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Posts Tagged ‘hanukkah’

Last Night we had Aoife and Greg over for dinner, on the menu: some bread, cheese and olives, baked asparagus, chicken in red wine and chestnuts and potato cakes (latkes).
Baked asparagus is one of the easiest side dishes to make, and it is always delicious. Aside from the fact you have  to peel the skin of the asparagus, a task that can get a bit tedious at times, it is a quick and easy winner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch Asparagus
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pint heavy cream or half and half
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese, or a mix of both
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon or chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Direction:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. gently peel off the skin of the Asparagus with a vegetable peeler, making sure you are not taking off to much of the flush
  3. in a bowl mix together cream, garlic, paprika, half of the cheese, chili, salt, pepper and half of the bread crumbs
  4. place Asparagus in a shallow baking dish and pour mixture over it, mix with your hands to insure the mixture is coating the asparagus in all layers
  5. mix the remaining cheese and bread crumbs together and sprinkle on top
  6. cover with baking paper and foil and bake for about 30 minutes
  7. take off foil and bake uncovered 10 more minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden

In the spirit of Channukah we also made some potato cakes, these little fried devils are so tasty its is basically impossible to stop eating them.
They are pretty simple to make, the one thing you must pay attention to is squeezing as much of the liquid out as you can, that will assure you will get a nicely crisped potato cake.
As far as a recipe goes for these ones, I usually sort of eye-ball everything when I make them, mostly because  you have to adjust the amount of the eggs and flour according to how wet the potatoes are, but here is a basic recipe to give you an idea of what to do.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups peeled and shredded potatoes, stored in cold water until ready to use. I use either white, russet or Yukon gold, you can use any kind of potatoes you like
  • 1 medium onion, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • black pepper
  • I had some Parmesan and Gruyere , mix left over from the baked asparagus so I added it in as well
  • vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. drain potatoes and squeeze as much of the water as you can
  2. in a bowl, mix all ingredients together
  3. heat oil, about 1/2 inch in depth, in a cast iron or your preferred frying pan
  4. take a spoonful of the mixture in your hand and squeeze it to get as much of the liquid out, then place it in the hot oil and flatten it a little with a spoon or your fingertips
  5. flip the cake over once it start browning
  6. take out of the oil and place on a cloth or paper towels to soak access oil
  7. serve warm with creme fraiche or sour cream

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As a kid Hanukkah was my favorite holiday (not because you get tons of gifts, this Americanized tradition is an adaption of Jews, who I believe wanted  to keep up with the Christmas gifting mania) but because it usually comes around my birthday and you also get to eat as many donuts as you desire.
The story of Hanukkah is about a group of people who got tired of being suppressed under the government of Antiochus IV and stood up to reclaim and rededicate the temple, that was desecrated by the Greeks. There was a little oil left in the temple, enough to keep the menorah lit for only one night, miraculously though, it burned for eight days, the exact time it takes to press a fresh supply of oil. sigh. Don’t you just love it when that happens?
In commemoration of this miracle we light 8 candles and eat goods that are deep-fried in oil, here’s to you another reason why Hanukkah is so great. Big puffy donuts filled with jam and covered with powdered sugar, and potato cakes (latkes or as Israelis call them: levivot). Yum, yum and yum!
I didn’t eat either of those today, but the holiday has just began and I have 7 more days to deep fry and eat anything that can remind me of the brave and glorious Maccabbes.

Not too long ago I was working with a group of guys in the kitchen of one NYC restaurant, and they loved playing the: “what should we fry for dinner” game. Anything from poached eggs to a whole shepherd’s pie got dipped in those fryers and luckily I was always able to make myself a sandwich and could just watch their experiments and get entertained.
For the next seven days I promise to try and find some goodies for you to deep-fry, at the top of this never ending list there is definitely some butter, personally I have no desire to try any deep-fried butter soon, but if you do, here is a recipe for fried butter balls by the queen of southern cooking, Paula Dean. Honestly, I bet these are banging!

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • Peanut oil, for frying

Directions

Cream the butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper together with an electric mixer until smooth. Using a very small ice cream scoop, or melon baller, form 1-inch balls of butter mixture and arrange them on a parchment or waxed paper lined sheet pan. Freezer, form until solid. Coat the frozen balls in flour, egg, and then bread crumbs and freeze again until solid.

When ready to fry, preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Fry balls for 10 to 15 seconds until just light golden. Drain on paper towels before serving.


The Israeli answer to Dunkin Donuts. Picture from halooser.com

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