Brisket Hand Pies + Honey Apple Butter Sandwich Cookies for Rosh Hashanah
Plus: "The Four Questions" interview with Danielle Rehfeld Colen
Welcome to the Rosh Hashanah countdown! (I mean, I’ve actually been counting down for what feels like weeks, but I’m officially calling it.) I’ve got some brisket hand pies and honey apple butter sandwich cookies for you, and the latest The Four Questions interview - this time with chef, food writer, and recipe/story curator, Danielle Rehfeld Colen.
But before all that, a quick look at The Jewish Table over the last month. To those of you who aren’t subscribed to the weekly newsletter yet, here’s what’s been happening:
Syrian Herby Omelet Fritters. Great for car trips or to pack for lunch. Plus: the unexpected Jewish history of the world’s oldest piece of cheese.
Panko and Parmesan Zucchini Bake. One part gratin, one part kugel, and the perfect way to use up the late-summer glut of summer squash.
Brisket Bourguignon. A glorious mashup of two icons: Ashkenazi-style braised brisket and Julia Child’s classic beef stew. Little known fact: pearl onions are a brisket’s best friend.
Baked Apricot Chicken (or Tofu!) Need a simple, high-impact main dish for Rosh Hashanah that serves meat eaters and vegetarians equally well? This one is for you.
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Okay! Back to the Rosh Hashanah goodness. A few months ago I reached out to Rebekah Lowin - a Jewish lifestyle blogger whose gorgeous, whimsical, Jewishly-rooted work I’ve been enthralled with for a while now. (If you need a crash course into how awesome she is, just look at these black & white cookie place cards. Or these adorable apple and honey toasts. Or, my goodness gracious, these pumpkin challah rolls. If you aren’t already following her on Instagram or obsessing over her website, then consider this your invitation to do both.
I originally hoped we could collaborate on something small - maybe a single recipe or a book giveaway. But Rebekah’s creative-genius mind had bigger ideas. (By day she works as an editor at Hearst, so going big and bold with brainstorming comes naturally.)
And so, we divided and conquered to create an (I think!) really wonderful Rosh Hashanah package. She handled all things design and decor. And by the look of this majestic, honey tasting-themed Rosh Hashanah tablescape, she knocked it out of the park. I mean….
I focused on the food side of things, with four recipes fit for a Rosh Hashanah feast - or an outdoor tashlich picnic, or a Rosh Hashanah hike in the woods, or however you like to celebrate.
Two of the recipes live on Rebekah’s site - an herby green apple farro salad with a dressing that elevates it above your typical grain salad. And the smoked trout canapés from Little Book of Jewish Appetizers that are one of my all-time favorite recipes.
The other two, I am so thrilled to share with you here. The brisket hand pies offer a way to transform the leftover brisket from your Rosh Hashanah dinner table into adorable, portable treats. They look super impressive but, thanks to the magic of store-bought puff pastry, could not be simpler to assemble.
The second dish, honey apple butter sandwich cookies, squishes dollops of sweet-tart apple butter in between two honey-sweetened shortbread cookies. They take a minute to make, what with all the rolling, cutting, and apple butter squishing. But it’s the holidays! And they are every bit as delightful as you might hope.
Here’s wishing you a meaningful, reflective, and peaceful Rosh Hashanah (or back to school season), and happy cooking!
Brisket Hand Pies
Set aside a couple of generously-sized slices of your Rosh Hashanah brisket to make these stunning and delicious (and not that hard, promise!) hand pies. Also: scroll down for a 10% off discount code for first time Grow & Behold customers - their brisket is the best.
Makes 12 hand pies
1/4 cup (60 g) mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sriracha (or other hot sauce)
2 pounds (907 g) frozen puff pastry, thawed (4 pieces of puff total)
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
2 cups (480 g) shredded or chopped brisket (including some of the juicy onions and sauce braised with the meat)
Sesame seeds or everything bagel topping, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375˚F (190˚C), and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir together the mustard, mayonnaise, and sriracha in a small bowl, and set aside.
Working with one piece of puff pastry at a time (keeping the others wrapped in the fridge), roll it out on a lightly floured surface into an approximately 9x10-inch rectangle. (Trim off any ragged edges.) Use a very sharp knife to cut the pastry into six approximately 3x5-inch rectangles (3 will be the “tops” of the hand pies and 3 will be the “bottoms”). Transfer the 3 bottom pastries to one of the prepared baking sheets.
Use a pastry brush to brush the perimeter of the bottom pastries with the egg wash. Spread the middle of each with about 1/2 teaspoon of the mustard mixture, then pile about 2 tablespoons of shredded/chopped brisket on top.
Place the top pastries directly over the filled bottom pastries, and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Slice 2 slits into the top of each pastry, then brush them evenly with more egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or everything bagel topping.
Repeat process with the remaining 3 puff pastry pieces and remaining filling.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking, until puffed and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. (Start checking at 20 minutes!). Remove from oven and transfer pies to wire racks to cool briefly before serving. Serve hot or warm.
Honey Apple Butter Sandwich Cookies
These sweet, buttery, cute-as-a-button sandwich cookies are a perfect treat after Rosh Hashanah dinner. Leftovers shine alongside a cup of afternoon tea or coffee.
Makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies
1 ½ cups (3 sticks / 340 g) unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
¼ cup (85 g) mild-flavored honey
3 1/2 cups (490 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and rolling
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 8-oz (227 g) jar store-bought apple butter
Add the softened butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a handheld electric mixer and a large bowl). Beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the honey and beat until combine.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two stages, beating until a soft dough forms.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gently bring it together (it will feel delicate, but will firm up in the fridge.) Cut the dough into two equal pieces, form into disks, and wrap well with plastic wrap or in a square of parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350˙F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap one piece of the dough (keeping the other piece chilled), and place it on a lightly floured surface. Use a lightly-floured rolling pin to roll it to ¼-inch thickness (not thinner, or they’ll burn too easily in the oven.)
Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter (straight, scallop-edged, and flower shaped all work well) to cut as many circles out of the dough as possible, then use a thin metal spatula to transfer them to the baking sheets. Gather the scraps and repeat. If the dough gets too warm to work with, rewrap and refrigerate for a few minutes.
Repeat rolling and cutting process with the second piece of dough. Lightly sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little more sugar.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets back-to-front and top to bottom halfway through, until the cookies are golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the sandwich cookies: spread a rounded teaspoon of the apple butter onto the flat/sugarless side of one cookie. Gently sandwich with a second cookie (flat/sugarless side facing in).
The Four Questions:
With Chef, Writer, and Host of The Inherited Plate, Danielle Rehfeld Colen
I’m super excited to welcome Danielle Rehfeld Colen to The Jewish Table today for The Four Questions interview! Danielle is an ICE-educated chef who has worked in numerous restaurant kitchens around New York City, and has been a private chef for over a decade. Her food writing and recipes have appeared in Real Simple, Women’s Day, Food52, The Boston Globe, and The Riverdale Press.
Danielle is also the founder of The Inherited Plate, a website that preserves and shares family recipes, stories, and culinary knowledge from around the world. (Don’t sleep on the site’s video archive. From Mexico’s atole de calabaza to Southern fried fish, there are some beautiful recipes and stories there!
How would you describe your relationship with Jewish food, and has it changed over time?
My love for Jewish food began with my upbringing, and summers in Israel where we would spend most of our time in the kitchen, cooking and eating. I remember eating thinly breaded schnitzel, rice tahdig, and Persian stews. I watched jachnun being rolled on a plastic tablecloth, and ate fresh bread from the makolet (grocery store) down the street. For breakfast, all the spreads and cheese would come out of the fridge and get served with smoked and pickled fish.
Then, at my grandmother’s home in New York, there was always chicken soup, kasha varnishkes, jelly molds with fruit, and always *always* an egg cream. My life was made up of this beautiful chaos of Ashkenazi and Mizrahi foods. And my love for this food only deepened over the years, as I learned my own family's recipes.
Does your family have any defining Jewish recipes?
My family is part of a very small community of Jews that call themselves Nashdidan and speak a language which is a dialect of Aramaic. These were Jews that lived in what is now modern day Iran, Georgia and the caucuses - as well as Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. The traditional dishes include chefte, grape leaves stuffed with turmeric rice and yogurt sauce, and chatachtuma, meatballs simmered in a broth of chickpeas and beef bones, which is my ultimate comfort food. My mother, aunts and uncles grew up speaking Nashdidan along with Hebrew. I do not speak it, but do understand some words and phrases.
Is there a Jewish dish or ingredient that you’ve underrated or misunderstood?
The first thing that comes to mind is dill. Oh dill! My mother used it in so much of her cooking - I couldn’t escape it. But I hated dill until just past culinary school when I realized that this plant that sort of tastes like earth was very strongly connected to Jewish cooking. It made me feel grounded to think that the foods of my upbringing, while not part of the canon, have so much uniqueness to offer. I actually began to like and respect it - and now I use it often in my cooking!
What was the inspiration behind The Inherited Plate?
After working in the food industry for a while, I wanted to tap back into what made me fall in love with food in the first place - being in the kitchen and watching people cook. I realized that, as a New Yorker, I could be learning so much more about cooking from everyday people, and not necessarily just chefs. So I began to ask if I could cook with people - people from Central America and the Caribbean that I met while working as a private chef, women from Italy and India that I met in dance classes, and people I have known for years. I started shooting videos of some these experiences, but it was so much work and so much money to produce that all on my own, so I would do it here and there when I had the time.
I worked with some wonderful people along the way, and was blown away by their foods and the stories they told about their lives and families. It can be incredibly intimate and special to be in the kitchen with a person if you take the time to ask questions. The Inherited Plate really represents for me what I love most about cooking, and reminds me that is food is a gateway for storytelling and learning about family and culture.
Check out the recipes and stories at The Inherited Plate, and find out more about Danielle’s work here.
Grow & Behold Discount: Doing some last minute Rosh Hashanah shopping? Or just looking to stock up on the best (seriously) kosher, sustainably-produced meat and poultry? The amazing humans at Grow & Behold are offering a 10% discount to The Jewish Table readers (first time customers only). Just type in GBJewishTable10 at checkout. Holiday brisket, here you come.