- Mashed Potato Latkes with Fresh Herb Medley (Dairy)
- Zucchini Fritters (Parve or Dairy)
- Venetian Rice with Raisins (Parve or Dairy)
- Veal Strips in Sweet-and-Sour Sauce with Grapes
- Hanukkah Treats with Sambuca and Honey (Dairy)
- Venetian Fritters with Pine Nuts and Raisins (Parve)
- Apple Fritters with Moscato (Parve)
- Sfenz – Libyan Hanukkah Pancakes (Parve)
- Venetian Holy Pumpkin Fritters (Parve)
- Cassola, a holiday surprise (not just Dairy, Very Dairy)
Something so cozy and delicious that you’ll wish you could celebrate Hanukkah all year long!
- 2 pounds potatoes
- 4 medium eggs
- 2 tablespoons grated parmigiano cheesea pinch of grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons mixed thyme, parsley, rosemary, chives, freshly minced
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, to dip
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6 cups or more mild extra-virgin olive oil for deep-frying
Bake the potatoes until soft, peel them and mash them. Place them in a bowl and add the nutmeg, herbs, parmigiano, pepper and little salt. Add the eggs one at a time (if the eggs are large, 3 may be enough).
With a tablespoon and your hand, form little patties and dip them into the flour.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer or a heavy pan with tall sides. Fry the patties in hot oil, in small batches, until crunchy and golden (turning them once).
Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them well on a double or triple layer of paper towel. Serve them hot, after sprinkling them with a little more salt.
Lois and Roberta of KosherEye are also organizing a Latke/Frying Twitter party on Monday, December 19th 8:30 EST (Hashtag: #latke), please join us if you can!
Last, but not least, the KosherEye 2011 Hanukkah Latke-Line is open through December 28th on http://www.koshereye.com : a panel of kosher culinary experts including Yours, Truly will provide advice, tips, and recipes for frying latkes, sufganiot and other Hanukkah specialties: what a great idea!!!!
It was probably Sephardic Jews who transmitted to the rest of the Venetian population their passion for rice, after their arrival in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Venetians are still famous for creamy risottos (we call them “all’onda“, with a wave), to which we add pretty much anything, from chicken livers to fish to… stinging nettles. The usual preparation for risotto, adding hot broth a little at a time, releases so much starch that the rice must be eaten right away or it will clump. The pilaf version, besides reminding us of the Sephardic origins of this dish, can be prepared in advance and reheated for Shabbat. “Risi e Ua” (Rice and Grapes, or Raisins) is THE festive rice dish par excellence among the Jews of Venice, and – like most Jewish venetian recipes – it has also been enjoyed by the general population for a very long time. It’s also great for Hanukkah, in case your stomach cannot survive an all-fried menu and you want to start with something a little more digestible….
About the choice between garlic and onion: there are two schools of thought, and, like Hillel and Shammai, they are both right.
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
- 1 quart hot vegetable stock
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 1/2 an onion, sliced very thin
- 2 cups Carnaroli (or Arborio) Italian rice
- ½ cup of plumped raisins or sultanas
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley (optional)
- salt to taste
Bring the stock to a boil and leave it to simmer on the stovetop.
Heat the olive oil in an oven-proof pot (non-stick or cast iron), add the garlic or onion, and parsley, and cook for 5 minutes on low heat. Stir in the raisins, previously softened in hot water and drained well. (If you don’t own an oven-proof pot, start in a regular non-stick pot and transfer into a pyrex casserole or pan before moving into the oven).
Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, until all the grains are coated in oil and “toasted” and make ‘popping’ noises. Pour in the wine, raise the heat and cook until the wine has evaporated.
Pour in all the hot stock and stir well.
As soon as the stock starts simmering again, cover the pot and transfer to a 365 F oven, where you will leave it alone to cook for exactly 18 minutes.
Take the rice out, add another couple of tablespoons of olive oil (or “oil from a roast beef”, if using in a meat meal), stir, and add salt if needed.
Let it rest covered for another 10 minutes. It can be eaten right away or reheated for Shabbat, as long as it’s not too dry and not left on the plata or warming drawer for longer than a couple of hours.
If the rice was made with vegetable stock and will be used in a dairy meal, you can also add some butter and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
You can also cook this rice as a risotto, on the stovetop adding one ladleful of hot stock at a time, if you prefer and if you don’t plan on reheating it.
* If you don’t digest garlic or onion well, use slightly pressed whole cloves instead of minced garlic, and discard them after they have browned well, and before adding the rice.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 and 1/2 pound veal breast cutlets, cut into strips
1 cluster dark grapes (3/4 pound)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 quart dry red wine
1/2 cup grape juice
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 pinch cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar
2 ladlefuls hot meat or chicken stock
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon potato starch or corn starch
To make the sweet-and-sour sauce, place the wine, stock, grape juice, thinly sliced scallion, and spices in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered until reduced to one half. Caramelize the sugar in a small skillet: start on high heat and lower the flame as the sugar starts melting, adding 2 tablespoons of water and the balsamic. Pour the caramel into the wine broth. Gradually incorporate the corn starch or potato starch, and allow the sauce to thicken for a few more minutes on low heat, removing any clumps, and the bay leaves, with a slotted spoon. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and sauté the veal strips, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the sweet-and-sour sauce and the grapes (halved), and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring continuously. Serve hot.
While the miracle of the oil is described in the Talmud, the Book of 1Maccabees makes no mention of it, stating only that an eight day celebration was proclaimed upon re-dedication of the temple: therefore, a number of historians believe that the reason for the eight day festival was simply that the first Hanukkah was a belated celebration of the harvest holidays of Sukkot and Shemini Azeret, which the Jews had not been able to observe during the war.
Obviously, the two explanations are not mutually exclusive, and Hanukkah can very well celebrate the miracle of the oil while also absorbing the previous holiday.
In this spirit, here is a delicious fried treat that incorporates the oil, and the honey (a recurrent symbol that appears on our tables from Rosh haShana to Shemini Azeret): for holiness, and sweetness. And Sambuca… just for fun!
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 3/4 stick unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup Sambuca (or Arak or other Anise liquor)
- 4 cups pastry or 00 flour (but you can also use all-purpose)
- 1 package baking powder (16 gr)
- 1 cup honey
- mild olive oil or peanut oil for frying
Beat 4 whole eggs and one yolk with the sugar; add the melted butter (warm), the liquor and a pinch of salt. Combine the flour with the baking powder, and sift them over the egg mixture, stirring constantly until everything is combined.
Transfer the mixture onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
Form a ball, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for one hour.
Roll it into a disc about 0.5 mm thick and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.
Pour plenty of oil in a wide, heavy pan with tall sides – the oil should be at least 3” high, and stop at least 2″ from the top of the pan. The oil is hot enough when a piece of bread dropped into the pan is immediately surrounded by many little bubbles, but does not burn quickly.
Fry the shapes in small batches (if you put too much food into the pan at the same time, the temperature of the frying oil will drop, causing the fritters to absorb fat), turning them quickly so that they brown on both sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and dry on a double layer of paper towel. Melt the honey in a saucepan with 3 or 4 tablespoons of water. Arrange the sweets on dessert plates, drizzle them with the honey, and serve.
4 scarce cups pastry flour (all-purpose can be used but raises less well)
15 gr active yeast if using pastry flour (20 gr for all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup sugar (plus more for decorating)
½ cup liquor, such as rhum or grappa
1 cup sultana or raisins
1/2 cup pinenuts
grated zest of one orange
1 ½ tablespoons candied etrog (or lemon)
pinch of salt
2 cups warm water
abundant oil for frying (a mild olive oil or peanut oil)
Soak the raisins in the liquor for for 30 minutes, and drain well.
Dissolve the yeast in warm water (never use cold water!); add 1/2 of the flour and allow to rest for 30 minutes in a warm area. Combine with the rest of the ingredients into a batter just slightly thicker than waffle batter. Allow to rest for 3 hours. Heat at least 3” of peanut or mild olive oil in a wide heavy pan with tall sides, and fry by dropping spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil. Do not drop too many spoonfuls at the same time, or they will stick to each other and also cool down the oil, with a greasy and soggy result. Fry in batches until golden brown, draining on a double or triple layer of paper towel. Dust with sugar and serve immediately. Buon appetito!
Contrary to popular belief, Italian Jews do not all descend from the Jews who arrived in Rome in the second century b.c.e., and from the Sephardim fleeing Spain and Portugal in the late fifteenth century. There have also been Ashkenazi Jews living inNorthern Italy since as early as the Middle Ages. In Venice, in particular, Ashkenazim (“I Tedeschi”, as they were called) were the oldest Jewish community in the city. The name of the first Jewish quarter in Venice (and in the world), “ghetto”, possibly derives from the Germanic term “gitter” (iron grill). Even Moshe Chayim Luzzatto (the Ramchal), one of the most famous Italian rabbis in history, was a “Yekkishe Yid”! (the name Luzzatto is the Italian translation of the German Jewish name Lausitz). A lot of recipes reflect this ancient Ashkenazi influence, and one of my favorite examples is the apple fritters that we make for Hanukkah. One of the reasons I like them so much has nothing to do with history: since in Italy we also have the famous saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” (“Una mela al giorno toglie il medico di torno”), I feel that these must be really good for me even though they are deep-fried, and I indulge in second and third helpings. You can sprinkle them with cinnamon if you like, or serve them with a raspberry sauce for a refined chromatic effect.
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 4 or 5 apples
- 1 cup pastry flour, or all-purpose flour (heaped)
- a pinch of salt
- 1 egg
- 2 egg whites
- 1/3 cup moscato or sweet champagne
- peanut or mild olive oil for frying
- confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon for decorating
Place the flour in a bowl, add the egg and start whisking with a manual or electric whisk; slowly and gradually add the wine. If the batter seems too thick, add a few more tablespoons of wine. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently incorporate them into the batter. Peel the apples, core them without halving them, and slice them horizontally (the slices should be 1/4″ to 1/3″max.) Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Heat abundant oil in a deep-fryer or a large, heavy pan with tall sides. When the oil is ready (365 F, or when a small piece of bread dropped in the oil forms many small bubbles all around), dry the apple slices, dip them in the batter, and fry them until golden in small batches (max. 4 slices at a time, or the oil temperature will drop and they will absorb oil). Dry them very well on a double or triple layer of paper towel, and sprinkle them with sugar (you can also add cinnamon). Serve immediately!
Jewish Italian food has been a tradition for over 2000 years – but it still continues to evolve, even in recent times. The Jewish exodus from Libya in the late 1960es brought about 5000 Libyan Jews to Rome, and their earthy dishes are yet another extraordinary influence on our culinary kaleidoscope.
I reached out to my friends at Labna, one of my favorite Italian food blogs, and Jasmine shared these yummy pancakes, a traditional recipe from the Libyan side of her family. Jasmine tells us that in her grandparents’ house the kitchen was usually her grandmother’s realm -she was always the one cooking, and her grandfather only walked in there to obtain coffee. But every year on Hanukkah, Jasmine’s grandfather would wake up early, brave the kitchen and prepare the Sfenz, the traditional water-flour pancakes, like they used to make in Tripoli: a few minutes of easy kneading, a couple of hours of rest, and a dive into the hot oil…. for a most irresistible breakfast. Enjoy Labna‘s special treat!
Ingredients (Serves 6 to 8)
· 1 pound pastry flour or 00 flour (you can use all-purpose, but the result will be heavier)
· 1/cube fresh yeast, or 1 tablespoon dry yeast
· 1 cup water, or enough for a soft, elastic dough
· enough oil for deep frying (peanut or canola)
· confectioner’s sugar to decorate
Place the flour in a large bowl or your stand mixer. In a second bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water, and add the mix to the flour. Combine well with your hands, or process in the mixer into a soft, elastic, slightly sticky dough.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow to rest in a warm area for about one hour. Now knead again quickly with your hands, and allow to rest for one more hour.
Place the bowl with the dough next to the stovetop, and fill a second bowl with warm water.
Heat abundant oil in a heavy pot with tall sides; when the oil is hot, wet your hands, take a small ball of dough and pull it with your hands into a small “pancake” shape. It’s OK if by doing so you create a few “holes” in the middle. Wet your hands after making each sfenz, so that the dough won’t stick to your fingers. Fry the sfenz in the oil, one at a time or in small batches, turning them once. Remove them with a slotted spoon when they are golden, and drain them on a double layer of kitchen towel. Serve them hot after decorating them with confectioner’s sugar.
Pumpkin arrived in Italy after the discovery of the Americas, and Northern Italian Jews liked it so much that in Venice we called it “suca baruca” (holy pumpkin, from the Hebrew “baruch”).
When pumpkin made its appearance, Venice in general -and Jewish Venice in particular – was a crossroad of peoples and cultures, in which countless examples of what we would now call “Fusion” cuisine came to life. These fritters, which include spices and candied fruit, are a great example! I also contributed this recipe for a guest post on my friends’ lovely Italian blog Labna, which you should check out (especially if you read Italian!)…. and stay tuned for Labna’s own awesome guest post here, coming tomorrow!!!!!
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 1 pound pumpkin or butternut squash, cleaned and diced small
- 2 eggs
- grated zest of 2 oranges
- ¾ cup of sugar and a pinch of salt
- 1 and ½ cups flour
- ½ package (8 gr) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon, if liked
- 1/3 cup Raisins or Sultanas
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/3 cup candied etrog or lemon (if you don’t like it, skip & increase raisins & pine nuts)
- Olive oil or peanut oil for deep-frying, at least 3 cups or more
- Confectioner’s sugar for decorating
Plump the raisins in a cup of warm water. Chop the candied etrog or lime or lemon.
Place the diced squash in a large platter and cover almost completely, leaving a small opening for the steam to come out, and microwave on high for 10 minutes or until very tender.
Beat the eggs in a food processor with the sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange zest; add the cooked squash and process until smooth.
Drain and dry the raisins, and add them to the mix.
Transfer to a large bowl and gradually add the flour (sifted with the baking powder), using an electric or manual whisk.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil to frying temperature (you can test it by dropping a small piece of bread in the oil: if bubbles form around the bread, the temperature is right). Take the batter with a tablespoon, filling it to about ½, and push the batter into the oil with your index finger or a second spoon. Fry in small batches until golden all over, turning to cook evenly. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer onto a platter lined with several layers of paper towels.
Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve warm.
About three days ago, I woke up in a strange mood. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it. I had been frying for a couple of weeks already, and posting some of my favorite Hanukkah recipes. Yet something just felt wrong.
OY! I almost cried, all of a sudden, overwhelmed by Jewish guilt. I had suddenly realized that I had forgotten to post something special for all my readers and friends who are not Jewish and celebrate Christmas. I felt awful, considering how many you are, and how supportive you have been, in person and through your Facebook comments and emails. I decided to scramble up a whole post on Panettone, the famous Italian Christmas Cake! That would have been the ultimate holiday gift. To myself as well, I’ll admit, since this holiday fruitcake can be one of the main causes of “Christmas Envy” among Italian Jews, with its delicate texture and buttery fragrance: if you keep kosher, in fact, you can’t buy the packaged version, which besides not having a certification, usually contains forbidden emulsifiers from animal fats.
However, Panettone is really difficult to make, requiring several different phases of exceptionally long rising, and the use of special Italian bread flours that are hard to find. And indeed, my attempt yielded an anti-semitic result: a really low, hard, kind of burnt loaf, which seemed to sneer at me and say: “go back to flipping latkes!”.
The blow at my cooking skills was so hard that I almost threw in the towel – but later that afternoon, I had an epiphany! There is an ancient Jewish Roman dessert, kind of a cheese pancake, shockingly simple and quick to make, which the Roman Catholic community somehow at one point adopted as the dessert of choice to end their Christmas dinner with (maybe after one too many panettone flops? ;-).
The Jews of Rome still make it for Shavuot, and if you shape it into small pancakes as opposed to a large one, and sauté’ them in a pan, it can also be an awesome Hanukkah idea (after all, according to several food historians, the original Hanukkah pancakes were made with cheese). In spite of its minimalism, Cassola is so delicious that Claudia Roden, in her Book of Jewish Food, tells that she enchanted a whole dinner party of food writers with it, at the Oxford Symposium of Food and Cookery. Cassola is sweet, creamy, and delicate (and naturally low-fat! but you could never tell). May your holiday season be just as delicious!
RECIPE (serves 4-6)
- 1 pound ricotta cheese (made from whole milk, without emulsifiers)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 to 1 ½ cup sugar (depending on desired sweetness)
- a pinch of salt
- zest of one large organic lemon (optional)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon or vanilla (optional)
- about 2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
Preheat the oven to 400º F. With a whisk or a hand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until creamy. Add the ricotta, salt, lemon zest and cinnamon (or vanilla).
Grease a baking pan (about 9 ½” and springform is easier) with butter or olive oil, dust with flour, pour the mixture in, and transfer into your pre-heated oven. Bake at 400 F for the first 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 Fand bake for another 25 minutes.
Turn the oven off and allow the cassola to set inside, with the door open, for another 10 or 15 minutes. It should be firmer and golden brown on the outside and very soft and moist inside, like a pudding. Serve warm.
You can also cook it in a greased non-stick or cast iron pan like a frittata, on the stovetop, flipping it once (this was probably the original version), or cook the bottom on the stovetop and the top in the oven under the broiler.