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The Light Time of the Year

September 29, 2005 By:
Ethel Hofman, JE Feature
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It's a fact. We consume more food at holiday meals than at any other time of year. Usually, we eat breakfast on the run, lunches often at a desk and, bowing to health concerns, dinner winds up as salad topped with poultry, lean meats or fish.

Not so at Rosh Hashanah, where meals consist of numerous courses. First comes the soup, then a fish course or chopped liver, an entree or two (so that we can taste a bit of each), and maybe half a dozen side dishes. Then, when you "can't eat another bite," your hosts bring forth dessert - the traditional honeycake to accompany platters heaped high with cookies, cakes and fruit.

And later, to break the Yom Kippur fast, the bountiful dairy buffet comes complete with Ashkenazi favorites like kugels and knishes, bagels and cheeses.

So, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it may be prudent to scale back a bit, and focus on nutritionally rich - and seasonal - fruits and vegetables. A goal during the Days of Awe is to eat lightly. Cleanse the soul, cleanse the body.

Any of the recipes below make delicious starters to a meal using smaller portions. For a light supper, add a crisp green salad, some good crusty bread and a glass of chilled white wine.

L'chaim!

Yukon-Gold Vichyssoise

[Pareve]

Yukon Gold potatoes, with their golden-yellowish flesh, are basically an all-purpose veggie. They may be baked but are also good scalloped, mashed and as hash browns. The green tinge often found on these potatoes is caused by the alkaloid solanin, which may be toxic if eaten in quantity. Just cut off the green parts and discard. The rest of the potato is fine.

1 medium yam (about 8 oz.), peeled
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1-11/4 cups nondairy creamer
2 tsps. honey or to taste
salt and white pepper to taste
chopped chives

Cut the yam and potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Place in a saucepan with 11/2 teaspoons ginger. Pour enough cold water over to cover. Bring to boil.

Cover and cook 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are beginning to break down. Drain, saving the liquid in a large measuring cup.

Place the potatoes, 2 cups of the reserved liquid, 1 cup nondairy creamer, honey and remaining ginger into the food processor. Process until smooth. Mixture should be the consistency of heavy cream. Add more reserved liquid or nondairy creamer, if needed.

Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Add more honey to taste.

Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with some chopped chives.

Serves 4.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 270; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 49 g; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 7 mg.

Goat-Cheese Timbales

[Dairy]

This delicate, savory bread pudding, created by executive chef Rosario Romano, is a favorite at Ristorante Panorama in the Penn's View Hotel on Front and Market streets. Bake in custard cups to turn out as timbales (molds) or in a 11/2 -quart baking dish. This recipe has been adapted slightly for home cooking. In testing, we used prepared pesto, roasted peppers in a jar and challah for the cubed bread.

1 package (4 oz.) goat cheese, crumbled
13/4 cups milk
6 large eggs
3 Tbsps. prepared pesto
1/2 cup diced, roasted red peppers
1/4 cup grated fontina cheese
4 cups soft bread cubes
1/8 tsp. white pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 8 custard cups with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, place the goat cheese and one-half cup of milk. Mix until fairly smooth.

Add the eggs, using an electric hand mixer to blend. Whisk in the remaining milk and pesto.

Stir in the diced red peppers, cheese, bread cubes and pepper.

Let stand 5 minutes to allow bread to soak up some of the egg mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared custard cups, filling to the top.

Set in a large baking dish. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of custard cups.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center is golden and almost firm. Cool slightly.

To turn out, run a knife around inside of custard cups and invert onto plates.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

The custard may also be baked in a 11/2-quart casserole set in baking dish with water to come halfway up the sides. Bake for 1 hour.

If desired, drizzle a little more pesto over each timbale before serving.

Serves 8.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 242; protein, 13 g; carbohydrates, 14 g; fat, 16 g; cholesterol, 183 mg; sodium, 371 mg.

Pasta With Arugula Sauce

[Dairy]

Arugula, also called rocket, is an aromatic leafy green with a peppery, mustard flavor that's popular in Italy. The dark-green leaves, resembling radish leaves, may be combined with other salad greens, or used in sauces to spike up bland items such as pasta. Wash well before using.

11/2 cups arugula leaves, lightly packed
1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup good olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 lb. penne pasta, cooked and drained
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Trim and discard any thick stems from arugula.

In the food processor bowl, place the arugula leaves and the romaine. Process until finely chopped.

Add one-half of the cheese, olive oil and one-half cup of vegetable stock. Blend until smooth.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour over the cooked pasta. Fold in the tomatoes and spoon remaining cheese over top.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 441; protein, 10 g; carbohydrates, 30 g; fat, 31 g; cholesterol; 10 mg; sodium, 237 mg.

Caponata Kugel

[Pareve]

If you can't find pareve onion-soup mix, season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

3 Tbsps. olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms (about 6 oz.), washed, dried and cut in 1/2-inch dice
1 cup frozen chopped onion
2 cups frozen bell-pepper stir-fry
2 Tbsps. sliced black olives
2 Tbsps pareve dry onion-soup mix
4 Tbsps. margarine, melted
3 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz. fine noodles, cooked and well-drained
1 cup bottled caponata

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Heat olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet. Add mushrooms.

Sauté over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and peppers. Reduce heat to medium.

Cook until onion and peppers have thawed, about 5 minutes longer. Cool slightly.

Stir in the olives, onion-soup mix, margarine and eggs. Pour over the cooked noodles. Stir to mix.

Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Spread the caponata over top.

Bake for 1 hour, or until center is firm. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 8 to 10.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 167; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 11 g; fat, 11 g; cholesterol, 64 mg; sodium, 286 mg.

Smoked-Salmon Frittata

[pareve]

6 eggs
2 Tbsps. cold water
1/2 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning
3 Tbsps. olive oil
3 small, red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled and thinly sliced
3-4 oz. smoked salmon, cut in bite-sized pieces

Whisk together eggs, cold water and lemon-pepper seasoning. Set aside.

Heat oil in a nonstick, medium skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes, and cook until transparent and nicely browned on both sides, about 5 minutes.

Place salmon on top. Pour the egg mixture over. Reduce heat slightly.

As mixture cooks, use a fork to pull the cooked edges to center. Finish off under a preheated broiler.

Cut into wedges to serve hot or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 175; protein, 9 g; carbohydrates, 6 g; fat, 12 g; cholesterol, 216 mg; sodium, 392 mg.

Deviled Tuna Eggs

[pareve]

Cut a thin slice (about one-quarter-inch long) off the bottom of each egg-white half, so that they stand firmly on the serving platter. Toss the trimmings into food processor and process with the yolk mixture.

6 eggs, hard-cooked
4 Tbsps. (rounded) light mayonnaise
1/2 cup canned, water-packed tuna, well-drained
2 tsps. apricot preserves
1/2 tsp. curry powder or to taste
1 Tbsp. finely snipped fresh dill
dill sprigs to garnish

Cut eggs in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks and place in the food processor Place the egg halves on a platter. Set aside.

To the yolks in the processor, add the mayonnaise, tuna, preserves and curry powder. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the snipped dill.

Use a teaspoon or large star pipe to fill each egg half. Garnish with a dill sprig.

Serve chilled.

Makes 12 pieces.

Approximate nutrients per piece: calories, 63; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 2 g; fat, 4 g; cholesterol, 109 mg; sodium, 85 mg.

Ethel G. Hofman is a cookbook author and a past president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Reach her at: www.kosherfoodconsultants.com.

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