Food

Forward Magazine - - Contents - By LIZA SCHOENFEIN

Rosh Hashanah Ap­pe­tiz­ers & Shang­hai DIn­ing

‘The Lit­tle Book of Jewish Ap­pe­tiz­ers,” by Leah Koenig, is a small, hard­cover jewel box of a cook­book filled with a tightly cu­rated col­lec­tion of 25 vi­brant, brightly fla­vored hors d’oeu­vres. Many would serve as ex­cel­lent starters for a Rosh Hashanah meal or a Yom Kip­pur break fast. But why fo­cus on ap­pe­tiz­ers? “I re­ally wanted to shine a light on this par­ty­wor­thy, cel­e­bra­tory as­pect of Jewish cui­sine, and bring a sense of fun and play­ful­ness to it,” Koenig said.

As with her last book, “Mod­ern Jewish Cook­ing: Recipes & Cus­toms for Today’s Kitchen” (2015), Koenig im­parts a clear phi­los­o­phy of Jewish food today through her recipes. “They are both very rooted in tra­di­tion and can push bound­aries and be gor­geous and ex­cit­ing in ways that some peo­ple don’t think of Jewish food as be­ing,” she said.

Take the borscht cros­tini. Koenig calls this recipe “the emo­tional cen­ter of the book.”

“Borscht re­ally cap­tures a side of Ashke­nazi cui­sine that is lost a lot — the fresh and the col­or­ful and the dairy fo­cus,” she said. “That’s just sort of not talked about so much.” Koenig de­cided to take the fla­vors of the soup and play around with them.

The re­sult was a cros­tini topped with a col­or­ful com­bi­na­tion of roasted beets and car­rots, pick­led red onion, crème fraîche (meant as a fancy take on sour cream) and a sprin­kling of finely chopped dill, fresh gar­lic and le­mon zest.

“So you get all the tangy and bright and creamy and crunchy — all the best of Ashke­nazi cui­sine in one bite,” she said.

Be­cause the cros­tini are dairy, Koenig doesn’t rec­om­mend them for Rosh Hashanah, but she says they’d be per­fect for break­ing the Yom Kip­pur fast: “You can roast the beets and pickle the red onion in ad­vance, so when the break fast hap­pens, all you re­ally have to do is chop

some herbs and toast bread, and bring it all to­gether.”

She rec­om­mends serv­ing the cros­tini along with smoked trout canapés. “Ditch the bagels and lox and do these in­stead,” she said. “They fea­ture smoked fish, so they would tie into the tra­di­tion in that way.”

Koenig takes the same ap­proach — cre­at­ing a fresh twist on tra­di­tion — with pick­led cherry toma­toes. “If you were go­ing to be trans­port­ing your­self to early 20th-cen­tury New York City you’d see pick­led toma­toes be­ing sold out of bar­rels,” she said. “But I love the color of cherry toma­toes, and I won­dered what would hap­pen if you pick­led them.”

As it turned out, they take per­fectly to pick­ling.

Green toma­toes used to be what was avail­able at the end of the sea­son. “We have so much more at our fin­ger­tips,” she said. “We have ev­ery color of cherry tomato at the farm­ers mar­ket, so I had to do some­thing with that.”

The pick­les, which are best if left in the re­frig­er­a­tor four to five days be­fore eat­ing, can be part of a fes­tive Jewish cheese plate. This might also in­clude sour cher­ries, dried figs and slices of hal­vah — plus ev­ery­thing-spice rye crack­ers and za’atar­gar­lic pita chips, the recipes for which are also found in the book.

An­other recipe Koenig sug­gests as a hol­i­day ap­pe­tizer is her fried gefilte fish.

“That plus the pick­led toma­toes, for that last burst of late sum­mer as you’re tran­si­tion­ing from the sea­son, that would be a lovely way to start a Rosh Hashanah meal,” she said.

SOUR SNACK: Beet-pick­led turnips and pick­led cherry

toma­toes.

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