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Timeless and tasty traditions

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Soba noodles

What’s the first thing you put into your mouth after the fast?

Growing up, I carried a little bag of cookies to synagogue in order to break the fast with the sounding of the shofar. That was followed by a swift walk home, where my mother unceremoniously warmed up the previous night’s leftovers. Over time, there was some discussion that the meal after fasting should be lighter, and we switched to dairy, which seems to be the norm for everyone I know, though dairy doesn’t connote light by any means.

I usually host the breaking of the fast for extended family and friends. My space lends itself to a casual buffet and seating in multiple smaller rooms. Guests filter in from their respective synagogues at varying times and may break the fast as they enter. This calls for a preponderance of food that can be enjoyed at room temperature.

Many people like to break the fast with a bite of something sweet, so there are danishes and rogelach. There’s juice for those who need a quick sugar fix, decaf for those concerned about sleep and full caf for those with caffeine withdrawal headaches.

Many of the favourites on the menu are heavy on carbs and cheese. But when I gently suggested that I drop a couple of longtime standards in favour of healthier alternatives, I was met with much resistance – even from my fitness fanatics. It seems that when it comes to holiday meals, tradition trumps diet.

READ: OBSERVING OUR HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

So I still make my snow-capped pineapple cheese noodle pudding, rising mile high thanks to lots of eggs. And guests lap up the mouth-watering French toast casserole composed of fluffy challah drenched in berries, butter, vanilla and maple syrup. The table is laden with salads, dips, lox and delicacies that can be left out as guests filter in. Following are three recipes that work well at room temperature.


Soba noodles

These Japanese noodles are delicious hot or cold. Cook noodles according to package directions. Simply lay them out on a pretty dish and top with a savoury topping of your choice, such as peanut sauce, roasted peppers or grilled mushrooms.


Ginger salmon

Place filet(s) on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Douse with finely grated fresh ginger, soy sauce and maple syrup, about a tbsp. per person. (Careful – too much ginger can be overpowering.) Bake uncovered at 400. Sprinkle with white and black toasted sesame seeds and fresh chives before serving, for flavour, texture and appearance.


Tomato basil halibut
Tomato basil halibut

Tomato basil halibut

I Iove the look of a white-fleshed fish contrasted with the brightness of the basil and tomatoes. Place halibut filets in a Pyrex baking dish with – per filet – salt and pepper to taste, 3 tsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, 1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil. Bake covered for 10 minutes at 400.

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