L’Shanah Tovah!

Today is Rosh Hashanah or Jewish new year.  And it has always been one of my favorite feasts.  Typical foods for the celebration include honey, apples, pomegranates, and fish.  Fish heads symbolizing the head of the year.

Recently Henry, my husband, wrote a piece for the Guardian about discovering his Jewish heritage.  You see, he didn’t know about his family’s past until his grandfather’s funeral.  He writes, “What I remember most is something my grandmother, Dorothy Jeffreys, said before the service. She was distraught and, I think, on some sort of tranquilliser and kept insisting Don wouldn’t have wanted the send-off to be in a church, it should have been a synagogue. I asked her why and she said, “Because we’re Jewish.”  

This revelation led to all sorts of questions.  He reached out to older family members who knew his ancestors’ lineage and remembered their stories.  With our two year-old in tow, we drove to see them to learn about our family’s past to better understand the present.

So this year, I wanted Rosh Hashanah to be special for Henry.  I wanted to give him a meal that would help him remember.  Here is what we had:

Pan-fried harissa sea bass.  I marinated the fish in harissa, cumin, and salt for a few hours before dredging with flour and frying until the skin went crispy.  At this point, I flipped the fillets and continued frying for another minute more.

harissa sea bass

Yotam Ottolenghi’s roasted aubergine and basil with pomegranate and saffron sauce

eggplant salad

Israeli couscous salad

2014-05-19-17-20-33

Roasted figs with honey and orange juice, orange yogurt, cinnamon and toasted almonds.  I halved the figs, dotted them with butter, and covered them with a mixture that was 2 tablespoons manuka honey plus the zest and juice of one tangerine.  I then baked them for half an hour at Gas6/200C/400F.  When I took them out of the baking dish, I removed whatever liquid was in there and boiled it down until it made a syrup.  I glazed the figs with this.  Then I mixed more orange zest with yogurt and topped each fig with this.  Next, I sprinkled chopped toasted almonds on top then gave them a dusting of cinnamon.

figs glaze figs roasted figs

 

Honey rum tarte tatin.  All I did was take the elements I liked best from several recipes.  For me, that meant a pastry dough made with sour cream and a deep caramel sauce with honey and Cuban rum.  After transferring the tarte to a plate, I boiled down whatever caramel and apple juice remained.  When it was quite viscous, I poured it over the tarte but only after topping it with toasted almonds.  Then I placed it under the broiler (the grill if you’re in the UK) for a few minutes to get everything really golden.  Of course, I served it with more sour cream.

tarte tatin whole meal

 

Vegetarian Eggplant Curry

eggplant curry

More hot food for hot weather, I know!  Still, I can’t get off the stuff.  The flavors taste too appropriate–tropical, spicy, and hot.  Or maybe I just like an excuse to drink ice cold Tiger beer.  Or perhaps it’s all the old Panjabi MC and Devendra Banhart I rediscovered on my iPod.  Or maybe these aren’t excuses at all but reasons why I should keep making and eating curries until it’s cold.  Ah well.  If you’re interested, here’s the recipe.  If not, maybe I’ll soon share with you how I make my iced tea.  Which is delicious and would probably go well with a curry. . .

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 medium eggplants (aubergines), sliced into rounds

2 medium potatoes, chopped and parboiled

2 tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges

1 onion, sliced into rounds

4 garlic cloves roughly chopped

2 tablespoons of fresh ginger finely chopped

1 small chili pepper of your choice depending on how much heat you prefer

olive oil and tablespoon of butter

salt

Method:

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat your olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the cumin and coriander seeds until they sizzle, less than a minute.  Add the tumeric, cinnamon stick, and garam masala.  Sauté the onions, ginger, garlic and chili in the spices.  Now stir the parboiled potatoes into the spices until evenly coated and let cook for about 10 minutes.  Then add the eggplant and tomatoes.  Lower the heat and allow to cook down for about 40 minutes.  Stir often to avoid vegetables sticking to the bottom of your pot.  Also, if the seasonings and spices look a little dry, add a drop of oil and stir.  Finally, season to taste with at least a hefty teaspoon of salt and serve.  I like to add fresh chopped cilantro, Greek yogurt and chutney, but that’s because I love condiments.