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For the foodies amongst us! 5 recipes to try from Israel’s top chefs

Sea Bass With Roasted Peppers and Herb Cream Filling Photo courtesy of The Edge Partners PR.

By JESSICA HALFIN
Rosh Hashanah menus, while traditional and delicious, can also get a little boring if kept the same year after year. With Israeli food trending across the globe, now is a perfect time to add some authentic Israeli flavors to your holiday.

We have gathered five exclusive recipes from some of Israel’s top chefs: from a whole roasted fish to a sweet whiskey cocktail and an apple dessert that is sure to start your year off on a sweet and beautiful note.

Sea Bass With Roasted Peppers and Herb Cream Filling
Chef Mor Cohen, Herbert Samuel Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Herzliya

Cohen is a respected chef known for his haute kosher cuisine at the Ritz Carlton. While a fish head on the table might be considered off-putting, it is one of the most traditional symbols of the Jewish New Year, so this recipe serves double duty as  both delicious and symbolic.
For the fish:
4 whole sea bass, deboned and descaled (each fish should weight about 1 pound)
2 lemons
Salt and pepper to flavor

For the herb cream:
6 garlic cloves peeled
2 cups of freshly picked herb leaves (oregano, parsley, basil, celery)
1 baguette (just use the inside and not the crust)
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

For the roasted peppers:
4 medium-sized onions (cut in half and diced)
8 garlic cloves diced
1 hot green pepper, cut in rings (optional)
8 fresh peppers that have been grilled and singed. The peppers should be sliced in wide strips.
6 tomatoes similarly roasted and singed and sliced in strips
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of arak, ouzo or other anise-flavored liquor
1 teaspoon freshly ground oregano
Salt to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Process the herbs in a food processor together with the garlic and baguette. The mixture should be lightly sprinkled with olive oil until it becomes a consistent yet creamy texture. Transfer to a piping bag and refrigerate.

3. To prepare the peppers: Heat a large saucepan with olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and hot peppers (if desired) until the aromas start rising from the pan. Add the diced onions and cook until they become translucent and tender.

4. Add the peppers and tomatoes and stir generously. Add in the arak, bring to a boil and reduce the liquid to about half.

5. Add the oregano, reduce to a low heat and cover. Keep cooking for about 20 minutes, regularly checking and adjusting the taste with salt. Remove from heat and set aside until ready for serving.

6. Using a sharp knife, pierce the sides of the fish ensuring the cut reaches the middle. Cuts should be along the sides and along the fish’s spine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and set the fish standing (as if swimming) on a baking dish. Insert a half a lemon in the fish’s cavity and fill the incisions with the herb-crème.

7. Bake the fish for about 18 minutes, until the fish is completely cooked and you see the cream begin to take on a darker golden color.

8. Remove and serve the fish over a generous bed of the peppers. Garnish with parsley.

Stuffed Chard Leaves with Pomegranate Molasses
Chef Merav Barzilay, Meshek Barzilay

The Neve Tzedek neighborhood in Tel Aviv is the culmination of its artist residents boasting an unmistakable relaxed bohemian chic vibe, which of course extends to its restaurants and cafes. Right at the heart of the newly declared “vegan capital of the world” sits Meshek Barzilay, the city’s pioneering vegan restaurant, 17 years young, and its newer delicatessen (opened in April 2018), that serves the ready-made organic and vegan dishes in high demand.

For Rosh Hashanah one of the restaurant’s specialties are these cooked chard leaves stuffed with grains, dried fruits, nuts and tart pomegranate molasses. It is a nod to the pomegranate, a major sign of the holiday.
For the stuffed chard leaves:
Large bunch chard leaves (best if you can get it with large uniform leaves)
2 cups cooked freekeh or quinoa
Purple onion, cut into small cubes and caramelized
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup mixed dried fruits, such as dried cranberries, dried figs and dried apples
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon salt
Pinch white pepper

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
Half a white onion, sliced
8 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch Baharat spice

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Blanch whole chard leaves in boiling water for 20-30 seconds to soften, carefully open up each leaf and set down single file on a smooth surface.

3. Remove the stem from each chard leaf with a paring knife.

4. Prepare the filling: Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl, and adjust seasoning to taste.

5. Fill the center of each leaf with a bit of filling (about 1 1/2 tablespoons, but the amount of filling will vary according to your leaf size).

6. Fold the sides of the leaf inwards toward the center and roll from the cut portion inward. Tightly pack the stuffed chard leaves into a baking dish and set aside.

7. Prepare the sauce: Saute the onion and olive oil until golden. Add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes start to fall apart, but not so much that the tomatoes start to lose their color.

8. Add the spices and a bit of water if needed to get a thin sauce.

9. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste, then pour over the stuffed chard.

10. Cover the baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and the chard leaves are cooked through.

11. Serve with a garnish of chopped mint leaves and a light drizzle of pomegranate molasses.

Apple Streusel Honey Cake
Chefs Rossella Jona and Amir Porat, Biscotti Bakery

What started out as a very small Tel Aviv business 15 years ago is now a booming catering business with a staff of 200 workers and plans to become an Israeli café chain. Now located in Bnei Brak, just east of the big city, they are committed to using high-quality ingredients to make their mark on the Israeli pastry shop scene. To replicate their famous apple streusel-topped honey cake at home this holiday, just follow this recipe, which we took straight from the head chefs.
For the cake:
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup strong fruit tea, brewed and cooled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 green apple, peeled and sliced for garnishing the unbaked cake

For the streusel topping:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch salt

Directions:
1. To make the topping: In a food processor, blend all the ingredients in short pulses until you get a coarse crumb.

2. Transfer the crumbs to a sealed container and chill until use.

3. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 F.

4. Whip eggs with the sugar until the mixture becomes thick and triples in size.

5. Add the oil and mix to combine, then add the honey and do the same.

6. In a medium bowl, combine the spices flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to the eggs mixture, and add the cooled tea. You can also add fresh peeled and chopped apples or pears, or cherries to the batter at this stage if you wish.

7. Pour into 2 loaf pans and top with a light layer of streusel and 12-13 apple slices in vertical line down the center. Bake for about 40 minutes.

8. Cake is done when a toothpick comes out dry with a few moist crumbs attached.

Apple and Honey Whiskey Cocktail
Milk & Honey Whiskey Distillery, Tel Aviv

It’s definitely the time for Israeli whiskey on the international scene, and Rosh Hashanah is the perfect occasion to treat yourself to a bottle of the first official batches of the stuff. With at least five Israeli whiskey distilleries having popped up in the past few years, the race is on to see which one can produce the best barrels the fastest. The warm climate in Israel actually speeds up the distilling process.

Milk & Honey’s whiskey has a smooth taste, which just happens to be perfect for blending into a sweet apple and honey cocktail.
1/4 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons honey syrup
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon Calvados (apple brandy)
3 tablespoons Milk & Honey whiskey or other “New Make” whiskey

Directions:
1. Make honey syrup: Mix 3 parts honey with 1 part hot water and stir thoroughly until liquid unifies. For example: 10 ounces honey and a little more than 3 ounces of hot water. Bottle and keep refrigerated.

2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the apple with honey syrup.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients, fill with ice and shake vigorously.

4. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an apple slice.

Cream Puffs with Candied Pecan  and Date Honey Custard
Pastry Chefs Itzik and Keren Kadosh from Kadosh Café in Jerusalem

Kadosh bakery and café in Jerusalem is practically a city landmark. The establishment got its start back to 1967 and has been in the Kadosh family ever since. Now run by a husband-and-wife pastry chef team, Itzik and Keren Kadosh, the place preserves the European café culture of the family’s Hungarian roots while having modernized the menu to include Israeli treats, sourdough breads, French pastries and fresh pastas, all handmade.

Creating variations on their delicacies for the New Year, this is an exclusive recipe we got from the legendary chefs for Paris-Brest, a doughnut-shaped cream puff filled with a candied pecan and date honey pastry cream.
For the choux pastry:
1/2 cup full-fat milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For the garnish:
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 teaspoon egg white
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar

For the pecan and date honey custard filling:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon full-fat milk
3 egg yolks
Scant 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
Scant 1 cup chopped honey roasted, or candied pecans
1/4 cup date honey
1/2 cup whipped heavy cream (from 1/4 cup heavy cream)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. To make the choux pastry: In a pan, bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to a boil. Immediately take the pan off the heat and add the full flour amount all at once.

3. Mix with a wooden spoon and put the pan back on a medium low flame. Cook until the mixture starts to dry out and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball around your spoon. Take the mixture off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.

4. In a mixer on low speed (or in a medium bowl by hand), add the eggs one at a time, beating until each egg is thoroughly combined before adding the next egg. (The mixture will curdle initially, but then come back together as you beat it.)

5. Prep a baking sheet by lining with baking paper and tacking the paper down with a small dot of the choux pastry mixture on the underside of each corner.

6. Fill a large pastry bag with the mixture. Using a 6-inch round cookie cutter to guide you, pipe a fat 7-inch circle. The circle should be a bit raised and not completely flat.

7. Mix the almonds, egg white and powdered sugar and spread it on top of the piped circles. Bake for 40 minutes, until deep golden brown, take out of the oven and set aside to let cool.

8. To make the pecan and date honey custard: Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold milk. Add the egg yolks and sugar, and lightly beat into a fully combined mixture.

9. Pour the rest of the milk (3/4 cup plus+ 1 tablespoon) into a saucepan. Add the vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Remove the vanilla bean from the pot with a slotted spoon, split and with the help of a spoon scrape the seeds into the saucepan. Return the vanilla pod to the pot and lower the heat.

10. Add a third of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture and beat well. Pour the tempered egg yolk mixture back into the hot milk mixture and cook over a low flame, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.

11. Remove the empty vanilla pod, add chopped pecans and date honey, and mix to combine.

12. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cover with a piece of plastic wrap directly covering the surface of the custard. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to the fridge to chill for 2 hours.

13. After chilling, whisk the custard for about half a minute to get a smooth mixture without clumps. Whip cream, and fold into the custard mixture and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip.

14. To assemble: Cut the cooled choux pastries in half lengthwise, pipe a fat layer of custard and seal with the other half like a sandwich. Sift powdered sugar over the top as a garnish.

Jessica Halfin is an American-Israeli baker, gourmet cook, food and culture writer, and all-around foodie. She is the owner and operator of Haifa Street Food Tours, a company that leads custom foodie adventures in Haifa, Israel, where she lives with her husband and three sons.

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