Sure, you have your family-favorite recipes all lined up for the fall Jewish holidays. But don’t you occasionally wish for something new at the table, or at least sometimes wonder if your classics couldn’t be just a little bit better? Here five top chefs and cookbook authors specializing in kosher cooking and the cuisine of Israel share some of their favorites for hosting guests. Whether it’s putting a spin on roast chicken, perfecting that brisket or doing something altogether fresh, we’re sure you’ll find something to enjoy now, on future occasions or even for some special weeknight meals that can be made in advance and provide leftovers for the week to come.
Alongside, we recommend a dozen recently rated kosher wines from California and Israel, spanning the gamut of varieties and styles, from crisp, fresh whites to big, hearty reds.
This crowd-pleasing recipe comes from one of the most respected authors specializing in Jewish cuisine, appearing in her 2017 cookbook, King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World. It’s a classic roast chicken, set on a bed of roasted vegetables, but Joan Nathan gives it flair by seasoning it with sumac and, optionally, za’atar, then stuffing it with preserved lemons and fresh herbs. Versatile with a wide range of wines, the dish can be more closely tailored to your wine picks by changing up the vegetables you roast with it. Nathan provides two sets of options here: a mix of Brussels sprouts, olives and tomatoes or celery, carrot, fennel and zucchini. As a bonus, she also shares her recipe for hummus, also made with preserved lemons, which everyone can enjoy while the delicious aromas emanating from the oven whet their appetites for the main meal.
Simplicity is the specialty of Jamie Geller, author of six cookbooks and founder of Kosher Network International, and brisket is her solution to holiday entertaining. This classic brisket recipe comes from her 2018 cookbook, Brisket 101: 30 of the Best Brisket, Sides, Slaws and Leftover Recipes, with dishes comprising 10 ingredients or less and needing minimal equipment to make, to keep your stress to a minimum as well. Cooked correctly, her brisket, using a more marbleized second cut, is meant to melt in your mouth. The meat can be garnished with crispy fried shallots and served alongside lemony cumin-roasted carrots in addition to the vegetables already included in the braise. Geller’s braising liquid includes a high-quality dry red wine—a Cabernet Sauvignon in this case—which would also be an ideal pairing at the table.
A pastry chef known as “The Kosher Baker,” Paula Shoyer has branched out beyond desserts to explore the full scope of contemporary kosher food, focusing on dishes that have few processed ingredients and can suit the full range of dietary needs at an extended family gathering—vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free or low-calorie. This recipe, from her 2017 The Healthy Jewish Kitchen, turns coq au vin into a lighter dish made with white wine and kumquat or orange slices for a refreshing citrusy kick. She enjoys it with a California Chardonnay. For a full three-course meal, she starts with a salmon-avocado tartare and finishes with a tempting chocolate quinoa cake that no one will realize is also gluten-free. Check out her full menu!
One of the United States’ best-known chefs for fresh, modern Israeli cuisine, Michael Solomonov runs a collection of Philadelphia restaurants led by Zahav. To update the classic Jewish holiday menus without upsetting tradition-loving relatives, he looks to the diversity of cuisine in his homeland of Israel, with its combination of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors. These simple-to-prepare branzino fillets, a recipe from his Zahav cookbook, summon the quintessence of the coastal country, marrying the meaty, smoky and bright grilled fish with the slow-cooked flavors of a Persian stew. With a searing-hot grill, the branzino cooks in less than five minutes, obtaining an extra-crispy, salty skin. This dish has two accompaniments, both of which can be made in advance: a rich fava-labneh puree that is half sauce, half dip, and a hearty yet invigorating fresh chickpea stew that contains fresh fava, lemon, dill and dried lime—inviting a pairing with a juicy, high-acid white wine. Try something new for 5781!
Israeli-American chef and cookbook author Alon Shaya—who became famous at his eponymous Shaya but now runs Saba in New Orleans and Safta in Denver—melds the cuisines of the Middle East, Europe and North Africa with local specialties, with elements in many dishes coming out of a wood-fired oven. But these braised short ribs with rice and the Moroccan carrot salad are easy to make at home in a regular oven. The earthy carrots in the salad, soft from roasting, are dressed with a vinaigrette that incorporates cumin, caraway and orange zest. The dish heats up with smoky harissa paste and cools off with mint added for balance. The boneless short ribs, with a beautiful balance of fat and meat, are enhanced with multiple spices—a symbol for a fruitful and plentiful year to come—for warmth and depth, then cooked for hours and served with root vegetables. To pair with this meal, look for red wines that show juicy ripe fruit and light herbal notes, such as a Syrah or a blend with Petit Verdot. This is both comfort food and a meal that will make any foodie go weak in the knees.
12 Great New-Release Kosher Wines for the High Holidays
Yiron Galilee 2017
Score: 91 | $35
WS review: Concentrated and suave, showing plush flavors of raspberry compote and blackberry reduction layered with olive, wild herb and baking spice elements. Aromas of hot stone, ganache and loamy earth cascade onto the finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Kosher. Drink now through 2025. 9,000 cases made, 1,100 cases imported. From Israel.—Gillian Sciaretta
Golan Heights Winery
Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Yarden 2017
Score: 91 | $36
WS review: Glossy, full tannins encase the brooding layers of dark cherry reduction and steeped currant, infused with sandalwood, anise and mocha details. This has nice elegance despite the power, with black tea and floral notes chiming in on the finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2025. 24,000 cases made, 4,000 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.
Sauvignon Blanc Lake County Red C 2019
Score: 90 | $24
WS review: Pure lemon and green apple flavors are smooth and sleek, with notes of lemon verbena and orange sherbet, plus candied ginger details. Wonderful purity and concentration on the long, expressive finish. Kosher. Drink now. 600 cases made. From California.—MaryAnn Worobiec
Viognier Israel Blue C 2019
Score: 90 | $28
WS review: Refreshing acidity supports the supple flavors of pineapple, tangerine and white blossom in this aromatic white, with underpinnings of wet stone, honey cream and spice sailing along the finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2023. 700 cases made, 400 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.
Golan Heights Winery
Pinot Noir Galilee Yarden 2017
Score: 90 | $33
WS review: This medium-bodied red offers suave tannins that envelope the cherry tart, ripe raspberry and violet flavors, which are supple and refreshing. Details of anise, orange peel and cola dovetail on the lightly tannic finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2023. 4,000 cases made, 800 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.
Alon Galilee 2016
Score: 89 | $22
WS review: Dark cherry and red plum notes are concentrated, interwoven with mineral, savory spice and licorice elements in this plush red. Aromatic herb and black tea notes follow through on the finish. Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Kosher. Drink now through 2023. 7,000 cases made, 1,200 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.
Chardonnay Lodi The Tribe 2018
Score: 88 | $32
WS review: There are lots of buttery notes to the ripe apple and glazed pear flavors, featuring citrusy hints. Crisp, spicy finish. Kosher. Drink now. 350 cases made. From California.—Kim Marcus
Ela Galilee 2016
Score: 88 | $20
WS review: Raspberry and cherry notes show nice concentration, with refreshing acidity accentuating the anise, peppery spice and floral notes that gain traction on the minerally finish. Moderate tannins. Syrah, Barbera and Petit Verdot. Kosher. Drink now through 2022. 3,800 cases made, 1,100 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.
Golan Heights Winery
Sauvignon Blanc Galilee Gilgal 2019
Score: 87 | $20
WS review: Aromatic flavors of grapefruit and tangerine mix with blossom, fennel and lemon zest notes in this medium-bodied white. Supple, lingering finish. Kosher. Drink now. 6,700 cases made, 1,000 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.
Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee 2019
Score: 87 | $17
WS review: A toasty red, with meaty undertones to the raspberry and currant notes, lined with savory spice, herb and tangy accents. Details of graphite and anise grace the tannic finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2023. 17,580 cases made, 5,100 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.
Merlot Galilee 2019
Score: 87 | $17
WS review: Dark plum notes are matched to savory undertones of olive, herb and mineral in this brooding, open-knit red. Details of anise, mocha, leather and cedar meld on the finish. Kosher. Drink now through 2023. 8,333 cases made, 580 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.
Yasmin Red Galilee 2019
Score: 87 | $12
WS review: Currant and savory spice notes are focused and supported by firm acidity in this medium-boded red, with flavors of blackberry, herb and forest floor on the tannic finish. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Kosher. Drink now through 2023. 33,750 cases made, 1,800 cases imported. From Israel.—G.S.