Hanukkah is commemorated by lighting candles; one each night for eight days, and eating foods fried in oil, like latkes. But there is also a dairy side to celebrate the holiday.
I serve dairy at Hanukkah and started a new tradition among my family and friends, in remembrance of the story of Judith, the brave and beautiful Jewish widow who saved Jerusalem. She invited an Assyrian general (Holofernes) to dine with her and prepared a meal full of salty cheese (probably feta). To take care of the thirst that accompanied the dinner, she gave him lots of wine, until he fell into a deep sleep. While he was sleeping, she decapitated him, halting his army’s march to Jerusalem. Because her bravery is said to have inspired the Macabees, Jews remember Judith by eating cheese and dairy during Hanukkah.
These tasty dishes are great anytime of the year, but especially for Hanukkah.
Carrots will never be the same after you’ve eaten this dish! This is a great healthful Turkish side dish with latkes or paired with another main course.
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
3 to 4 garlic cloves
1/ 2 teaspoon salt
1 – 1 ½ cups Greek yogourt
Aleppo pepper or paprika to sprinkle on for decoration, optional
*serves 8 people
1. In a 3-quart pot, heat oil and saute the onions, stirring over medium heat for 5 minutes. Do not let them brown or burn. Add the carrots and stir to mix well. Continue cooking for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature in a large bowl.
2. Crush the garlic and salt together into a paste either in a mortar and pestle, mini food processor, or chop them together with a chef’s knife.
3. Place yogourt in a bowl, add the garlic paste to the yogourt, and mix well.
4. Add the yogourt and garlic to the carrot onion mixture and mix well.
5. Place in a serving dish and serve at room temperature or chilled.
Another Turkish delight. The first time I made these I ate most of them myself!
30 dried apricots
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup finely chopped or ground pistachio nuts, extra for garnish if desired
*serves 6-8 people.
1. Soak the apricots overnight in 4 cups of cold water. Drain well and set aside.
2. Slice the apricots three-fourths of the way through for filling.
3. In a saucepan, bring the sugar and 2 cups of water to a boil, mixing well.
4. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the drained apricots and simmer while covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and let cool.
5. Whip the cream in a mixer with a whisk attachment. Place whipped cream in a pastry bag. Squeeze a little whipped cream into each apricot and gently press the apricots to close.
6. Dip the cream side in the nuts and place on a serving plate. Garnish with extra nuts if desired.
If you are going to have latkes for Hanukkah, you might consider serving this all time favorite main course with it. I have been serving this to company for over 48 years. People request it when I invite them to dinner. I can make it days ahead and refrigerate it or make it way ahead and freeze it (for 3 to 4 months). The flavour just gets better! Great for a buffet since you only need a fork to eat it.
From Sheilah’s Simply Irresistible: Easy, Elegant, Fearless, Fussless
3 to 4 pounds boneless chuck roast
3 cans (28-ounce each) sauerkraut, drained
l pound box dark brown sugar
28-ounce can tomatoes, with liquid
l peeled whole onion
l diced apple (any kind)
Freshly ground black pepper, optional
*serves 8-10 people.
1. Place the meat in a large (at least 5 1/2 to 6 quart) pot. Dump the drained sauerkraut on top of the meat. Empty the box of sugar on top of the sauerkraut. Dump the can of tomatoes with liquid over the sugar. Place the onion and apple pieces around the meat. Add pepper if using.
2. Place the pot on the stove, cover, and cook on low heat for about 4 to 5 hours, or until meat falls apart into small pieces (like fork tines) and is very tender, and wait until apple, onion, and tomatoes dissolve. Can be served with noodles or rice to absorb the sauce.
These doughnuts are similar to the Greek ones called loukoumathes. Even though I don’t usually eat fried foods, these became a staple for Hanukkah.
2 cups lukewarm milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 ounces melted butter, cooled a little
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons yeast
Canola oil for frying
Honey for coating the doughnuts
Cinnamon mixed with sugar for coating, optional
*makes 18 or more small doughnuts
1. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, sugar, salt, eggs, and melted butter. Stir in the flour and yeast. Whisk or beat thoroughly for 3 to 4 minutes. The batter will be soft. Let batter rise for 2 hours on your counter.
2. Place about 2 or 3 inches of oil in a deep fryer, electric fry pan, or pot, and heat oil to 375 degrees. Stir the batter gently to knock some of the air out of it. Use 2 soup spoons to gently drop tablespoon sized pieces of dough into the oil. It helps to dip the spoons in the oil before dipping them into the batter.
3. Fry several doughnuts at a time, but don’t crowd the pot. They will be ready when they are a deep golden brown colour. Immediately transfer the fried doughnuts to a mixing bowl with a little honey in it.
4. Toss to coat the doughnuts. Roll in a cinnamon sugar mixture if desired.
A superb dish guaranteed to have everyone asking for the recipe! The tiny noodles are the secret.
I have not been a kugel lover (because most that are made with wider noodles usually have hard or even burnt ones sticking out of the tops) until I tasted Eileen’s.
She invited us over for dinner and served this kugel. Not wanting to be rude, I ate a piece, then another, then a third. She gave me half the kugel to take home. When I opened the fridge for breakfast there was the kugel. So I ate a piece.
By mid-morning I needed a snack, so I ate another, and of course one for lunch and afternoon snack . . . then it was all gone. I vowed that when I made for company and served it, they would take home the leftovers since I could not trust myself to be around it! I also make it ahead and freeze it; I don’t eat anything that I have frozen: cookies, cake, desserts, and kugel.
8 ounces fine (soup) noodles
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter or margarine, softened to room temperature
1 pound cottage cheese (regular or low fat)
2 cups sour cream (regular or low fat)
8 ounces cream cheese (regular or low fat), softened to room temperature
1 cup milk
Cinnamon to taste
*serves 8-12 people.
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 10 x 17 inch ovenproof baking dish (I usually use a Pyrex).
2. Cook the noodles for 5 minutes in boiling water. Drain well and let cool.
In a bowl, beat the eggs.
3. In another bowl, combine the sugar, butter, cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, and milk.
4. Stir in the cooled noodles and eggs. Pour mixture into the prepared pan.
5. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and bake for 5 minutes.
6. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for another 45 to 50 minutes or so (depends on size of your pan) until lightly browned on top. Freezes beautifully after cooling to room temperature.
HINT: Adding salt to the boiling water, before adding the noodles, is based on science. The salt raises the boiling point of the water, making it hotter, and cooks the pasta more consistently.
Header image design by Clarrie Feinstein.
As the award-winning author of 28 cookbooks, a cooking instructor (from Alaska to Hawaii and Maine to Mexico), culinary lecturer, and food editor for more than 48 years, Sheilah has shared her great passion of cooking with thousands of cooks across the nation.
Sheilah is popular lecturer and expert on Mediterranean cooking and on Jewish culinary traditions and history. She has been an invited guest speaker for The Library of Congress, Caje, Ort, Brandeis, Jewish Genealogy International, the National Book Festival, the Textile Museum, Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, and the Smithsonian Institution. In addition, the Turkish Embassy, Jewish Federation, and diplomatic groups.