The official flavors of Rosh Hashanah, apples and honey set the stage for a sweet new year and perhaps make the atonement to follow a bit more palatable.
Nowhere, however, does it say in any of the official literature that Jews must stick to that supermarket stalwart of clover honey. In fact, with over 300 different honey varietals to sample, the mild, straightforward stuff in a bear-shaped bottle is probably the least interesting honey around. Still, it’s a safe bet for dishes like dressings and even Jewish apple cake, if your heirloom recipe calls for honey (many don’t).
To truly celebrate honey, it’s worth checking out a mix of varietals. A personal favorite, buckwheat honey has a darker tinge and musky, mineral flavor and it works well in cocktails and meat dishes. Similarly dark, chestnut honey has a strong, funky note that tastes wonderful when it’s drizzled on cheeses, toast or pears. Lavender honey is another great match for cheese, and it also works well over stone fruits or melon. Often touted for its health properties, the slightly menthol Manuka honey, which comes from Greece, naturally melds with figs, Greek yogurt or any combination thereof.
What’s labeled as “wildflower” honey actually varies by region with its flavor reflecting whatever mix of local wildflowers the bees draw nectar from. Spicy honey and truffle honey are infused products that can be purchased, each of which has great application on a cheese plate or charcuterie. Or it can be fun to infuse your own honey at home with fennel seed, dried chamomile or star anise pods.
At the Rosh Hashanah table, try a tasting array of different honeys and allow your guests to dip apples into each one to appreciate their unique flavors. Add one (or more) of Steve’s delightful recipes that incorporate honey, like Caramelized Carrots and Turnips or Honey and Black Pepper Roast Pears with Brie and you’ll have your sweetest new year yet.
Caramelized Carrots and Turnips
(From At Home by Steve Poses)
6 medium yellow turnips, peeled and cut into ½” by 3” pieces
8 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½” by 3” pieces
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 medium red onions, sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup honey
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. In a large bowl, toss turnips and carrots with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on baking sheets. Place sheets in oven and roast for 15 minutes, stirring vegetables and rotating sheets midway through. Add rosemary and onions and continue roasting, stirring occasionally, until turnips are golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
3. Remove vegetables from oven. Drizzle with lemon juice and honey while vegetables are warm. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Honey and Black Pepper Roast Pears with Brie
(From At Home by Steve Poses)
1 medium-hard Bosc pear, cored and peeled
16 bias-cut slices of baguette (crostini)
4-5 ounces brie, cut to the size of the crostini
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1½ teaspoons honey, preferably white truffle honey
¼ teaspoon pepper
flaky sea salt
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle shelf and preheat oven to 425. Cut pear lengthwise into 16 pieces.
2. In a small glass baking dish large enough to hold the pears in a single layer, combine butter, honey and pepper. Microwave for about 15 seconds on high to melt butter and loosen honey. Add pears to dish, turning to coat well. Roast, turning pears over after 10 minutes. Continue roasting until pears soften and lightly color at the edges, about 15-18 total minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Turn pears to soak up any leftover pan syrup.
Layer crostini with brie and then pears. Add a few flakes of sea salt. To serve, set out a platter of crostini or portion 2 crostini per person.