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28 August 2009

Preparing for Rosh Hashanah 2009

As August draws to a close, the temperature begins to dip and the nights draw in, I get excited.  Autumn isn't far off - and that means good food - more particularly though, Rosh Hashanah is around the corner and that means good cooking. 

And why the excitement?  The High Holidays are a time for reflection on the year before and what is to come in the year ahead.  It is also a time that is traditionally spent with the family.  And as with any Jewish get together, that means food is present and abundant.

In our family it has become the norm that my wife and I cook lunch on the second of the two days of Rosh Hashanah for the rest of the family - about 14 people.  This year, we'll likely be cooking on both days, although the first day will be a smaller gathering with just the in-laws.

For me, the anticipation of the meal starts about now as I begin to give thought to what I might cook. 

Because it's a festival, which means a longish stretch in shul, it's lunch and there are lots of people, food needs to be ready soon after they sit down.  Usually this means that starters are cold or at least well prepared before I leave for synagogue in the morning. 

The main course is almost always something slow-cooked.  In the past I've made pot-au-feu or bollito misto.  I quite like both of these as they include tongue, which I love and which reminds me of growing up when my mother always made tongue for Rosh Hashanah.

I'm undecided on what to do this year.  Both of these champions have a lot going for them, they're delicious and they have the requisite wow factor for a feast - because let's be honest, when you're cooking for a lot of people, you might as well show off a bit.  Bollito misto lends itself well to big meals because you can use the broth as a starter - I could replace the traditional tortellini with kreplach. Then again the pot-au-feu leftovers are just so good and the definition of chef's treat.

Maybe I should do something different.  I'm loathed to not have tongue somewhere on the table.  But I am tempted to brine my own salt beef this year, ahead of a mooted salt-beef taste-off with Dan Young of Young and Foodish - a man versed in the way of salt-beef.

Tongue and salt-beef could be a goer, but it just feels a little too prosaic.  We'll have to see, maybe I could do the salt beef for another Yom Tov meal.

Starter will most certainly include chopped liver and depending on how generous I'm feeling, my guests may get some leftover gribenes.

Dessert will definitely include my apple and black pepper sorbet.  Sounds weird, but tastes great.  I'll have a recipe up in the next few days.

Time to start plotting, rereading books, recipes and mining the deepest crevices of my mind.  I'll update once I've made a decision.  I'll also be sure to write-up the sorbet recipe.  It's seriously tasty, refreshing and light after a big meal.  But sounds nasty, I know.

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