I enjoy food – any kind of food for any kind of holiday. So this year, when Hanukah happened to ‘fall on’ thanks giving…JACK POT!! So of course, people are talking about celebrating Thanksgivukkah…le sigh!
I’m no expert honestly on traditional Hanukah food but here are a few of my favorites. No matter what holiday table you are around, I hope the table and your home is filled with laughter, warmth and lots of love.
2 ½ cups diced* onions, divided
1 large egg
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 pounds Russet potatoes
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Sour cream (garnish)
Cranberry Applesauce (garnish)
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup sugar
½ cup Manischewitz Concord Grape wine
4 large Granny Smith apples
In a medium sauce pot, combine cranberries, spices, sugar, and Manischewitz. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Peel and core apples, then cut them into large chunks (approximately ½-inch cubes), and add to the cranberry mixture. Cover sauce and continue to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If sauce begins to stick, add water.
Remove from heat and cool to room temperature before serving.
*To dice means to chop into roughly ¼-inch cubes.
Food processor with grating attachment
Line a colander with a smooth kitchen towel or cheesecloth. In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the diced onion (1 ¼ cups), egg, flour, salt, and baking powder, and mix with a rubber spatula just to combine.
Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes, working quickly so that the potatoes don’t brown. Using the grater attachment of a food processor, grate potatoes and remaining 1 ¼ cup diced onion. Pour the potato-onion mixture out into the towel or cheesecloth set over the colander, wrap the towel around the mixture, and wring out as much liquid as possible. The potatoes should release at least 1 cup of liquid. Discard liquid.
Add dry potato mixture to the egg/flour mixture, making sure to scrape all potato starch off of the towel and into the mixing bowl. Stir until batter is combined and sticky.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Set a wire racks inside a baking sheet and place it on the counter next to your stovetop.
Heat ½ cup vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Oil should be hot but not smoking, about 375°F. For each latke, take about ¼ cup of batter and flatten it in your palms to about a 2-inch disk. As you do this, squeeze out excess liquid, then place the disk into the oil with a heatproof spatula. Cook latkes about 4 minutes each side, until golden brown. Cook in batches of 4-5 latkes. Between batches, use a slotted spoon to strain any leftover bits of potato mixture out of the oil. Add more oil as needed, making sure to let the oil reheat before dropping the next potato mixture in. Transfer fried latkes to the baking rack, and place in the oven for about 8 minutes, until crispy and deep brown.
Garnish with sour cream and cranberry applesauce.
Broccoli Parmesan Fritters
There’s a lot of broccoli and very little pancake in this fritter. To serve: I like these with a dollop of the garlicky lemon yogurt, roughly 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tiny minced clove of garlic, a bit of zest and salt. They’re also good simply, with just a squeeze of lemon juice or a little crumbled feta on top.
8 ounces (1 small-to-medium bundle, 225 grams) fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes or several grinds of black pepper
Olive or vegetable oil for frying
Prepare your broccoli: Separate the florets from the biggest stem(s). Cut the florets into 1-inch chunks. To prepare the stems, I like to peel them, as the skin can be thick and doesn’t cook quickly, then slice them into 1/2-inch lengths. You should have about 3 cups of chopped broccoli total.
Steam your broccoli until tender but not mushy: Use whatever method you prefer. My quickie, lazy method is to bring a 1/2-inch or so of water to a boil in a small saucepan, then add the broccoli, place a lid on it and simmer it for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the broccoli, then set it aside to cool slightly.
In the bottom of a large bowl, lightly beat your egg. Add the flour, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Then, add the somewhat cooled broccoli and, using a potato masher, mash the broccoli just a bit. You’re looking to keep the bits recognizable, but small enough (1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks) that you can press a mound of the batter into a fritter in the pan. Once mashed a bit, stir or fold the ingredients together the rest of the way with a spoon. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil (I usually use a mix of olive and vegetable oil), about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then to a serving plate if you’ll be eating them shortly or a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven if you’d like to keep them warm for a while until needed. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed. Serve with some of the suggestions listed in the head notes, above.
Egg Noodle, Chard, and Fontina Torte
A savory take on noodle kugel, this beautiful dish is creamy on the inside with a golden-crisp crust. Using thin egg fettuccine rather than traditional short, wide egg noodles adds elegance.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 lb dried egg fettuccine
8 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup mascarpone (5 oz)
1/2 lb Italian Fontina, rind discarded and cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Special Equipment you may need:
A 9- to 9 1/2-inch (24-cm) springform pan
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Grease pan with 2 teaspoons oil and wrap outside with foil.
Cook chard in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a sieve set over a bowl. Reserve cooking water in pot. Press hard on chard to extract as much water as possible, then transfer to a cutting board and chop.
Cook onion in 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in chard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and remove from heat. Cool chard mixture to warm.
While chard cools, return cooking water to a boil and cook fettuccine, uncovered, until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander, then transfer to a large bowl and toss with remaining teaspoon oil. Blend together eggs, milk, mascarpone, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth.
Stir chard and Fontina into pasta mixture, then stir in egg mixture. Pour into greased springform pan set in a large shallow baking pan (to catch any drips). Pat down chard to make surface even if necessary.
Bake until just set and top is golden brown, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in springform pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a small sharp knife around inside edge of pan to loosen torte. Remove side of pan and serve torte hot or warm.
Of course there must be…
Tangy Spiced Brisket
This brisket is wonderful — not just the buckets of flavorful sauce (no dry brisket here!) but the slow-cooker to fridge to oven technique (adapted from my mother-in-law), which produces flawless brisket every single time.
3 large onions, sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (adjust to your heat preference)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups beef stock (unsalted or low salt)
1 cup ketchup*
1 cup chili sauce* (I’m realizing from comments that there are many many types; I used Heinz, which is not exactly spicy)
1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
8 to 10 pound brisket
Prepare the sauce: Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and sauté onions in vegetable oil, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and most of liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add halved garlic cloves and saute for 3 minutes more. Stir in spices and seasoning (paprika, salt, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, cayenne, oregano and thyme) and cook for 2 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the beef stock, ketchup, chili sauce and brown sugar. Don’t worry if your brown sugar is lumpy (mine always is), the acidity of the ingredients will quickly break it down.
If baking in oven: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place brisket in a baking dish or casserole, spread onion mixture over the top, then pour sauce mixture over the entire dish. Cover tightly with foil bake until very tender but not falling apart, about 3 to 4 hours.
If making in a slow cooker (which I highly, highly recommend): Place brisket in a slow cooker, spread onion mixture over the top, then pour sauce mixture over the entire dish. Cover with the lid and cook it on LOW for 10 hours. (I like to start it before I go to bed, and process it in the morning to rest over the course of the day in the fridge.)
For both methods, rest the dish: When the brisket is cooked but still hot, use a spoon to scrape off any large fat deposits adhered to the top and bottom of the brisket. (This part is easiest to do when hot. The sauce will be de-fatted after it has chilled.)
If you’re using a slow cooker, transfer the brisket and all of its sauce to a baking dish. If you’ve baked it in the oven, you can continue in that same dish.
Chill entire dish in the fridge for several hours and up to one day; this resting time will significantly enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.
An hour before you’re ready to serve it: Preheat your oven to 300°F, and remove the dish from the fridge. Remove all of the fat that has solidified with a slotted spoon for a less oily finish.
Carefully remove the meat from its sauce and place on a large cutting board. Cut the brisket into 1/2-inch slices.
If you like a smoother sauce (I do) this is a good time to run it through a blender or literally just smash up the onion and garlic strands with a wooden spoon. They’ll be so soft, that’s all it takes.
Carefully place the sliced meat (moving it in large sections with a spatula helps keep it together) back into the sauce and spoon the sauce over the meat. Replace the lid or cover the dish tightly with foil and reheat in the oven until it is bubbling at the edges — this usually takes up to to 30 minutes.
If you are very strictly kosher for Passover — generally, at an Orthodox level — you’ll want to find versions without corn syrup in them.
Ok…these are a few of my favorites and I hope they find a way into your home as well. Happy Holiday and all the best from me to you.