Rosh Hashanah Recipes: Beet and Cucumber Salad, Mom’s Apple Cake and More


Sound the shofar, the Jewish High Holy Days are upon us. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Wednesday and is followed by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, prayer and fasting, which begins at sundown on October 3.  Not being Jewish, all I knew about the culinary traditions of Rosh Hashanah were that apples are traditionally dipped into honey, evoking a sweet new year. So, in need of some comestible wisdom, guidance and recipes, I turned to Rabbi Jonathan Waxman of Temple Beth Sholom in Smithtown. Rabbi Waxman is as adept in the kitchen as he is knowledgeable in the temple. Rabbi Waxman, and his wife, Sarrae Crane, happily shared some of their family recipes that will grace their table this holiday season. They will serve Sarrae’s homemade salmon gefilte fish, beef brisket, beet and cucumber salad and finish off the meal with Sarrae’s mother’s apple cake. The other two recipes they shared, Moroccan chicken and hot and sour soup, will probably be saved for Sukkot, which begins in another two weeks, but can certainly be served at the Rosh Hashanah table.

To quote Rabbi Waxman, “Shanah toval uMetukah…a good and sweet New Year.”


Beet-Cucumber Salad
4 beets  (red and/or golden)
1 English cucumber
1 bunch of radishes
½ red onion
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Roast beets in aluminum foil in 425 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes—fork should easily pierce the beets. Let beets cool, peel off skins, quarter and then slice into quarter inch thick.Split the cucumber and cut into quarter inch slices.Thinly slice the radishes and mince the red onion. Combine the vegetables in large bowl and mix well. Combine the oil and vinegar and salt and pepper and add the dressing to the vegetables. Mix well. Sprinkle with the chopped mint. Serves 4-6

Mom’s Apple Cake
1 ½ cups of oil
2 cups of sugar
3 eggs
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups of sliced apples (mixed varieties)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup of raisins

Beat the oil and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until creamy. Sift the dry ingredients. Stir the dry ingredients into the oil mixture. Add the remaining ingredients. Pour into greased pan and baked in 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Moroccan Chicken
2 whole chickens cut into 10 pieces
20 small potatoes (sometimes we use fingerlings)
6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
20-25 pitted green olives
1 lb. mixed dried fruit—apples, apricots, pears, peaches
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste

In Dutch oven place chicken and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for ½ hour. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Serves 8-10

Hot and Sour Soup
7-8 dried black mushrooms (+ boiling water to cover)
½ tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced onions
½ teaspoon salt
1-2 carrots, julienned (can use food processor blade)
3-4 large shiitake mushrooms
5 cups water or parve vegetable stock (use the Osem powder)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
12 oz. firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1 can julienned bamboo shoots
Fresh black pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
2-3 scallions, minced
Cilantro, chopped
Dark sesame seed oil

Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes.; Drain, reserving the water. Remove stems and slice. In large soup pot cook the onions with the salt in the oil for 5 minutes, until translucent. Adds the carrots and the shiitake mushrooms. Cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the water/stock, cover and bring to a boil. Add the soy sauce, vinegars, the sugar and the reserved mushroom liquid. Reduce heat to low. Add the dried mushroom slices, the bamboo shoots, the tofu, the black pepper and the hot sauce. Return to boil; then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. In small bowl combine the cornstarch and cold water and make a paste. Ladle ¼ cup of the soup into the bowl and blend with the cornstarch paste until mixture is smooth. Add the soup cornstarch mixture to the soup and cook for 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Stir constantly. When serving sprinkle each bowl with some sliced scallions and cilantro and pour several drops of the sesame oil on the soup. Serves 6-8

Photo courtesy of The Capitol Baker