Break from tradition

At sundown on Sunday, Jews throughout the world will begin the 24-hour observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. My family and I will savor a full-course Sunday dinner before going to Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel to hear Cantor George Mordecai chant the hauntingly beautiful Kol Nidre.

The eve of Yom Kippur service is called Kol Nidre, which translates as "all vows." It is the opening prayer in which all members of the congregation declare the annulment of all personal vows made to God in the previous year. The 24-hour fast and prayers end at sundown on Yom Kippur with the sounding of the shofar.

Every Ashkenazic (descended from central and northern Europe) Jew I know breaks the fast with bagels and lox. I don’t know why this tradition began in America. We feast on trays of smoked fish such as Nova, kippered salmon, whitefish and whitefish salad with a little chopped herring thrown in for good measure. Platters of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions and assorted cheeses are always included. This year, I will serve bagels and lox, along with a few new dishes.

I just received Adventures in Jewish Cooking by Jeffrey Nathan ($32.50, Clarkson Potter, hardbound with black-and-white and color photos). His program, New Jewish Cuisine, airs on public television. Nathan is the executive chef/owner of Abigael’s, a fine-dining kosher restaurant in New York City.

Nathan began his culinary career in the Navy, where he was the ship captain’s personal cook. After an honorable discharge, he attended the Culinary Institute of America on the GI Bill.

Because Jews live on every continent, Nathan offers recipes for South American ceviche — without shellfish, of course — as well as old-fashioned matzoh ball soup. He likes to give new twists to old favorites, such as using wild mushrooms in mushroom barley soup and offering the Moroccan version of split pea soup using yellow split peas and lots of spices. He also offers menus for every Jewish holiday.

Here are recipes from Adventures in Jewish Cooking by Jeffrey Nathan.

Smoked Whitefish Pinwheels


1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1-1/2 tablespoons prepared white horseradish
6 (10-inch) flour tortillas
2 cups flaked smoked whitefish (from 1 large smoked whitefish, skinned and boned)
2 ounces alfalfa sprouts
1 ripe avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup tomato salsa


Mix together the mayonnaise and horseradish in a small bowl. Spread a tortilla with 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise. About 2 inches from the bottom of the tortilla, sprinkle 1/3 cup of the whitefish in a thick strip. Layer with a tangle of sprouts, a few avocado slices and a sprinkle of onion. Top with about 2 tablespoons salsa. Starting at the bottom, roll up tightly and place on a baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling ingredients. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes and up to four hours.

Using a sharp knife, trim the ends and cut each roll crosswise into six pieces. Arrange on a platter and serve chilled.

Makes about 36.

Vegetarian Chopped Liver


2 Granny Smith apples, cored
1-1/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
2 cups corn flakes, crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line a shallow baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly oil the foil. Place the apples in the baking dish and bake until tender (they will split open), about 30 minutes. Cool. Discard the skin.

Cook the green beans in a large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about six minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cooled.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cool, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about six to eight minutes.

Working in batches, pulse the apples, green beans, onion and eggs in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until coarsely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the corn flakes and pulse a few times to combine all ingredients.

Place in a serving bowl and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours. You can make the spread two days in advance. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes about 4 cups.

Moroccan Yellow Split Pea Soup


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 pound yellow split peas, rinsed and sorted for any pebbles
1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 (3-inch) piece cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
3 quarts homemade or canned vegetable stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon honey


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, potato and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about six minutes. Add the split peas, curry powder, tumeric, red pepper flakes, cinnamon and bay leaf. Stir about 30 seconds.

Stir in the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the split peas are very tender, about one hour. Remove from the heat and cool for about 10 minutes.

Using either a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade, puree the soup in batches, and return it to the pot. Cool completely. Cover and place in the refrigerator. The soup can be prepared two days ahead.

When ready to serve, reheat the soup gently. Whisk together the yogurt, curry and honey in a small bowl.

Ladle the soup into bowls, dollop each serving with the yogurt mixture and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serves 12.