Traditional and modern tastes have a place at New Year’s tables

HIGH HOLIDAYS FEATURE

NEW YORK (JTA) — Nearly 30 years ago, when my first cookbook was published, I wrote that kosher cooking wasn’t just about traditional recipes like gefilte fish and chopped liver, that you could make gourmet meals and international
dishes using kosher ingredients.

Since then, many new kosher ingredients have become readily available, making all kinds of fusion cuisine even easier to prepare. Some of these ingredients include vinegars, oils, mustards, Panko bread crumbs and a larger selection of cheeses.

But traditional recipes also have their place — and Rosh Hashanah is a great time to use them. There is something about ushering in the New Year with old family recipes that is very satisfying. I do, however, introduce one or two new dishes to make it more interesting for my friends and family with whom I celebrate every year.

For dinner on Rosh Hashanah, I like to begin my meal with Chopped Chicken Liver. This traditional dish brings me back to my Eastern European roots and my guests love it. The version offered below is incredibly easy to make and actually tastes like a pate.

Another traditional favorite is Honey Cake, moist and light with a touch of sweetness. It freezes well but also can stay fresh in the fridge for many days.

Here’s a new dish for Rosh Hashanah lunch: Chicken Rolls with Orange Sauce. The sauce adds some sweetness to the chicken, which is perfect for the holiday. The dish can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.

Broccoli with Panko, the flaky Japanese bread crumbs, is a delicious side dish that can be served with the chicken rolls. Panko is lighter and crunchier than ordinary breadcrumbs. When toasted, they transform an ordinary vegetable into something quite special. This dish also can be made in advance and served at room temperature.

These are just a sampling of the many delicious recipes featured in my latest cookbook, “Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine” (Overlook Press). I hope they help make your preparations a little easier and your holiday more enjoyable. Shanah Tovah!

CHOPPED CHICKEN LIVER
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen hors d’oeuvres or 8 appetizer servings

For an hors d’oeuvre, I like to serve on whole-grain crackers, toasted Potato Bread, cucumber slices or endive petals. For an appetizer, I like to place sliced radishes and sliced cucumbers on the plate as accompaniments.

Ingredients:
1 pound chicken livers
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 medium onions, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs, hard-boiled and quartered
2 to 3 tablespoons sherry
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:
Preheat the broiler. Set the rack in the broiler pan and cover it completely with foil.

Remove from the livers any green spots, which are bitter, as well as any fatty particles.

Make a shallow “basket” with a piece of heavy foil, crimping it at the corners so that the liquids don’t spill out. (See Notes on techniques in “Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine,” page 351.) Set the basket on the broiler rack and arrange the livers inside. Place the broiler pan in the oven (or broiling unit), as close as possible to the heat source. Broil for about 4 minutes per side, until cooked through. Cool.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until brown. Cool.

Place half the onions, livers and eggs in a food processor and pulse, adding sherry through the feed tube, until the mixture is moist and almost smooth. Transfer the first batch to a container and repeat the process. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

CHICKEN ROLLS WITH ORANGE SAUCE
Makes 4 servings

This is similar to Chicken Rolls with Mushrooms but with a more distinct Asian flavor. I serve it as the main course for dinner or as one of several dishes on a buffet table.

Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each (Ask the butcher to butterfly the chicken breasts and pound them thin.)
12 large spinach leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

FILLING
Ingredients:
1/2 cup raw sushi rice
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

ORANGE SAUCE
Ingredients:
1 1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
3 to 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:
TO MAKE THE FILLING: Place the sushi rice and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Season with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix well and cool.

TO MAKE THE SAUCE: Bring all the sauce ingredients to a boil in a small enamel-lined saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

TO MAKE THE ROLLS: Lightly salt and pepper each chicken breast on both sides and place it on a piece of cling wrap. Remove the stems from the spinach leaves and flatten the leaves so they will roll easier. Line each breast with 3 spinach leaves and one-fourth of the filling. Starting with the narrowest end, roll the breast up (not too tight!) until it looks like a log. (I use the cling wrap to facilitate the rolling.) When the breast is rolled and completely enclosed in the cling wrap, twist the sides and close them with a metal tie. Refrigerate if not using right away.

TO COOK THE ROLLS: Bring the chicken rolls back to room temperature, if necessary. Place them in the basket of a bamboo steamer. Set the basket over a large pot or wok, whose bottom third has been filled with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Cover and steam over high heat for 9 to 10 minutes, turning the rolls once. Cook until the chicken has turned pale pink inside. Turn off the heat and let rest, covered, for 1 minute.

TO SERVE: Remove one of the ties and, holding the other end, slip each roll onto a plate. Pour off the accumulated juices. Cut each roll on the diagonal into 3 pieces. Place the pieces on a dinner plate or serving dish. Reheat the sauce and spoon the hot sauce over the pieces.

BROCCOLI WITH PANKO
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 small bunch broccoli, about 3 stalks
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:
Separate the broccoli into florets and set the stems aside for another use. Steam the florets until they are bright green but still crisp to the bite.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the garlic and saute over low heat for a few seconds. Add the Panko and stir until golden. Add the broccoli and combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

HONEY CAKE
Makes 2 loaves, each serving 12

I could not resist sharing this heirloom honey cake recipe. Following tradition, I make it every Rosh Hashanah.

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, for greasing the pans
2 1/3 cups sifted unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting the pans
2 large eggs, room temperature
Scant 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup strong brewed tea (made with 3 tea bags), cooled
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1/2 medium-ripe banana, thoroughly mashed
Grated zest of 1 navel orange
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon  ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans with margarine and dust with 2 tablespoons of the flour. Invert the pans and tap to shake out the excess flour.

Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer bowl. Using the balloon whisk attachment, beat them at medium speed, gradually adding the sugar until the mixture is pale and bubbles appear, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed and beat in the tea, oil, honey, banana, orange zest, cinnamon and cloves. Combine thoroughly.

With a rubber spatula, gradually fold in the flour, baking powder and baking soda, combining well after each addition. No traces of flour should be visible.

Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Bake the pans side by side, without touching, on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes.

Increase the heat to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool the cakes on a wire rack. Run a metal spatula around the sides of the pans to loosen the cakes. Invert each pan onto a serving plate.

Note: These cakes freeze well. Wrap them individually in wax paper, then in foil, and place in plastic freezer bags.

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