Two retro holiday dishes that deserve a comeback, according to these food writers


JT Staff and The Nosher

Kumput was Yiddish-accented name for stewed, dried fruit compote favored by food writer and cookbook author Ronnie Fein grandmother. “When I was a kid, this dish was a staple in Ashkenazi homes,” Fein writes for Jewish food website The Nosher. “Everybody’s Jewish grandmother made it. It was especially popular at Passover, but some bubbes, like mine, made it all year.”

According to the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” cooked fruit made its way to Europe by way of trade routes from the Islamic world. “As the sugar beet became widely available in eastern Europe, the familiar dish that we know as ‘compote’ became a regular in Jewish households,” writes Fein.

“Fresh produce was only available during warmer seasons, of course, but our frugal ancestors preserved what was left by drying and storing fruit for the winter. Come Passover, the dried fruit was ready for cooking: sweet, deliciously bathed in syrup and also pareve, making it the perfect dessert after a festive meal.”

While her grandmother’s compote, which consisted mostly of prunes and apricots, was not a favorite of Fein’s as a child, she has since experimented with the medium and created a take on the dish that is true to tradition but brightened with fruit juice and an array of dried fruits with wide appeal.

“While it’s not my grandma’s kumput, I still think of her every time I make it,” she writes.

Another traditional dish, this one particularly associated with Rosh Hashanah, is tayglach.

“Tayglach is a traditional Ashkenazi dessert, whose name loosely translates to “little dough” in Yiddish,” writes chef, dietitian, and food writer and photographer Micah Sivah.

“The trick to tayglach is to cook them slowly in the syrup, to prevent the sugar in the honey from burning,” she advises. While this recipe uses chopped pecans, though walnuts and dried fruit can be added to the syrup. “These tayglach are shaped by cutting the dough into small pieces, but some people prefer to tie small pieces of dough into knots before boiling. Whichever way suits you to serve them, these tayglach will be a hit this sweet
new year.”

Compote (Courtesy of The Nosher)

Ronnie Fein’s Compote

8 Servings

  • 1½ cups water (or ¾ cup water, plus ¾ cup sweet white wine)
  • 1½ cups mango or apricot nectar or orange juice or orange/pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 3-inch vanilla bean, split open
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger
  • 6-8 whole dried figs
  • 6-8 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 cup dried apricot halves
  • 8-10 prunes
  • ½ cup raisins, dried cranberries or cherries

Place the water, juice, maple syrup, cinnamon stick and vanilla bean in a saucepan large enough to hold all the dried fruit.

Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the fruit and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the fruit is soft. Let the fruit cool in the pan.

Discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. Let cool.

Serve with the poaching liquid.

Tayglach (Courtesy of The Nosher)

Micah Siva’s ‘Tayglach’

8-10 servings

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. whiskey or rum
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 cups honey
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, oil, vanilla, cinnamon and whiskey.

Add the baking powder, flour and sea salt, mixing with a wooden spoon until a dough forms.

Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 to 3 minutes until it becomes a workable dough. Divide into 4 pieces, and roll each piece into a 9- to 10-inch rope, about ½ inch wide. Use a small knife to cut ½ inch pieces, transferring to a baking tray in a single layer.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Over medium heat, bring the honey and sugar to a boil in a medium pot.

Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add in the dough balls, a few at a time, shaking in between each addition (this helps reduce sticking).

Cover, simmer and shake occasionally, cooking for 30 minutes or until amber in color.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the tayglach and place onto a lined baking tray.

Bring the syrup to a boil, then add the water and lemon juice, mixing until thickened slightly. Stir in the pecans.

Drizzle the syrup over the tayglach and serve warm.

If making in advance, add the tayglach to a container, then pour the syrup and nuts over top.

Serve them as is or add them to muffin liners for an easy grab-and-go dessert.

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