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Honey, the Holiday's Here!

September 15, 2005
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Illustration by Coco Masuda

"May you be inscribed for a good year" is the familiar greeting of Rosh Hashanah. A time of reflection and resolution, this first fall holiday evokes hope for the year to come. Special additions to the table include the season's new fruits - pomegranates, avocados, persimmons - a plate of sliced apples or bread, and a pot of honey for dipping. These foods signify promise for a sweet year ahead, and are eaten with the accompanying prayer: "May it be Thy will, O Lord, our God, to renew unto us a happy and pleasant New Year."

Louise Fiszer and Jeannette Ferrary offer the following Rosh Hashanah menu in their cook book Jewish Holiday Feasts. Add a round loaf of raisin challah - associated with this holiday - and enjoy!

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad

This salad offers two unusual fruits in a slightly sweet-and-sour combination.

8 cups (about 1 lb.) torn spinach leaves or other seasonal greens
3 Fuyu persimmons, cut into thin wedges
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsps. sherry vinegar
7 Tbsps. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
seeds (about 1 cup) from 1 large pomegranate

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, persimmons and onion.

Whisk together the vinegar and oil. Toss with the salad.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve.

Serves 8.

Honey- and Cumin-Glazed Cornish Hens

The honey in this recipe symbolizes the hoped-for sweetness as the New Year begins with this festive dish as its centerpiece.

Glaze Ingredients:

1/2 cup honey
2 Tbsps. fresh orange juice
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsps. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsps. cumin seed, toasted and crushed
3 Tbsps. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 Cornish hens, split in half
salt and pepper

Combine glaze ingredients.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse the hens and blot dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Using about 1/3 of the glaze, brush both sides of hen halves. Place, skin-side down, on a baking sheet with low sides. Put in oven and roast for 10 minutes.

Turn heat down to 375 degrees.

Brush hens again with half the remaining glaze and roast for 5 minutes. Turn hens over; roast 10 minutes more.

Brush with remaining glaze and roast until a deep golden-brown, about 5 minutes more.

Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.

Couscous With Saffron and Vegetables

The ruby glint of dried cranberries brightens this unusual dish of Sephardic inspiration.

2 cups kosher chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup saffron threads
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups couscous
3/4 cup dried cranberries or currants
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste
3 scallions, sliced

In a large saucepan, bring the broth, water, oil, saffron and cinnamon to a boil.

Gradually stir in couscous. Cook, stirring until liquid is absorbed, for about 2 minutes.

Stir in the cranberries, zucchini and carrots. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

Taste for salt and pepper, and turn out into a serving bowl, breaking up lumps with your fingers.

Sprinkle with scallions.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8.

Braised Apples and Red Cabbage With Wine

This hearty vegetable side dish combines the honey and apples of the traditional Rosh Hashanah table.

2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 large apples, cored and chopped
2 Tbsps. honey
1 large head red cabbage, cored and shredded
1/2 cup dry, kosher red wine
1/2 cup kosher chicken broth or water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley

In a large skillet, heat the oil.

Cook onion and apples until very soft. Stir in honey and cook 1 minute. Add cabbage and cook until wilted. Add wine, and broth or water.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. If mixture is too liquid, uncover and cook over high heat for a few minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.

Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Serves 8.

Hannah's Honey Cake

1 cup hot brewed coffee
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup honey
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 large apple, cored and grated
12 whole blanched almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, combine coffee and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat honey, sugar and oil until well-blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until mixture looks homogenized. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Beat flour mixture into honey mixture, alternately with coffee mixture, until well-combined. Stir in apple.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Place almonds on the top to mark the center of each of 12 squares.

Bake until cake is golden-brown, about 45 minutes. Cool; cut into squares.

Serves 12.

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