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A Simple, Succulent Supper

October 6, 2005
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Yom Kippur, the most solemn Jewish High Holiday, is a time of reflection, atonement and complete fasting. At the conclusion of this day of worship and self-examination, friends and family members come together to exchange greetings and regain their strength. Foods served to break the fast are light and simple restoratives, which usually include both sweet and salty dishes.

This break-the-fast menu, provided courtesy of Jewish Holiday Feasts by Louise Fiszer and Jeannette Ferrary, can be prepared days beforehand; in fact, the flavors are enhanced when allowed to blend. The meal begins with soup, always welcome nourishment and comfort. Toasted or fresh bagels are accompanied by a Middle Eastern favorite: eggplant spread.

The easy-to-prepare almond dessert satisfies a natural craving - both physical and emotional - for something sweet. It's made with pears, a fruit of the season, and is a moist cake that keeps exceptionally well.

Fresh Vegetable Soup With Chicken and Noodles
[Meat]

3 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 red pepper, seeded, deveined and diced
1 small fennel bulb, chopped
1/2 head cabbage, shredded
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 cups kosher chicken broth
3 cups water
8 oz. fine egg noodles
3 whole boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil.

Cook onion, leek, celery, carrot, red pepper, fennel and cabbage until barely tender, about 8 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, zucchini, oregano and parsley. Cook until bubbly, about 2 minutes.

Add the broth and the water; simmer 20 minutes. Add noodles and chicken and simmer 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cool and refrigerate.

Just before serving, reheat and taste again for salt.

Serve hot.

Serves 10 to 12.

Toasted Bagels With Eggplant Spread
[Pareve]

2 medium eggplants (about 2 lbs.)
1 small onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
1 small red pepper, roasted peeled and seeded
2 Tbsps. tomato paste
3 Tbsps. lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 tsp. cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
12 bagels, any kind, halved and lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prick skin of eggplants and place on a baking sheet.

Bake until eggplants collapse, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely.

Discard the stems from the eggplants and cut into chunks.

Place eggplants in a food processor with the onion, garlic, parsley, basil, red pepper, tomato paste, lemon juice, olive oil and cayenne.

Process until a rough paste is formed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Spread on the toasted bagel halves and enjoy.

Spiced Pear and Almond Cake
[Pareve]

4 cups cored and coarsely chopped ripe pears (5 to 6 pears)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsps. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped blanched almonds
confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 10-inch round cake pan.

Combine pears and sugar in a medium bowl, and let stand for 15 minutes. Combine the oil with the eggs, and add to pears

In another bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, baking soda and salt.

Stir into pear mixture.

Add vanilla and almonds.

Pour into prepared pan and bake until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Cool on a rack about 20 minutes before turning out.

Invert onto a serving platter and dust with confectioners' sugar.

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