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From Our Family’s Table to Yours

Ita Yankovich

With a month of Yomim Tovim approaching, I’ve chosen to take a traditional approach!  These recipes are my improvisations of dishes I ate growing up.  You will find that they seem to have a slightly Russian twist to them, homage to my background and the foods that graced our Yom Tov table when I was raised.  I hope your family and guests will enjoy these traditional dishes, many of which are throwbacks to a simpler time, and all of which are filling and easy to prepare.


Rosh Hashanah Pomegranate and Orange Salmon

This dish presents beautifully with its striking bold color and pop of crimson red. It pairs nicely with some asparagus or roasted potatoes.


1 small red onion, sliced thinly

1 skinned salmon fillet (about 2 pounds)

1/2 tsp. salt

1 medium orange, sliced thinly (navel orange is best)

1 cup pomegranate seeds

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

  1. tbsp. fresh dill, minced



  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place parchment paper in a 9 x 13  baking pan. 
  • Place onion slices in a single layer on a sheet of greased silver foil and top with salmon.
  • Sprinkle the fish with salt.
  • Layer orange slices over top of the salmon. 
  • Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and drizzle with oil.
  •  Top with a second piece of foil. Bring edges of foil together on all sides and crimp to seal, forming a large packet. 


  1. Bake until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork about  25 to 30 minutes. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with dill.  


Pre-Yom Kippur Fruit Drink 

When it comes to preparing for an intense fast like Yom Kippur, nothing is more satisfying than fruit. This drink is packed with antioxidants and will keep you hydrated so you can focus on your davening.


½ cup  sugar

1 apple cored, peeled and cut into cubes

                Handful of dried apricot

Handful  of dried plums

½ cup white raisins

      1 stick cinnamon (or 1 teaspoon   cinnamon powder)

12 cups boiling water   



  1. Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a rapid boil.
  2. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until all fruits are puffed.
  3. Ladle the drink with the fruits into a pitcher.    
  4. Keep cool in the fridge until serving.

Borsht Soup with Flanken

Besides for good company, nothing warms the sukkah better than a bowl of hot soup. Borsht is a staple in many Eastern European homes, especially Ukrainian, but it can now grace your American sukkah.  Enjoy this hearty soup recipe on those cold sukkah nights. 


8 medium dark red young beets

4 yellow onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 quarts chicken broth (if you don’t have, use water)

2 lb. fat brisket of beef, chuck meat, or flanken

2 tbsp. dark brown sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Salt and pepper, to taste



  1. Wash and peel the beets and cut into eighths. Set aside.
  2. Season the meat with the salt and pepper and place in a large stewing pot, along with the beets.
  3.  Cover the meat  with 2 quarts of water and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 2- 2 ½ hours.
  4. When the meat is tender, add lemon juice and brown sugar, to taste . Add salt and pepper to taste.

Esrog Cake

What to do with all the leftover esrogim after the chag? Sure, you can boil them for hours and make esrog jelly, but this cake is much easier and makes a delicious dessert. 


1 esrog

Juice of 1 lime, or 2 tbsp. lime juice

1 tbsp.  lemon juice

  1. eggs 

1 ½ cups sugar 

1 tsp. vanilla sugar

  1. ¾ cups flour
  2. tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup oil


1-3 tbsp. orange juice

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Reserved esrog juice mixture


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a tube pan with nonstick spray.  
  2. Grate the esrog peel.
  3.  Squeeze the lemon, lime, and esrog for juice, being careful to avoid seeds. Reserve one tablespoon juice and esrog peel for the glaze.
  4. Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla sugar  for 10 minutes of until light yellow in color.
  5. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt.
  6. Gradually incorporate flour mixture into the eggs, gently mixing after each addition. Add the oil, again gently mixing. Do not overbeat.
  7. Add citrus mixture and blend.
  8. Place batter in pan and bake about 45 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out dry .
  9. For the glaze, mix together the glaze ingredients, the reserved citrus mixture, and esrog peel.
  10. Remove cake from pan and drizzle glaze over warm cake.

Tomato Wine Chicken

This recipe is great because you can prepare it on the stovetop before the meal if you have not left your oven on for Yom Tov. The aroma of garlic and tomatoes infused with wine will draw everyone to the table. 


2 to 2 1/2 lb. pieces of chicken (thighs, legs, or quarters) 

1 tsp.  kosher salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup chicken stock 

1 bay leaf

1  can diced tomatoes 

1/2 cup dry white wine or red


    1. Season the chicken with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
    2. Place a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is sizzling, add the chicken pieces and cook, rotating frequently, until golden brown. Remove the chicken and pour off most of the excess oil.
    3. Add the onion to the skillet and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
    4. Return the chicken pieces to the pan. Pour in the 1/2 cup chicken broth and bay leaf; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 


  • Add the tomatoes and wine and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. 



Zesty Bean Salad


We get it – you’re busy cooking and hosting. The last thing you have time for is dealing with picky eaters. This easy and quick salad is not only healthy but a crowd pleaser. The best part is that it’s so simple, the kids can even make it by themselves.



1 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed
1 16 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
½ red onion, chopped fine
½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp.  olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. lemon zest
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
Salt and pepper to taste



Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate. 

Torah Scroll Cookies

These cookies will be a hit with the kids! 


2 sticks margarine

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

  1. tsp. lemon juice
  1. cups flour

Sprinkles, optional. 


  1. Cream the margarine until smooth.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Knead until smooth. 
  3. Use a Torah scroll-shaped cookie cutter to shape. Top with sprinkles, if desired. 
  4. Place in a 350-degree oven for 2 hours.


Kasha Kreplach

This  dish is light, tender, chewy, and easier on the stomach than meat or chicken. Best served in a steaming bowl of soup, but they are also delicious fried as an appetizer. 



2 cups flour

2 eggs

1 tbsp. water

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt




1 cup minced onions

3 tbsp. margarine or chicken fat 

1 1/2 cups cooked kasha

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper



  1. Preparate kasha filling. Brown the onion in margarine or fat in a medium saucepan, Stir in the kasha and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Place flour on a board and make a well in the center. Place the eggs, water and salt into the well. Work these into the flour with one hand and knead the dough until smooth and elastic with the other hand.
  3. Roll the dough and stretch it as thinly as you can without tearing it. After you roll it out, cut it into 3-inch squares and place a tbsp. of kasha filling onto center of dough. Fold dough over so the kreplach is a triangle and press the edges together with a little water to seal it.
  4. Cook kreplach in boiling, salted water or chicken soup for 20 minutes. You can serve them immediately in the soup. If you wish to fry the kreplach, remove them from the boiling water or soup and fry them in hot canola or vegetable oil for a minute or two on each side until golden brown.


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