In addition to the mountains and almost daily sunshine, Boulder has another huge selling point for me: my cousin, Shell (short for Michelle). Her apartment is a five-minute walk from mine. Boulder is still new to me, and having her here is like having a bit of home with me. Though I have treasured our proximity since my arrival, I was especially grateful for her presence this past weekend; it was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Our family was never particularly religious, but we have always been thrilled to have an excuse for a great dinner. The holidays in our family definitely have a distinct flavor (I think it’s Lawry’s seasoning salt). A lot has changed in our family over the years, including this annual dinner, which no longer takes place. This is simply due to the various directions our lives have taken: kids grew up (myself included), people moved, new generations have been sprouted. So, when Shell and I decided to throw our own holiday, the ordeal had a particularly nostalgic flare, since we were recreating something that is no longer in practice.
Our buttery, salty spread included: matzo ball soup* (tender, fluffy matzo balls, not the dense baseballs you find in delis), brisket*, twice-baked potato casserole, and carrots glazed in butter and brown sugar. In fact, this was not necessarily a traditional Rosh Hashanah meal, but more of a conglomerate of the Jewish holidays in our family. This was not an elegant meal, nor one of perfect presentation, but it certainly was tasty.
Matzo ball soup was our first course. This is very simple: pick up a pack of Manischewitz matzo ball mix, follow the directions, and DO NOT open the lid until the timer goes off. Put some canned chicken stock on the stove with aromatic vegetables*. Simmer until the vegetables are tender; serve with the matzo balls, which can be made ahead.
The potato dish is quite literally a giant twice baked potato. After baking boatloads of Idaho potatoes, scoop out the flesh and mix in butter, sour cream, dried chives, dried parsley, parmesan (any type/brand will do), Lawry’s seasoning salt, and garlic salt. Keep adding ingredients until the consistency is smooth and it tastes… perfect. Or as Shell and I said, it tastes like home. Then before dinner, top it with more parmesan and paprika, and throw it a hot oven until it is brown, bubbly, and lovely.
The brisket is a tender, salty masterpiece that needs over four hours in the oven to reach its full potential. If you are looking for hearty comfort food, this will do the trick.
3 1/2 to 4 lb. flat cut brisket - well trimmed of fat and seasoned with Lawry's Seasoning Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika (you can season it the night before and let it settle in)
Bake UNCOVERED at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
Decrease oven temperature to 325 degrees
Pour mixed sauce around brisket:
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can beef broth
1/3 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 package of Lipton Onion Soup mix over brisket, seal well with foil
Bake for 3 1/2 hours at 325 degrees. If desired, add carrot, potatoes, small onions for last hour of cooking.
The recipe above isn’t exactly the way my aunt does it because she doesn’t use a recipe. Nonetheless, it comes from another Jewish kitchen, and it has all the same ingredients.
Overall, Shell and I were quite pleased with ourselves. If any other this sounds particularly good to you, feel free to e-mail me for details. I’d be more than happy to divulge. However, I feel the need to refrain from boasting too much about flavor due to my undying bias towards this food. Because of this, I will attempt to provide my readers with an objective measure of my enjoyment: I had three heaping servings of potatoes, and ate them for breakfast. They are also making repeat performances in my dreams.
*See glossary for definitions
*See glossary for definitions