Rosh Hashana is time to fress

By Ed Shaerf

WE find any opportunity to over-eat. Friday night I end up in a food coma and I promise myself I will never eat again.

This usually lasts until kiddush on Saturday where I stuff myself stupid and so the cycle continues.

Itís nearly time again for another Jewish festival, which means one thing . . . time to fress.

When I think of Rosh Hashana, I think of food. Apple and honey, Gefilte fish and my mother-in-lawís ginger cake (itís honey cake, but she insists on calling it ginger cake).

So once I have mashed up the gefilte fish and moved it around my plate a bit (so I donít upset my wifeís grandma), I can enjoy all the other food that the festival has to offer.

The recipes here are my take on all three dishes I have mentioned. OK, so they are nothing like their traditional counterparts, but they still use the same main ingredients and are reimagined with different techniques.

My cooking style is not that of a traditional Jewish grandmother.

Mainly because I am not a woman and partly because I cook modern food, where I try to use less fat and sugar to ensure my clients make it past bar/batmitzvah age without clogging up their arteries.

Almond Granita with Pomegranate Seeds


  • 250g peeled almonds
  • 1 litre water
  • 100g honey
  • Pomegranate seeds


Pulse the almonds in a food processor until chopped but not too fine. Place in muslin cloth and tie a knot.

Bring water to the boil and place in wrapped almonds. Remove from heat and leave to infuse for 2 hours. Squeeze the wrapped almonds to remove as much water as possible but donít discard the water.

Blend 500ml of the almond water with all the almonds on high speed in a blender and pass through a fine sieve. You have now made your own almond milk.

Add honey and place in an ice cream machine. If you donít have an ice cream machine, then freeze in a container and whisk ever 20 minutes until set.

If you are Sicilian you would most likely eat this for breakfast most days of the week.

If you are not Sicilian then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting.

Apple & Honey Challah


  • 600ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 2 large egg (1 is for the egg wash)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 150g honey
  • 4tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 vanilla pod (scrape out seeds)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1kg plain flour
  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 60g sugar
  • 10g ground cinnamon


Pour 200ml of warm water into a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and 1tsp of sugar and whisk until dissolved. Leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.

Add remaining warm water, 1 egg, egg yolks, honey, oil, vanilla and salt and whisk together. Add flour and combine.

Knead for about 15 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth and leave somewhere warm (airing cupboard is ideal) for about an hour and a half until it has doubled in size.

Then knock the dough back. You do this by punching it to remove the air. While you are waiting dice your apples (smaller the better) and toss them in cinnamon sugar (mix 60g sugar with the ground cinnamon). Add the apples to the dough and knead again for a few minutes. Shape challah however you like.

Ideally split dough into 4 and plait or, if like me, the kids are driving you mad because they want to go to the play centre, then make a long dough and roll up like a snail shell.

Preheat oven to 190C. Place the Challahs on two lined baking trays and allow dough to rise again for a second time (warm place for about an hour, you know the drill).

Brush with egg wash and bake for about 40 minutes. After 20 minutes reapply the egg wash. When cooked it should sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Allow to cool.

Salt-baked Seabass


  • 2kg whole seabass (descaled & gutted)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 fennel
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3kg coarse sea salt


Preheat oven to 200C. Slice lemon and fennel and stuff into the cavity followed by the herbs. Place 1kg of salt onto a baking tray that is big enough to hold the whole fish.

Place on the fish and pour the remaining salt on top of the fish and compress on top of the fish. Cook for 40 minutes and then take out and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Crack the salt and it will come off in large pieces with the skin attached. Best served with risotto Milanese and a lightly dressed salad with a glass or three of a light crisp white wine.

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