Miami food pros share Rosh Hashana recipes



‘Growers, Grocers & Gefilte Fish: A Gastronomic Look at Florida Jews & Food’ opens Oct. 15 at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-5044,

Side dish

Spinach, Challah, Apple and Pecan Stuffing

Sarah Davidoff shared the recipe for this savory stuffing, which features two Rosh Hashana favorites, apples and challah. The dish may be assembled and refrigerated a day ahead, and baked just before serving.

6 tablespoons chicken fat or olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

5 celery ribs, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

10-ounce box chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain

4 cups cubed challah

2 large apples, peeled and cubed

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (or to taste)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken stock

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 3-quart casserole. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the fat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, celery and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the spinach with the bread, breaking up spinach so it does not clump. Mix in apples and pecans.

When onion mixture is cooked, stir in nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and mix in parsley.

Pour hot mixture over the bread and mix well. (Any liquid at the bottom will get absorbed.)

Spoon stuffing into the prepared baking pan, and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake 30 minutes more. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Per serving: 335 calories (58 percent from fat), 22.3 g fat (5 g saturated, 10 g monounsaturated), 31 mg cholesterol, 6.8 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 4.8 g fiber, 224 mg sodium.


Grandma Eleanor’s Chopped Liver

Eleanor Marrich was Zak H. Stern’s maternal grandmother. She used to make the chopped liver in a hand-grinder. You can use a food processor. Rendered chicken fat, or schmaltz, is made by taking the fat off the chicken and heating it until liquefied. It’s available in some supermarket frozen food sections. The hard little bits that don’t melt are called gribenes — “To die for,” says Stern’s mother, Leslie.

1/4 cup rendered chicken fat (schmaltz), plus a few more tablespoons as needed

3 large onions, chopped

1 pound chicken livers

4 large eggs, hard-cooked and chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons chicken broth or hot water

Salt to taste

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of chicken fat over medium-high heat until it liquefies and starts to shimmer. Add the onions and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until onions are golden-brown and translucent and have produced a lot of liquid. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of chicken fat over medium-high heat Add the chicken livers. Cook 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until they are cooked through and not pink inside. Do not overcook. Remove to a small bowl to cool.

In a food processor, pulse chicken livers just a few times, so they’re coarsely ground. Spoon them into a mixing bowl.

Briefly process the onions, reserving any accumulated onion broth. Mixture should be wet and coarse. Stir onions into chopped chicken liver. Mix in the chopped egg.

Stir in chicken broth or hot water a tablespoon at a time, moistening to desired consistency. You may also add another tablespoon or two of chicken fat. Season with salt to taste. Makes 2 cups, about 8 servings.

Per serving: 180 calories (60 percent from fat), 11.8 g fat (3.6 g saturated, 4.6 g monounsaturated), 294 mg cholesterol, 13 g protein, 4.5 g carbohydrates, 0.7 g fiber, 82 mg sodium.

Main dish

Whole Roast Fish With Toasted Garlic, Oranges and Chiles

Miami chef Michelle Bernstein is also among the food professionals who will be spotlighted in the Jewish Museum of Florida exhibit “Growers, Grocers and Gefilte Fish: A Gastronomic Look at Florida Jews and Food,” which opens Oct. 15. Bernstein shared this Rosh Hashana recipe with the Chicago Tribune.

1/2 cup olive oil

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 2 limes

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 serrano chile, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 whole yellowtail snappers (1 1/2 pounds each), gutted and scaled

2 fennel bulbs, sliced into 1/4-inch thick strips

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic; keep the pan moving, swirling it over the heat, until the garlic turns golden brown. Remove from the heat, carefully add orange and lime juices, cumin, chile, cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Taste for seasoning. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the fish in a large bowl; pour in the garlic-oil-citrus juice mixture. Slather the mixture all over the fish. Marinate at least 20 minutes, or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the fennel strips in a single layer in a roasting pan; season with salt and pepper to taste. Position the fish over the fennel; drizzle the marinade over the fish and fennel. Cover the pan with foil; bake, 15 minutes. Remove the foil; raise the heat to 400 degrees. Bake until the fish is cooked through, 12 to 18 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 316 calories, 16 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrates, 35 g protein, 177 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.


Honey Mango Upside-Down Cake

Michelle Bernstein developed this Rosh Hashana recipe for the Chicago Tribune. She considers it a cross between a sponge cake and a honey cake, with a fluffier texture.


1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter

1/4 cup each brown sugar and honey

2 ripe but somewhat firm mangoes, peeled and thickly sliced


1/2 cup each canola oil, brown sugar and honey

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon each baking soda, kosher salt and allspice

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2/3 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

Spray the sides and bottom of a 9-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cut a circle of parchment paper that fits into the bottom of the pan. Lay the parchment circle into the greased pan; spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray.

For the topping, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; add the sugar, stirring. Once the sugar and butter have melted together, stir in the honey. While it’s warm, pour into prepared pan. Top the caramel with mango, slightly overlapping the slices.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. For the cake, combine the oil, sugar and honey in a large bowl. Add the eggs; mix until combined. Sift all dry ingredients together in a second bowl. Combine the sour cream, orange zest and vanilla together in a third bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture one-third at a time, alternating with one-third of sour cream mixture.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake until cake is golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center, 25-35 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack until just warm to the touch. Unmold the cake onto a serving platter while it’s still warm. Makes 10 servings.

Per serving: 446 calories, 20 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 79 mg cholesterol, 63 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 303 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.

Special to the Miami Herald

At sundown on Sept. 4, Jews everywhere will observe Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, by attending synagogue, gathering with family and, of course, with food.

From matzo ball soup to honey cake, food is an intrinsic part of Jewish culture. The Jewish Museum of Florida celebrates that with its upcoming exhibit, Growers, Grocers and Gefilte Fish: A Gastronomic Look at Florida Jews and Food, which opens Oct. 15.

The story starts with Moses — Moses Levy, who began the state’s first agricultural colony, Pilgrimage Plantation, in 1822. Then comes 190 years of delis and dairies, restaurants and ranchers, right up to today.

The exhibit embraces 250 Florida individuals, families and business with ties to food and to Judaism. We spoke to two of them about Rosh Hashana.

The caterer

As a child, caterer Sarah Davidoff cooked with her mother, making classic boeuf bourguignon and buttery Parker House rolls. By her teens, she was catering parties. “I could make $3 an hour babysitting or a couple hundred dollars on a Saturday afternoon,” she says.

Food is a business for Davidoff, 43, but it’s also personal. From hitting the deli “to get our corned beef fix” to preparing and sharing holiday meals, “my Jewish identity has always been strong,” she says. And Rosh Hashana has always revolved around family, friends and food.

When she was growing up, her grandparents would fly in for the holiday, her mother, Judith, would invite “an eclectic group of guests,” and mother and daughter would cook together, baking challah and a turkey stuffed with challah, apples, and nuts.

“My mother would make a potato kugel with the most amazing crust on the bottom,” Davidoff recalls. “We waited all year for it.”

Davidoff opened her catering business, Fare to Remember, in 1997. When she married David Goodman eight years later, she got new insight into the food business from her father-in-law, Artie Goodman, manager of the legendary Miami Beach deli Rascal House.

“That place pumped out more food than any restaurant I’ve seen in South Florida,” says Davidoff. “… They made everything old-school, from scratch. It was just as busy at three in the morning as it was at ten in the morning.”

Goodman worked long hours, holidays and weekends, and Davidoff does, too. In addition to doing private parties and corporate functions, Fare to Remember is the anchor caterer at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest, so weekends are often filled with bar and bat mitzvahs and weddings.

But even after 25 years in the business, she still delights in how food brings people together.

“I have gotten teary standing in the corner of a ballroom at the temple, watching everybody eating and drinking and dancing and enjoying their evening,” she says. “It’s one of the best parts of my job.”

Davidoff will be working during Rosh Hashana, but a few days later, she, her husband, their 6-year-old son, extended family and friends will have a do-over “when we can do it together.”

Their belated holiday meal is guaranteed to be “crazy, loud, boisterous, with dogs running around, jokes being told” and plenty to eat, she says. “Spectacular.”

The baker

Zak H. “Zak the Baker” Stern grew up in Pinecrest, “a rebellious punk kid” who attended Bet Breira Hebrew School but “didn’t connect to one single bit of it.”

Not in temple, perhaps, but he connected at the kitchen and the table.

“I happen to love this food,” he says. Especially at Rosh Hashana. “My mom makes awesome matzo ball soup. And chopped liver — I love chopped liver. Stewy, meaty cholent, I can’t get enough.”

At the height of his wayward teens, Stern wanted something more. “I wanted a wise old rabbi to sit and explain things to me, a bunch of fiddlers on the roof — Jewish, old, wise, hairy men in vests drinking lots of whiskey and singing songs together. I found nothing like that.”

He left Miami and Judaism after school, with no plans to return to either. He apprenticed abroad, learning to bake sourdough in Sweden and make cheese in the south of France and Israel. He opened a bakery in Tuscany. He fell in love. The romance fizzled. He took off for India.

It was there, of all places, that he reconnected with his faith by way of Chabad, a Hasidic branch of Judaism that delivers the sense of community and “spiritual connection” he’d always craved.

Since returning to Miami two years ago, Stern, 28, has become part of the Chabad community here. He also finds a spiritual component in baking bread the old-school way, waking when it’s still dark and making everything by hand.

“We use a sourdough mother,” a cultured starter that gives the bread its distinctive tangy taste and significant crust. “You have to respect the mother, flow with her. She’s the driving force of our bakery,” he says. “My purpose in Miami is to offer more tradition, to brings things back a little for the sake of balance.”

This Rosh Hashana will be a special one for Stern: He will celebrate it with his bride and bakery assistant, Batsheva Wulfsohn, whom he married two months ago.

Stern, whose bread is served at a dozen restaurants including Michy’s and The Local, is finalizing plans for a kosher bakery in Wynwood. “We’re quality first and we happen to be kosher,” he says. “We want to have a bread accessible to everybody.”

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