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Seven Rosh Hashanah Recipes for Eight People (Or More)

Rosh Hashanah is always a major event in our household. With the exception of Passover, it's the holiday where we have the most guests--including last-minute additions. Maybe it’s the time of year, or the fact that even the most non-religious Jews somehow come back to the table at the High Holy days, but there are always a few extra chairs (and sometimes tables) set out in my mom’s living room.

So if the thought of entertaining a large group of people causes a slight panic attack, I can tell you you’re not alone. Even the most seasoned cook (see my mother) has gone cold when faced with entertaining guests in the double-digit range. The only difference is experience. Once you make it through your first holiday, the fear will subside. I'm not going to lie. It's stressful and it’s overwhelming, but the sense of pride you’ll feel when it’s over is worth every pressed napkin and every dirty dish (well, almost).

To that end I've created a simple but delicious Rosh Hashanah menu that even the most novice home cook can easily follow. Pick and choose or use them all. From appetizer to dessert, here are our favorites for a Happy New Year...

sweet and tangy brisket
Sweet and tangy brisket, with a sauce made of brown sugar, ketchup, olives, capers and raisins, is a classic favorite. Photo by Josh Bousel/Flickr.

ARTICHOKE APPETIZER

This appetizer is one of those recipes where you don’t tell guests what the ingredients are until they’ve been tasted. Once eaten, the ingredients won’t matter... nor will the calories! They are as delicious as they are easy to make.

Makes: 48 pieces
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Parmesan Romano cheese
1 12-oz. jar quartered marinated artichoke hearts
1 8-12-oz. package Pitettes (mini pita breads)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a bowl mix the mayonnaise and the Parmesan Romano cheese.
Drain the jar of artichokes and then cut artichokes into much smaller pieces.
Mix the artichokes into mayonnaise cheese mixture.
Take pitettes (about 24 of them) and pull them apart.
Take approximately 1 tbsp of mixture and spread on each pita half.
Place pitas on a baking sheet mixture side up and bake for about 15 minutes.

TIP: To serve, place on a serving dish covered with romaine lettuce and at one end of serving dish have a big bunch of red seedless grapes. The fruit complements the saltiness of the appetizer and looks pretty as well.

ROZ'S VEGETABLE SOUP

Far from just a holiday favorite, Roz’s Vegetable Soup is the first thing we all ask for when the weather turns cold (meaning 60s for us Floridians). It’s delicious and homey and, though it takes a lot of work, definitely worth every chop slice, and simmer. The meat is used simply to enrich the flavor of the broth and is removed before serving.

Serves: 8-10
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 4 hours

1 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
1-1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs or flanken beef (cut into large pieces)
8 cups water
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
2 stalks celery, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks
1 zucchini cut in chunks
1 8-12-oz. package broccoli (pre-cut fresh or frozen)
1 8-12-oz. package cauliflower (pre-cut fresh or frozen)
1 8-12-oz. package frozen corn or 1 can corn
1 8-12 package frozen string beans
2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 16-oz. box beef broth (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Spray a large pot with cooking spray and add the oil. Heat to medium. Brown the onion, garlic, and beef until the meat is well browned.
Add the water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour.
Add the celery, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, and string beans. Bring to a boil, add salt, and then simmer for 3 hours.
If the soup is too thick and you prefer a thinner soup, add enough beef broth to get the consistency you like.
Remove the beef prior to serving.

TIP: This soup freezes well!

SWEET AND TANGY BRISKET

A true original out of my mom’s kitchen, Sweet and Tangy Brisket was born of her own frustration in re-creating a famous chef’s brisket recipe. Desperate to stop Roz’s endless searching for the recipe, Andrea took it upon herself to e-mail said chef asking for the recipe, naming ingredients from Roz’s memory. Within days the chef responded. He had never heard of such a recipe.

Serves: 10-12
Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 3-3 1/2 hours

3-4 pounds flat-or first-cut brisket
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp oil
Ground black pepper
1 32-oz. bottle of ketchup
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup green olives
1/4 cup capers
1/2 cup golden raisins
5-6 carrots, peeled and cut in half

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Peel the garlic clove and slice it really thin.
“Plug” the brisket all over with the garlic slivers on one side (you can do this either the day before or right before cooking).
Coat a large skillet with oil, enough to just cover the bottom. Heat to medium or medium high.
Rub the brisket all over with black pepper.
Brown the brisket on both sides. Each side should take 2 to 3 minutes.
While it is browning, mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, olives, capers, and raisins in a large bowl.
When the brisket is browned on both sides, place it in a large baking dish. Place the carrots around it and pour the ketchup mixture on top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake the brisket at 350° for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. You will be able to pull it apart with a fork when it’s done.
Cool and slice the brisket. Serve the sauce on the side.

TIP: This dish can be prepared weeks ahead of time and frozen. You can freeze it (unsliced) in the baking dish. Make sure it is covered tightly for the freezer.

GRANDMA EDITH'S EASY ONION NOODLE KUGEL

Full disclosure: I hate sweets. And raisins. So my Grandma Edith would always make this favorite for me at family holidays. It takes the sweet flavor out of kugel and replaces it with a more savory taste that works well with the sweetness of the brisket.

Serves: 12
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 50-60 minutes

12-oz. package egg noodles, cooked and drained per instructions on package
1 stick butter (or margarine), melted
16-oz.s low-fat small-curd cottage cheese
4 eggs
1/4 small onion, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the mixture into a greased or oil-sprayed 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish.
Dot the top with a little extra butter.
Bake at 350° for 60 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Salt to taste right before serving.

FRESH STRING BEANS WITH GARLIC BUTTER

Simple, easy, and always delicious, fresh string beans are an easy addition to any menu when you need an extra veggie.

Serves: 6-8
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

1-2 lbs fresh string beans
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 or 2 cloves garlic, mashed
Salt to taste

Rinse the string beans and cut off both ends.
Put the beans in a steamer basket over cold water in a large pot and bring the water to a boil.
Cover the pot and turn the heat off. If using an electric burner, remove pot from burner. Let the beans steam for 8 to 10 minutes. (You want the string beans to be crunchy and bright green.)
Drain the water and put the beans back in the pot.
In a small bowl, mix together the softened margarine and mashed garlic.
Stir this mixture into the hot beans. Add salt to taste.

TIP: If you don’t love garlic, you can also prepare them à la my friend Susie: Sauté fresh green beans with just a bit of olive oil and throw in some almond slivers. So delicious!

SWEET SALAD DRESSING

Serves: 10-12
Preparation time: 10 minutes

1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups vegetable oil
10 Tbsp sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup bleu cheese

Combine all ingredients in a jar or pitcher and shake or stir vigorously, until all ingredients are evenly mixed.
Serve over a tossed salad with cucumbers, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, romaine and iceberg lettuce.

TIP: The dressing will keep in the fridge for a week. For a more traditional taste, leave out the bleu cheese.

EDITH'S EASY ORANGE CAKE

Sure, honeycake is traditional holiday fare, but for something a little different--but just as sweet--try this simple recipe. It may include a boxed mix but your guests will never guess! And it tastes great served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Serves: 8-10
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50-60 minutes
Cooling time: 3 hours

For orange glaze:

2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 1/2 Tbsp orange juice

Mix the confectioners’ sugar with the orange juice, and pour the glaze over the cooled cake.

TIP: You can substitute milk for the orange juice to make an unflavored glaze.

For cake:

1 18.25-oz.package orange cake mix
1 3.4-oz. package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup orange juice
4 extra-large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease a 10-inch Bundt pan using oil or cooking spray or Baker’s Joy (I prefer Baker’s Joy for baking.)
Mix together all of the ingredients and beat for 2 minutes.
Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes. Cake is done when golden and bounces back when touched
When the cake is completely cool, pour the glaze over the top.

Hebrew for "Head of the Year," the Jewish New Year. With Yom Kippur, known as the High Holy Days. The spring holiday commemorating the Exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew name is "Pesach." Hebrew for "fit" (as in, "fit for consumption"), the Jewish dietary laws.
Andrea Marks Carneiro

Andrea Marks Carneiro is the author of Jewish Cooking Boot Camp: The Modern Girl's Guide To Cooking Like A Jewish Grandmother. She is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in regional and national publications and websites.

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