutes.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes.  Makes about 42  **you can skip this meringue coat and bake the cookies uncoated (in this case, do not set aside the 3/4 cup meringue. You might need about 1/2 cup more ground nuts to make the dough less sticky). When they are baked and cooled, mix about 1/2 cup confectioners sugar with enough water to make a paste and use a small spoon to cover the cookies with the sugar paste. Let dry and serve.

When you see the first twinkle of stars in the night sky, the Yom Kippur fast is over.

You take your fist sips of that long awaited coffee, and with it …. Zimtsterne.

German star cookies. To remind you that we celebrate a new year, new beginnings, being with loved ones. Sweet. Lovely. Gluten-free too.

Zimtsterne

3 large egg whites

1-1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

one pound finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts, approximately

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon peel

confectioners sugar**

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Beat the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks. Continue to beat the whites, gradually increasing the speed and gradually adding all the sugar and salt, for 6-8 minutes or until they whites stand in glossy, stiff peaks. Remove about 3/4 to one cup of this mixture to a small bowl and set it aside.**

In another bowl, combine the nuts, cinnamon and lemon peel. Fold the nut mixture into the egg white mixture in the bowl until it is uniform in color. Spoon the mixture onto parchment paper and flatten the “dough” sightly. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Place another piece of parchment paper on top. Roll the dough about 1/2-inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper. One at a time, cut out star shapes from the dough (the dough is sticky and difficult to work with). Place each star on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.

When all the stars are cut, use the reserved sugar mixture and spread on top of each star.  Let rest for 60 minutes.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes.

Makes about 42

**you can skip this meringue coat and bake the cookies uncoated (in this case, do not set aside the 3/4 cup meringue. You might need about 1/2 cup more ground nuts to make the dough less sticky). When they are baked and cooled, mix about 1/2 cup confectioners sugar with enough water to make a paste and use a small spoon to cover the cookies with the sugar paste. Let dry and serve.

The Kugel to End all Kugels

This is the kugel to end all kugels.  I mean it. I am a kugel-eating expert, if only because when I grew up my grandmother and mom made salty kugel stuffed with mushrooms and onions and it was only when I was grown, married and with kids that I had my first taste of this. That taste was a transforming moment.  My friend Susan brought this dish to my annual Break-the-fast (she got the recipe from her friend Linda and I don’t know where Linda got it).  For years after that I have tasted more kugels than you could possibly imagine (including those hard, dried up things they sell in some supermarkets) always trying to surpass that moment of culinary discovery.   I was even a judge once in a kugel contest.  I have made some wonderful kugels since then. But this is still my favorite. I always ask Susan to make an extra one so there will be leftovers. I pack pieces of it in my freezer so I can have a little treat whenever.  Don’t even think about the calories. Just enjoy.      Susan/Linda’s Sweet Noodle Kugel         1 12-ounce package egg noodles        1 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature        1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature        1 cup sugar        2 cups dairy sour cream        6 large eggs        1 teaspoon cinnamon        1 cup raisins, optional        2 cups crushed frosted flakes or corn flakes        4 tablespoons melted butter  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the noodles in slightly salted water until al dente (not soft). Drain and set aside. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until thoroughly blended and softened. Beat in the sugar until well blended. Add the sour cream and blend thoroughly. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the cinnamon and raisins, if used. Pour the mixture into the noodles and toss to coat them completely. Place in a baking dish. Combine the frosted flakes and melted butter and sprinkle on top of the noodles. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is crispy.   Makes 8 servings  

This is the kugel to end all kugels.

I mean it. I am a kugel-eating expert, if only because when I grew up my grandmother and mom made salty kugel stuffed with mushrooms and onions and it was only when I was grown, married and with kids that I had my first taste of this. That taste was a transforming moment.

My friend Susan brought this dish to my annual Break-the-fast (she got the recipe from her friend Linda and I don’t know where Linda got it).

For years after that I have tasted more kugels than you could possibly imagine (including those hard, dried up things they sell in some supermarkets) always trying to surpass that moment of culinary discovery. 

I was even a judge once in a kugel contest.

I have made some wonderful kugels since then. But this is still my favorite. I always ask Susan to make an extra one so there will be leftovers. I pack pieces of it in my freezer so I can have a little treat whenever.

Don’t even think about the calories. Just enjoy.

 

Susan/Linda’s Sweet Noodle Kugel

      1 12-ounce package egg noodles

      1 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature

      1/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

      1 cup sugar

      2 cups dairy sour cream

      6 large eggs

      1 teaspoon cinnamon

      1 cup raisins, optional

      2 cups crushed frosted flakes or corn flakes

      4 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the noodles in slightly salted water until al dente (not soft). Drain and set aside. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until thoroughly blended and softened. Beat in the sugar until well blended. Add the sour cream and blend thoroughly. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in the cinnamon and raisins, if used. Pour the mixture into the noodles and toss to coat them completely. Place in a baking dish. Combine the frosted flakes and melted butter and sprinkle on top of the noodles. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is crispy. 

Makes 8 servings