The Jewish holidays -- well, any holiday really -- require heavy-duty planning, cooking, coordinating and grocery shopping. To ease some Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (the holiday where Jews starve all day and binge all night) stress, we turn to Tori Avey, also known as the Shiksa in the Kitchen, for advice. Rosh Hashana -- which begins tonight and runs through Friday, Sept. 6 -- requires strategic planning.
"The most difficult thing about holiday cooking is the amount of prep work involved. So many symbolic foods are required, family favorite recipes must make an appearance, and everybody expects it to be one of the best meals of the year. Talk about pressure!" says Avey, creator of The History Kitchen, a website (and hopefully future book) which sheds light on how yesterday's cuisine can inspire us in the kitchen today.
For complicated dinners, Avey writes out a schedule: Brisket goes in the oven at 2 p.m., kugel is assembled at 3:30 p.m., etc. When all else fails (decor, air conditioning, conversation), try booze. Rosh Hashana sangria is typically a winner, Avey says. "It's symbolic, sweet, crisp and delish."
To some, freezing food is a faux pas, but when you work full time, have children or both, it can be the only option. Alternatively, "keep your menu as natural and unprocessed as possible -- lots of vegetables, fruits and whole ingredients," she says. These items can be bought at any market, which means you can avoid the holiday madness. In L.A., there are many grocery stores with impressive kosher products, such as Gelsons and Trader Joe's.
Once Rosh Hashana cooking is finished, Yom Kippur "break fast" is just around the corner, at sundown on Sept. 14. Dairy is recommended after a long day of fasting, since it's easier for some to digest. "I love the convenience of make-ahead dairy dishes like quiche, kugel and bourekas [pastries made with phyllo and filled with cheese, minced meat or vegetables]. Mild dairy dishes are probably easier on the stomach if you're not lactose intolerant." But you might want to avoid strong spices. There have been years when Avey has simply served a bagel platter and fresh fruit.
"Who feels like making a big feast after a long fast? Those who do are total champions in my book," she says. If you are willing, try Avey's crustless quiche with feta and asparagus.
Turn the page for a Rosh Hashana honey garlic chicken recipe...
Honey garlic chicken
From: Tori Avey
4 lbs. chicken pieces, bone-in, skin-on
1/3 cup honey, divided
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 heaping tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon fresh Meyer lemon or lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
2 teaspoon potato starch
Salt and pepper
1. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, 1/4 cup honey, brown sugar, garlic, lemon or lime juice, and cayenne to form a marinade.
2. Spray the bottom of a glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking oil, or brush lightly with olive oil. Place the chicken pieces into the dish, skin side up. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper (if using kosher chicken, salt lightly).
3. Pour the marinade evenly over the top of the chicken pieces, brushing them to coat. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Let the chicken marinate for 2 hours up to overnight.
4. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish. Spoon marinade over the top of the chicken, then cover the baking dish with foil. Pierce the edges of the foil a few times to vent.
5. Roast the chicken for 1 hour, covered in foil, basting the chicken with marinade and drippings 2 or 3 times while it cooks. Remove foil and continue to roast for 20-30 more minutes till the skin becomes dark brown and crispy. It may blacken a bit in places due to the sugar content of the marinade.
6. Transfer cooked chicken pieces to a platter. Carefully tip the baking dish so that the pan drippings and juices gather in one corner. Use a spoon to skim off the clear liquid fat from the top, separating it from the solid drippings. Discard the fat.
7. Strain the remaining drippings through a mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Heat the sauce slowly over medium.
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8. While sauce is heating, in a small bowl stir together 2 tsp potato starch and ¼ cup cold water till dissolved. Add the starch mixture to the pan drippings, along with 1 tbsp honey and ¼ cup white wine or chicken broth. Stir the sauce over medium heat till it thickens and bubbles around the edges. If sauce is too thick, add more water or chicken broth. If the sauce is too thin, let it simmer till it thickens to desired consistency. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
9. Serve the chicken pieces drizzled with warm honey sauce.
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