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Inspiration for Your High Holy Days Table

In her book King Solomon’s Table, a collection of Jewish recipes from around the world, Joan Nathan asked a chef why he continues to make his family’s traditional recipes. He answered, “It is not the taste I am searching for, but the memories.”

Jewish food links us to the past in a way that touches the soul and fills the belly. Whether it’s a brisket recipe passed down through the generations, a “secret” family recipe that you’ve tried to recreate for years (the secret ingredient is probably schmaltz or sugar), or a new dish inspired by different Jewish communities from around the world, it is these sensory memories of smells and tastes that draw us back to the holiday table every year.

We’ve compiled a collection of recipes we hope will make your celebrations a little sweeter and more delicious. This collection includes recipes from mizrahi and sephardi traditions, as well as favorites of members of the new BJ havurah led by Carol Gelles: Your Stories and Recipes from Quarantine. They are a group of women who meet virtually twice a month to share experiences and recipes during this time of quarantine. They hope to meet for in-person potlucks once it is safe to do so.
For those of you who are making Rosh Hashanah dinner for the first time and are feeling overwhelmed, remember that it is the memories that will last, not the taste of food on your tongue. Cookbook author and brisket aficionado Stephanie Pierson asked Joan Nathan, “If you’re Jewish and you make a terrible brisket, does that make you a bad person?” Joan’s response? “It just means you probably don’t put in enough water for a good braise.” So if at first, you don’t succeed, add another cup of water and try again.

Mini Turkey Meatloaves Adapted from Rachael Ray | By Judy Geller-Marlowe

  • ¾ c. water
  • ½ c. couscous
  • 1 medium grated zucchini
  • ⅓ c. finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ c. finely chopped fresh sage leaves  (Can use dried sage)
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt (I eliminate salt and it’s still delicious.)
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 large egg ( I use 4 tbsp. egg whites.)
  • Optional: a cup or more of chopped roasted mushrooms
  • Optional:  garlic powder to your liking 
  • ¼ c. light-brown sugar (Can substitute Stevia)
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste


  1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil. (I use parchment paper on the foil.)
  2. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Transfer couscous to a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Stir in grated zucchini, chopped onion, roasted mushrooms, sage, salt, and pepper. Add turkey and egg and mix well to combine. Shape into 4 oval meatloaves, each about 1 1/2-inches thick; transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  4. In a small cup, mix sugar, mustard, and tomato paste until blended and smooth; brush mixture over meatloaves. Bake 30 -35 minutes or until meatloaves are cooked through. ENJOY!

Light-as-Air Paleo/Gluten-free Matzo Quenelles (Almost Balls) | By Carol Gelles

What’s a Jewish holiday without matzo balls?  I served these, along with “regular” matzoh balls to everyone at seder last year and all the guests thought these were great.

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup potato flour (NOT potato starch – I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Broth or salted water for boiling

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the oil.  Add the potato flour, chopped parsley (if using), salt and pepper.  Stir until combined.  Let stand 5 minutes.

Fill a 6 or 8 quart pot 2/3 full of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Dip a spoon into the boiling water.  Scoop about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the matzoh ball mixture into the spoon; insert into the boiling water and release the mixture.  Continue scooping the matzoh balls until all the mixture is used up (you should have about 18 to 20 matzoh balls)  They should immediately drop to the bottom, and then float.

Reduce heat to medium; cover the pot.  Let cook 25 minutes or until the matzoh balls are cooked through completely and are a uniform color throughout.  Remove from pot using a slotted spoon.  Will deflate a little if you prepare them in advance but they taste just fine.

Serve in chicken soup (or with stews)

Makes 18 to 20 small matzo quenelles/balls   Serves:  4 to 6  Recipe can be easily doubled

Roast Chicken with Figs and Rosemary | By Melissa Clark


  • 4 ½ pounds bone-in chicken parts
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 rosemary sprigs, needles removed from stems (discard the stems)
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated orange or lemon zest, plus optional orange or lemon wedges for serving
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound ripe figs, stemmed and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño or red chile peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
  •  Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


In a large bowl, toss chicken with salt, rosemary, garlic, citrus zest and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight (the longer the better).

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread chicken pieces out on two rimmed baking sheets, making sure there is plenty of room between the pieces. Arrange figs among the chicken pieces, then scatter jalapeño slices on top. Drizzle everything generously with olive oil.

Roast, switching the position of the baking pans after 15 minutes so everything browns evenly, until the chicken is golden and cooked through. This should take about 25 to 30 minutes for the breast meat, and 30 to 40 for the dark meat. Serve chicken with the orange or lemon wedges for squeezing, if you like.

“That Jewish Apple Cake” (Parve) | By Hadley Allen


This cake has been renamed “That Jewish Apple Cake” in honor of Felicia Sol, Felicia’s daughter came up with the name.  I have been baking this cake for our wonderful rabbis & musicians for Rosh HaShannah and Yom Kippur for the past several years.


18 oz. sliced apples peeled, cored, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

.6 oz sugar, white granulated

.2 oz. cinnamon, ground

13 oz. flour, all purpose

.5 oz. baking powder

.1 oz. salt, table

7.1 oz. egg, whole beaten

7.5 oz. oil, vegetable flavorless, such as canola

14 oz. sugar, white granulated

4.0 oz. orange juice

1  tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with baking surface in the middle of the oven.  Prepare a tube pan (angel food cake pan) with either solid shortening dusted with flour or use a non-stick baking spray with flour in it.

1)    Peel, core and chop into 1/2 inch cubes the apples. Toss with .6 oz (1.5 tablespoons) of sugar and the cinnamon. Set aside to macerate.

If the apples are a red variety, I don’t bother with peeling them. I use one of those push-down apple slicer-corer things and then cut the individual sections into 4 or 5 pieces each. 

2)    Sift the flour, baking powder & salt together. Set aside.

3)    Beat the eggs in a stand mixer until thick and yellow, approximately 4 – 6 minutes. Add the vegetable oil and sugar and blend until well mixed. Approximately 4 – 6 minutes.

4)    Add 1 cup of flour to the egg mixture and mix until blended, alternating with the orange juice, and mix until well blended. Add the vanilla with the last of the orange juice. The last of the OJ and vanilla will be the last thing you mix into the batter.

5)    Pour 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Evenly distribute 1/3 of the apples. Alternate with more batter and apples – ending with apples. There should be 3 layers of apples. 

6)    If there is any juice with the apples, drizzle it on the batter after each layer. [Unless you’ve used a variety of apples that produce large amount of juice while they are sitting. In that case, use about 1 to 2 tablespoons per layer. If there is no juice, no worries!}

7)    Bake at 350 for 60 to 70 minutes until a tester come out clean.  The cake will crack on top. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, or until just warm to the touch, before turning the cake out to cool completely.

For some reason, in my current oven, it takes about 1.25 hours to cook. The top should be quite brown and a tester will come out clean.

The perfect place to store this cake is in your microwave or kitchen cabinet. If you cover it tightly, the apples on the top of the cake will make the top soggy. This cake keeps beautifully.

Easy Matzo Balls For Two | By Joni Brenner

  • Half a cup of Matzo meal
  • One egg
  • Two full teaspoons of Trader Joe’s “everything but the bagel” spice
  • Half a cup of water.

Mix everything 

Refrigerate for Five minutes

Prepare your broth

Roll the Matzo meal into your hands making small balls

Place into the hot broth

Get out soup bowls

Get out tablespoons

And in five minutes you’ll have perfect Matzo Balls

Batayavohn Enjoy

Dairy Noodle Kugel | By Judith Barack

  • one package egg noodles
  • four eggs
  • one cup cottage cheese
  • one cup raisins
  • one quarter cup olive oil
  • one quarter cup sugar

Cook noodles according to package directions in salted boiling water.  Drain and cool noodles.

Mix together all ingredients.  Bake in 13 X 9 baking pan for 45 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit, until kugel is firm and the top is lightly browned.

I have been making this for years for dairy or vegetarian meals.  Also for TV snacks.

If you use a different size pan, you can adjust the baking time so the kugel bakes through.  (Test by sticking in a toothpick, or a fork.)  

Instant Pot Jewish Brisket | By Lisa Nivin (From

  • 4-5 lb Beef Brisket, cut in half so it fits in your Instant Pot. Leave the fat on for now.
  • Kosher salt for rubbing into the brisket
  • 3-4 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 cups of ketchup
  • 1 tsp crushed or minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp cornstarch + 2-3 tbsp water to form a slurry

If using a brisket that’s 2-3 lbs, reduce the cook time to 55-60 minutes!

Because brisket tastes EVEN BETTER the next day (if that’s even possible), I suggest you make this the day or night before you serve it and then once sliced, transfer to an aluminum pan and let it sit soaked in the sauce in the fridge covered with tin foil. Then, when ready to serve reheat in the oven for about 30 minutes or so at 350 degrees. It also freezes well too!

  1. Take the brisket and cut it in half against the grain so it’s separated into two slices
  2. Rub each side of the brisket with Kosher salt so it’s coated. Use less salt if cooking a kosher brisket.
  3. Turn on the stove to high and in a large frying pan (or in your Instant Pot on “Sauté on the “More” or “High” setting – but the frying pan is easier for this due to size and even searing), let it get hot and then sear each side of the brisket until browned or slightly charred. About 2-4 minutes each side depending on your stove/pan. Just stand over it and check it to ensure you don’t overdo it too much. If you seared in your Instant Pot, remove the liner pot, rinse it clean, dry it and return it to the Instant Pot when done
  4. With the trivet in the Instant Pot, layer one half of the brisket (fat-side up) and cover with about half of the onions. Then, in a criss-cross fashion, layer the other half of the brisket (also fat-side up) on top of onions and other half of the brisket. We are leaving it fat-side up so the juices from the fat course through the meat when cooking to make it super moist and flavorful
  5. Make the sauce by combining the water, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and garlic
  6. Cover with all of the sauce and then add the remaining onions to the top of the brisket and the sides of the pot if there’s room
  7. Secure the lid and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 75 minutes if you want it SUPER tender (like shred apart, tender) or 65 minutes if you want it tender, but a little firmer
  8. When done, do a 15-minute natural release followed by a quick release.
  9. Because they are going to be very tender, CAREFULLY transport the brisket halves to a carving board (again, fat-side up) and let them COOL for a solid 30 minutes. If you decide to carve it up into strips right away before it’s done cooling, it will shred apart – which is fine, but some people really like those long strips of brisket. What you CAN do now is easily shave off the undesired fat and discard (or keep it on if you like it)
  10. Meanwhile, as the brisket’s cooling, make your cornstarch slurry and hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Sauté” and Adjust to the “High” or “More” setting and bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the slurry to the boiling sauce and stir it in good. Allow it to boil for 2 minutes and then turn the pot to the “Keep Warm” setting. The sauce will thicken up some as the brisket cools
  11. Once the brisket is cooled down and easier to slice up, using a GOOD, sharp carving knife (or an electric carving knife) slice the brisket AGAINST the grain (meaning the opposite direction that the strings of meat are going in). Cut into strips or chunks, however you want it!
  12. If the meat appears dry, don’t be fooled! We are going to take our sliced meat and carefully add it BACK to the Instant Pot and marinate in that delicious sauce for a few minutes (still on the “Keep Warm” setting). Let it sit in there for a good 5-10 minutes or so.
  13. Place the brisket in a serving bowl and cover with the sauce.
  14. Enjoy!

If making the brisket in an oven (the old-school way) and NOT an Instant Pot:

  1. Bring a dry frying pan to high heat on the stove. Place the brisket in the hot pan and sear (about 3-5 mins) then turn over and do the same thing to the other side. (If you have a huge piece of brisket that doesn’t fit the frying pan, you can slice it in half and do this in batches)
  2. Transfer the seared brisket in a disposable baking tin tray or casserole dish. 
  3. Cover brisket with the onions, filling in the space around it with any remaining onions.
  4. Mix the vinegar, ketchup, water, brown sugar, and garlic in a bowl.
  5. Pour the mixture over meat and onions.
  6. Cover the baking tin or casserole dish tightly with double layers of foil. Put the baking tin on a cookie sheet to catch drippings (plus it will be easier to remove when done).
  7. Bake on 375° for 2 1/2 hours the day before you want to serve this dish. You can even do this 2 days before.
  8. When done, allow to cool for 20-30 minutes and then slice the meat against the grain. Return the meat to the baking dish to be covered in the juices and re-cover with double layers of foil.
  9. Refrigerate overnight. But feel free to also snack on a piece before you do. It’ll be mouth-watering.
  10. On the day of serving, bake, covered with foil, on 350° another 1 – 1 1/2 hours and serve.

© 2017

Other Recipes

Persian Green Bean Frittata

Green beans are auspicious for Rosh Hashanah in the Sephardic tradition and are commonly eaten at Sephardic RH seders.

Moroccan Fish Balls

This is a fun Ashkenazi-Sephardi fusion dish.

Yemeni Soup

Persian Saffron Pudding

Per her website, this dish is a fusion between two traditional Persian desserts.