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Hannukah menu

What do folks have on the menu for Hannukah? My husband is Jewish, and we're having some friends over to celebrate. I've never served a Hannukah meal before, but thankfully no one is kosher (though we'll still try to observed the dietary laws.) He's in charge of the latkes, but I'll prepare the rest. Here are some thoughts:

Latkes, w/ sour cream and applesauce
Brisket: What recipes do folks like? I'm considering the spiced, dried fruit recipe from Epicurious. I've also seen some on Cooks Illustrated. Has anyone tried and like (or disliked) any of these?
Tangerine-Maple glazed carrots (these were popular on this board, I haven't tried them yet.)
Sweet and Sour cabbage from Sheila Luskin's Celebrate cookbook
Rustice Apple Cake from SL's Celebrate cookbook

But the menu is evolving, so I'm open to ideas! What have your friends and family enjoyed in the past?



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  1. Latkes with brisket are a classic. I made Emeril's Passover brisket for the High Holidays and it was a huge hit, even with my mother, who really doesn't like brisket. The recipe is available on foodtv.com.

    The Sheila Lukins All Around the World cookbook has a recipe for chicken that's marinated in honey, orange juice and soy sauce that's going to be my accompaniment to latkes.

    My grandmother used to talk about having a grease cutter to balance the latkes. Have you considered a salad of mixed greens with oranges and almonds? Or serving sliced oranges or a fruit salad with dessert? I'm planning to make thumbprint cookies as a nod to sufganiyot, the jelly doughnuts traditionally served at Chanukah.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Velda Mae

      I will definitely incorporate a salad of some kind. Thanks for reminding me!

      1. re: Velda Mae

        That Chicken reicpe sounds great, please report on how it turns out!

        1. re: sljones

          I've made that chicken dish several times and it's really tasty. The recipe is called honey and ginger-glazed chicken.

        2. re: Velda Mae

          Do you have the recipe for the honey, orange juice, soy sauce chicken?

        3. not sure if you love that particular apple cake recipe or are willing to try something else but my mom's apple cake is to die for! even good days and days later. actually its better the next day!so it would help in all that preparation.

          here it is:

          4 c diced, peeled apples
          2 c sugar
          2 ea eggs
          2 tsp cinnamon
          1/2 c veg oil
          1 c chopped walnuts, toasted
          2 c flour
          2 tsp. baking soda
          1/4 tsp. salt

          1 stick butter
          8 oz cream cheese
          3/4 to 1 box powdered sugar (depends on how sweet you like)
          1 tsp vanilla
          1 T sour cream

          sift dry ingredients. mix eggs and sugar in a mixer. add oil. add dry ingredients. fold in apples and nuts.
          bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.
          for frosting, beat butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla until fluffy. add sugar slowly and taste to desired sweetness. maybe 3/4 box or full box....
          and mix until combined.

          4 Replies
          1. re: junglekitte

            Advanced prep is essential! MY family doesn't tend to like the very sweet desserts, so I would likely reduce sugar for the frosting. Thanks for sharing!

            1. re: sljones

              i make a similar cake using half the above recipe.Let apples stand with 1 c of sugar for 10 minutes. Add 1/3c oil and 1 egg, then 1-1/2 flour combined with 1 tsp each baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon, add 1/2 c raisins, 1 c nuts Bake 40 minutes in a loaf pan. oven at 350 degrees.

            2. re: junglekitte

              Stupid question but what size pan? I'm not an experienced baker and it doesn't sound like it would fit in a round cake pan.


              1. re: mrsleny

                oh! i think it was a 9x13...its a big cake. but lasts for days.

            3. As a vegetarian, I always opt for the latkes with the sour cream and applesauce, but try to offer a variety of them. For example, Yukon Gold make great latkes, but I will also do sweet potato (or yam) latkes with maple syrup. These need to be a little crispier because the yam texture tends to go mushy. I remember as a child the prune-stuffed brisket, or the whole roast chicken. A carrot tsimmes is mandatory! My mother always tried to balance the starch of the latkes with fruit, hence the applesauce and prunes. This offers the same effect as Velda Mae outlines in her post.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pamelawinter

                pamelawinter, do you ahve a favorite carrot tsimmes recipe? I'd simply heard about that carrot recipe on other chowhound posts, but I'm open for suggestions!

              2. I have a very simple brisket recipe that is a sort of assemblage of ones I have read. It is based in large part on the Laurie Colwin Homecooking recipe and some Passover recipes I have read. I brown the brisket or french cut roast or chuck roast in olive oil after salting and peppering it a bit and dredging it in paprika. I remove it from the pot and sautee onions (in an amount equal to 1/2 the weight of the meat -- 5 lb. brisket - 2.5 lbs onions). I put the brisket back in the pot distributing the onions above and below it. I add an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, 8 oz. of red wine, a half dozen or so cloves of garlic and a few more grinds of pepper. Then I put the whole thing in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 hours.

                After cooling I remove the meat and slice it. I puree the onions and sauce and all in a food mill and return the sliced meat and sauce for the pot. I reheat it about an hour before serving. This has been a no fail recipe for me. Everyone seems to like it a lot.

                3 Replies
                1. re: KingsKetz

                  I used to make Laurie Colwin's brisket but now I make one that is similar but richer - "Nach Waxman's brisket of beef," from the New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. I serve it with latkes and sauteed cabbage onions and apples. My family won't touch tsimmes so I make carrots braised in maple sugar. It's our once a year high cholestrol meal - yummy.

                  1. re: KingsKetz

                    I'm interested in the sauteed cabbage onions and apples. How do you prepare those?

                    1. re: sljones

                      Thinly slice white cabbage with some sweet onions and saute in olive oil with kosher salt and pepper. When it starts to brown, add peeled apple slices and cook until the cabbage is nicely browned and nutty flavored. Adjust seasonings.

                  2. Have had good success with Joan Nathan's sweet & sour brisket made with chili sauce. Unfortunately, my family is into meat no more well cooked than med rare, so will be making a sirloin tip roast this year.

                    Here's a recipe for a great sweet & sour cucumber salad as a "grease cutter": Skin 3 large cucumbers, slice in half and scoop out seeds with spoon. Cut in fairly thin slices, salt heavily with kosher salt for 20 minutes, wash and drain well. In non-reactive bowl, make a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/3 cup sugar and pinch of salt. Optional, I love to add some white pepper and dried dill to spice up the marinade. Add 4 cups warm water and dissolve. Taste solution before you add cucumbers, adjust seasonsings to your taste - more salt, sugar, vinegar, etc. Add cucumbers and some thinly sliced onions. Let steep for at least 6 hours, drain and serve. Very refreshing for heavy meal.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                      That sounds very refreshing. I have a 14 yr old who loves cucumber salad, this will be a great addition to the recipe mix!

                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                        Diane in Bexley, which book is that recipe from? Our family LOVES chili, so that recipe sounds like a great fit!

                        1. re: sljones

                          Oh boy, I have made it so many times I don't use the book any more. Here is Diane's version of the Joan Nathan brisket: for 5 lb. brisket (I like single cut vs. double cut), slice 3 large onion, 3 ribs of celery and use the leaves, In large roaster, layer 1/2 onion & celery, brisket. Season meat with lots of salt, pepper, garlic, I like Montreal steak seasoning too and paprika. Add remaining onions and celery. Make sauce in large glass container with 1 jar Bennets chili sauce rinsed out with some water, 12 oz can beer, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup vinegar. Heat in microwave to combine. Taste before adding to meat, you might want to adjust sugar, vinegar. Pour over meat, cover tightly and roast in 300 degree oven for 1 hour/per lb. of meat. Let stand overnight in fridge and slice next day after degreasing pan juices and meat. MAKE SURE YOU SLICE AGAINST GRAIN, very important. Freezes very well. Hope you enjoy!

                          1. re: Diane in Bexley

                            This looks great! I'm not familiar w/ Bennets chili sauce, but will indeed look for it. Also, I'm not sure I know the differenc b/w single vs. double cut brisket, but I'll ask our butcher.

                            Many thanks, I'll let you know how everyone likes it!

                          2. re: sljones

                            I second this rec (as I've posted on other threads), but the brisket doesn't really taste like chili! The original recipe is from Joan's book "Jewish Cooking in America."

                          3. re: Diane in Bexley

                            When you say white vinegar, do you mean white (distilled) vinegar or white wine vinegar?

                          4. Epicurious has a very good, very easy chicken liver pate w/ figs recipe that I made for my MIL's Rosh Hashanah gathering and it was a big hit. HOWEVER I went off recipe a bit. And suffered a very embarrassing moment when a guest asked me how I had made the pate and I said, with great pride, "Well, the secret is to soak the livers in milk!" This comment was met with a deafening, hypothetical 'needle scratch' sound effect and a very pronounced "WHAH???!!!" expression on the face of the man who had asked about the pate. I really don't know what I was thinking (because I DO know that milk & meat are the George Bush & Fidel Castro of kosher dietary laws -- they musn't be in the same ROOM together, forget about laying entwined in a small closed container). Luckily, no one at the dinner keeps kosher and all found my Lucille Ball - type gaff amusing rather than offensive.
                            But lessons were learned. Lessons were learned.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: JenMarie66

                              What a classic story! I was visiting my husband's grandmother this weekend, asking her about serving sour cream with latkes at the same meal with brisket, and she looked at me like I was crazy. Apparently, she never followed the dietary rules, just the culinary traditions. I was happy to get permission to serve what seems to taste best!

                              1. re: JenMarie66

                                That is SUCH a great story and your telling of it is wonderful! Thank goodness it didn't put a damper on your evening. We all make mistakes...

                              2. At my family, we always do latkes, brisket and roast chicken, tsimmes and a salad of some sort. I have made kreplach once or twice, even though they are typically a Rosh Hashana dish, at the request of a cousin.

                                Also, we usually serve jelly doughnuts as dessert in honor of the classic Sephardic dish. However, we don't make them ourselves, Krispy Kreme does the work.

                                1. The easiest and best brisket recipe I've ever tried (and I've tried a lot of them!) is as follows:

                                  1 Brisket
                                  1 Jar Heinz Chili Sauce
                                  1 Package Goodmans Onion Soup Mix
                                  1 Can Coca Cola (NOT DIET!!!)
                                  3-4 peeled potatoes, quartered.

                                  Place Brisket in a heavy pyrex or ceramic covered dish, pour other ingredients exc. potatoes over brisket. Place in a 325 oven, covered, for two hours. Add potatoes, distributing, and turn brisket. Bake another hour or so, until fork-tender. Period. It couldn't be easier, and it couldn't be more delicious.

                                  1. FYI - if you are trying to serve the meal Kosher-style, you need to omit the sour cream for the latkes if you are serving brisket.

                                    I got in big trouble once for a similar mistake.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: SuzMiCo

                                      Yikes, thanks for the reminder! I don't think anyone is fussy about keeping kosher, but I will be sure to check in.

                                    2. Sour cream is sooo good on latkes! So, from a contrary, non-kosher perspective, if you've already decided you're going to mix milk and meat, a nice, moist, garlicky roast pork goes fabulously with latkes.

                                      1. Have you considered any other type of fritter? We usually do zucchini and gruyere fritters too.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: gini

                                          Those sound like a great fritter recipe to have on hand. I'd love to know your recipe!

                                          1. re: sljones

                                            Zucchini fritters:

                                            2 shallots minced
                                            I tbs unsalted butter
                                            1/2 lb zucchini, scrubbed, trimmed and grated coarse
                                            2 large eggs, beaten lightly
                                            1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
                                            1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (flat leaf, pref.)
                                            1/2 cup coarsely grated Gruyere
                                            1/8 tsp cayenne
                                            1/2 cup all purpose flour
                                            vegetable oil for frying.

                                            In a small skillet cook the shallots in the butter until softened - transfer to a bowl, and stir in the zucchini, eggs, mint, parsley, cheese, cayenne, salt and perrer to taste. Add the flour gradually, stirring, and combine the batter well.

                                            In a deep skillet heat 1/3 inch oil - drop the batter by the tablespoonful into the oil (do not crowd the pan), turning them and flattening them with a spatula, until golden - transfer to a heated dish with paper towels to drain.

                                            Draining is key here, otherwise they get soggy.

                                        2. Farfel with fried mushrooms and onions. YUM

                                          1. Since its Hanukkah you can make sufganiyot for dessert, they are basically sugared jelly doughnuts. In Israel on Hanukkah you will find them on every street corner in any sort of combination of flavors you can imagine. Though the key is frying them, especially considering its Hanukkah and the point is to eat food with oil in it.

                                            1. A clear chicken broth with kreplach (dumplings)

                                              Israeli Tzimmis is common -- I prefer this over the European kind, which is sweeter (and in my opinion) blander

                                              You may want a shepherd's salad -- cucumber, tomato, onion, dill, green pepper is optional, oil and vinegar S&P

                                              Perhaps a chopped eggplant salad

                                              I agree with chai18 -- jelly donuts are a must

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Feed Me

                                                Wow, I had hoped to avoid another deep fried dish, but it seems that jelly donughts must be a part of the menu. I'll include a few for good measure!

                                              2. Potato latkes and brisket are a match made in heaven! I've developed a hybridized recipe -- a combination of my mom's chili sauce/beer recipe and a recipe from Arthur Schwartz's website. I used to be able to listen to Arthur's radio show when he was on WOR in NYC, and I miss him.

                                                Here's the link to Arthur's recipe:

                                                The onions in this recipe really make an outstanding gravy.
                                                Assuming I'm making a whole brisket, what I do to enhance the recipe is to add 2 bottles of Heinz Chili Sauce and 2 bottles of a good dark beer to the roasting pan. After the brisket is cooked I use my immersion blender to puree some of the onions and vegetables, leaving some unprocessed for texture. YUM!!!!