Cooking ahead quickens start of Yom Kippur feast

September 22, 1993|By Tina Wasserman | Tina Wasserman,Dallas Morning News Universal Press Syndicate

If you thought serving a Thanksgiving dinner was difficult, imagine going without food or water for 24 hours -- then having to feed a whole crowd of people who are just as hungry.

That's the plight of the Yom Kippur host, who must go home from the synagogue and serve a groaning board of food.

Planning a menu that can be on the table in 20 minutes is the trick. The secret is to mix store-bought foods with some made ahead.

Yom Kippur (Saturday) is the last and holiest day of the Jewish High Holy Days that began with Rosh Hashana. It is the culmination of a period devoted to prayer and atonement for one's sins.

Tradition requires that the menu include certain elements:

* Apples and honey represent a fruitful and sweet new year.

* Round Challah, or egg bread, represents a year of never-ending joy.

* Salted or smoked fish, to invite thirst to replenish fluids lost while fasting.

How these foods are incorporated into your menu is up to you.

The apples for apples and honey should be sliced just before guests arrive. This eliminates the need to treat the apples with lemon juice to prevent browning. Juicy McIntosh apples pair well with native wildflower honey.

Make-ahead elements of the suggested menu include a fruit kugel and honey cakes.

To make Caesar salad, wash and tear romaine lettuce in advance; wrap it in paper towels and store in the refrigerator drawer. To assemble the salad, toss the lettuce with fresh Parmesan cheese, croutons and your favorite dressing.

Grocery stores and restaurants also can help with time-consuming elements of the menu.

Think about buying a fruit or vegetable platter from your local supermarket or deli. Ask if they blanch the vegetables. Cooking vegetables in boiling salted water for a minute or two keeps them "raw" but intensifies their color and sweetens their taste. Some larger supermarkets will poach your salmon, too.

Many delis will slice bagels for a small charge, saving you a lot of time.

When you plan your menu, make a note by each item indicating whether it will be made in advance, at the last minute or bought ready-made. That way you can start preparing for your meal, not be stressed all week -- and concentrate on more important things when you're in synagogue.

Breakfast menu

This large assortment could easily serve 12 to 50 people. Adjust the amount of purchased food to fit your needs. For smaller groups, serve fewer dishes.


Apples and honey for dipping

Poached salmon

Egg salad

Bagels with cream cheese spreads, lox, tomato and onion slices

Deluxe fruit kugel

Caesar salad

Pickled herring in cream sauce


Miniature honey cakes

Fruit platter

Orange juice



Deluxe fruit kugel

Makes 18 servings

1/2 pound medium-wide noodles

1 pound cream cheese

1/2 pound plus 2 tablespoons butter (divided use)

1 pint sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 cups sugar (divided use)

8 eggs

1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

4 ounces walnuts

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a 4-quart bowl.

Add the cream cheese, 1/2 pound butter and half the sour cream to the food processor work bowl; blend until smooth. Scrape down sides of work bowl. Add the remaining sour cream, vanilla, 1 cup sugar and eggs; process until combined. Gently combine with the noodles.

Stir the fruits in by hand and then pour mixture into a buttered 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. The mixture will almost overflow. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, place in a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes.

Combine the walnuts with 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle mixture on top of the kugel. Dot with 2 tablespoons butter and bake for 20 minutes more. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: The kugel can be made totally in advance, but it won't be as light.

"Homemade" pickled herring in cream sauce

Makes 8 servings

1 (12-ounce) jar pickled herring bits in wine sauce, drained (save some liquid if needed)

1 medium Bermuda or Spanish onion

1 cup fresh sour cream

Place herring directly into non-reactive bowl that you will use for serving.

Thinly slice the onion into rings and add to the herring along with enough sour cream to be thick but still slightly runny. Refrigerate for a day or longer and add additional sour cream or reserved juice if needed.


Makes 25 servings

2 cups wildflower or dark honey

1 cup strong coffee or 2 teaspoons instant coffee and 1 cup water

2 tablespoons brandy

4 eggs

2 tablespoons oil

3/4 cup sugar

3 1/2 cups flour

generous pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon allspice

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2/3 cup raisins (optional)

whole blanched almonds for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease loaf pan, bundt pan or 3 disposable aluminum loaf pans and line the bottoms of the loaf pans with parchment paper that has also been greased. If using mini-muffin pans, use paper liners. For special molds, grease and dust with whole-wheat flour.

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