Beyond the bagel

Who says Yom Kippur isn’t all about food?

You’ll need a few days to prepare your own gravlax, but serving this salmon dish makes breaking the fast full of flavor, and flair

Gravlax (Shannon Sarna/JTA)
Gravlax (Shannon Sarna/JTA)

NEW YORK (JTA) — By the time the fast is over on Yom Kippur, the last thing you want to be doing is patchkeing in the kitchen to prepare lots of food.

As much as I can’t wait to shove a bagel and cream cheese with all the fixins in my face, I also like to enjoy something sweet, something salty and something a little fresh with my traditional post-fast carbs.

I recommend preparing the quinoa salad ahead of time, and when the fast is over, serve it on top of labne for an easy and healthful salad. The rich, sweet coffee cake challah can also be baked ahead of time. And the flavors of the custom dill lemon caper cream cheese will only intensify when you let them sit overnight in the fridge.

Note: If you plan to make your own gravlax, you must start at least four days in advance of serving, or up to a week, otherwise the fish will not be ready to eat.

Homemade Gravlax (by Vered Meir)

This recipe for homemade gravlax from California blogger is simple to make and presents so beautifully on a platter. The first time I made this recipe I couldn’t believe how easy it was and why it had taken so long. It is the perfect accompaniment for your bagel platter after Yom Kippur or on top of latkes at Hanukkah.

2 pounds fresh center-cut wild salmon fillet, skin on
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons peppercorns
2 teaspoons crushed juniper berries
7-8 large sprigs fresh dill
1-2 shots of gin or vodka

In a bowl, combine the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and juniper berries. Line a glass dish that will fit your salmon fillet with 2 large pieces of plastic wrap and sprinkle half of your salt and sugar mixture onto the bottom. Lay half of your dill sprigs down, then cover with your salmon fillet. Sprinkle the remaining mixture on top of the fillet, then cover with the remaining sprigs of dill and your shots of alcohol, and then wrap everything as tightly as you can in the plastic. Leave it in the dish, as the salt will create a brine for the fish.

Get into the holiday spirit(s) with homemade gravlax. (Nosher website)
Get into the holiday spirit(s) with homemade gravlax. (Nosher website)

Refrigerate for 3 or 4 days, depending on the thickness of your filet.

The lox is finished when the salmon’s hue has transitioned from pink to deep orange. Before serving, discard the dill and rinse the fillet of the brine, peppercorns and juniper berries. Slice thinly against the grain with a sharp knife. Serve with sliced lemon and capers.

Variation: Try a layer of shredded raw beets on the non-skin side of your fillet before wrapping. After the lox is finished curing, each of your slices will have a purple or dark pink edge to it.

Lemon Dill Caper Cream Cheese

Yield: 6-8 servings

What’s better than serving your bagels with capers and dill and slices of lemon? Adding them into one tasty homemade cream cheese to serve with your bagel spread. This can be made one or two days ahead of time.

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons whole capers, chopped roughly
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
Pinch of salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a bowl. Mix together until flavors are incorporated. Place in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 24-48 hours until ready to serve. Garnish with additional dill if desired.

Coffee Cake Challah

Yield: 2 large loaves

Coffee cake is one of my weakness foods, and I love an indulgent slice after fasting on Yom Kippur. This year I decided to combine two of my favorite things to bake into one beautiful and delicious treat: coffee cake challah. This makes 2 large loaves, so it is enough to serve for a large crowd or freeze one to save for later. If you freeze one, wait to add glaze until you defrost it and are ready to serve.

May need to do some atonement after this sinfully sweet Coffee Cake Challah. (Shannon Sarna/Nosher)
May need to do some atonement after this sinfully sweet Coffee Cake Challah. (Shannon Sarna/The Nosher)

For the dough:
1½ tablespoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
4½-5 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs

For the crumb topping and filling:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
1½ sticks cold butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped pecans
1 egg, beaten

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons milk or almond milk

In a small bowl place yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and lukewarm water. Allow to sit around 5-10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.

In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, salt and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Add another cup of flour and eggs until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.

Add another 1-1½ cups flour and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 10 minutes (or however long your hands will last). Don’t add more flour then the dough needs – the less flour, the lighter the dough.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise 3 or 4 hours.
To make the crumb topping: Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and sea salt in a large bowl. Add cold butter or margarine and mix using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles crumbles. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

The best of both worlds, coffee cake, and challah. (Shannon Sarna/The Nosher)
The best of both worlds, coffee cake, and challah. (Shannon Sarna/The Nosher)

After the challah is done rising, split the dough evenly in half. Divide each half into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into a snake and then flatten. Sprinkle crumb topping inside, then pinch sides up to close. Gently roll again to seal in filling. Repeat with all pieces and then braid, forming into a circle and pinching together each end of the braid.

Repeat with second half of dough.

Place each challah on a parchment paper (or silpat) lined baking sheet.
Allow challah to rise another 30-60 minutes, or until you can see the size has grown and challah seems light.

Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Brush on top of each challah. Top each challah with remaining crumb topping.

Bake for 25-26 minutes, or until crumbs are golden brown. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes.

Whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla and milk (or almond milk) in a small bowl. Drizzle on top of challah using small spoon.

Red Quinoa Tabouleh with Labne

I was never much of a quinoa fan until I tried the red quinoa salad at Mish Mish in Montclair, New Jersey. I fell in love with the salad and have been re-creating my own version ever since. This is a refreshing and yet hearty salad to serve as a side dish.

1 cup red quinoa
1 teaspoon olive oil
8 ounces labne
1 large English cucumber or 2 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large beefsteak or Jersey tomato (diced), or pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
juice of 1/2 lemon plus 2 teaspoons zest
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste
additional extra virgin olive oil

Red Quinoa Tabouleh with Labne (Shannon Sarna/JTA)
Red Quinoa Tabouleh with Labne (Shannon Sarna/JTA)

Rinse quinoa well. Place quinoa and 1 1/4 cups water, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into a small pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and cover again for another 5-10 minutes.

Mix quinoa with cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, mint, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. This step can be prepared a day ahead and placed in the fridge.

When ready to serve, spread labne all over a large plate. Top labne with the quinoa tabouleh. Drizzle with additional good-quality olive oil and an extra squeeze of lemon juice. Serve immediately.

(Shannon Sarna is the editor of The Nosher, a 70 Faces Media company.)

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