Jewish Holiday Cooking Advice From Shiksa in the Kitchen + A Chicken Recipe

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Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 10:49 AM

click to enlarge Honey Garlic Chicken - TORI AVEY
  • Tori Avey
  • Honey Garlic Chicken
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.

click to enlarge Crustless quiche with feta and asparagus to break the Yom Kippur fast - TORI AVEY
  • Tori Avey
  • Crustless quiche with feta and asparagus to break the Yom Kippur fast
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...

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