Only For the Holidays

One of my quirks is that there are certain recipes that I make only on designated holidays. I think this makes them special; but my family find this very annoying as they have to wait all year for some of their favorite foods.

For Rosh Hashana, I have recipes made with honey. This Rosh Hashanah chicken is even more special because I make it only on Erev Rosh Hashanah. As a funny consequence of this practice – friends who ask for this recipe check whether it’s okay with me if they make it at other times. Of course it is!

Rosh Hashanah Chicken (aka Chicken with Honey, Basil & Almonds)

2 chickens, cut up
2 tablespoons olive oil
White pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup almonds, finely ground
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 cup chicken broth, heated
¾ cup yellow raisins
2 tablespoons lemon juice

PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees.
1. Follow the general instructions for browning chicken. Season chicken with pepper and remove to a covered casserole.
2. Add onion & garlic to pan; sauté until onion just starting to brown. Add almonds, honey, & basil. Cook over low heat, stirring to mix (about1 minute).
3. Sprinkle corn starch over almond mixture and stir to mix in. Gradually add broth, stirring and cooking over high heat until thickened (about1 minute). Stir in raisins & lemon juice. Pour over chicken. Bake, covered, 1 hour.
SERVE with couscous.


Rosh Hashanah Chicken #2 (aka Honey & Spiced Glazed Chicken)

¼ cup honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
4 chicken legs, cut up

PREHEAT` oven to 425 degrees.
1. In a small bowl, stir together honey, garlic, lemon juice, paprika, mustard, & cayenne.
2. Put chicken in a rimmed baking dish. Make a slash in each thigh and drumstick. Season with pepper and then brush most of the glaze all over the chicken. Let chicken rest for 30 minutes to soak in the marinade. Bake 15 minutes. Brush the remaining glaze over the chicken and bake 15 minutes more.
3. OPTIONAL: Remove chicken from the oven and preheat the broiler. Brush the juices from the baking sheet on the chicken and broil 5 minutes until the skin is crisp.


This is my preferred salad mix for Rosh Hashanah through Sukkot ― made with apples and a dressing made with honey. I use a firm tart apple, such as Gala or Fuji, and I prefer Persian cucumbers. I do actually make the dressing throughout the year, but I use brown sugar instead of honey.

Rosh Hashanah Salad (aka Mixed Salad with Apples & Craisins)

Red leaf lettuce, cut or ripped into bite-sized pieces
Cucumber, cut lengthwise in half or quarters (depending on size) and sliced crosswise
Apple, cut lengthwise in 8 wedges, cored and sliced crosswise
Dried cranberries (or Craisins)
Sliced or slivered almonds
Sweet and Sour Dressing

Put all of the salad ingredients into a bowl. Add dressing and toss well.

Rosh Hashanah Salad Dressing (aka Sweet and Sour Dressing)

⅓ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey (or brown sugar)
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (½ teaspoon)
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup vegetable oil

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to blend.


The traditional Rosh Hashanah desert is honey cake. Seems like one of my guests always offers to make it so I never have and don’t have a recipe. Aileen Grossberg shared this recipe from chef Michael Solomonov.

Mother’s Honey Cake with Apple Confit


For the Cake:
2 1/2 Cups flour
2 Teaspoons baking soda
3 eggs, beaten
1 Cup sugar
2/3 Cups honey
1 1/4 Cup brewed coffee
6 Tablespoons canola oil
Pinch cinnamon

For the Apple Confit:
3 apples, peeled and sliced thinly crosswise
1 Cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tablespoon honey
3 cloves

For the Cake:

PREHEAT the oven to 350 degrees.

LINE 2 loaf pans with oiled parchment paper.

  1. Combine the flour and baking soda in a mixing bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, honey, coffee, canola oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and cinnamon. Mix on low until blended. Add the flour mixture and continue mixing just until combined.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

For the Apple Confit:

PREHEAT the oven to 275 degrees.

  1. Toss the apple slices with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, and cloves. Arrange in a single layer in an ovenproof skillet. Add water just to cover the apples. Press a sheet of parchment onto the surface of the water.
  2. Put the skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, cover tightly in foil, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the apples are just tender, about 1 hour.
  3. Cool to room temperature, transfer to a lidded container, and chill until cold. Serve apples on top of a slice of honey cake.

A Welcoming Kiddush on Sept 10

Thank you to the outstanding help in preparing and cleaning up last Shabbat’s special kiddush honoring Rabbi Julie.

Led by Aileen Grossberg kudos go to food preparers Barbara Gollob, Beryl Hiller, Carol Katzman, Zen Lucey, and Lindsay Sag.

The clean up crew included Andy Ely, Rachel Kanter, and Rabbi Julie ably helped by our wonderful custodian Javier.

A special THANK YOU to Michael and Lindsey Sag, Andy Ely and Rachel Kanter, Matt  Purdy and Dale Russakoff for sponsoring this kiddush. Continue reading

From the kiddush coordinators

We are about to start a new year. We have a new rabbi, new congregants, new students and most of the COVID-19 restrictions have been loosened. We are almost back to normal.

That means that kiddushes will be almost like they used to be except for two things: Beryl and me.

Beryl has a full time job and I will have recently moved and anticipate being overwhelmed by all that has to be done in a new home as well as my other responsibilities as a professional librarian. Neither of us can coordinate kiddush every week as we did pre-COVID. Beryl and I will still coordinate special events like bnai mitzvot celebrations, yahrtzeits, and the like.

So we are asking for some of you to step up and join us as coordinators. Continue reading

The Last Kiddush

For the last kiddush under Rabbi Greenstein’s supervision, the Shomrei kiddush team went all out to prepare a menu that reflected  his and Zelda’s preferences and paid tribute to his vision.

The team of Karen Altman, Aileen Grossberg, Beryl Hiller, Sharon Hurwich, Carol Katzman, Audrey Levitin,  Zen Lucey (recoverd from COVID just in time), Cary Riker, (our newest volunteer)  and Rita Singer prepared a veritable feast.

As requested by Zelda, there was no cake but there were chocolate covered donuts (Rabbi Greenstein favorite Shabbat treat ), lots of green salad, and egg salad, a Greenstein favorite. Specially requested by Rabbi Greenstein was sable served with a no mayonnaise potato salad.

Baked pomegranate glazed salmon, accompanied by a tomato and mango Israeli style salad., was the centerpiece of the kiddush luncheon.  A tub of mini ice-cream cones, rice pudding, fruit and cookies rounded out the menu to please anyone’s sweet tooth.
Preparing kiddush for Rabbi Greenstein and Zelda was a labor of love, all the more so because Rabbi Greenstein has made a point of dropping into the kitchen every Friday morning to thank the cooks. He has also in his role as Rabbi answered questions about food products and kashrut so that both halachic and culinary needs were satisfied.
As Aileen said in her thank you to Rabbi Greenstein :”Kiddush would not be as successful as it has become -some people come just for kiddush!- without your support- both for me personally and the volunteers in general. Kiddush has become a unifying community event and a centerpiece of our weekly Shabbat celebration”
Here are some of the recipes from Saturday’s kiddush. They’re not difficult. Try them yourself.
Pomegranate Glazed Salmon
(serves 4)


1-1/2 pounds salmon filet

1/2 c. pomegranate juice

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced


1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Put the pom juice, soy sauce and garlic in a large bowl and mix well. Add the salmon, cover and let marinate for about 15 minutes or put everything in a plastic bag to marinate.
3. Remove salmon from marinade and place skin side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 7 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, put marinade in a small pan. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes until thick and syrupy.
5. Remove salmon from oven after 7 minutes and pour half of reduced marinade over the fish. Return the salmon to the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 routes until cooked through.
6. Transfer salmon to plates and pour rest of marinade over the salmon.
Notes Serve hot or cold. Garnish with orange and lemon slices or pomegranate seeds. To make this super simple. Substitute pomegranate molasses for the juice. No need to reduce. Rice or roasted veggies is nice alongside the salmon.


Mango, Cucumber and Sumac-Onion Israeli Salad
(Serves 4-6)



2 mangoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (about 3 cups)

1 cucumber, diced (about 3 cups)

1/4 cup Simple Sumac Onions (see below)

3 Tablespoons chopped, fresh mint

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon kosher salt


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Toss to combine and serve with additional sumac onions.


Simple Sumac Onions
(makes 1 cup)

1 red onion, sliced very thin

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon ground sumac

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl  and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Notes: Use jarred mango. It’s quick and easy and just as good as fresh in this recipe. Costco has an excellent jarred mango. It is also available in the refrigerated produce section of Shoprite and other markets.  This  salad will keep for a few days.


Potato Salad with Capers and Onions
(Serves 4)


1/4 cup capers (rinsed), preferably salt-packed

1 1/2 pounds medium Yukon Gold or other salad potatoes


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Ground pepper

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced



1. In a small bowl, cover the rinsed capers with warm water. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold salted water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain.
3. While the potatoes are still warm, peel (if you wish) and slice them 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. In a small bowl combine olive oil,lemon juice and capers and season with salt and pepper. Pour two-thirds of the dressing over the potatoes and toss.
5. Garnish with parsley

Notes: This can be served as an accompaniment to smoked fish such as lox, whitefish or sable.

A Little Bit of Magic

Do you remember the folktale about the shoemaker and the elves who secretly helped out the shoemaker or the stories of Elijah who provided beautifully set tables for poor, but righteous folk?

We have our own not-so-secret elves at Shomrei who on this past Saturday were out in full force at Teddy Goldman’s bar mitzvah as the social hall morphed from sanctuary to banquet hall in less than twenty minutes. Continue reading

Pantry Cooking: Invention in the Kitchen

What to make for dinner when you’ve already had fish twice- three times if you count the sushi- the soup from the souperspreader is gone and well, you just can’t face the supermarket?

There’s the pantry. Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a natural cook although I’ve always liked to cook. But as a kid, I was constantly shooed out of the kitchen: I had no cooking mentor although one of my grandmothers was a fine cook. Continue reading