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Now, what to make for Chanukah?

The first night of Chanukah is Friday December 15 (work day for me). I have already set aside Sunday December 10 to do the "make ahead" stuff - cookies, applesauce (yes, from scratch!). Do you make your latkes ahead or not? What can I make beside brisket? (family is tired of this! oy vey!) What traditions did your bubbe and zayde pass down that you want to share with others? What else can I made ahead and stick in the freezer? TIA!

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  1. Traditioinally you should make things with oil/fried - hence latkes - try a different spin to the latke - maybe sweet potato or carrot/zuchinni - made the same way just swap out the potato - these should freeze ok - for the short period you will be freezing -

    1. There's always sufganiyot in the fried-stuff category. And in place of brisket, my mom made a leg of lamb last passover that was fantastic. Just roasted with garlic and herbs, real simple. It's not exactly seasonally appropriate for chanukah, but it's much better than the traditional sandpapery Jewish brisket, and still kosher.

      1. In my experience, traditional potato latkes get oil-laden and dark over time, so I'd opt to make them just before serving. In my house they get eaten right out of the frying pan --- they rarely even make it onto a serving platter. Brisket is good. So is stuffed cabbage, which can EASILY me made ahead and frozen.

        Bubbie and Zayde were always good for Hanukkah gelt -- five dollars if we were lucky. And, back in the days of my childhood, we received ONE Hanukkah gift from my parents, not the "one for each night" that so many kids have come to expect today.

        1. Cindy, I agree with the $5, that's what we used to get in the '60's. So today that would be- $20? I already bought my chocolate Chanukah gelt, CVS had a 2 for 1 special last week. We also only got one present. This business of one gift for all eight nights can get very expensive and a little boring. The sweet potato latkes sound good, but DH is allergic. Our grocery store when we lived outside Chicago several years ago used to make vegetable pancakes with grated zuchinni, carrots, onions and spinach. I may try that now that you jogged my memory. I have some parsnips and turnips I could add too. Leg of lamb does sound good and a butterflied leg could be cooked pretty quickly on the grill, Any recipes for butter cookies? We got out our menorah, dreidel, and other Chanukah cookie cutters last night. Thanks!

          1. So, still looking for latke recipes, butter cookie recipes and suggestions for meat/poultry for dinner - anyone?

            1. I used to make a butter cookie recipe that I got from Bon Appetit about 10-12 years ago (featured in a story about Chanukah). It had lemon juice in it. You could probably find it doing a search. I could post it tonight if you want it.

              I know you're set against brisket again, but you could reconsider it and make it with "untraditional" ingredients. There's a great recipe in Joan Nathan's "Jewish Cooking in America" that has chili sauce and beer. I've made it a few times and always get raves. Also, in the same book, is a recipe for a savory kugel, with spinach and cheese. It's yummy, and definitely freezes well.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rednails

                Speaking of Joan Nathan, her latke recipe from "Jewish COoking in America" has become our standard. It's crispy, oniony, and not filler-laden. This month's Hadassah magazine also had a cute idea for "gelt cookies." They're basically sugar cookies with an unwrapped coin pressed into the center right after baking (ala the Hershey's kiss cookie}.

                1. re: rockycat

                  I love that idea! Clever and fun.
                  I'm planning on making mandelbrot for our Chanukah party, but might also make the sugar cookies.
                  My family loves sweet kugel for every holiday - with ricotta, raisins, etc.

              2. we have deli + latkas (grease + fat always goes over well for us)... Lemon Merangue Pie and chanukah gelt round out the table. But I generally stick to th ecrudites... With 8 nights of parties, I'm liable to gain a couple pounds if I don't watch it!

                Chag sameach :)

                1. Rednails, please post your lemon cookie recipe. I too have made the Joan Nathan chili/beer recipe in the past, also got raves. Personally, I love brisket, especially from the cook's vantage point - you can make it in advance, skim fat, freeze it, very low maintenance. The objection is from my family who are all real carnivores and only eat meat rare or medium rare. I think I am going to break down and do a standing rib roast or turkey breast to satisfy them. I also am leaning towards doing both traditional potato latkes and vegetable latkes. I used to really like the vegetable pancakes and I can make extras for another time and store in the freezer (thank goodness for vacuum sealers!). We only do one big Chanukah celebration. We will do this on Fri Dec 15, so this makes it a Shabbat meal as well.Some sweet/sour red cabbage, gefilte fish, and butter cookies will probably round out the menu, with an Alka Seltzer chaser to boot.

                  Rockycat, I do like the idea of pressing smaller pieces of gelt into the cookies, do I do this pre-baking or post-baking, a little confused. I didn't have time to read my monthly Hadassah magazine, and Im afraid it is already in the trash. Can you post the recipe, TIA!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                    Sure thing. I'll post it tomorrow, won't be able to get to it today.

                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                      I'm sure this would work with any sugar or butter cookie recipe.

                      Hanukka Gelt Cookies (p. 31, Hadassah Magazine 12/06)

                      2 2/3 c. AP flour
                      3/4 tsp. salt
                      1 1/2 sticks plus 1 TB unsalted butter, softened
                      3/4 c. sugar
                      1 large egg
                      1 tsp. vanilla
                      2 TB Turbinado sugar
                      24-30 pieces foil-wrapped milk or dark chocolate coins, plus more for decoration

                      1. In an electric stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar until pale, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla. Lower speed and add flour and salt, mixing until just combined.
                      2. Form dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours.
                      3. Preheat oven to 350. Cut dought in 2 pieces, rewrap 1 piece and return to refrigerator. Roll out dough on a well-floured surface with a well-floured rolling pin into a 9-inch circle. Cut out as many cookies as possible with a 3-inch round cokkie cutter and transfer to ungreased large baking sheets. Sprinkle the Turbinado sugar over the cookies.
                      4. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are lightly brown, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press an unwrapped chocolate coin, stamped side up, into the surface of the cookie, applying slight pressure to affix coin. Repeat with remaining cookies. Transfer to racks to cool completely.
                      5. Gather scraps and chill until dough is firm enough to reroll. Make more cookies with remaining dough and scraps and bake.

                      Makes 24-30 cookies.

                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                        Here you go!

                        Hanukah Cutout Cookies

                        1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or solid vegetable shortening, room temperature
                        1 cup sugar
                        1 large egg
                        1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
                        1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
                        1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
                        2 cups all purpose flour
                        2 teaspoons baking powder
                        1/2 teaspoon salt

                        3 cups powdered sugar
                        2 tablespoons (or more) milk
                        1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
                        3-4 drops blue food coloring

                        For Cookies: Using electric mixer, cream butter and sugar in large bowl until light. Beat in egg, lemon juice, lemon peel and vanilla. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Add to butter mixture and stir until well combined. Divide dough into 3 pieces. Flatten each into disk. Wrap each in plastic and chill 2 hours or overnight.

                        Preheat oven to 350F. Roll out 1 dough piece on lightly floured surface to thickness of 1/4 inch. Using Hanukah cookies cutters dipped into flour, cut out cookies. Transfer to ungreased cookie sheets, spacing evenly. Gather scraps, reroll and cut out additional cookies, chilling dough if necessary. Bake until cookie edges are golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool. Repeat rolling, cuting and baking with remaining dough pieces in batches.

                        For Icing: Place sugar in bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk and lemon juice. Add more milk if icing is too thick to pipe. Transfer half of icing to another bowl. Mix food coloring into half of icing.

                        Spoon plain and colored icing into separate pastry bags fitted with small round tips or into parchment cones. Pipe icings decoratively onto cookies. Let stand until icing sets, about 2 hours. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Store cokies in single layers in airtight containers.)

                        The last time I made these, I piped my dinner guests names on some of them and used them as placecards. I also used lots of different decorations (silver dragees, colored sugars, etc) for more variety. Enjoy!

                      2. I agree with RBC that deli would do it and crudites are essential--to prevent over-grease death! I've never seen the guests eat much of anything but the latkes, sour cream and applesauce, and salad. As to the gifting, we got a gift each night back in the '40's, but they were sox, undies, hankies, and other small stuff.

                        1. Look on nytimes.com RIGHT NOW under Dining and Wine for a recipe called Asian Corn Fritters that would be a crazy, weird, and delicious substitute for potato latkes and completely fitting for Hanukkah: corn kernels, chilis, egg, flour, coriander, cumin, cilantro etc. deep fried. I think this is what I will make for the holiday this year. The nytimes only has the recipes current for each week, you have to really search otherwise, but take a look.

                          1. chocolate channukah gelt

                            1. I've never made latkes ahead of time, but I've had left-overs; they didn't taste as good as fresh.

                              It really doesn't take a lot of time to make latkes if everything is all ready the next before.

                              My family's traditional meal is usually latkes with applesauce or sour cream; bread (obviously challah this year); cole slaw with finely-chopped broccoli; and a buckwheat pilaf with figs, berries, and some vegetables.

                              1. That buckwheat pilaf sounds delicious. Where did the recipe come from, and would you care to post it?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: scoobyhed

                                  I'm not sure where it originated, but my mom has been making it ever since I can remember! Of course, no one cooks as well as "mom" so I never really attempted the recipe, but I'll ask her and post it.

                                2. for an alternative twist on apple sauce, try making rhubarb sauce instead. just simmer 1" rhubarb pieces with sugar and a dash of cardamom until they fall apart, adding as much sugar as you please to tame the rhubarb's extreme tartness. it really cuts the grease in the latkes!

                                  1. My dh's family makes zuchini latkes, amazing chicken soup, braised brisket, fresh baked challah, cheese blintzes served strawberry jam, chopped liver, lots of red wine, kosher chocolates and honey cake. We bring fresh and dried fruit platters and a large green salad.

                                    We both come from large families so gifting (finally) is about one big trip into NYC for a show, meal and skating! To work off some of that outstanding meal!

                                    1. We made the homemade chunky applesauce yesterday. It will be perfectly fine in the fridge until 12-15. I was hoping to get started on Chanukah cookies, but didn't. Looking forward to trying RockyCat's Gelt Cookies, anything with choclate can't be bad. Did I read it right? Use UNWRAPPED gelt? I am going to do some potato and some vegetable pancakes (zuchinni, sweet potato, parsnip, onion mixture). Bought a big sirloin tip roast (now there's a kosher cut! NOT) so I can marinate it and make medium rare for the troops. We will also do the usual Shabbat stuff - gefilte fish, chopped liver and homemade chicken noodle soup. Keep the recipes coming!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                        Yes, you want to unwrap the coins before pressing them into the cookie. Just the thought of biting down into foil is giving me shivers. :-)

                                      2. Thanks Rockycat for the clarification! I knew that could not be right. Well, the sugar cookie dough is made and in the freezer waiting to be baked on Fri the 15th. Anyone else cooking for Chanukah?