Old school Ashkenazi food taken to a new high

  • RoshHashanaRecipeCrispyChicken
Americans Liz Alpern and Jeffrey Yoskowitz travel the world, cooking and curating dining events and developing recipes, teaching classes, and holding workshops on their version of Ashkenazi Jewish food. As the founders of a food venture, The Gefilteria, they reimagine Eastern European Jewish cuisine, adapting classic dishes to the values and tastes of a new generation. Their mission is to make olde-worlde food beautiful, inspiring, and delicious. The SA Jewish Report asked them for special Rosh Hashanah recipes for our audience, and this is what they sent:

Crispy chicken with tzimmes

Tzimmes is a sweet Ashkenazi stew in which the ingredients vary depending on family origin and tradition. The dish is often eaten during the High Holidays as a symbol of a sweet new year. This sweet-and-savoury chicken tzimmes is an easy dish with a built-in side. The juices of the chicken enhance the flavours of the carrots and prunes. It’s filling when paired with rice or kasha, and it’s colourful and complex enough to serve on the holidays.

Serves four


3 tablespoons grated and peeled fresh ginger

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more as needed

1 teaspoon packed grated lemon zest

2 to 2½ pounds (0.9kg to 1.13kg) chicken pieces, bone-in with skin

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons

1 pound (453g) carrots , cut into ½-inch (1.2cm) rounds (about 3 cups)

½ pound (227g) pitted prunes, coarsely chopped (about 1½ cups)

½ cup water

Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Centigrade). In a small bowl, mix the ginger, honey, 1 tablespoon of the oil, the salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest to make a glaze. Set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe frying pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin-side down, and sear the pieces for five to seven minutes until brown. Transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl, generously coat with the glaze, and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan, and cook until it softens and becomes aromatic, about three minutes. Add the carrots and prunes, and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the carrots are just beginning to soften, adding a pinch or two more salt and red pepper flakes. Add the water to the pan, scraping up the bits of carrot, onion, and prune that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken, skin side up, on top of the tzimmes, drizzling any glaze in the bowl over the chicken.

Place the pan in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through – the safe internal temperature for chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Centigrade) – its skin is crispy and brown, and the sauce looks thick and bubbly.

Serve the chicken with tzimmes and kasha or rice. Spoon over any pan juices, and garnish with parsley.

Orange-spiced, rye honey cake

Honey cake emerges from its hibernation around the High Holidays, when honey and other sweet foods are eaten to usher in a sweet new year. But as much as this is an early autumn cake (in the northern hemisphere), its warming spices make it a perfect winter cake that works for dessert and in the morning with a cup of coffee.

The rye adds a rustic feel, a feature of older Jewish and rural French honey cake recipes. Try cutting out the sugar altogether if you prefer a more subtle sweetness. We often bake our honey cake in a loaf pan, but for special occasions, a Bundt pan looks beautiful. If using a standard 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan, you will need to double this recipe and let it cool for an hour before removing it from the pan.

Makes one loaf. Serves 10 to 12.


1½ cups vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup pure honey

¾ cup lukewarm coffee (brewed and cooled slightly)

1 teaspoon packed orange zest

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup rye flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 degrees Centigrade). Generously grease a 9 x 5-inch (22 x 12cm) loaf pan with oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 1½ cups oil, the eggs, sugar, honey, coffee, and orange zest. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture, then stir with a fork or a whisk until the batter is smooth and free of lumps.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until set in the middle. The cake should hold firm when lightly pressed on top. Be careful not to leave it in the oven for too long, or it will dry out.

Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes (1 hour for a Bundt cake) before very carefully inverting it, and removing the pan. Slice and serve with fresh fruit and tea.


Excerpted from the book THE GEFILTE MANIFESTO by Jeffrey Yoskowitz and Liz Alpern. Copyright © 2016 by Gefilte Manifesto LLC. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by Lauren Volo.


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