My nearly 5-year-old son has been singing a song about the shofar, which he learned at transitional kindergarten. “I like to hear the shofar blast. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast,” he sings. One day on the drive home from school, he asked “Mama, can we go hear the shofar?”
“Did you hear the shofar at school? Do you mean you want to hear the shofar at the synagogue?”
“Yes,” he said, “at the synagogue.”
“Sure. We can go to the synagogue. Synagogue services for Rosh Hashanah take a long time, though. From breakfast all the way to lunchtime. But I can find you a children’s service, if you want. Would you like that?”
“Yes!” he said. “Will my friends be there?”
“Some of them might,” I replied. “I guess we’ll find out!” It should be fun.
Rosh Hashanah meals have come and gone, but for anyone who needs new ideas for the remainder of the holiday season, JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) has posted a “carefully curated collection of authentic Rosh Hashanah recipes” from its “favorite Mizrahi and Sephardic food bloggers and editors.” Among them: Moroccan butternut squash chickpea soup, black-eyed pea stew, pumpkin borekas, honeyed carrots and roasted chickpeas with tahini.
Another special dish for the holiday season, which I plan to serve before the Yom Kippur fast, is Gil Marks’ keftes de prassa (Turkish leek fritters). I’ll make it alongside a very easy, nontraditional kugel with farmer’s cheese, leftover leek greens and plums; and delicate, floral-scented North African poached quince.
Leek and Plum Kugel
¼ lb. chopped leeks (green part only, left over from making leek fritters)
1 lb. short pasta or egg noodles
⅔ lb. plums, halved and pitted
⅔ lb. farmer’s cheese
3 eggs, beaten
½ cup sour cream
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 pinches white pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking dish with butter. Cook pasta per directions, minus a minute or two, along with leeks. Drain, then combine pasta and leek with remaining ingredients directly in the baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
2 quinces, washed, peeled, cored
½ quart water
¼ to ⅓ cup honey
4 allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
⅛ tsp. cardamom kernels, or 3 pods
1 Meyer lemon or regular lemon
Quarter quinces, then slice each quarter lengthwise into three pieces. Cut these pieces in half. Place quince in a bowl of water to prevent browning. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium pot, except the lemon. Use vegetable peeler to peel zest into pot. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into pot through a small sieve. Cook on medium heat until honey dissolves. Add quince, cover, and cook. When it boils, turn heat down to low. Cook until quince is tender and pink. Serve at room temperature or chilled.