Break-the-Fast Menu Traditions

Every family brings some food to share. They all understand that their dishes will be dairy; vegetarian and also be fish and walnut–free. What’s really important is not what we eat, but that we share this special time together.

With so many people to feed, dinner is always buffet style, lap fare that needs little in the way of utensils. Both hot and cool dishes, all made ahead of course.

Although we’ve changed the menu over the years, by this time there are several constants, the by–now–expected dishes that we all look forward to. Hummus and Zimsterne cookies to give everyone a first nibble before the real meal.

spinachpiesmSpinach Pie too, which I make ahead, freeze and pop into the oven before everyone arrives, and Mujadarah, a bulgur wheat casserole with tons of caramelized onions on top (there’s a recipe for both in my book, Hip Kosher). And the meal just wouldn’t be right without my friend Susan’s fabulous kugel.

I always make several salads too. Not only for variety but also to add some color. And the contrast of hot dishes and cool ones is very satisfying. Beet salad is usually a must because all my children like it and because beets are so sweet, in keeping with celebrating the new year. There’s also at least one whole grain salad made with barley, farro, buckwheat, quinoa, oat groats or brown rice. The grains are all made more or less the same way: cook until tender and fluffy, add some cooked vegetables and pour in a vinaigrette dressing.

Of course, I make an enormous challah. And Grand Finale cookies (also from Hip Kosher), even though another friend brings more desserts.

My mother always used to say -- in Yiddish -- “the wheel keeps turning.” I think about this every year as I see the changing face of friends and family as time goes by. Last year, Susan’s mother passed away. This year, we may be welcoming Gillian’s new baby, due in October, but who knows!? We pass on our tradition of getting together to celebrate, to be thankful for life, and to enjoy our feast and each other.

Have a sweet new year everyone, and may you have an easy fast.

About the Author

ronniefeinsmRonnie Fein is a cookbook author, food journalist, cooking teacher, and one-time talk show host. She is the founder of the Ronnie Fein School of Creative Cooking in Stamford, Connecticut and the author of Hip Kosher: 175 Easy-to-Prepare Recipes for Today's Kosher Cooks (Da Capo Press). She has a lot to say about food and shares her food memories, recipes, and food related thoughts on her blog, Kitchen Vignettes. Ronnie lives in Stamford with her husband and has two married daughters and four grandchildren.

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