L’Shana Tova! Here are some new ways to update and put a contemporary spin on traditional High Holiday meals.

  • Try a fast, easy chicken soup with an Asian twist! Use a box of chicken soup mix. Add frozen defrosted potstickers, a little cooked leaf spinach (optional), lots of sliced scallions, and a few teaspoons of sesame oil (the secret ingredient) to taste. Yum!
  • I always add some old and new family pictures to my floral centerpiece. Use paper clips or double-sided tape and attach the photos to chopsticks or small tree branches and place them in your flowers.
  • Use edible place cards for eight or more guests. I pick small apples for each guest. Fill a small non-pleated sandwich bag with melted chocolate or store-bought icing. Using the bag as a “pastry bag,” write each guest’s name on an apple. No one will ask, “Where do you want me to sit?”
  • Not cooking but going as a guest? This is the best year for all grapes! They are larger, sweeter, and simply delicious. Look for the raspberry flavored, moon drops or cotton candy ones and bring a big bowl of washed assorted plump ones as your hostess gift!
  • To keep tomatoes tasty, NEVER refrigerate a cut or ripe tomato! After slicing a tomato, place the cut side down on a plate and store out of the refrigerator.
  • Another hostess gift: Bring a bunch of assorted new plastic containers for leftovers. Tie them with a bow. Not fancy, but much appreciated!
  • To garnish chicken soup servings: Use some thick peeled carrot slices or some spiralized ones. Cook them separately in some chicken broth. Drain and place on top of each serving.
  • Remember that leftover horseradish can be frozen!
  • To make your own “gourmet” whitefish salad, I combine about 8 ounces of store-bought smooth whitefish salad with chunks of fresh whitefish, chopped scallions or chives. Carefully remove all bones, and add a dollop of mayonnaise to cut the salt.
  • My “House Brand” of cream cheese is made by combining regular or low-fat cream cheese with pieces of nova lox, chopped scallions and/or fresh chives. Colorful and delish!

Ilene Spector is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and veteran Jewish food journalist.

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