Starting your fast the right way

No need for anything extravagant for the pre-Yom Kippur meal; check out these simple but tasty recipe ideas.

September 23, 2012 12:21
4 minute read.

Semolina bread. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Most of Jewish fast days are days of mourning. They are imbued with sadness and pain. Except for Yom Kippur. It’s actually a day of joy, a wonderful opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start afresh.

Before the fast begins, we are obligated to eat a Seudat Mitzvah. Here are some suggestions for that meal.

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It’s traditional to eat soup with kreplach. This gourmet kosher cook confesses to using the frozen ones. I also confess to making a simple, hearty meal for the eve of Yom Kippur and not an elaborate or elegant one.

Semolina Bread

2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups warm water
3 cups semolina flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 to 3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons cornmeal
1 egg

Pour water over yeast in a bowl and allow yeast to proof. Add semolina flour and salt. Stir well. Add two cups of bread flour and stir. Continue adding and kneading flour until dough is smooth and elastic. Pour olive oil over dough and turn to coat. Cover with towel and set aside until dough has tripled in bulk – about two hours.

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Punch down dough, knead briefly and cover and let rise again until double.


Punch down the dough again, cut it into thirds, and shape each third into a thin loaf about 24 inches long. Sprinkle a baking sheet with three to four tablespoons cornmeal and arrange the loaves on the sheet leaving as much room between the loaves as possible. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat egg with one tablespoon water and brush on the loaves. Slash loaves decoratively on top with a sharp knife, making diagonal cuts.

Slide the baking sheet onto the middle rack of the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until loaves are brown and sound hollow when thumped. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Oven “Fried” Chicken

2 chickens, cut into 1/8th’s or 14 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
2 to 3 cups cornflake crumbs
1/3 cup canola oil


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dip chicken pieces in egg then cornflake crumbs and place in baking pan (skin side up if using a whole chicken cut up). Drizzle canola oil over chicken and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Spices can be added to the cornflakes crumbs but this is not advisable before a fast.

Mashed Potatoes

8 to 10 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Water to cover
1/3 cup margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup non-dairy creamer
1/3 cup non-dairy sour cream (optional, for a richer taste)

Mashed potatoes (Courtesy)

Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat slightly.

When soft (after about 20 to 30 minutes), drain. Immediately add margarine to the pan and begin mashing.

Stir in salt and non-dairy creamer and continue mashing. Stir in non-dairy sour cream if desired. Mash until smooth.

Creamed SpinachCreamed spinach (Courtesy)

¼ cup margarine
¼ cup flour
1 cup non-dairy creamer
2 bags (16 ounces) each frozen spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Dash nutmeg

Melt margarine and whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually add milk, constantly stirring until thickened. Add spinach and keep stirring until it is cooked through. Season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Honeydew and Cantaloupe Granita

These can be served together – for a beautiful presentation – or separately. This is a refreshing way to end the meal – and not too sweet which is perfect before a fast.

Honeydew and cantaloupe granita (Courtesy)

Honeydew Granita:
1 large honeydew, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons sugar
Add all ingredients to food processor and process until puréed. Pour into freezer container and freeze for one hour. Scrape with fork and return to freezer. Repeat every ½ hour until completely frozen (2 to 3 more times). Remove from freezer 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Cantaloupe Granita:
1 large cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar
Follow same instructions as for honeydew granite, substituting cantaloupe for honeydew and lemon juice for lime.

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