Essential Cuisine for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa

Evelyn Lowen, Staff Reporter

Hanukkah is an eight-day long holiday observed by the Jewish religion and is celebrated by lighting a menorah, praying nightly and enjoying festive food. This celebration reaffirms Jewish ideals and observes the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Dive into celebrating this holiday by preparing these three popular Hanukkah dishes. 

 

Classic Potato Latkes 

Ingredients

  • 2 large Russet potatoes (about 1 pound), scrubbed and cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1 large onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Safflower or other oil, for frying

Instructions

  1. Using a food processor with a coarse grating disc, grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer the mixture to a clean dish towel and squeeze and wring out as much of the liquid as possible.
  2. Working quickly, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder and pepper, and mix until the flour is absorbed.
  3. In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour in about 1/4 inch of the oil. Once the oil is hot (a drop of batter placed in the pan should sizzle), use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the hot pan, cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flatten and shape the drops into discs. When the edges of the latkes are brown and crispy, about 5 minutes, flip. Cook until the second side is deeply browned, about another 5 minutes. Transfer the latkes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with salt while still warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Link: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015533-classic-potato-latkes 

 

Matzo Ball Soup

Ingredients

  • Chicken stock
  • One 4–5-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 pound chicken wings, necks and/or backs
  • 2 large yellow onions, unpeeled, quartered
  • 6 celery stalks, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 large shallot, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

Matzo Ball Mixture

  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • ¾ cup matzo meal
  • ¼ cup schmaltz (chicken fat), melted
  • 3 tablespoons club soda
  • 1¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Assembly

  • 2 small carrots, peeled, sliced ¼” thick on a diagonal
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • Coarsely ground fresh black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring all ingredients and 12 cups cold water to a boil in a very large (at least 12-qt.) stockpot. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken breasts are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer breasts to a plate (remaining chicken parts are strictly for stock). Let breasts cool slightly, then remove meat and return bones to stock. Shred meat. Let cool, tightly wrap, and chill.
  3. Continue to simmer stock, skimming surface occasionally, until reduced by one-third, about 2 hours. Strain chicken stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large saucepan (or airtight container, if not using right away); discard solids. You should have about 8 cups.

Matzo Ball Mixture

  1. Mix eggs, matzo meal, schmaltz, club soda, and salt in a medium bowl (mixture will resemble wet sand; it will firm up as it rests). Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.

Assembly

  1. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Add carrots; season with salt. Reduce heat and simmer until carrots are tender, 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat, add reserved breast meat, and cover. Set soup aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Scoop out 2-tablespoonful portions of matzo ball mixture and, using wet hands, gently roll into balls.
  3. Add matzo balls to water and reduce heat so water is at a gentle simmer (too much bouncing around will break them up). Cover pot and cook matzo balls until cooked through and starting to sink, 20–25 minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer matzo balls to bowls. Ladle soup over, top with dill, and season with pepper.

Link: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/matzo-ball-soup 

 

Rugelach

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Instructions

  1. Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.
  3. On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons of apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges; cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Link: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/rugelach-recipe-1944318

 

Kwanzaa is a wintertime holiday that celebrates African heritage, where people indulge in a communal feast called Karamu. This holiday includes nightly candle lighting for each principle on the candleholder, or Kinara. The seven principles are unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Celebrate this holiday by preparing meaningful, home-made cuisine. 

 

Skillet Corn Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup cooking oil or shortening, melted
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten 
  • ½ cup margarine or butter, softened (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a large ovenproof or cast-iron skillet. Preheat in the oven for 5 minutes; do not heat longer or the mixture may burn.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of the cracked black pepper, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture; set aside.
  3. In another bowl blend together the milk, the 1/4 cup cooking oil or melted shortening, and the eggs. Add egg mixture all at once to dry mixture. Stir just until moistened. (The batter will be slightly lumpy.)
  4. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and spread with a spoon. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  5. Meanwhile, if desired, in a medium bowl beat the 1/2 cup softened butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds on medium speed. Add honey; beat on high speed for 1 minute more or until fluffy. To serve, immediately place a dollop of honey butter in the center of the hot corn bread; pass remaining honey butter. Makes 8 servings.

Link: https://www.bhg.com/recipe/breads/skillet-corn-bread/

 

Sweet Potato Marshmallow Meringue Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 cups hazelnut meal/flour
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup coconut oil or butter
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 orange (1 tsp. zest, 2 Tbsp. juice) 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • marshmallow meringue: 4 egg whites, 1 tsp. cream of tartar and 1/8 tsp. Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Carefully poke holes in potatoes. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until tender; let cool. Halve sweet potatoes and scoop out flesh; discard skins.
  2. For crust: In an extra-large skillet heat hazelnut meal over medium-low 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Turn off heat and stir in chocolate chips, coconut oil, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Continue stirring until chocolate is melted and incorporated. Press mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 13×9-inch foil-lined pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until light brown. Let cool on a wire rack.
  3. For marshmallow meringue: in a large bowl combine 4 egg whites (from pasteurized eggs), 1 tsp. cream of tartar, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Beat with a mixer on medium to high until foamy. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating until soft, glossy peaks form (tips curl). Add one 7-oz. jar marshmallow creme in large spoonfuls while beating on medium. Beat until smooth and just shy of stiff peaks (the tips won’t quite stand straight).
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F and move a rack to the upper third of the oven. For filling: In a food processor or blender combine sweet potatoes, brown sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and an additional 1/4 tsp. salt. Process just until smooth. Pour into the crust.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until the center is set; let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
  6. To serve, spoon Marshmallow Meringue over pie. Use a culinary torch to brown the topping or broil about 5 inches from the heat until golden brown. Serves 12.

Link: https://www.bhg.com/recipe/sweet-potato-marshmallow-meringue-pie/

 

Pressure Cooker Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Ingredients

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour 
  • ½ cup vegetable oil 
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ¼ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces 
  • 1 12-14 ounce link andouille or kielbasa smoked sausage, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • ½ 10-12 ounce pkg. frozen cut okra, thawed
  • ¾ cup chopped onion 
  • ¾ cup chopped green sweet pepper
  • ¾ cup chopped celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Filé powder (optional)
  • Sliced green onions (optional)
  • Hot pepper sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. For roux, in a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker stir together flour and oil until smooth. Use the sauté setting to cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes until roux is the color of peanut butter, stirring constantly. For a stove-top model, cook directly in the pot. Carefully stir in broth. Add the next 12 ingredients (through bay leaf). Lock the lid in place. Set an electric cooker on high pressure to cook for 8 minutes. For a stove-top cooker, bring up to pressure over medium-high heat; reduce heat enough to maintain steady (but not excessive) pressure. Cook for 8 minutes. Remove from heat. For both models, let stand 15 minutes to release pressure naturally. Release any remaining pressure. Open the lid carefully.
  2. Remove and discard bay leaf. Skim off fat. Stir in green onions. Serve gumbo over hot cooked rice. If desired, serve with filé powder, additional green onions, and hot sauce.

Link: https://www.bhg.com/recipe/pressure-cooker-chicken-and-sausage-gumbo/ 

These foods are the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit and spread cheer. The Sentry wishes you a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.