By JIM ROMANOFF
Rosh Hashanah typically is a solidly autumnal holiday, falling sometimes as late as October. But this year, the Jewish New Year comes early — the first week of September, a time when summer’s bounty is still fresh for much of the country.
“It’s a gift,” says kosher chef Laura Frankel, executive chef for Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering in Chicago. The holiday falling at the height of the harvest season presents an abundance of culinary opportunities for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur cooking, she explains.
The timing presents cooks with completely different choices in terms of what foods — particularly produce — are in the markets. Frankel says her cooking theme this year is clean and simple because the produce will be fresh and ripe.
CARAMELIZED ONION, EGGPLANT AND HEIRLOOM TOMATO TART
Start to finish: 2 hours
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, chilled in the freezer for 1 hour
4 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
Olive oil cooking spray
1 3/4 pounds small eggplants, peel and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced red onions (about 3 large)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 heirloom tomatoes (multiple colors), cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Fresh basil leaves, to garnish
To make the crust, in a large bowl whisk together flour and salt. Add chilled olive oil and using clean hands or a fork, mix until the oil is incorporated and the mixture is the consistency of small peas.
Add the ice water and mix until dough has just formed. Shaped into a 6-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 375 F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
Mist the eggplant rounds with cooking spray, then season both sides of each slice with salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplants slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until soft and golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the eggplant cooks, in a large saucepan over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and saute until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and the thyme, then reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally so the onions don’t burn, until very soft and browned, about another 30 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and remove from heat.
Mist an 11-inch springform tart pan with cooking spray.
On a clean, floured surface using a floured rolling pin, roll the chilled dough into a 13-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the tart pan and fold in and press together the overhanging dough to build up the edges. If the dough tears or breaks, simply piece it together and press it into the pan.
Spread the onion mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the tart. Add an even layer of the eggplant. Top with tomato slices arranged in an overlapping circular pattern. Spray the top of the tart with olive oil cooking spray, then season with salt and pepper.
Bake until the crust is golden and the tomatoes are slightly browned, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Remove the outer ring of the pan and transfer the tart to a serving plate. Slice into 8 wedges and serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. Serve garnished with torn basil leaves.
DATE AND HONEY ZUCCHINI BREAD
Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder?
1 teaspoon baking soda?
1 teaspoon kosher salt?
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg?
1 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups packed shredded zucchini (not peeled)
1 cup coarsely chopped medjool dates
Set a rack in the center of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 F. Mist a Bundt pan with baking spray.
In medium bowl, whisk together both flours, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well beaten. Stir in the honey, oil and vanilla, then fold in the zucchini.
Add dry ingredients and chopped dates to the zucchini mixture. Stir just until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Do not over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted at the center of the loaf comes out clean and dry, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature.