Cookbook Author and Chef Einat Admony Shares the Inspiration Behind the Dishes on Her Rosh Hashanah Table
Cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs picked from the garden will be some of the stars of Einat Admony's Rosh Hashanah table. The chef and cookbook author, who wrote Balaboosta ($29.95, barnesandnoble.com) and Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking ($35, barnesandnoble.com), grows roughly 50 vegetables and herbs in her upstate New York garden. "My menu is going to be related to a lot of the vegetables growing in my garden," she says.
Food is such a special part of any holiday, but that's especially true for the Jewish New Year, the first of the High Holy Days. Growing up outside of Tel Aviv, Israel, in B'nei Brak, with an Iranian mother and a Yemenite father, Admony spent the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah helping her mother cook. Known for her Persian, Yemeni, and Moroccan dishes that have a touch of her now home in New York, Admony draws inspiration for her own Rosh Hashanah table from her the family recipes of her childhood and from the seasonal ingredients available to her. "This year is great as Rosh Hashanah is early which means all my harvests are going to be ready to be picked," she says.
What's on Her New Year Table
While she leaves some flexibility into her meal planning, you can count on Admony's Rosh Hashanah menu including pomegranate. "Definitely, definitely pomegranate, it's something my mom used. Starting around September, she'd make a special jam with pomegranates," says Admony. Traditional for the holiday, Admony's mom Ziona would use the pomegranate as a thick jam in fresenjam or black chicken in Hebrew. Admony uses pomegranates in multiple dishes such as a salad or as a braise for a brisket.
"One of my favorite things to do is take the symbols of the holiday and create food with them," says Admony. For instance, as the head of an animal is a symbol of the New Year, Admony always has a fish head on the table generally roasted with many different vegetables even though the type of fish and precisely how she cooks it changes year to year.
And while dipping apples in honey is one of the most traditional and well-known dishes for Rosh Hashanah, Admony uses honey and apples in several different ways. She'll roast apples and make a sauce out of them. She also makes round challah, swapping sugar for honey and water for apple juice in the bread and putting roasted apples on top. "It's super beautiful," says Admony. "The challah is round so it's a symbol of the circle of a year, the finish and start of a year."
Tips for Rosh Hashanah Cooking
Cooking for Rosh Hashanah can be a lot. Admony, who typically makes about 20, if not more dishes, is a big fan of preparing foods ahead for Rosh Hashanah. She also sorts out her ingredients, putting everything for a specific dish in a box so then she simply grabs the box and start cooking together with family and friends. "So things are a little bit easier," Admony says recommending this mis-en-place tip to home cooks.
Admony has re-interpreted her Rosh Hashanah dishes over the years, partly due to the differences between what's readily available in the States versus Israel. Being open to tweaking beloved family recipes makes cooking for the High Holidays easier, as does using the same ingredients for multiple dishes, such as pomegranate in both a salad and a brisket.