Since I grew up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish household, this autumnal part of the year has always been full of meaning. There's a chill in the air, the leaves are changing colors, and along with the fresh-ness of new school supplies and a new school year, also arrived the Jewish high holidays. Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, and it's a couple of days full of prayer, blessings, and meals inundated with symbolism and ritual. Now that I have my own beautiful home and I'm cultivating my own beautiful community, it makes me so excited to host a meal to share in culture- to gather and enjoy food.
The rituals of the Rosh Hashana meal include eating apples dipped in honey (for a sweet new year), carrots (because the Hebrew word for carrot shares the root for the word "decree" and we want positive decrees for our lives in the upcoming year), eating the head of a fish/lamb/cabbage (because we want to be moving forward, and forward thinking instead of trailing behind- sidenote, we ate jelly fish for this part :)), any of the 7 species of Israel (which includes wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives, and dates), and round challah (to signify the cycle of the year and our lives).
I love that Rosh Hashana always falls out on a new moon, as well. It seems to double the power of setting new intentions and being introspective in this powerful way. I want to send out extra gratitude to our friends who joined us for this ritual. It was extremely meaningful to light candles, eat a delicious meal, and share this evening together.
Below are some of the recipes I used to make this Rosh Hashana special.
Apples are part of the Rosh Hashana meal ritual, and we were lucky enough to go apple picking at a local farm on Rosh Hashana eve!
Our beautiful Rosh Hashana Table!
Hummus 7 Species of Israel Spicy Moroccan Carrots
Pomegranate Meyer Lemon Martini
Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad (taken from my dear friend Rosi Golan's recipe
2 lbs carrots
3 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Peel all your carrots. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Cook carrots whole for 15 min. or until al dente or semi-cooked. You don't want them to be mushy. You should be able to pick them up with a fork but they should still be firm.
While carrots are cooking prepare marinade. In a medium bowl add the juice from 3 lemons, 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 3 cloves garlic minced (you may use a microplane, Rosi’s favorite kitchen utensil), 1 teaspoon cumin and ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Mix well then add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and 3 teaspoons finely chopped parsley.
When carrots are cooked blanche in cold water to stop cooking. Slice all carrots into ¼ inch pieces and place into a medium sized baking dish. Pour marinade over carrots and mix well, covering carrots thoroughly. Cover and place into refrigerator over night. You can make this dish up to 2 days ahead of time.
Easy Delicious Slow Cooked Moroccan Lamb Stew (adapted from Epicurious, but did the easy fast version without all the steps)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
11/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 lbs chopped lamb
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
Instead of going through the whole true recipe preparation process, I decided to just pop all of this into a crock pot on low for 7 hours, and it came out SO good. You can really serve it over rice, or any other cooked grain.
Perfect Hummus- directly from the Jerusalem cookbook. If you don't own this cookbook, I highly recommend it. It not only is filled with sublime recipes, photos, and rich cultural anecdotes- it's also a work of collaboration in an area so wrought with conflict. Which I appreciate immensely.
1 1/2 cups/250 g dried chickpeas
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 1/2 cups/1.5 liters water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/270 g light tahini paste
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
6 1/2 tablespoons/100 ml ice-cold water
The night before, put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover them with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.
The next day, drain the chickpeas. Place a medium saucepan over high heat and add the drained chickpeas and baking soda. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cook, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface. The chickpeas will need to cook between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking up easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.
Drain the chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 2/3 cups/600 g now. Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add the tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Finally, slowly drizzle in the iced water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.
Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using straightaway, refrigerate until needed. Make sure to take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
Meyer Lemon Pomegranate Martini
Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup:
1.5 cups of fresh squeezed juice of Meyer Lemons (about 11 lemons in my experience)
Peel of 3 Meyer Lemons
1.5 cups sugar
Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Heat over a medium flame, stirring regularly until it comes to a light boil. Make sure all sugar is dissolved, remove from flame. Allow to steep for at least 10 minutes, but the longer the better. (I let mine steep for about 3 hours). Strain.
1.5 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. Meyer lemon simple syrup
1.5 oz. 100% pure pomegranate juice
In Joy Tincture
Add vodka, simple syrup, juice to a shaker, shake well with ice, strain into a glass with a large ice cube. Top with sparkling water and 1 dropperful of In Joy tincture!
Bonus: if you choose to garnish the glass with this colorful flake salt like I did, add some honey to the area you want painted with salt, and then roll it in salt! Makes it look pretty and adds a nice contrasting salty flavor to the sweet and sour of the cocktail!
Lighting candles to bring in the holiday, and send light out to the rest of the world...