The “Whys” Behind Rosh Hashana Food Traditions

When summer ends we know Rosh Hashana isn’t far behind. This year, the holiday starts on 9/29—almost 3 weeks later than it did last year! The late start gives us time to breath and plan our menus (not to mention daydream about how we will make our upcoming year better than the previous). I know that not everyone likes to cook but my personal opinion is that even if you make just one thing—a cake, a side dish, an entrée—this effort will change the way you feel about feeding yourself and family for the holiday, in a very positive way. There are a couple of key RH traditions to know about:

Honey—WHY?
As you probably already know, when it comes to Rosh Hashana food, it’s all about foods that support a “sweet new year” and honey is THE food we eat to bring sweetness. This is why we eat honey cake.

Apples-WHY
Simply, because honey tastes good on them and they are a great “vehicle” for transporting honey (better then sticking your finger in the honey pot, right?). This is why we eat apple cake and tzimmes (sweetened with honey) and anything made with apples and honey.

Round Challah—WHY?
Remember, Judaism loves symbolism, even with food. We eat round challah versus braided challah which we eat on Shabbat, to remind us of the endless cycle of life. Both plain and raisin challah are traditional. Why raisin? Sweetness!

Pomegranates—WHY?
Amazing fact: Pomegranates have 613 seeds which is the same number of mitzvot (good deeds) in the Torah. We eat pomegranates to show our intention of achieving all of them in the coming year.

Here are some favorite recipes that include apples and honey.

Rosh Hashana Apple Cake

Teiglach

Carrot and Fruit Tsimmes

But of course, these recipes won’t make a complete meal. This is where we go to the archives of Jewish cooking: chicken soup with matzo ballsbrisket, roast chicken, potato kugel and more. To help you out, we’re so pleased to offer you a terrific “Jewish” cookbook, Gefilte Manifesto written by our friends from Gefilteria, Jeff Yoskowitz and Liz Alpert. They have agreed to share their recipe for challah with you.

Another mouth watering recipe is from Susan Barocas a well known chef and food writer, who I met at the Hazon Food Conference last month. Like me, Susan is half Sephardic and half Ashkenazi, She has some terrific recipes and shared this one with us: Black-Eyed Pea Salad.

BLACK EYED PEA SALAD

By Susan Barocas©

 

Black-eyed peas are a centuries-old favorite legume of Sephardic cuisines and eaten at the Sephardic Rosh Hashanah Seder in connection to the blessing for “increasing our merits” in the new year. Lentils or green beans might be used instead for the same blessing depending on family origins and traditions. A heat-loving crop, black-eyed peas grow easily in many places around the world, are highly nutritious and a symbol of good luck, prosperity and fertility in different cultures when they are eaten often on New Year’s Day. In the US, black-eyed peas are a favorite of Southern cooks, especially with rice in Hoppin’ John, but deserve to make their appearance in more dishes in other areas of the country. This is an easy make-ahead dish for holiday meals and gatherings or every-day eating.

 

1 pound dried or 4 15-ounce cans black-eyed peas

2 bay leaves

3-4 green onions

2 bell peppers of mixed colors (red, green, yellow, orange)

2-3 stalks celery

 

Dressing

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Juice and zest from one medium lemon

1 small clove garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch or two of cayenne or Aleppo pepper (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pomegranate arils (seeds) or chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

 

If using dried black-eyed peas, sort and wash in a strainer. Put into a 5 or 6 quart pot, add bay leaves and cover the peas with 7 to 8 cups cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook peas, partially covered, about 45 minutes until just tender, but not mushy. When cooked, drain well in a strainer or colander, rinse with cool water to stop cooking.

 

If using canned peas, drain, then wash well with cool water and drain thoroughly.

 

While the peas cook, clean and dice the green onions into small pieces. Clean the pepper and celery and cut both into a small dice. Add the vegetables to a mixing bowl. Add the drained peas to the bowl and gently mix to blend ingredients.

 

To prepare the dressing, combine all the ingredients except the zest and optional granish in a bowl and whisk until emulsified, or put ingredients into a glass jar and shake vigorously until emulsified. Stir in the zest until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings, then pour into the pea mixture. Mix gently, but well, to incorporate. At this point, the salad should be refrigerated for several hours or up to 3 days in advance to give the flavors a chance to meld.

Serve cold or at room temperature with the salad in a pretty bowl, perhaps with some standing leaves of endive, or mounded on a platter with a circle of spinach, chopped romaine or Boston lettuce. This salad also makes good “finger food” or an appetizer. Place about a teaspoon on slices of crostini or place a small amount on the pointed end of endive leaves that are then arranged on a platter. Garnish salad with pomegranate arils or chopped parsley before serving if desired.

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Enter to Win Our “Modern Nosher” Gift Basket

Everything your favorite nosher will kvell over, in one Yiddish tote! 

We have teamed up with our friends at Modern Tribe to create an exciting new gift basket just in time for Rosh Hashana. It’s the perfect gift for your favorite nosher and they are sure to be kvelling over it all year long!

Lovingly packed in our sturdy canvas tote are the most delectable Jewish bakery favorites along with a signed copy of Sweet Noshings, a cookbook written by Amy Kritzer, co-owner of ModernTribe and blogger at What Jew Wanna Eat AND a “Kvetch” notepad to easily make a note to buy more noshes! Specific noshes include:

  • Sandwich Sprinkle Cookies (10 oz. container with 8-10 cookies, CRC, Pareve)
  • Orthodox Chews (1 lb. bag, Certified Kosher Dairy) – this is the best saltwater taffy we’ve ever tasted, with unorthodox flavors such as caramel swirl, watermelon, and cinnamon roll.
  • Classic Traditional Braided Challah (OK, Pareve)
  • Chocolate Babka (CRC, Pareve)
  • Bag of Pistachios (8 oz.)  (OK, Pareve)

Serves 8-10

To enter to win the gift basket leave a comment on this blog letting us (and the world!) know what you wish for in the new year 5780.

and for extra entries…

Follow Challah ConnectionModern Tribe, What Jew Wanna Eat on Instagram

Then, fill out the widget below saying you’ve entered. US entries only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

USA ENTRIES ONLY. MUST BE 18 YEARS OR OLDER TO ENTER. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO WIN. BY ENTERING, YOUR EMAIL WILL BE ADDED TO THE CHALLAH CONNECTION AND MODERN TRIBE EMAIL LISTS BUT YOU CAN OPT-OUT AT ANY TIME.

 

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Rosh Hashana Gift Giving Advice

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is a significant gift giving occasion. Here are some commonly asked questions that we are asked regarding Rosh Hashana gifts. We hope this helps!

What should I give my Jewish boss or coworker for Rosh Hashana?

For a boss or coworker, you DON’T want to be overly personal but you DO want to be “holiday appropriate.” It is best to select a Rosh Hashana gift basket that reflects Jewish tradition such as our Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket or Fruitful Holiday Basket. Both are impressive and will show your thoughtfulness.

I’m not Jewish but my friend is—what should I give?

For a friend, perhaps you are looking to acknowledge the holiday with a tasteful gesture. A tin of rugelach or round challah and honey are great, affordable choices.

What do you recommend for my college student?

Our experience working with parents of college students indicates that parents have 2 specific goals when sending Jewish holiday gifts to their kids: 1) Remind the child that the holiday is here and 2) Send a taste of home and love. Please be sure to read our advice about shipping to college dorms or apartments. Top choices for college students include Rosh Hashana in a Box and Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket. Many college students are gluten free. Check out our Jewish gluten free department.

Is it appropriate to give a Rosh Hashana gift to clients and customers?

Not only is giving a Rosh Hashana gift basket or kosher gift basket to a client or customer appropriate, but it makes great business sense. The point of gifting a client is to thank them for the business and solidify the relationship. What better way to do this than to acknowledge their own holiday therefore honoring them and who they are? We have many corporate customers—most of whom are not Jewish—who send gifts for all of the Jewish holidays to their clients. Many of our corporate clients select custom gifts, which we are always happy to help with. Please call Jane or Ann at 866-242-5524. They know everything!

Do you have gluten free products that are appropriate for Rosh Hashana?

Perfect for the holiday, and 100% gluten free, our assortment includes our best-selling Gluten Free Challah SetWalnut Honey Cake, Gluten Free Apple Cake, and Rugelach Duo. But there’s more! Please click to see our entire gluten free department.

What should my Rosh Hashana gift message say?

When sending a gift, including a gift message is key! A great gift message is “Shana Tova! Wishing you a sweet, happy and healthy New Year. With love, Your Name.” If your gift is to a client or customer, a great way to sign the card is “Your friends from ABC company.”

I hope that this Rosh Hashana gift giving advice is helpful to you. Feel free to contact us with any questions or suggestions. Shana Tova to you and your family.

Written by Jane Moritz (jane@challahconnection.com), Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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It’s Our Birthday Month and We Thank You!

August is our birthday month and Challah Connection will be 17. Like any 17 year old, we have grown in so many ways. We have been blessed with stellar sales growth, loyal customers and a firm leadership position in our niche. However, growth hasn’t always been easy. We had so much to learn when we opened our first browser window back in 2002, such as:

Who ARE we, what is our mission and what do we stand for?”

How can we serve you best?

Those are just a couple of soul-searching questions that put us on our path to becoming the go-to spot for kosher and Jewish holiday gift baskets (not to mention shiva gifts, which make up a large part of our business).

While we sell a tangible item, we provide a highly emotional experience, one where we help customers connect with Jewish tradition and ritual. Additionally, as a gift company, our customers are counting on us to deliver that emotional message to their loved ones, friends, business colleagues—people they truly care about and with whom they want to share this nostalgic experience. Here are just a few of the many heartfelt messages that you have shared with us over the years.

“Your luscious babka and rugelach remind me of my grandmother’s house and the aromas from her kitchen when she was baking. Thank you for recreating these beloved tastes.”

I have found that one of the best ways to share holiday wishes with members of my family and friends who live at a distance is to send them a Challah Connection gift basket!”

Thanks for making us a hero to our out of town family.”

More reviews

As we get ready for Rosh Hashana, a time of gratitude and reflection, we will be appreciating you, our customer, and asking how we can improve your experience with Challah Connection for 5780 and beyond. Thank you!!

Jane Moritz
Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

 

 

 

 

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Glazed Salmon Fillets with Dill Mustard Sauce

Looking for something easy and delicious to serve this weekend? One of our mavens cooked it over the weekend and raved about it! Just add some fresh vegetables, rice or quinoa and of course challah and dessert!

 

 

 

 

For glaze and sauce

-2/3 cup white wine vinegar

-1 cup dijon mustard

-1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

-2 cups of vegetable oil

-Freshly ground black pepper to taste

-3 tablespoons soy sauce

-¼ cup chopped fresh dill sprigs

 

-Two 2 ½-3 lb whole salmon fillets with skin any small bones removed with tweezers.

 

Make glaze and sauce:

In a bowl whisk together with vinegar, mustard and brown sugar. Whisk in oil in a stream until emulsified and season with pepper and salt. Mixture may be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered.

Bring mixture to room temperature and whisk before proceeding. Transfer ¾ cup mixture to a small bowl and stir in soy sauce to make glaze. Whisk dill into remaining mixture to make sauce.

Preheat broiler and grease a broiler pan or jelly-roll pan.

Rinse Salmon fillets and pat dry.  Arrange fillets skin side down, in pan. (Cook 1 at a time if broiler is small.) Brush salmon with glaze and season with pepper and salt.  Broil Salmon 3 to 4 inches from heat about 8 minutes or until just cooked through.

Serve salmon warm or at room temperature with sauce.  Serve 16 as part of buffet.

 

Gourmet Magazine, September 1996

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Mishpacha=Family=Love

Many of you know that I recently celebrated a birthday and for the many of you who sent me birthday greetings: THANK YOU! I was so touched by your words and that you took the time to send me heartfelt wishes. You made me feel loved and for that, I thank you.

One of the greatest gifts I received this birthday is the deep reminder of the true definition of family, which, in my opinion, is LOVE. I spent my birthday weekend in Northern California with my 4 siblings and our spouses, who travelled from Israel, NY, CT and CA. One of my sister’s also had a birthday and for the first time—ever?—we shared our birthdays (mine is 7/20 and her’s 7/21).

Since we are scattered all over the world and don’t get together too often as the sizable clan that we are, we spent the weekend doing our favorite things:

  • cooking
  • eating
  • talking
  • laughing
  • walking (gorgeous hikes along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific) and
  • hot tubbing

Sounds like bliss, right? It was! When Sunday morning rolled around, we said our sad goodbyes but knew that we were all touched by each other and vowed to do this again. I’ll be sure we do! Here are some photo highlights.

Enjoy, Jane Moritz, Chief Maven Officer

 

Sea Ranch, CA

Birthday Girl Susan

Birthday Girl Jane

Birthday Sisters 🙂

 

Not sure what “Mishpacha” means? It’s Yiddish for “family.” Want to learn some more Yiddish? Check out our Yiddish glossary.

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Happy Birthday America…and Me too (not the #)

From the western slope of the Green Mountains, I want to wish you all a day of summer warmth and celebration, fun, and of course, great food! It’s our country’s 243rd birthday and there is no better excuse to pull out summer favorites, whatever they may be for you..hamburgers, hot dogs…

In anticipation of my own upcoming birthday, I want to share with you a wonderful tradition that my Dad, Julian created. For his birthday, Dad would give US–his 5 children–a gift. It was his way of showing his love and gratitude for us.

My Birthday Gift to You

Starting today through my birthday on July 20, take 20% any order over $20. The promo code is JANESDAY20. It would be my pleasure to have to you use the code for as many orders as you’d like and share our website and promo code with others.

What’s Your Birthday Tradition?

We all have favorite ways to spend birthdays. What’s yours? Could be a favorite cake, favorite adventure or just your favorite way to spend your special day. Please email me at jane@challahconnection.com with the subject line “My Birthday Tradition” and let me know. And, don’t forget to wish me a happy birthday!

With gratitude and in the spirit of summer fun,

Jane Moritz
Chief Maven Officer

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Why Ceremonial Challah at a Jewish Wedding?

The torrential downpours of the spring have subsided, flowers are in bloom and wedding season is upon us!  It’s such a beautiful time of year here in Connecticut, it makes us want to celebrate here at Challah Connection.  Speaking of celebrations, let’s talk about the very important tradition of the blessing of the challah (hamotzi) at a Jewish wedding, bar/bat mitzvah or brit milah.

We all know that challah is an important staple during Shabbat, but it is also very important during these Jewish milestone ceremonies, and for such occasions, the ceremonial challah is a wonderful choice.  Being that it is so large, the ceremonial challah allows everyone to come together and take part in the ritual.

Ceremonial Challah for Jewish Wedding

 

The hamotzi is given over the ceremonial challah after the ceremony has been completed and before the meal is served. Typically at a wedding, the ceremonial challah is served after the cocktail hour, and at a bar/bat mitzvah and the brit milah after the conclusion of the ceremony, before the food is served.  The prayer is usually given by a parent/parents or an honored guest. After the blessing, the challah is cut and distributed to all of the guests… a delicious and meaningful way to join in the celebration!

Have questions? Happy to answer them!! Please email or call us at 866-242-5524. Please order 2 atleast 2 weeks before your simcha.

 

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Gluten Free Salted Caramel Brownie Recipe

About a month ago, a friend came to our apartment for Shabbat and brought us a challah from the new Upper West Side kosher and gluten free “foodie spot,” Modern Bread and Bagel. I knew I had to get there to check it out as a possible new Challah Connection partner and for me personally, since I am a lover and baker of all things “Jewish baked goods” (challah, babka, rugelach etc) and I am also gluten free.

I went there on a Sunday in April, just before Pesach, shortly after it had opened. Needless to say, it was packed! I asked for the bakery manager and I met Orly, who is the owner and mastermind. She could not have been lovelier–and calmer!-given the maddening crowd around her. We are working on bringing our Challah Connection gluten free customers some of her delicious goodies but in the meantime, Orly has allowed me to share her recipe for these mouthwatering, delicious, gluten free brownies. Thank you Orly and I hope you all enjoy these as much as my family and I have.

Sea salt-speckled copper-colored homemade caramel is drizzled on a rich dark chocolate brownie. The rum gives the recipe the extra kick it needs for a batch of gooey, decadent, rum spiked brownies, perfect for dessert parties or a sneaky midnight snack.

Recipe yelds 9 large or 18 small brownies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 oz semi-sweet dark chocolate chips or squares
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
½ tsp coarse salt
½ Tbs vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 ½ cups Sydney Blend–this is a flour blend that Orly makes and can be purchased at Blends by Orly, or use your favorite all purpose gluten free flour
1/3 cup Rum

Caramel sauce:
½ cup sugar
1 ½ Tbs water
¼ cup cream
1oz Rum
Coarse sea salt

Heat: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.

Mix: Place butter and semi-sweet chocolate in a medium sized sauce pan and heat on low. Stir every few minutes until completely melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Stir in cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time until completely mixed in. Stir in Sydney Blend and then rum until completely mixed.

Bake: Using a rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared baking dish and smooth the top. Place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Caramel Sauce: While the brownies cool, start on the caramel sauce. Add sugar and water to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Do not stir.  Boil the syrup for 6-8 minutes or until a deep amber caramel forms. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Add Rum and stir until combined. Pour the caramel sauce into a heatproof cup and let it cool slightly.  If caramel gets too hard, place in the microwave for 10 seconds to liquify.  When ready to use, drizzle on top of the brownies and then sprinkle sea salt on top.

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How to Write a Shiva Gift Message

For many of us, writing the gift message to accompany a shiva gift is perhaps the hardest part of sending a sympathy or shiva gift. Because death elicits uncomfortable feelings, we are at a loss for words. Or, we often try to convey too much in the message. So, let me me teach you how to write a shiva gift message.

I always remind shiva gift givers that mourners are not scrutinizing their message. Why aren’t they? First, there is no time for this sort of critical review of your gift message since there is much activity during shiva. Second, mourners are not in a mental “space” to be critical of your words. They are pleased that you have thought of them with your gift and message. With that, here is some guidance for you when writing a gift message for your shiva gift:

  1. Keep your message simple. Don’t try to “jam” lots of thoughts into it. One key message is appropriate.
  2. Be authentic, heartfelt. Humor is not appropriate. Use your own unique voice.
  3. Don’t forget to sign your name. Your name or who sent the gift is truly the most important word(s) on the gift message.
  4. Here are some of our most popular shiva gift messages at Challah Connection. Feel free to use one or revise it to your own voice.

-With heartfelt sympathy
-Our thoughts are prayers are with you during this difficult time
-We are so sorry for your loss and send our warmest condolences to you and your family
-May [name of deceased] be a blessing to all who knew him/her
-May G-d comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem

Please call 866-242-5524 or email challah@challahconnection for any questions. Our FAQ will also provide more info and finally, here is a link to our shiva gift department. We ship nationwide.

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