Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rosh Hashanah Bento

So on my business trip the NY times reported on the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah. It's pretty interesting learning about a culinary culture that has adapted to all the places it has immigrated to. The concepts of the original dishes remained true, but as Jewish settlers migrated to other places like Northern Africa they made use of spices and ingredients that they had on hand.


We start with a Mustard honey glazed chicken breast. Sweet foods are a big highlight during Rosh Hashanah, the sweetness is the blessings for a sweet new year. The sweet glazed chicken breast came up over and over again during my recipe search. The mustard honey gave the chicken a beautiful color after the oven treatment and I think helped seal in some moisture. My alternative to the chicken was fish. Fish is often eaten to symbolize fertility and abundance. I stayed away from the fish since it tends to not reheat (re: stinks in the microwave) well.




There's not any such thing as light eating in what I've found with traditional Rosh Hashanah food this Broccoli and Potato Kugel is no exception. You start with a base of potatoes that I mashed and blended with egg, mazzo meal, and mayo. I opted for a olive oil based mayo to help try to lighten things up. This was folded together with a bit of onion and broccoli and topped with some panko and baked until it's a yummy perfection. This was probably my favorite of the dishes.




I chose this great Kasha Pareve (kasha pilaf) as an accompanying side. I've never worked with Kasha and it's amazingly difficult to locate. I discovered that it is actually called toasted barley grouts (but that's still hard to find here). Looking at the kasha I expected a nutty harder texture like brown rice, or quinoa so it came as a surprise that a short 12 min simmer produced a soft mushier consistency with a nutty flavor. This will work as a great as a side to eat with the chicken.




For a vegetable side we have this Tsimmes Salad. It's a version that came from the NY times article that featured Tunesian influences on Jewish cooking. I didn't have any harissa to spice up the carrots so I slammed it with a bit of Sriracha sauce so it's a east meets middle east variation on a traditional Jewish dish. The caraway, ground coriander and cumin gave this a great sweet and savory taste, the spicy kick from the sriracha sauce rounded everything out.





Finally we finish dinner with a Kosher Cholent. This is a bean and beef stew that is cooked for about 15 hours. It's a hearty heavy rich dish using the long cooking time to break down the beans to add a creamy touch without using excess fat or cream to thicken things up. I warned my eaters that usually gobble up lunch in one sitting that even the hungriest of them will have a difficult time eating it all at once. It would be smart if you ran a full marathon or did a century ride on your bike before trying to wolf this bad boy down.



I enjoyed my little experiment in learning about Jewish cuisine. There's gonna have to be a bit more of investigation but for now this will do me. Everything was make-ahead-able so this turned out to be a fairly easy bento to make, I'm glad to be able to ease back into my cooking schedule.
I still owe you guys a post on my french food but I promise it's coming :) There's a bit more work travel coming up but I have a few more weeks before that happens. Thanks for reading!

Shana Tova Umetukah (a good and sweet new year to you)

Box Contents
  • Honey Mustard baked chicken
  • Potato and Broccoli Kugel
  • Kasha Pareve
  • Tsimmes Salad
  • Kosher Cholent

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