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Breaking with custom

The menu for our Rosh Hashanah dinner has settled in quite comfortably through the years.

The holiday, which begins at sundown Sept. 26, celebrates the birthday of the world. It ushers in the Ten Days of Awe, which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. One this day, each Jew fasts, reflects on the past year and asks God for forgiveness.

Because Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, certain traditional foods are enjoyed. Challah, the delicious braided yeast bread, is baked in large round loaves to symbolize the earth. Sometimes raisins and a bit of saffron are added to the dough. Slices of the first apples of fall are dipped into honey in hopes of a sweet new year.

We usually begin dinner with my homemade chopped liver because everybody loves it. Since Rosh Hashanah is a bit late this year, we might enjoy a cool spell. Homemade rich chicken soup with fluffy matzo balls will be served. Roast turkey is the entr�e of choice in the Stein-Novack household because no one in our family is fond of brisket.

I may serve a simple salad or offer a cool, crisp relish tray. Side dishes and desserts can change from year to year. Last year, I made kasha and bows and since everyone at our table gobbled it up, I’ll offer it again.

I began to think about sweet treats for the new year and came across a recipe for carrots with honey and ginger in the Whole Foods Cookbook. This recipe is a sort of tsimmes — a mixture of carrots, sweet potatoes and prunes served as a side dish. There are many recipes for tsimmes, which is Yiddish and means "a big fuss" or a "big deal." Honey cake is a traditional Rosh Hashanah dessert. I found two unusual recipes in 1,000 Jewish Recipes by Faye Levy.

Here are sweet recipes for Rosh Hashanah. L’Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

Ginger-Ale-and-Honey-Braised Carrot Coins
From The Whole Foods Market Cookbook by Steve Petusevsky

Ingredients:

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick coins
1 cup ginger ale
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon orange zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the carrots, ginger ale, ginger, honey, orange zest, lemon juice and orange juice in a large, heavy-bottom ovenproof saucepot and bring to a boil.

Place the uncovered pot in the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the liquid reduces, forming a sauce around the carrots. The carrots should be tender but still retain character. Season with salt and pepper.

Serves six.

Note from Phyllis: Recipe can be easily doubled.

Carrot and Sweet Potato Tsimmes

Ingredients:

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
3 large yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
10 large pitted prunes, cut in half
Small handful of golden raisins
1/2 cup brown sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups orange juice

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about one hour. If the tsimmes gets a bit dry, add some water. Cook until the carrots can be easily pierced with a knife. The tsimmes should be nice and moist.

Serves eight to 12.

Apple Cake with Honey

Ingredients:

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup diced or coarsely chopped pecans
2 large sweet apples such as Golden Delicious, peeled, cored and sliced paper-thin

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan, then flour the pan lightly. Mix 1 tablespoon sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat eggs with 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add honey, oil and lemon rind and beat to blend. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add about half of flour mixture to egg batter and blend together at low speed. Mix the lemon juice and water in a small bowl and add to batter. Slowly blend in remaining flour mixture. Add pecans and blend on low speed.

Spoon 1/4 of the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Arrange 1/3 of apple slices on batter and sprinkle evenly with 1/3 of cinnamon mixture, about 1 heaping teaspoon. Spoon another 1/4 of the batter in dollops over apples and spread very gently. Repeat with two more layers of apples, cinnamon and batter, ending with batter.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted in cake’s center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a rack about 20 minutes. Run a metal spatula carefully around cake and turn out onto rack. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Serves eight.

Chocolate-Chip Honey Cake
From 1,000 Jewish Recipes by Faye Levy

Ingredients:

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large eggs
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan, line it with parchment paper or wax paper and grease the liner. Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger into a bowl.

Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the sugar and honey and beat until the mixture is smooth and lightened in color. Gradually add the oil and beat until blended. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture alternately with the applesauce, each in two batches. Beat in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake about 55 minutes or until your finger does not leave an indentation when you press lightly on top of cake and a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack and carefully peel off the liner. Wrap in foil when completely cool. Serve at room temperature.

Serves eight.

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