Bust the Fast with an Israeli-Style FEAST


By Danielle Crittenden Frum

I’m not sure why North American Jews take the phrase “Break Fast” so literally, as in “breakfast.” After a day of starving, there’s something always a little dispiriting (to me anyway) about being offered bagels, lox, smoked fish, and that stealthy, sweetened noodle dish aka kugel. By the time havdalah is recited, I’m ready to eat my arm. Not this.

Last year I vowed to break the Bagel-Kugel Axis that has seized control of most of our holiday tables.  This year I continue on that mission with even more gusto, presenting a full-scale buffet menu culled from the many “New Israeli” cuisine recipes we’ve published over past months: from top fusion via Tel Aviv’s top chefs (such as “Chickpea Koftas in Curry Sauce”) to Cod Falafels with Harissa Mayonnaise, via London’s Gefiltefest. If you are hosting a large break fast and plan to use a caterer, you can forward these recipes (as I did!) and return home to an appetizing and satisfying “Break Feast.” (You can read my entertaining tips for the holiday here.)

Most of these dishes can be made the day before and either returned to room temperature or warmed in the oven before serving. Our “wood-fired pita bread” is phenomenal for the willing bakers among you with access to pizza ovens. Otherwise go with store-bought and heat it up in aluminum foil. The homemade hummus can be made in advance and is certainly worth it. It’s a completely different creature from supermarket brands — earthy, lemony, and so densely creamy.

Only the version of Persian rice we prepared — adapted from chef Michael Solomonov’s Zahav cookbook — is ambitious (and not amenable to making quickly): it’s a traditional recipe in which the bottom of the rice is crisped while the top steams, known as “chelo with tahdig.” For the less ambitious and more time-pressed, a simple bowl of steamed Persian rice will go very well with the other buffet items — but if you’d like to try out a crispy, saffron-infused version, an online recipe is here (although I’d urge you try Solomonov’s from his cookbook).

For dessert, I went with a selection of best-quality ice creams alongside a tasting selection from Seed & Mill’s 29 flavors of mind-blowing, gourmet halva (available here). Served with Seed & Mill’s recipe for chocolate tahini truffles no one will leave your house muttering about the kugel.

Many thanks to award-winning Canadian chef Michael Hoy for helping us to create a Fig Tree & Vine lakeside Break Fast, in scenic Prince Edward County, Ontario. Thanks as well to Bruno Francois for perfecting our wood-fired pita, and to Johnny Cy Lam for the photography. 

Break “Feast” Menu

Wood-fired pita with homemade hummus
Roasted Cauliflower, Hazelnut, and Pomegranate Salad
Cod Falafel with Harissa Mayonnaise
Chickpea Koftas in Curry Sauce
Whole Baked Fish, Moroccan-Style
Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Cumin and Cardamon
Ice Cream with Gourmet Halva

Chocolate Tahini Truffles