Fall / Jewish Holiday Dinner Party Menu

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The Jewish high holidays begin this weekend and go on throughout the month of September. People often celebrate the Jewish new year (this Sunday), Rosh Hashana, with festive fall dinners 2 nights in a row. It's traditional to have apples slices dipped in honey as an appetizer or dessert (to sweeten the new year) and to enjoy fall produce such as pomegranates and figs. And we always serve a round challah which symbolizes the cycle of the year. We have been invited to a dinner on Sunday and are hosting one on Monday. In case you are planning a menu like I am, here are a few ideas. But this menu also works well for any fall gathering!

MENU:

Pomegranate Campari & Sodas

Endive Bar Appetizer Platter

Apple Matchstick Salad

Squash Lasagna

Roasted Zaatar Carrots *or* Crispy Old Bay Brussels

Honey Cake

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COCKTAIL: Pomegranate Campari & Soda

A pomegranate Aperol Spritz could also be fun and festive. For that, mix equal parts Prosecco and Aperol over ice, add a splash of club soda and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

APPETIZER: Endive Bar

Serve a platter with yellow and/or purple endive leaves for people to fill themselves. I set out small bowls of fig jam, crumbled blue or feta cheese, ricotta or cream cheese, caramelized onions (easy to make ahead), pomegranate seeds, sautéed butternut squash cutes, sunflower seeds or pine nuts and fresh thyme or cilantro leaves.

SALAD: Apple Matchstick Salad

MAIN COURSE: Squash Lasagna

VEGETABLE SIDES: Roasted Zaatar Carrots or Crispy Old Bay Brussels Sprouts

DESSERT: Honey Cake (a Rosh Hashana tradition!)

Happy New Year (Shana tovah!)...and happy fall cooking!

Lentil + Sweet Potato Salad

Because I work from home, I love to have some prepped salads on hand for lunch, so I can grab a healthy bowl and keep working. I made this yesterday and it was super filling and tasty! The added bonus was the sweet cherry tomatoes which came from a friend's garden.

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LENTIL + SWEET POTATO SALAD

1 (15 oz) can lentils, drained & rinsed in a strainer

1 small sweet potato, baked for 1 hour at 375˚F (or until soft), then cooled & cubed

1/4 c  diced red onion

1 c cherry tomatoes, halved

For the dressing: 1 t rice vinegar, 1 T olive oil, 1 t Braggs amino acid (or soy sauce), 1 t sesame oil. Add a grind of black pepper before serving.

Toss all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy immediately! It also keeps well for a day or 2 in the fridge. Use this as a base and add in what you have on hand! I made a second batch and added chopped radishes which was a tasty, crunchy addition. Other add-in ideas include feta, tofu, pumpkin seeds or fresh cilantro.

Napa Girls Trip

 Kayoko walking to our room at Indian Springs

Kayoko walking to our room at Indian Springs

A few weeks ago I did a quick overnight girls trip with 2 of my best friends from college. We drove up to Napa County, which is about 2 hours away from where I live in the woods.  I had always heard about Indian Springs the cool, old resort in Calistoga, and despite my parents living only 10 minutes from there, I'd never been! Kayoko (my good friend and co-founder of Umami Mart) suggested it, and it was perfect for our little getaway.  I love its vintage white-washed look with palms, cactus gardens and striped pool awnings.  And a real geyser that constantly bubbling! It was a 24-hour splurge, complete with delicious food and wine, hot springs and the best massage at their spa.

 The pool at Indian Springs is actually filled with water from the natural hot spring! The water is quite warm, which really makes me want to go back in the winter.

The pool at Indian Springs is actually filled with water from the natural hot spring! The water is quite warm, which really makes me want to go back in the winter.

 Pool-side selfie! (in my  new palm swimsuit )

Pool-side selfie! (in my new palm swimsuit)

 Palms and cactus surrounding the pool area.

Palms and cactus surrounding the pool area.

 We had dinner at the restaurant at Indian Springs, Sam's Social Club. I thought the food was great. Aperol spritzes alongside deep-fried Brussels sprouts, grilled artichoke and burrata with fried bread. Yum!

We had dinner at the restaurant at Indian Springs, Sam's Social Club. I thought the food was great. Aperol spritzes alongside deep-fried Brussels sprouts, grilled artichoke and burrata with fried bread. Yum!

 Back at Sam's for Breakfast.

Back at Sam's for Breakfast.

 avocado toast!

avocado toast!

 We did a little shopping before heading home. Lincoln Street, the downtown drag of Calistoga, has some great antique stores. 

We did a little shopping before heading home. Lincoln Street, the downtown drag of Calistoga, has some great antique stores. 

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The drive home through Napa is so pretty, passing all the wineries and vineyards. It was a quick trip but I felt totally refreshed afterwards! I'll be back.

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Other Napa reccs:

The Calistoga Inn & Brewery: this is where I always go with my parents when I'm visiting them. We love to sit outside there and have a drink.

Cafe Sarafornia: great for a comfort food brunch!

Cook Tavern & Pizzeria: a tasty stop for lunch in St. Helena while wine tasting

Broccoli Fritters

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I feel like I am always looking for new ideas to get our 2 toddlers to eat vegetables. It's so hard! Max (who is 1)  simply throws everything and Ezra (who is 3) often removes anything green from his plate immediately upon arrival. This past Monday at 5pm I had just gotten home with both kids and had no idea what to make for dinner. I needed an idea quick and I remembered seeing this Broccoli Fritter recipe in my Smitten Kitchen newsletter. In the post, Deb talked about how fritters were the answer to this toddler problem so I decided to try it out on my 2 little veggie skeptics. 

The recipe is quite simple. You chop a head of broccoli into very small pieces, steam it in a skillet, then stir it in a bowl with flour, an egg and some grated cheese. Fry and eat!

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To my surprise, THE KIDS ACTUALLY ATE THEM!!! And I thought they were delicious, too, topped with yogurt, lemon and Maldon salt. I enjoyed a few of them with a glass of rosé. 

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This one will be making a recurring appearance. Recommended! Thanks, Deb. Now I am brainstorming what else I can turn into a fritter...

Broccoli Fritters

Adapted from this recipe by Smitten Kitchen. Makes about 8 fritters.

1 small head of broccoli

1/2 c flour

1 egg

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 c grated cheese (I used a mix of parmesan and cheddar)

salt and pepper to taste, oil for frying

Chop the broccoli into very small pieces (florets and the upper parts of the stems). Throw them in a big skillet with a splash of water and cover to steam (about 5 min). Drain the broccoli and move it to a mixing bowl. Add the other ingredients and stir to combine. Use a potato masher or the bottom of a glass to mash the broccoli mixture just a bit. It's ok if there are still some chunks. Fry heaping spoonfuls (to make patties) in olive oil until both sides are browned. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and serve alongside yogurt and a lemon wedge. My kids also liked dipping them in ketchup (whatever gets the greens down!). Enjoy!