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Yom Kippur Ends and a New Day Begins

Originally published September, 2003. Republished September 14, 2012.

Some see Yom Kippur as a day of atoning for your sins. I see Yom Kippur as a day of spiritual reflection. God didn't make the world, nor us, perfect. I think the mistakes we sometimes make are lessons for us to learn from.

I always look forward to Yom Kippur. I began with a half day of fasting (no food nor water) at the age of 13. It was like a contest among my friends to see who could go the longest. Today, Yom Kippur is a day for cleansing my mind and body. Clearing the cobwebs. It gives me quiet time to think about good things I have and the things I may need to change. Most of all, it is a special day that I can share with family and friends.

I never asked my children or grandchildren if they have fasted. Fasting is an individual choice. I've learned, over the years, to be happy if they wish to attend services or gather with their friends and have a Break the Fast together. Most of all, Yom Kippur has given me the opportunity to communicate my feelings about this special day to my children and grandchildren and share favorite recipes, which have become a tradition.

We have made our Break the Fast meal into a celebration. I don't wait, as my parents and grandparents used to do, for Yom Kippur to end when the sun has set and the first three stars appeared in the sky. My holiday still runs 24 hours. It just begins at an earlier hour. I eat my final meal around 5:30 p.m., then get ready to go to temple. This schedule works better for my family. Jewish holidays for my intermarried family have turned into a learning experience. We learn from each other, and try to respect each other's feelings.

I'd like to share some of my family's "make ahead" Break-the Fast recipes with you. Wishing you an easy fast and a special day to reflect.

ARLENE'S SALMON MOLD
Serves 8-10

This mold is light, tasty and a good make-ahead addition for your Break-the-Fast menu. My cousin Arlene brings it for our family Break the Fast. I personally like the flavor that the Cayenne pepper adds.

Ingredients
1/4 cup water
l envelope gelatin
One 8-ounce can tomato soup
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
Dash Cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup mayonnaise
Two 7-ounce cans salmon
1/2 cup finely chopped onion*
1/2 cup finely chopped celery*
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1. Soften the gelatin by placing the gelatin in a quarter cup of water for about 10 minutes. Heat the undiluted tomato soup in your microwave on "High" for 2 minutes or in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the gelatin. Pour this into the large bowl of an electric mixer or use your food processor. Add the cream cheese, cayenne pepper and mayonnaise. Beat or process until smooth.

2. Drain the salmon, flake and fold it into the soup mixture along with the onion, celery and Worcestershire sauce. Oil a fish or ring mold with vegetable oil. Fill with the salmon mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight to set the mold. Un-mold onto large platter lined with lettuce leaves. Serve.

* You may use your food processor to chop the onions and celery.

OLD-FASHIONED CHEESE STRATA
Serves 6

My friend Zelda Penn serves this every year for her Yom Kippur Break the Fast. It's light, tasty and can be prepared the day before. Refrigerate it well covered, then pop in the oven one hour before you're ready to serve. Add a fruit salad and a light dessert and you have the perfect Break the Fast Meal.

Ingredients
6 slices white bread, trimmed of crusts and cut into squares
6 slices wheat bread, trimmed of crusts and cut into squares
1-1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions
6 large eggs, well beaten
3 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Generously grease a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish Cover the bottom with the bread cubes. Sprinkle the cheese and shallots over the bread. Mix the eggs with the milk and pepper. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

2. Uncover the dish. Bake at 325°F 50 to 55 minutes until puffed and golden brown, and knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Variation #1: Add bits of salami, finely chopped onion and a favorite herb: thyme, basil, oregano to the egg mixture. For those keeping Kosher, use a milk substitute instead of the milk.

Variation #2: Use rye bread with bits of shredded Swiss and Parmesan cheese. Stir one teaspoon of mustard and some caraway seeds along with your favorite herbs into the beaten eggs before adding the milk

Variation #3: Add curry powder and cumin to the egg mixture.

FRESH FRUIT SALAD
Make 4 to 6 servings

This simple fruit syrup can be prepared weeks ahead and will keep in your refrigerator up to two weeks. It's the perfect addition to marinate fruits for salads or desserts. I use a mixture of freshly sliced orange segments, canned pineapple and green grapes, but any fruit combination will do.

Ingredients
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau
3 cups mixed fresh fruit

Microwave method
1. Place the sugar, water, orange zest and juice, in a 6-cup microwave safe container. Microwave 5 minutes on High setting or until bubbly.
2. Stir and return to the microwave 3 more minutes on Medium setting until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the microwave, and add the orange-flavored liqueur. Allow to cool 15 to 20 minutes. Pour into a jar and refrigerate or pour over the mixed fruit. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Conventional method
1. Place the sugar, water, orange zest and juice in a 1-quart saucepan. Stir well. Over medium high heat, allow ingredients to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Continue as in step 2 above.

DEEP-DISH PEAR-CHERRY GRATIN (Pareve)
Makes 4 servings

This recipe comes from Penny Wantuck Esenberg's Light Jewish Holiday Desserts (William Morrow Publishers, $25.00).

The pears may be prepared 1 day earlier, refrigerated, and warmed in your microwave or oven before serving

Ingredients
3 medium Bosc pears, firm but ripe
1/2 medium lemon, squeezed into 4 cups cold water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon dried tart cherries

Bread Topping Ingredients
3 slices Vienna bread, or other pareve, nonspongy white bread
2 teaspoons firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil

Preparation Method
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle of the oven
2. Peel, halve, core, and cut the pears into 1/2-inch chunks. Place the pears into the lemon-water as each one is cut. Drain the pears and place them back in the empty bowl. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, vanilla, and cherries. Spoon the fruit into 4 individual ramekins or into an oven-proof serving dish. Cover with foil, and bake the fruit for 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the oven, and let cool until warm.

3. While the fruit is cooling, prepare the topping. Cut off the bread crusts, tear the bread into large pieces and place in a food processor bowl. Pulse-process until the bread is in crumbs. There should be some small crumbs and some larger pieces in about 1/8-inch cubes.

4. Toss the breadcrumbs with the brown sugar. Sprinkle with oil and toss again with a fork until the crumbs are lightly coated with oil. Place the crumbs on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the fruit, and serve immediately.

Hebrew for "Day of Atonement," the final of ten Days of Awe that begin with Rosh Hashanah. Occurs during the fall and is marked by a 24-hour fast. One of the most important Jewish holidays. Hebrew for "fit" (as in, "fit for consumption"), the Jewish dietary laws. Reform synagogues are often called "temple." "The Temple" refers to either the First Temple, built by King Solomon in 957 BCE in Jerusalem, or the Second Temple, which replaced the First Temple and stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem from 516 BCE to 70 CE.
Zell Schulman

Zell Schulman is the author of several cookbooks, including Passover Seders Made Simple (Hungry Minds, 2001, $16.95).

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