Try a fresh take on Rosh Hashana foods
Kasha Varnishkes is a comfort food for Rosh Hashana.
Laura Frankel thinks about Rosh Hashana in simple terms.
"A time for mom to shine," says Frankel, executive chef at Spertus, a Jewish culture and learning center in Chicago. That's because the Jewish new year, which is the first high holy day to occur each autumn, usually isn't celebrated with the sort of big gathering you might have for a Passover seder
Rosh Hashana begins Sunday evening and ends Tuesday evening.
Although there are some traditional symbolic foods included — such as a big round challah loaf and apples dipped in honey — Frankel says the meal most often is built around comfort meals, such as a brisket or roast chicken.
But for some, the Rosh Hashana meal will be inspired by a different family tradition that, while not their own, has been making families feel at home for more than a century.
Since 1907, the Kutsher family has run one of the top resorts in New York's Catskill mountains. In the 1960s, they were known for their classic Jewish comfort food, which at times they served to as many as 1,700 guests a day.
Now Zach Kutsher, a fourth-generation member of the family, runs Kutsher's Tribeca, where he has created a menu that offers contemporary riffs on the dishes that have drawn guests back to Kutsher's Country Club year after year. One of the dishes is Kasha Varnishkes.
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2 cups bow tie pasta
½ ounce dry porcini mushrooms
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon schmaltz or butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup kasha, preferably coarse
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup chicken stock
2 bunches baby leeks, cut into ½-inch lengths
(or 1 regular leek, diced)
½ pound veal or beef bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces, cooked until crisp
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Cook the pasta in salted water until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl soak the porcini mushrooms in ¾ cup of warm water for 10 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, retaining the soaking water, then mince and set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium-high, melt ¼ cup of the schmaltz or butter. Add the onions and salt, then saute until well browned. Add mushrooms and garlic, then cook for 1 minute. Add the kasha, pepper and thyme, then cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the stock, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan over medium-high heat, melt remaining 1 tablespoon of schmaltz or butter. Add the leeks, reserved mushroom water and bacon, if using, then saute until the leeks are tender.
In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with the kasha mixture. Spoon the leek and bacon mixture over it, then garnish with chopped parsley.
Source: Adapted from Kutcher's Tribeca restaurant in New York City