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BREAK WITH TRADITION UPDATE YOM KIPPUR WITH UPSCALE CREATIONSS.

Byline: Natalie Haughton Food Editor

There are more ways to break the Yom Kippur fast than just bagels, cream cheese, lox and blintzes.

Suzanne Tracht, chef/co-owner of Los Angeles' Jar restaurant, plans a buffet table featuring a selection of upscale, chic, creative twists and variations on the comfort themes of her youth. ``The menu is simple and refreshing,'' she says.

Although Tracht grew up in Phoenix in a kosher home where they broke the fast with a festive dairy spread that included traditional fare, nowadays when she gathers friends and family in her Los Angeles home, she tweaks that traditional formula.

Offerings include a fresh and delicious smoked fish salad surrounded with her own cured salmon (served with, yes, the traditional bagels and cream cheese), sliced heirloom tomatoes and Maui onions with a pickled scallion vinaigrette, a salad made with lentils, roasted beets and arugula, an Asian pear and endive salad with a wedge of blue cheese and pomegranate seeds, and yummy deviled eggs. She also puts out assorted homemade pickled vegetables and olives.

To satisfy sweet cravings, Tracht serves a delicious kugel but breaks with tradition by baking it in individual-size souffle dishes, then topping with warm honey and dried cherries and a dollop of creme fraiche.

While either a casual dairy or meat meal can be served to break the Yom Kippur fast, a meatless meal is preferred by many, notes Woodland Hills resident Faye Levy, author of ``Jewish Cooking for Dummies,'' ``because many consider such a repast lighter on the digestion after an entire day without food.'' However, she adds, ``Some Sephardic Jews favor a meat-based rather than a dairy meal.''

What is served following the fast depends on family traditions, notes Levy, but feel free to update them.

``It's nice to do dairy,'' says Tracht, ``because you can do the prep the day before.'' Bake the mini kugels the day before, cool and stash in the fridge, then the day of the celebration, pop into a 350-degree oven, covered with foil, and reheat 12 to 15 minutes, until warm throughout. Serve in the souffle dishes or remove, if desired.

The various parts of the smoked fish salad can be prepped a day ahead and kept refrigerated, but dress with the buttermilk dressing just before placing on the buffet, advises Tracht. ``For the endive and pear salad, julienne the pear and endive only half an hour before serving to avoid discoloration.'' However, you can make the apple cider vinaigrette the day before.

Cook the lentils and roast the beets for the lentil salad a day or two ahead, but assemble no more than two hours in advance of presenting.

While you can cook and prepare the deviled egg filling the day before and refrigerate, fill the egg white halves just before dining.

These days, her children, Max Trevino, 12, and Ida Trevino, 11, love to come into the kitchen and help, says Tracht. ``Ida loves to bake - and she's good at slicing tomatoes and different things and setting the table. Max likes to help with the hot stuff.''

Tracht, who was exposed to good food at home and grew up helping out in the kitchen, started her culinary career as a dishwasher at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa at the age of 18. ``I always had an interest in food but didn't have any experience. I bugged a chef until I finally got into the kitchen there.'' Starting out as a pantry cook in the hotel's fine dining restaurant, she spent a total of 5 1/2 years there, three in an apprenticeship.

Then it was off to Los Angeles 16 years ago, where, with her on-the-job training and experience, she has done stints as a line cook in several restaurant kitchens, including Campanile, where she spent three years before opening Jar.

``I love having my own restaurant - a modern-day chop house,'' she says, noting that the dishes she cooks vary with the seasons.

``Cook from your heart and use the best ingredients you can get,'' she advises. Take advantage of the best-quality fresh meat, fish, cheeses, vegetables and fruits available from good purveyors and farmers markets. ``Food has to be healthy, taste good and be appealing to people - and not too esoteric.''

She favors natural, appealing-looking presentations - and uses lots of fresh herbs and fresh chopped Italian parsley. ``I don't want anyone to feel like they have to put on a tuxedo before they eat my food.'' Everything has to be the right consistency and look nice and appealing, but it doesn't have to be architecturally designed. ``I'm a cook, not an architect.

``While the food is important, remember that break fast is all about gathering and being with family and friends.''

Natalie Haughton, (818) 713-3692

natalie.haughton(at)dailynews.com

CURED SALMON AND SMOKED FISH SALAD

2 English cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthwise using a vegetable peeler

1/4 onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons mixed herbs (Italian parsley, chervil, chives, tarragon, basil), coarsely chopped

1 (6- to 7-ounce) smoked fish (can use packaged trout OR deli smoked chub of whitefish), skin removed and flaked

Buttermilk Dressing (recipe follows)

12 ounces cured salmon, thinly sliced (purchased at grocery store) OR homemade

To assemble salad, combine cucumbers, onion, herbs and smoked fish in a salad bowl. Add Buttermilk Dressing and toss gently until ingredients are coated. Place slices of cured salmon around the edge of each of 6 dinner plates (or 1 large platter), making an outside border. Place smoked fish salad in center. Garnish with chopped herbs. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

BUTTERMILK DRESSING: In a bowl, mix together 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream, 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, a pinch cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until well blended.

CUSTARD KUGEL WITH DRIED CHERRIES

1/2 pound uncooked egg capellini pasta OR angel hair pasta

9 large eggs OR 8 extra-large eggs

1 pound small curd cottage cheese

1/2 of an 8-ounce package (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 pint sour cream

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange OR lemon juice

1 stick (1/4 pound) butter, melted

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons grated orange peel

1 1/2 cups pitted dried cherries

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey

1 to 2 cups creme fraiche OR sour cream

Cook noodles in boiling water and drain. In a large mixing bowl with an electric beater, beat eggs until somewhat fluffy. Add cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, 1 teaspoon orange juice, butter, vanilla, salt and orange peel. Beat with beater until well blended. Fold in cooked, well-drained capellini, cut into smaller lengths (pieces) with a knife.

Place cherries and 1/2 cup orange juice in a saute pan and cook over low heat until cherries are soft and plumped (or combine cherries and 1/2 cup orange juice in a glass cup and heat in a microwave oven on high power, covered with plastic wrap 1 to 1 1/2 minutes). Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, fold 1 cup cherries into egg mixture; reserve remaining cherries for garnish.

Turn mixture into a buttered 9x13-inch baking dish or 12 buttered (3 1/2-inch) individual souffle dishes (filling almost to top).

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven, about 65 to 75 minutes for 9x13-inch dish or 40 to 45 minutes for souffle dishes, until just set in center. Cool until still warm. Cut kugel in baking dish into squares and serve on dessert plates or serve individual souffles in dishes baked in (or when cool enough to handle, turn out onto a serving plate (as shown in photo). Heat remaining 1/2 cup cherries and honey over low heat in a saute pan. Drizzle top of each serving with a few cherries and honey and top with a generous dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream. Makes 12 or more servings.

NOTE: Kugels can be removed from souffle dishes and cut in half horizontally for smaller servings.

Also, skip heating the honey with the remaining cherries and just serve kugel topped with a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream and top with a few of remaining cherries, if desired.

Adapted from a recipe shared by Suzanne Tracht, Jar.

LENTIL SALAD WITH ROASTED BEETS AND ARUGULA

LENTILS:

16 ounces Italian OR French lentils

1 large shallot, quartered

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

BEETS:

12 baby beets, cleaned and trimmed

1/4 cup canola oil

Salt and pepper

VINAIGRETTE:

1/2 cup olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

Salt and pepper to taste

ARUGULA:

2 to 3 cups baby arugula leaves

To make Lentils, clean lentils and combine in a large pot with remaining lentil ingredients. Simmer, partially covered, over medium heat 30 to 40 minutes or until lentils are firm but cooked through. Drain. Spread evenly on sheet pan and cool completely. Reserve.

To make Roasted Beets, place beets in a large mixing bowl. Add oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer beets to a roasting pan and cover with foil. Roast in a preheated 350-degree oven 1 hour or until tender. Cool until beets can be handled, then rub off skins. Chill. When ready to use, cut into quarters and set aside.

To make Vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper until well blended.

To assemble salad: In a large mixing bowl, combine lentils, beets and arugula. Add vinaigrette and toss gently. Place on a serving platter and let guests help themselves. Makes 6 servings.

Recipes are from Suzanne Tracht, chef/co-owner, Jar restaurant, Los Angeles

CAPTION(S):

4 photos

Photo:

(1 -- cover -- color) Break the fast fabulously

Chef Suzanne Tracht updates Yom Kippur traditions

(2 -- color) CURED SALMON AND SMOKED FISH SALAD

(3 -- color) CUSTARD KUGEL WITH DRIED CHERRIES

(4 -- color) LENTIL SALAD WITH ROASTED BEETS AND ARUGULA

Photos by Tom Mendoza/Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Oct 4, 2005
Words:1688
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