Hanukkah

Fruit Roll Cookies

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Our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but we do celebrate cookies, which are as ubiquitous during the Christmas season as doughnuts during Hanukkah and matzo balls during Passover.

Every December I make a load of cookies. I give most of them away as gifts, but of course, keep (in the freezer) a container or two of family favorites for us.

Depending on how much time I have, I make these oldies but goodies: Fannies, Grand Finale cookies, Dutch butter-almond cookies, peanut butter cookies, lemon bars, cheesecake cookies, Chinese cookies and Orange Marmalade cookies.

Last year I added these Fruit Roll cookies, based on my mother’s wonderful “frozen dough” nut roll. They were a big hit, so I’m going to make them again this year.

Fruit Roll Cookies

Dough:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/2 pound butter, cut into chunks

  • 1 cup dairy sour cream

Filling:

  • 2 cups mixed diced dried or candied fruit (such as cherries, pineapple, orange peel, cranberries, apricots, dates, figs

  • 1 cup raisins

  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup orange marmalade

To make the dough: place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and beat at low speed for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is crumbly (you may also do this by hand or using the pulse feature of a food processor). Add the sour cream and mix it in to make a smooth, uniform and slightly sticky dough. Dust the dough with flour, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

To make the filling: Place the dried fruit, raisins, nuts, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Add the marmalade and mix it in to coat all the fruit.

To assemble: Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cut the dough into 5 pieces. Working separately with each piece of dough, roll the dough on a floured surface to a rectangle about 12-inches by 6-inches. Place 1/5 of the filling on each rectangle, forming the mixture into a strip along one of the long sides and to within 1/2-inch from the ends of the two short sides. Roll the dough and place each roll, seam side down, on the baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Score each roll along the top with a sharp knife at 1-inch intervals. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, let cool, then cut along the score lines.

Makes about 60

 

Orange-Vanilla Flavored Cheese Stuffed Dates

Sometimes I think life is a bunch of holidays with not much in between. Except for the entire month of January.

I suppose that's a good thing, because holidays are happy and celebratory.

Also, there's the food. Except for Yom Kippur, every holiday has food. And even when it comes to Yom Kippur, there's the break-the-fast when it's all over and the break-the-fast is all about food. 

As far as holidays go, at this point of the year, we've just finished Thanksgiving. So what’s next up?

Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is a really delicious holiday. Lots of fried stuff like latkes and doughnuts.

It's also a dairy holiday because of the story of Judith, which you can read about it here

For our family, in honor of Judith, I make lots of dairy items in addition to the usual potato latkes and doughnuts. I have served cheese latkes and potato latkes with a yogurt based sauce laced with lemongrass. And also Potato Galette with Caramelized Onions and Cheese and Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel (actually that one’s a favorite). 

Desserts? Maybe Meyer Lemon Yogurt Pie (you can use regular lemons) or Baked Goat Cheese with Honey Sauce and Cranberries. Maybe even cheesecake. Or some fabulous cheesecake cookies!

And also these stuffed dates! Easy to make, not too sweet (no added sugar), these little morsels are perfect for the holiday. If you don't want to use almonds for garnish, crushed, toasted coconut will do nicely.

Btw, these make a nice tidbit for New Year’s, either as hors d’oeuvre or late night snack. 

 

Orange-Vanilla Flavored Cheese Stuffed Dates

  • 12 medjool dates

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3 tablespoons crushed toasted almonds (or pistachios or crushed, toasted coconut)

Cut the dates through the center, but not all the way through to the bottom. Remove the pit and spread the date slightly to form a hollow for filling. Mix the cream cheese, yogurt, orange peel and vanilla extract in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth and soft. Fill the dates with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the nuts.

Makes 12 

Orange and Vanilla Scented Cheese Stuffed Dates

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Sometimes I think life is a bunch of holidays with not much in between, except for the entire month of January.

I suppose that's a good thing, because holidays are happy and celebratory. Also, there's the food. Except for Yom Kippur, every holiday has food. And even when it comes to Yom Kippur, there's the break-the-fast when it's all over and the break-the-fast is all about food. 

As far as holidays go, at this point of the year, we've just finished Thanksgiving. Next up? Hanukkah!

Hanukkah is a really delicious holiday. Lots of fried stuff like latkes and doughnuts.

It's also a dairy holiday because of the story of Judith. You can read all about it here

So for me, in honor of Judith, in addition to the usual potato latkes and doughnuts, I have served cheese latkes and potato latkes with a yogurt based sauce laced with lemongrassPotato Galette with Caramelized Onions and Cheese has been on my Hanukkah menu and also Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel

Desserts? I could go with Meyer Lemon Yogurt Pie (you can use regular lemons) or maybe Baked Goat Cheese with Honey Sauce and Cranberries. Maybe even cheesecake. Or some fabulous cheesecake cookies!

And also these stuffed dates! Easy to make, not too sweet (no added sugar), these little morsels are perfect for the holiday. If you don't want to use almonds for garnish, crushed, toasted coconut will do nicely.

 

ORANGE-VANILLA SCENTED CHEESE STUFFED DATES

  • 12 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons crushed toasted almonds (or pistachios or crushed, toasted coconut)

Cut the dates through the center, but not all the way through to the bottom. Remove the pit and spread the date slightly to form a hollow for filling. Mix the cram cheese, yogurt, orange peel and vanilla extract in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth and soft. Fill the dates with the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the nuts.

Makes 12 

Latkes of a Different Kind

Hanukkah wouldn't be right without latkes. And, while classic potato latkes are my favorite and I once made 200 of them for my sister-in-law and brother's annual holiday party, I also like to cook up different varieties.

In addition to fried foods, dairy is also an iconic food for Hanukkah.

So -- dairy latke!

This one is made with cornmeal and cheddar cheese. Good for breakfast, lunch or as a side dish at a vegetarian meal. Perfect accompaniment to sunnyside eggs, for dipping into runny yolks.

Also, versatile. Add chives, scallions, corn kernels, chili peppers. Whatever.

Also -- make them ahead and rewarm. 

 

Cornmeal-Cheddar Latkes

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/3 cups milk, approximately
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 ounces shredded cheddar cheese 
  • butter for frying
  • optional: 1 small chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper; 1 cup corn kernels; 2 tablespoon chopped chives

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. In a bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, eggs and cooled melted butter. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, stirring gently. Fold in the cheese. If the mixture seems too thick, stir in more milk.

Heat about 1 tablespoon butter in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, drop 1/4 cup of the batter per pancake and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Makes about 24

 

Savory Herb and Cheese Sufganiyot

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I've always been more of an hors d'oeuvre person than a dessert person. So, given the choice (if I HAD to choose) of franks-in-blankets or potato puffs versus chocolate cake, it would definitely be the franks-and-potatoes for me.

This does not mean I am immune to dessert and during Hanukkah I do love to get my fill of sufganiyot, especially the tiny fried choux puffs that I make with a bit of sugar and lemon. And also a jelly doughnut or two. Or three.

But, I am who I am, so this year I decided to make savory sufganiyot.

Can that really be a thing?

Anyway, it went over bigtime at my house. I had thought about serving them with a bourbon before dinner, but it got late and we were hungry so we actually ate these as a side dish with some roasted salmon and broccoli. 

Either way, for cocktails or with dinner.

We polished these off.

 

Herb and Cheese SufganIYot

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs, or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • vegetable oil for frying

Place the water and butter in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and salt all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well blended and begins to come away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in the herbs and cheese. 

Heat about 1-1/2-inches of vegetable oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough to make a tiny piece of dough sizzle, drop mounded teaspoons-worth of dough into the pan, cooking about 8 at a time. Move the puffs around using a wooden spoon, for about a minute or until the bottoms are golden brown. Turn the puffs over. Cook another half minute or until golden brown. Lift the puffs out with a large frying basket or other tool onto paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the puffs. When all the puffs have been fried, refry all of them for about one to 1-1/2 minutes, moving them around in the pan with a wooden spoon (alternately, you can fry the puffs, lift them out for 15-20 seconds and put them back in the pan for the second fry, then repeat with the rest).

 Makes about 60

 

 

Mashed Potato, Kale and Feta Cheese Pancakes

See these pancakes? I actually try not to make them too often, because, like the old Lay's ad said: you can't eat just one.

These pancakes are soft and creamy inside, fabulously crispy on the surface and have an earthy, vaguely mineral-y potato flavor plus the tang of cheese. They are among my favorite things to eat ever

Also, they are perfect for Passover because they contain matzo farfel, not bread or bread crumbs. 

They are perfect for Hanukkah when you might want a different kind of latke.

They are perfect for vegetarian meals anytime.

They are perfect as a brunch dish for company because you can make them ahead and reheat (preheat oven to 425 degrees F).

Try one! And maybe freeze the rest to keep yourself from overeating. They store nicely in the freezer (wrapped twice in plastic) for up to two months.

The recipe comes from my book, The Modern Kosher Kitchen. The photo is courtesy Glenn Scott Photography.

Mashed Potato, Kale and Feta Cheese Pancakes

  • 2 cups matzo farfel
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil for frying

Place the matzo farfel in a bowl, cover with very hot water and let soak for a few minutes until soft. Drain the farfel and squeeze out as much water as possible. Return the drained farfel to the bowl. While the matzo farfel is soaking, heat the olive oil and butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the onion and cook for a minute. Add the kale, cover the pan and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes, or until the kale has wilted. Spoon the mixture into a strainer and squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the vegetables. Add to the matzo farfel and mix ingredient s to distribute them evenly. Add the mashed potatoes, feta cheese and egg and mix ingredients thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat about 1/2-inch vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Shape the potato mixture into patties and fry for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.  

 Makes about 16-18 pancakes, 6-8 servings

 

My goose is finally cooked!

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Every year, sometime during the Hanukkah holiday, I make a roast goose dinner for our family. The menu is almost always the same: goose, braised red cabbage, potato latkes and some green vegetable or other.

Unfortunately, for one reason or another, we just never got to it last December and so, when my kids and grandkids came up for Ed's birthday weekend, we had our Hanukkah meal. 

I cooked the bird a little differently this year, basting it with sweet white wine several times as it roasted. That tiny change sweetened up the pan juices.

A good meal was had by all.

PLUS, I made stock with the bones.

PLUS, I strained all the fat, which is snow-white when it hardens, and froze it all.

If you've never had roasted potatoes in goose fat or matzo balls made with goose fat, well, folks, you've been missing something awesome.

Looking forward to that Passover matzo ball soup.

 

Roasted Goose

  • 1 10-12 pound goose
  • lemon juice
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sweet white wine

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the goose and remove excess fat. Rub the goose with lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Prick the skin all over with the tines of a fork. Place the goose, breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Pour the water into the pan. Roast for 45 minutes. Lower the oven heat to 325 degrees. Turn the goose breast side down. Pour the wine over the goose. Roast for 45 minutes, basting once during this time. Turn the goose breast side up again and roast for another 30-60 minutes, basting once or twice, or until the juices run clear when you prick the thickest part of the thigh with the tines of a fork (a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read 165 degrees). Let rest for 15 minutes before carving. 

Roasted Sweet Potato Hanukkah Coins

When Hanukkah comes most of us are cooking latkes or doughnuts, the holiday’s most typical goodies.

When we were kids, we also ate chocolate Hanukkah gelt, those awful tasting coin candies that are so cheap it makes you wonder whether there is actually any chocolate in them. NOTE  TO ALL: the kids still love those coins but for more discriminating palates, several companies are selling “gourmet gelt" — the real deal, premium chocolate coins.

I decided to take the coin idea in a different culinary direction this year.

On Hanukkah I will also serve sweet potato coins. Roasted, crispy, seasoned sweet potato circles.

Hanukkah gelt of a different sort.

This is one of the easiest recipes you will ever find. For Hanukkah for sure, but any time you need an easy side dish.
 

Roasted Sweet Potato Hanukkah Coins

  • 2 long, narrow sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • ground cinnamon
  • Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into thin slices. Place the slices (not overlapping) of a parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush them on both sides with a thin film of olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, cinnamon and Aleppo pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Turn the coins over. Roast for another 6-10 minutes or until crispy. 

Makes 4 servings

An InLinkz Link-up

Potato Latkes

What do you do when you have finished preparing potato latkes for a Hanukkah party and you’re sitting in your family room watching TV and your husband comes in with a handful of the latkes you just made and says “I’m taking a down payment on our Hanukkah party on Saturday night.”

And you’ve cleaned up the kitchen and everything and you thought you were done with latkes and the entire house smells from fried so you had to make a kitchen bouquet (1/4 cloves, 3 broken cinnamon sticks, tablespoon or so cardamom pods, orange peel, water) so that anyone who comes to the house even the next day (like the UPS delivery man or the guy who is coming to repair the oven) isn’t blasted with stale fried smell?

Why, you get up the next day and make more latkes. Otherwise there won’t be enough. Because I know what happens when people see potato latkes. You can’t eat just one.

And so I did.

These:

Potato Latkes

  • 4 large peeled baking potatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • vegetable oil for frying

 

Shred the potatoes in a food processor. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible (I put portions of the shreds in a kitchen towel and squeeze until they are practically dry). Place the shreds in a bowl. Immediately mix the eggs in (this helps keep the potatoes from browning). Add the potato starch, salt, pepper and baking powder. Heat about 1/4” vegetable oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Shape latkes by hand, squeezing liquid out if there is any, and place them in the hot oil, leaving space between each one so that they brown well and become crispy (if they are too close they will “steam” and become soggy). Press down on the latkes to keep them evenly shaped. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until the pancakes are golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Makes 12-15

 

Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel

One of the tumblr  blogs I follow  asked readers what their favorite comfort food was.  I thought about it for awhile because there are so many, I couldn’t make up my mind. Like  challah  and butter; baked, crispy-skinned Russet potato;  apple pie ;  fried chicken wings . Snacks like potato chips and popcorn.  You’ll notice most of these are starch. Even the chicken dish I chose is wings and therefore mostly crunchy, flour-crusted skin.  And of course, there’s kugel: egg noodles, boiled until they’re tender, then crisped in the oven, either plain or with all sorts of stuff inside. Like this recipe for Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel.   What makes this kugel such a comfort?  Not just the soft noodles, but the sweet crunchy crust. You get to feel them both in your mouth at the same time, with one bite.  And there’s color too, because I’ve included white cottage cheese, dark red cranberries and orange winter squash, so when you cut a piece it looks pretty on a plate.  Notice please, that you can sort of cut down on some of the less healthy aspects by using Greek style, plain (non-fat) yogurt instead of dairy sour cream and non-fat cottage cheese instead of the full-fat kind.  Kugel is a year ‘round treat. But it’s usually a must for Hanukkah. Sure is for us.      Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel    5 tablespoons butter, melted  one pound medium egg noodles  3 cups diced winter squash (such as butternut or acorn)  1 cup dried cranberries  2 cups cottage cheese (nonfat is fine)  1-1/2 cups nonfat Greek style plain yogurt (or use dairy sour cream)  6 large eggs, beaten  1/3 cup sugar  3/4 teaspoon cinnamon  1/4 teaspoon salt  1/2 cup chopped almonds  2 tablespoons brown sugar  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9”x13” baking dish using some of the melted butter. Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain and place in a large bowl. Add the squash, cranberries, cottage cheese, yogurt and remaining melted butter and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Beat the eggs, sugar and cinnamon together with a hand mixer at medium speed for about 3 minutes or until thickened. Fold into the noodle mixture. Place in the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, mix the almonds and brown sugar. Sprinkle on top of the kugel. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown. Makes 8-10 servings

One of the tumblr blogs I follow asked readers what their favorite comfort food was.

I thought about it for awhile because there are so many, I couldn’t make up my mind. Like challah and butter; baked, crispy-skinned Russet potato; apple piefried chicken wings. Snacks like potato chips and popcorn.

You’ll notice most of these are starch. Even the chicken dish I chose is wings and therefore mostly crunchy, flour-crusted skin.

And of course, there’s kugel: egg noodles, boiled until they’re tender, then crisped in the oven, either plain or with all sorts of stuff inside. Like this recipe for Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel. 

What makes this kugel such a comfort?

Not just the soft noodles, but the sweet crunchy crust. You get to feel them both in your mouth at the same time, with one bite.

And there’s color too, because I’ve included white cottage cheese, dark red cranberries and orange winter squash, so when you cut a piece it looks pretty on a plate.

Notice please, that you can sort of cut down on some of the less healthy aspects by using Greek style, plain (non-fat) yogurt instead of dairy sour cream and non-fat cottage cheese instead of the full-fat kind.

Kugel is a year ‘round treat. But it’s usually a must for Hanukkah. Sure is for us.

 

Almond Crusted Winter Squash and Noodle Kugel

5 tablespoons butter, melted

one pound medium egg noodles

3 cups diced winter squash (such as butternut or acorn)

1 cup dried cranberries

2 cups cottage cheese (nonfat is fine)

1-1/2 cups nonfat Greek style plain yogurt (or use dairy sour cream)

6 large eggs, beaten

1/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped almonds

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9”x13” baking dish using some of the melted butter. Cook the noodles according to package directions, drain and place in a large bowl. Add the squash, cranberries, cottage cheese, yogurt and remaining melted butter and toss the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Beat the eggs, sugar and cinnamon together with a hand mixer at medium speed for about 3 minutes or until thickened. Fold into the noodle mixture. Place in the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, mix the almonds and brown sugar. Sprinkle on top of the kugel. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown. Makes 8-10 servings