I can't believe it's been an entire year since last year's Rosh Hashanah recipe post. No matter what holidays you celebrate, I think we can all agree that they provide the perfect opportunity to gather friends and family around a table for delicious food. For me, they are also a great excuse to try new recipes and focus additional energy in the kitchen. This year was no different. David and I hosted 10 friends, both old and new, for an evening of apples and honey, lots of wine, and cheesecake!
Since this dinner occurred at the end of a busy week of other holiday activities, I had to be strategic in planning the menu. I knew time was a factor, so I chose simpler recipes, many of which could be whipped up ahead of time. In fact, I started some of the work as early as the Monday before, making for a much more relaxed Friday.
I'm also learning to place more emphasis on matching and melding flavors across the entire evening. For this, I turn to my trusted Flavor Bible, a must-have in your kitchen. I know I've mentioned this book (more like dictionary) before, but honestly, this is a worthy purchase. Starting with just one recipe, I built a complete meal where ingredients didn't overpower each other.
So let's start with appetizers.
Rosh Hashanah isn't complete without apples and honey. We always seem to have lots of honey in our house, so we shared three different varieties, as well as these dangerously awesome Paprika Roasted Pecans from Real Food Liz. This recipe can be made days in advance, only takes 30 minutes, and has the benefit of tasting so good you will have to hide them from yourself. If you happen to have more self-control than me, make extra! These would be the perfect addition to any salad, or morning yogurt.
Moving on to the main show, which of course isn't complete without a round challah. In another life, I will certainly bake my own, but that wasn't happening this year. In fact, the challah almost didn't happen at all. About 45 minutes prior to guests arriving, I discovered the beautiful farmers market challah covered in mold! Luckily we have wonderful friends who came to the rescue with an emergency Trader Joe's trip. Phew.
Our plates spilled over with deliciousness, with a mouth-watering salmon recipe at the center. This Buttery Dill Mustard Baked Salmon from Paleo Running Momma could not have been easier. Plus, who doesn't love butter? Of course I overcooked, which meant leftovers all week, but even 6 days later the salmon still maintained its flavor.
Complimenting the salmon was a cool and refreshing Tomato and Herb Salad, courtesy of Deborah at Taste and Tell, and a creamy Carrot Souffle from Primal Palate. I used a mix of cherry, and heirloom tomatoes for the salad, and added fresh mint for the herb, but basil would also be a great choice. For anyone avoiding potatoes, or simply looking for a lighter/less dense starch, carrots are the way to go. Like sweet potato, they have a natural sweetness, pairing perfectly with the richness of the salmon. (Hint: a great alternative for your Thanksgiving table).
Let's be honest. Dessert is the most important part of any holiday meal and the last thing your guests will remember. In building my Rosh Hashanah dinner, I actually started with my dessert recipe and worked backwards. I've been itching to attempt a cheesecake for years; my springform pan has remained untouched since our wedding over 3 years ago. I knew I wanted to highlight the flavors of the season, so landed this Caramel Apple Cheesecake.
Guys, it was incredible.
It also wasn't as difficult as I anticipated, but please read this great article on common mistakes if, like me, you are also a cheesecake novice. I took the room temperature tip seriously, and left the eggs, butter, and cream cheese on the counter for over 8 hours. I also tested my pan for leaks before starting.
So here's what you need to know about the finished product.
1. It's delicious.
2. It can be made ahead of time.
3. Leftovers can be frozen, and thawed, and still taste awesome (David can attest to this).
4. It will make you obsessed with finding an excuse to try making another one (Thanksgiving pumpkin cheesecake anyone?).
Basically, it's worth the extra time, and attention to detail.
The entire meal melded together and certainly left me stuffed. Yes, I spent a lot of time searching for the right recipes, but the true key was simplicity. I knew I would not have much time to prep or cook, so I picked one more complicated recipe (cheesecake) and kept the rest to minimal ingredients and cooking time. Remember, the important part of any holiday, family, or friend get-together is the people in the room; good food is just the cherry on top.
Walking enthusiast, kitchen experimenter, sports lover (watching, not playing), and future world traveler.
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