This Yom Kippur, Break Your Fast With a Make-Ahead Bagel Board
With three kinds of cream cheese, plus all the fixings, this easy-to-make board is perfect for feeding hungry guests.
Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is probably most associated with fasting. It is a day to repent for our sins, reflect on those we have hurt, and ask for forgiveness. Unlike the sweets-filled Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah, or the festive celebration of Purim, Yom Kippur is not a celebratory holiday. However, it is considered the most important Jewish holiday. So instead of wishing someone a happy day, wish them an easy fast instead.
It’s tradition to fast after turning 13 (bar or bat mitzvah age), unless you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or otherwise cannot limit food. The point isn’t to put your physical or mental health at risk, but to ruminate on the past year. If you start to feel weak, it is definitely okay to eat or drink a bit. In general, the practice is to abstain from food or drink for 25 hours (sundown to sundown). There are also ways to make the day meaningful if you’re not fasting. You could take a break from social media or TV, or give up driving for the day and walk where you need to go. You could also donate food as a symbolic gesture, fast for part of the day, or limit from food but drink water. What’s most important is that you observe the day in a way that is meaningful to you.
Whether you fast or not, by the time sundown rolls around, it’s time to eat! Depending on your Jewish background, you probably break the fast with specific foods. If you’re of Greek heritage, it may be avgolemono or spanakopita. In the Middle East, you may break fast with a Moroccan chicken and a chilled cucumber soup. In my household, it was always the traditional Ashkenazi spread of bagels with all the fixings: chopped liver, kugel, various salads, rugelach, coffee cake, the works. Of course, your guests will be hungry, and it’s not uncommon to eat more than one bagel while breaking the fast, so I never skimp on the portions. My go-to order: Start with a sliced everything bagel. Top half with scallion cream cheese, lox, red onion, and cucumbers; the other half with both tuna salad and egg salad. It’s perfection.
Get the Recipe: Break Fast Bagel Board
Typically, you wouldn’t spend the fast day prepping food for the break fast, so it’s good to serve something you can make ahead and easily put out when ready to nosh. In place of a typical tray of bagels, this year try a Break Fast Bagel Board. Boards are not just for cheese and charcuterie anymore! (Seriously, have you seen the latest butter board craze?) A board is a fashionable way to display your bagel toppings, instead of just laying them out with tubs of cream cheese.
This year, I got crafty with the cream cheese flavors. Inspired by my favorite bagel toppings, I went with Everything But the Bagel Cream Cheese, all your favorite accoutrement already in the cream cheese! Then, I made a sweet and savory Caramelized Onion Cream Cheese, which is perfect on an everything bagel. And if you have a sweet tooth like me, try the Apples and Honey Cream Cheese, inspired by the classic Rosh Hashanah bite.
You can get creative with the other toppings too. Add your favorite vegetables like radishes or sprouts, try other spreads like hummus and flavored butter, or go sweet with peanut butter and fruit. The important thing is that you break the fast with friends and family and delicious food after a long day of reflection.
Amy Kritzer Becker is the founder of the modern Jewish cooking blog What Jew Wanna Eat and author of the 2016 cookbook Sweet Noshings. She is also the owner of the cool Jewish gifts store ModernTribe. After a stint in NYC as a conference producer, Amy moved to Austin, TX to escape cold weather. Soon after, Amy left the business world to attend culinary school to work on her true passion. As she worked as a personal chef and did live cooking demos and classes at a local supermarket, her blog grew and gained recognition. Amy has had the opportunity to develop recipes, such as Avocado Latkes Breakfast Tacos or Pumpkin Fig Rugleach for numerous publications and she has spoken on the topics of culture, entrepreneurship, and food at events around the world like SXSW and Nosh Berlin. Amy and her recipes have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The Today Show, Food & Wine and now The Food Network. In Fall 2017, she appeared on an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games on The Food Network. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband.