I think my grandmother (z”l) would have been quite shocked by my erev Yom Kippur menu. It was definitely not the usual family fare. But, I have finally realised that we shouldn’t have a heavy meal before the 25 hour fast. It is just not healthy. So, I collected some interesting recipes for the meal.
I found a very interesting Iraqi fish dish that was adapted from a 13th century Baghdadi cookbook called Kitab al-Tabikh.
Al-Baghdadi’s Kitab al-Tabikh was for long the only medieval Arabic cookery book known to the English-speaking world, thanks to A.J Arberry’s path-breaking 1939 translation as `A Baghdad Cookery Book’ which was re-issued by Prospect Books in 2001 in Medieval Arab Cookery. For centuries, it has been the favourite Arab cookery book of the Turks. The original manuscript is still in Istanbul, and at some point a Turkish sultan commissioned a very handsome copy which can still be seen in The British Library in London. – From Amazon.Com
The recipe called for 1/2 cup of sumac and I was a bit skeptical, but the dish was outstanding. I used a large drumfish, called מוסר in Hebrew or Mussar, which is a nice firm, meaty fish that was perfect for this dish. The Iraqis probably made this with a type of carp that is found in the Tigris river called Mangar.
I only stuffed one fish for the two of us, so I have enough stuffing left over for one more fish.
(Samak Mashwi bil Summaq) From A Baghdad Cookery Book (Kitab al-Tabikh) by Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan Al-Baghdadi
1 to 2kg whole fish, such as drum fish, barramundi, grey mullet or gilt-head sea bream (you may need 4 fish, depending on the size)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup sumac
1/4 cup fresh za'atar or thyme
1/2 teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, and cinnamon
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 3 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 220C (450F).
Place all of the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process into a paste, as pictured above. Add more water, if needed.
Cut 2 to 3 diagonal slits in the fish and rub the oil and the turmeric on the outside and inside of the fish. Stuff the fish with the sumac mixture and close the incision in the fish with kitchen string, tooth picks, or the silicon ties as shown in the picture above.
Place the fish on a roasting rack and bake in the second level of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the fish is flaky. Cooking time will vary according to the size of the fish.
My husband is not a big fan of ptitim (in Hebrew and maghrbiyya in Arabic) or what the rest of the western world calls Israeli couscous. I have been trying to convince him to let me make it, so when I found an interesting recipe on Epicurious, I decided to push him a bit. He said ok. I found some whole wheat ptitim at the supermarket and I could have bought spelt ptitim, but I didn’t want to scare him off too much. This dish calls for preserved lemon which I like very much, but I didn’t have any at home, couldn’t find any in the olive sections of two different supermarkets, and didn’t have time to make any. So, I decided to add some lovely tart Tsuri olives instead that I cracked and pitted. The sweetness of the butternut squash with the tartness of the olives and the crunchy pine nuts and the fragrant hint of cinnamon gave a wonderful texture and taste to this dish. It was a perfect accompaniment to the fish and the salad I made. I think I have converted Mr. BT.
I am in love with this carrot and date salad. I do not like tzimmes in any shape or form, but I really loved this dish. It calls for fresh dates which I have never cooked with.
Fresh dates are high in vitamin C. They are also a special food for Rosh Hashana. Moroccan Jews dip a medjhoul date in anise seeds, sesame seeds and powdered sugar to “mark the new year that is beginning as one of happiness and blessing and peace for all mankind.”
The crunchy dates and the cooked carrots were perfect together. And the silan (date honey) did not make the dish too sweet. I will definitely make this again.
The finishing piece to this meal was the semifreddo I made the day before. This is a very easy dish to make and would be perfect for any dinner party. I recommend using a strong-tasting honey such as chestnut, eucalyptus, thistle, or heather. The rosemary was quite subtle, so I will steep more rosemary in the milk next time. You need to factor in the cream that you will be folding in later. It will mute the honey and rosemary flavor.
2 cups goat's milk
3 sprigs of rosemary
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup chestnut honey
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
Put the goat's milk in a heavy saucepan and heat until the milk is steaming, but not boiling. Turn off the heat and add the rosemary. Let it steep for 45 minutes. Taste the milk to make sure that it has a significant rosemary taste. If not, let it steep for another 20 to 30 minutes.
In a medium size bowl, whisk the egg yolks, honey and salt together.
Strain the milk mixture and place the milk in a clean heavy saucepan. Reheat the milk on medium heat, but do not boil. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into yolk mixture; return to same pan. Stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens and leaves a path on back of the spoon when a finger is drawn across (do not boil). Strain into another medium bowl; chill covered until cold.
When the custard is cold, whip the cream to soft, thick peaks. If the cream is added when the custard is still warm, it will melt the cream.