The Jewish New Year is upon us. What's a girl to make for a holiday this big and momentous? Answer: a whole lotta food. But at the request of quite a few lovely readers, this year, I'm getting more specific. I'll be posting my Rosh Hashana menu from soup to cake, and -- per your requests -- I'll share my recipe for apple cake. In my humble opinion, it's a perfect recipe, with cinnamon-laced apples and the all-important crust. Let's get to it, shall we?
First things first: my work schedule is such that I'll have one day - one half day, if we're being precise -- to cook. With this in mind, my wonderful stepmother-in-law-to-be, Terri, is bringing a bunch of the staples with her from Detroit. Among the things coming on the plane are soup, 3 chickens, and 2 briskets. Clearly the lady is used to cooking for a crowd, and thank god for that.
Have no fear: just because she's doing brisket doesn't mean I'm not armed with a recipe for ya. It's hard to believe I haven't shared this brisket recipe yet, because it is my absolute favorite, and I rarely make brisket any other way.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's the whole menu:
Homemade challah Various homemade pickles Matza ball soup Salad of arugula and romaine, peaches, raw sweet corn, chives, and mustard vinaigrette Terri's chicken and brisket Moroccan eggplant (recipe to come shortly) Summer squash couscous with sultanas, pistachios, and mint
And, for both nights, I'll be making my new favorite Jewish apple cake. It's a not-too-sweet, plenty sturdy batter, laced with thin slices of cinnamon-and-sugar-coated apples. I used Cortland, which become soft but not at all mushy. Granny Smith would be great as well. Pretty much anything but Macintosh and Delicious will work.
Some folks like their apple cake with big chunks of fruit; I love that this cake has the apples in thin slices, woven through the body of the cake. When you're pouring the batter into the pan, it'll feel as though you took a bunch of apple slices, dunked them in batter, and baked them off. I love that. This cake is loaded with apples, but have no fear -- the batter expands in the oven, and the blob of batter-coated apples becomes a phenomenal cake.
We're rounding out 5770 here at NDP, and we're also sneakin' up on the blog's 3-year anniversary. It's hard to believe; I'm not sure what else to say. Blogging in this space, hearing your comments, reading your emails, and sharing my favorite recipes with all of you gives me no small measure of joy. I feel lucky to be a place you visit, and I hope this year brings all of us many, many blessings. Have a happy, healthy new year!
My Favorite Apple Cake
4 firm, tart apples; I like Cortlandt 3 tablespoons cinnamon 1 3/4 cups plus 4 tablespoons sugar, divided juice of half a lemon 3 cups flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla 1 cup vegetable or corn oil 1/2 cup apple sauce
Preheat oven to 350º. Butter and flour either a bundt pan (for pretty slices but no real crust), or a 9-inch springform or round pan (more boringtown shape, great crust).
Core apples, slice into 1/2 inch slices, and toss in a medium bowl with cinnamon, 4 tablespoons sugar, and juice of half a lemon. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, remaining sugar, and oil. Beat with whisk or whip with electric mixer until frothy and somewhat satiny, about 60 seconds with a whisk or 30 with an electric mixer. Add vanilla and whisk to combine.
Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to egg mixture. Whisk to combine. Add half apple sauce, and whisk again. Repeat with second third of dry ingredients, remaining apple sauce, and finally, the last third of the dry ingredients. When batter is smooth and only a few lumps remain, add apples, with all accumulated liquid, to batter. Fold in to combine.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake approximately 60 minutes, maybe 70, until cake is set in the middle and crust is golden. Set pan on rack and allow cake to cool 15 minutes. Then gingerly run knife around perimeter of cake, set plate overtop, and flip pan, inverting cake onto plate. Allow to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
My Best Brisket Recipe
5 pounds first cut brisket, trimmed of any excess fat 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 leeks, cleaned and chopped 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped 2 carrots, quartered lengthwise and chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped 5 cloves garlic, smashed, skins removed 2 bay leaves 2 tablespoons tomato paste 3-4 sprigs parsley, roughly chopped 2 sprigs thyme 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses 1 cup pomegranate juice 1 bottle dry red wine minus 1 cup (to drink, of course 1/2 cup beef stock, optional
Preheat oven to 325º.
Pat brisket dry and salt liberally on both sides, If using kosher meat, do not salt.
Put your largest, deepest saute pan (preferably oven safe; a dutch oven is a great one to use) over medium high heat.
Using sturdy kitchen tongs, transfer brisket to pan and sear, undisturbed, for 4-5 minutes, until underside develops brown crust. Turn brisket and cook 3-4 minutes on second side, until similarly seared. If pan is oven-safe, transfer brisket to a plate. If not, transfer brisket to oven-safe pan and set aside.
Pour off any accumulated fat in pan, reserving the fond (the delicious brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, which have all the brisket flavor in them). Reduce heat to medium, add olive oil, and swirl to coat. Ad onions, leeks, carrots, and celery, and saute until onions are translucent, 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add garlic and saute 3 minutes more. Add bay leaves and herbs.
Add tomato paste, and use the back of a wooden spoon to break it up and incorporate it into the vegetables. Saute 3 minutes more, and then transfer to plate or pan holding brisket.
Raise heat back to medium-high. Add a splash of wine to the pan, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond from the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the wine, pomegranate juice, and beef stock, if using. Cook on medium-high heat until reduced by half. Add pomegranate molasses and cook 1 minute more.
Transfer brisket, vegetables, and braising liquid to oven-safe pan (if using a dutch oven, cooking liquid already will be in it, so carefully transfer brisket and seasoning to pan.)
Braise, covered, at 325 for 3 hours, until soft and tender. At the 1 hour mark, taste sauce and correct for salt and seasoning. When 3 hours have passed, remove pan from oven and allow brisket to rest at room temperature approximately 20-30 minutes. To serve, slice against the grain as thickly as desired. Top each slice with a spoonful of sauce.