On Hanukkah let’s not forget that a woman played a major role in the victory of the Maccabees in that battle, over 2000 years ago, that saved the Jewish people from complete annihilation. That woman was Judith, who visited Holofernes, a general in the enemy camp, and he fell in love with her so he asked her to dine with him.
During the meal Judith gave him great quantities of cheese, which made him very thirsty, so he kept drinking wine. He drank so much that he got drunk and fell asleep and Judith cut off his head with his own sword. And so she was able to get word to the Maccabees about the best time to strike.
Since that fateful victory we have been making merry every year with an 8 day Hanukkah celebration.
Can there be a celebration without food?
Everyone knows about Hanukkah latkes. Some know about the doughnuts. These fried foods memorialize the oil the Maccabees found when they went to rededicate the Temple. There was supposed to be enough for one day but miraculously, it lasted for 8 days.
But not a lot of people know that cheese has been an important Hanukkah food since way back. In fact, cheese was the first “traditional” Hanukkah ingredient. Jewish cooks used them for Cheese Latkes, which became really popular. Unfortunately not everyone could afford cheese so they substituted potato.
The rest is culinary history.
But for those who can afford and love to eat cheese, how about something to remember the brave, intrepid Judith?
Like this fast, easy and simple dessert:
Baked Goat Cheese with Honey Sauce and Cranberries
4 round crackers, preferably sweet
4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted almonds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the crackers on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Slice the cheese into 4 equal rounds and place them on the cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese has softened and the edges begin to brown. While the cheese is baking, combine the honey and cranberries in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until warm. Place the cheese on dessert plates. Pour the honey/cranberry sauce on top. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds. Garnish each with a mint leaf. Make 4 servings