Tag Archives: Rosh Hashanah

Apple Beehive

buzzing with anticipation 4I’m not sure what Elisabeth Prueitt had in mind when she created the Apple Beehive, but my mind immediately went to Rosh Hashanah. For the Jewish New Year, it is customary to dip apples in honey to symbolize our wishes for a sweet year for family, friends and all the Jewish people. There are quite a few sweet options available for us to choose from. Why specifically apples and honey?look at those layers

In researching this question, the interpretation I discovered on the website torah.org, resonated quite strongly with me. Their insight regarding the apple part of the equation, is explained this way:
“On most fruit trees the leaves appear before the fruit, thus providing a protective cover for the young fruit. The apple, however, makes a preemptive move by appearing before the leaves. The Jewish people are compared to an apple because we are willing to live out our Jewish lives even if this seems to leave us unprotected. “

The choice of honey was brilliantly explained with this insight:
“A bee can inflict pain by its sting, yet it also produces delicious honey. Life has this same duality of potential. We pray that our choices will result in a sweet year.”

This dessert is gorgeous in its purity. Gossamer thin slices of apples are shingled with butter, cinnamon and sugar. That’s it. Nothing else. When baked, the apple slices fuse together into a sweet-tart conglomeration that belie its simplicity. This is one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The flavours are surprisingly complex for so few ingredients.

A mandoline makes slicing the apples easy. If you have stellar knife skills, you can just use a sharp knife. Granny Smith apples are the perfect choice for this as they are tart and hold their shape when baked.slicing applesBrushing with melted butterIt really looks like a beehive before it goes into the oven.before bakingDuring baking, the apples shrink and caramelize, losing the lofty height it once had. It doesn’t quite resemble a beehive as much after baking, but this is so delicious, no one will complain. Just remember to take a before picture to show everyone!after bakingOnce the beehive comes out of the oven, brush it with some melted apricot jam to give it a glossy coat. glossy from apricot jamDelicious warm or at room temperature, it can be served plain.a naked sliceOr gild the lily and add some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.with some whipped creamOr do as I did and drizzle it with salted caramel sauce.everything's better with salted caramelWishing you all a happy, healthy and very sweet new year.

Click here to print recipe for Apple Beehive.


A Sweet New Year with Honey Sticks

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins next Sunday night. We have 20 coming for lunch next Monday and I have been busy planning my menu. I wanted to do something creative and pretty for the table setting, somehow incorporating honey which we dip apples in to signify our wish for a sweet new year.

There is no shortage of inspiration on Pinterest. I loved these honey dipper place cards and thought these place cards, tied to the cutlery were just adorable. In theory, I really like the idea of place cards. They are a great way to dress up a table. In practice however, in my family at least, no one really sits where they are told. On my husband’s side of the family, they just ignore the place cards and sit where they want. On my side, we at least attempt to be polite about it. Someone, quietly goes into the dining room, before the meal and rearranges the place cards to suit their preferences. (Not mentioning any names here!). So no place cards at my house.

My problem with those spiral wooden honey dippers is the drippy mess they make all over the table. When I did an online search of honey dippers, I discovered these honey sticks. They are the perfect size and I am hoping they will be quite tidy. I ordered 2 varieties, wildflower and blackberry. honey-sticksI created these stickers using the Avery online label design program.  It’s very user friendly and has many design options. I used these 2 inch round glossy labels  and stuck them on some scalloped round cardboard gift tags I found at Michaels craft store. I tied everything up with a bright red ribbon.

I’ll put one at each place setting. Everyone can sit where they want! Wishing you all a sweet and healthy new year.table-setting




Apple, Honey and Almond Tartine for Rosh Hashanah

half with almonds 2Apples and honey go together on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), like cookies and milk, every other day of the year! We dip apples in honey to symbolizes our wishes for a sweet year for family, friends and all the Jewish people. While this explanation makes sense, I have often wondered why specifically apples and honey?  Why not figs dipped into date syrup?

In researching this question, the interpretation I discovered on the website torah.org, resonated quite strongly with me. Their insight regarding the apple part of the equation, is explained this way:
“On most fruit trees the leaves appear before the fruit, thus providing a protective cover for the young fruit. The apple, however, makes a preemptive move by appearing before the leaves. The Jewish people are compared to an apple because we are willing to live out our Jewish lives even if this seems to leave us unprotected. “

The choice of honey was brilliantly explained with this insight:
“A bee can inflict pain by its sting, yet it also produces delicious honey.  Life has this same duality of potential. We pray that our choices will result in a sweet year.”

And so apples and honey it is again, this year on my holiday table. I usually place a big platter of apples on the table with a little knife and cutting board and a bowl of honey for dipping to start the meal. What results is a table littered with hacked up apples, band-aid wrappers (someone inevitablly cuts themself) apple cores and lots of gooey drippings everywhere.

Leave it to Martha to come up with a tidy, delicious and very beautiful solution to this sticky mess. It truly is a good thing. slice close up 625 sqMy take on Martha’s idea starts with my ultimate braided challah, sliced lengthwise into 1 inch thick planks. The slices of bread are lightly spread with honey and then covered with thinly sliced apples. A scattering of toasted sliced  almonds and a final drizzle of honey makes a very special start to your holiday meal. braidingbrushing with eggwith toppingThese open faced sandwiches really should be assembled just before serving. This is not usually a problem since there are always those guests who hang out in the kitchen, asking if they can help. Set up an assembly line and assign apple slicing, honey spreading and almond scattering. Your tartines will be ready in no time at all.

Wishing you all a sweet and healthy New Year.

Click here to print recipe for Rosh Hashanah Apple and Honey Tartine sliced 2

Traditions and a Brown Butter Apple Tart

two tarts 2 625 sqTraditions. All families have them. Those little rituals passed down from generation to generation that help shape your family by creating a sense of interconnectedness, you know, that warm fuzzy feeling that makes you appreciate being a part of this clan. Traditions can help create memories that fill your mind with laughter, love and joy. Hopefully your family has multiple positive traditions and not too many of the negative ones, that sadly get passed from generation to generation, like the ancient family recipe for guilt and passive-aggressive bullying!

Almost every summer my siblings, their spouses and kids and my mom descend upon us at the cottage for the Labour Day weekend. About eight years ago my youngest sister and brother and I were swimming in the lake and the next thing we knew, we had swum from our cottage to a little island in the middle of our lake, and back again, about a 2 kilometer swim. No one can really remember how the decision to swim this little marathon came about, but we have repeated the swim every summer since then. Lest you think we are elite athletes or something like that, let me assure you we swim the entire way with head-up breaststroke. None of us likes putting our heads in the water. So we talk and laugh, and cough the entire way there and back. My husband insists I wear a waist belt that has a little swimmers safety flag attached to it so that boats can see me and not run me over. He loves me dearly, I guess!the swimmersOver the years, various other family members have joined us and in 2009, my then 9 year old niece did the swim for her very first time! She is part mermaid. Last year my brother’s new wife joined us for the first time and we almost had to boot her out of the club when she started doing a proper crawl stroke and actually got her head wet. This summer she is 7 months pregnant, so we excused her. My brother made up some baseball hamstring injury excuse so he did not join us either. My 14 year old nephew completed the swim for the first time this summer and we were all very thrilled about that.

I have one brother-in-law that is known for his competitive nature. The first year he joined us for the swim, he was upset that my sister and I were swimming faster than he was. He claimed that it was his swim trunks that were slowing him down. Apparently they were not very aerodynamic as they kept filling up with water. Being the keen competitor he is, he removed the swim trunks, and swam commando. We made him promise to never do that again! Every third year, my cousin Lewis joins us, and he has come to treasure this new tradition, as well as the Double Coconut Granola and yogurt breakfast that awaits him when he is done. In addition to my little safety flag, we always have a canoe alongside us just in case someone gets too tired. This year my brother-in-law Guy got coerced into the role of spotter.

Regular readers of this blog may already know that my drink of choice in the summer is a cold glass of Prosecco. While I have no problem drinking alone, (I find my own company very amusing!), cracking open a bottle and sharing it with my sisters is even more enjoyable and has become a tradition that we have all come to love. However, this past weekend we only drank one bottle of Prosecco. We discovered a new wine that we all fell in love with. My siblings and mom brought me a case of assorted wines as a little thank you gift.bottle and glassWe all became smitten with a California wine by Ironstone called “Obsession.”. Made from the Symphony grape (a hybrid of the muscat and grenache gris grape), this wine was luscious. My brother-in-law chilled it in the freezer an hour before we served it. It has floral and citrus notes, with peach and pear overtones. It is clean and balanced with a crisp and slightly acidic finish, which saves the wine from being too cloyingly sweet. It is the perfect aperitif wine. A new tradition has been born!

I decided to test a new Rosh Hashanah recipe over the weekend since I had my niece Kailey here with me. Although she is only 12, she is an extremely gifted baker. She did all the baking and I shot the pictures. We made a brown butter apple tart, a take on the traditional Rosh Hashanah Apple Cake. Browned butter is one of those magical culinary techniques that makes everything taste  and smell better.

kneadingrolling dough

lining tart panlining pie shellThe custard filling is enhanced with vanilla bean and brown butter. It doesn’t get much better than that.  Topped with thinly sliced apple rings, this tart is sure to become a new Rosh Hashanah or fall tradition at your house.apples 2

placing applesbrown butter fillingNot only did my niece bake the tarts, she also helped wash the dishes!washing dishesicing sugar

Click here to print recipe for Brown Butter Apple Tart.

a slice


A Sweet New Year

Tomorrow night marks the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Honey is traditionally served at the Rosh Hashanah table to symbolize our hope for a sweet year ahead.  What you may not know, is that honey is rapidly at risk of becoming a scarce commodity.

What I’m about to share with you may sound a bit far-fetched, like a plot from an episode of CSI-The Animal Kingdom Edition, if there were such a version.

Honeybees are disappearing at an alarming rate.  Apparently, thriving colonies disappear overnight without leaving a trace, the bodies of the buzzing little victims are never found. Seemingly healthy communities fly off never to return. The queen bee and mother of the hive is abandoned to starve and die.

Bees don’t just make honey; they are critical in the pollination of our fruits and vegetables When you stop to consider that honeybees pollinate about one out of every three bites of food we eat, this is a serious matter. This missing bee phenomenon is known as “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD).   What is causing CCD is up for debate.

Some put forth the theory that whenever bees are stressed, a parasite, called nosema, attacks the bees digestive system. Anytime bees are stressed, their immune system takes a hit.  What could honeybees possibly be stressed about, you may ask?  In what’s called “migratory beekeeping”, beehives are often transported long distances to pollinate farms.  Imagine how you’d feel, doing a great job on one farm and then being packed up in a truck, to travel thousands of miles only to have to set up shop in a new location all over again.  That would stress anyone.

According to Richard Schiffman of  blogs.reuters.com

Three new studies point an accusing finger at a culprit that many have suspected all along, a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.

In the U.S. alone, these pesticides, produced primarily by the German chemical giant Bayer and known as “neonics” for short, coat a massive 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds. They are also a common ingredient in home gardening products.

Research published last month in the prestigious journal Science shows that neonics are absorbed by the plants’ vascular system and contaminate the pollen and nectar that bees encounter on their rounds. They are a nerve poison that disorient their insect victims and appear to damage the homing ability of bees, which may help to account for their mysterious failure to make it back to the hive.

What can we do to help? Here are a few ideas from the “District Domestic” website that you can implement in your garden, to help the plight of the honeybees.

  • Replace some of your lawn with flower beds.
  • Keep your garden as organic as possible! Avoid using pesticides and herbicides.
  • Plant native species, which bees love – for example: mint, daisies, strawberries, raspberries, lavender, salvia, asters, sunflowers and verbena.
  • Choose plants that flower at different stages in the growing season to provide a constant supply of food for the bees.

While honey cake is traditionally served at Rosh Hashanah, I have to admit that I’m not the biggest honey cake fan. My main complaint about honey cakes is that they are very sticky and cloyingly sweet.

To me, honey cake is the Jewish equivalent of fruitcake.  Everyone makes it but no one really wants to eat it.  However, here is a honey cake recipe that I have come upon that has changed my mind.   Honey-Glazed Beehive Cake is light and delicate, as a result of egg whites which are whipped to fluffy peaks and then folded into the batter.

The honey glaze which sandwiches the two halves of the hive together is created by combining brown sugar, honey and butter. The brown sugar and butter work their magic to tame the cloying sweetness of honey. I could not stop myself from licking the bowl.

This recipe comes from the June 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living. I have adapted it slightly and omitted the marzipan honey bees that Martha decorated her cake with. If you have the patience and fine motor skills to make the little marzipan bees, go for it! The hive cake pan is made by Nordicware and I got mine on Amazon.

Egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks and folded into the cake batter to help create a lighter honey cake.

The cake halves must be trimmed in order to sandwich them together to make the hive. The trimmings make a great afternoon snack with tea!

Martha recommends using the honey glaze when it is warm, to glue the halves together. I found that the two sides kept sliding, so I chilled the glaze for about an hour so the butter had a chance to set up a bit. Once firmer, the two halves stuck easily.

The remaining honey glaze can be rewarmed and poured over the cake if you like a “wet-look” sticky cake.

A final sugar glaze is made by mixing icing sugar and water together and poured over the cake.

Click here to print recipe for Beehive Honey Cake.

L’Shana Tova. Wishing you all a sweet, joyous and healthy New Year.