Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays! No matter your faith, let us, during this season, consider our blessings and reach out to one another in kindness.

Hanukkah RecipesAs a chef, the holidays are the time of year when I’m usually working the most. This year is no exception. I’ve been busy! On Christmas day, I’ll be working much like I did for Thanksgiving, preparing a traditional dinner for a large family. I’m Jewish, so working on Christmas doesn’t bother me.

My family and I celebrate Hanukkah, and like every celebration in the Jewish tradition, it includes plenty of traditional food.

I grew up in an Ashkenazi home in Israel, and my family was of Eastern European descent. Authentic potato latkes – topped with your choice of applesauce or sour cream – were a staple during our Hanukkah celebrations, and there were always plenty of desserts on the table as well. My favorite as a child, and still today, were the sufganiyot, pronounced SOOF-gah-nee-AH, small jelly-filled donuts. I fondly remember lighting the menorah, singing Hanukkah songs and, of course the little gifts each of us children would get each night.

During Hanukkah, the evening meal varies, but this year I have some recipes for chicken and chicken soup I plan to use, and of course, I’ll make potato latkes and sufganiyot as well as an Israeli salad.

No matter your faith, this time of year provides an opportunity for all of us to consider our blessings and reach out to others with kindness. Happy holidays!

Sfenji Donuts for Hanukkah

Eating fried food is meant to remind us of the miracle of Hanukkah when oil that seemed to only be enough to light the temple’s Eternal Flame for one day lasted eight days.
Ingredients:
7 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
½ Cup Sugar, plus more for rolling
½ Teaspoon Salt
3 1/3 Cups Lukewarm water, divided
1 ½ inches Vegetable Oil, for deep frying

Instructions:
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour and yeast. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and salt and then add to the flour/yeast mixture in the large bowl.
2. Pour mixture in ½ amount of the water and knead with your hands. Finger bread open using lifting motion from bottom of the bowl to the surface of the dough. Then gradually add the remaining water, kneading for another 1 minute. (This dough must not be over-kneaded. It is very loose and that is OK.) Cover in plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 3-4 hours until the dough doubles in bulk.
3. With very wet hands, press the dough with your hands to let out the air. (It will return to its original volume.) Cover and let rise again until double in bulk.
4. In a wide pot, heat oil to 325° F on stove.
5. Dip your hands in bowl of cold water and then pinch a ball of dough to cut off from the rest of the dough.
6. Holding the bowl of dough with both hands, insert finger in center of dough to create a hole. Stretch until the hole is about 1 inch in diameter. Then carefully place the bagel shape into the hot oil. Repeat with rest of dough, continuing to dip your hands in water.
7. Deep fry the dough until golden brown, approx. 2-3 minutes each side.
8. Put fried donuts on paper towel to soak up the excess oil. Then dip each donut in a bowl of sugar to coat.
9. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Ambrosia

(Serves 6-8)
Known in Greek Mythology as “Food of the Gods,” Ambrosia is reflected in Global menus as exotic Caribbean fruits – Mango, Papaya, Starfruits – often depicted as bestowing longevity or immortality upon whoever consumes it.

Ingredients:
3 Large Oranges, peeled and in segments
2 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Tablespoon Rum
1 Cup Pineapple Chunks
1 Starfruit (or Carambola), sliced
1 Mango (seeded, peeled and sliced)
½ Cup Toasted Coconut
1 Papaya, seeded and sliced lengthwise
Whipped Cream

Instructions:
1. Peel and segment the oranges over a small bowl to reserve juices. Then stir sugar and rum into the orange juice until sugar is dissolved.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the orange segments, pineapple chunks, starfruit slices and mango. Drizzle with orange juice and stir gently. Cover and chill overnight.
3. To serve, arrange a long slice of papaya in each dessert dish. With a slotted spoon, lift the fruit mixture and place on top of the Papaya. Top off with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Enjoy!