The Jew And The Carrot

Peanut Butter Gelt Cookies for Hanukkah

By Deborah R. Prinz

Photograph by Deborah R. Prinz

This easy recipe incorporates chocolate Hanukkah gelt and rich peanut-butter cookies. Not only is the cookie delicious with the chocolate, but it provides a great way to feature the gelt. Try to find high-quality gelt made with good chocolate that has few (if any) additives. Using dark chocolate gelt will keep this gluten-free cookie parve.

The gelt of Hanukkah recalls the booty, which included coins, that the Maccabean victors distributed to the Jewish widows, soldiers and orphans — possibly at the first celebration of the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple.

In ancient Israel, striking, minting and distributing coins expressed Hanukkah’s message of freedom. The Maccabees’ descendants, known as the Hasmoneans, who ruled Judea, started to strike coins. As the book of 1 Maccabees records, Syria’s King Antiochus VII said to Simon Maccabee, “I turn over to you the right to make your own stamp for coinage for your country” (15:6).

Enjoy stamping these cookies with chocolate gelt — and eating and sharing them over the holiday.

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Time to Make the Doughnuts

By Gayle L. Squires

Photograph by Gayle L. Squires

On the first night of Hanukkah, we say a shehecheyanu prayer to commemorate the first night of the holiday and the lighting of the menorah candles. But a few years ago, I said shehecheyanu on the night before the first night of Hanukkah to commemorate a first for me: I fried.

An Israeli friend had emailed me his recipe for jelly-filled sufganiyot doughnuts, and I snuck out of work early that fateful day to gather the supplies necessary for an evening of frying. Flour, sugar, yeast, milk, eggs. A gallon of oil. A jar of jam. And a new turkey baster.

I rushed home to mix and knead the dough and then let it rise while I jumped on a conference call. My friend arrived an hour later and we ordered pizza. By the time dinner arrived, the dough was nearing the top of the bowl. By the time we finished eating, the dough was peeking over the edge of the bowl.

We were ready to roll. Literally.

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Splendid Sufganiyot, Step by Step

By Gayle L. Squires

Photographs by Gayle L. Squires

You can fill these doughnuts with whatever you’d like — here I used raspberry jam. We cut the dough with a drinking glass, which made a dozen *sufganiyot. Obviously the number of sufganiyot will depend on the size of your glass.*

2 packets (2 tablespoons) dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
6 tablespoon shortening or margarine (Crisco works great here)
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
5 to 6 cups flour (or more)
1 gallon (or more) oil (vegetable or peanut oil is best, canola works in a pinch)
1 cup raspberry jam
Confectioner’s sugar

1) Proof. Mix yeast with warm water and a pinch of sugar. After about 5 minutes, it will foam up.

2) **Heat. ** Warm milk in a pan over low heat until it reaches body temperature.

3) **Mix. ** In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, shortening and salt until creamy. Add eggs and mix. Add yeast mixture and milk and continue to mix. Add 2 cups of the flour. Incorporate the remaining flour a half-cup at a time until the dough is very elastic and no longer sticks to the bowl. I had to add a total of 6 cups.

4) Knead. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. I started kneading in my mixer and then finished up the last few minutes by hand on a floured counter.

5) Rise. Put the dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk — at least an hour. I heat my oven to the lowest temperature possible (170º F) and then turn it off and leave the covered bowl inside to rise.

6) Knead. Once the dough has doubled, knead it again briefly.

7) Roll. Roll the dough out on a floured counter until it is about ½-inch thick.

8) Cut. Using a drinking glass, cut the dough into rounds. Re-roll the scraps and cut the rest of the rounds. These (the rounds from the re-rolled dough) will need to rise a little bit longer than the others. Keep the remaining scraps to test the oil.

9) Rise again. Place the rounds on a well-floured cookie sheet (ideally the kind without edges) so the dough is easier to slide right off into the oil. Let rise again until double, at least another hour. The rounds will get nice and round.

10) Heat. Fill a really wide pot with high sides with oil and heat over low to medium heat. Remember those scraps left over? Gently slide one into the oil. If one side browns in 1-2 minutes, the oil is too hot. If it takes more than 5 minutes, the oil is not hot enough. You’ll probably need to test and adjust the temperature a few times. The oil is perfect when you it forms a lot of teeny tiny rolling bubbles around the dropped dough. I checked the oil temperature with a meat thermometer — it was 310º F.

11) Fry! Once you’ve got the oil at the right temperature, lower the cookie sheet close to the surface of the oil and scootch your first roly-poly round into the oil. Tiny bubbles should surround the doughnut. When the first side puffs up and reaches a nice brown (a bit darker than “golden”), flip it over. It took us about 3-4 minutes per side. And we made about 3-4 per batch.

12) Drain. Cover your counter or a few plates with several layers with paper towels. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sufganiyot from the oil onto the paper towels to absorb excess oil.

13) Fill. Remove the bulb from the turkey baster and carefully spoon the jam into the top. Flick the edges to help coax the jam down to the tip. Do this over a plate so you don’t make too much of a mess. Put the bulb back on and poke the baster into the side of a sufganiya. Slowly squeeze the bulb while gently pulling back to the edge. Repeat with the rest of the doughnuts.

14) Dust. Sift confectioners sugar over the top of the filled sufganiyot.

15) Eat. The sufganiyot are best fresh, but they will last a day if well wrapped.

Gayle Squires is a food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Her path to the culinary world is paved with tap shoes, a medical degree, business consulting and travel. She has a knack for convincing chefs to give up their secret recipes. Her blog is KosherCamembert.

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Edible Gifts: Infused Oils

By Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Martinelli

The best kind of Hanukkah gifts are those you can make and your friends eat. In this series, we’ll present four sweet and savory ideas to spice up your holiday gift giving for everyone on your list.

While fried foods grace the Hanukkah table, perhaps no gift is more appropriate than oil. Nice olive oil, with its grassy, fruity undertones, makes an excellent present on its own. But to up the ante and personalize the offering, try your hand at infusing the oil first. The possibilities are endless, the presentation visually appealing, and the taste memorable.

Infusing oil is as simple as putting the flavors you want in a bottle along with some decent olive oil. Just let it hang out together for a week or two and you’ve got yourself a special treat worthy of finishing sauces, amping up salads, and drizzling on bread. It makes a great last minute gift because even if it’s not done infusing, you can instruct the recipient to wait to use it to let the flavors develop.

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Edible Gifts: Gourmet S'mores

By Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Martinelli

The best kind of Hanukkah gifts are those you can make and your friends eat. In this series, we’ll present four sweet and savory ideas to spice up your holiday gift giving for everyone on your list.

Every holiday season, I don an apron and crank out huge batches of truffles, granola, chocolate bark and other edible treats as gifts. Besides the fact that homemade presents are a boon for my budget, I also like that they have a special, personal touch. I try something new each year and last year’s edible DIY project took the cake (err, cookie): Homemade marshmallows and graham crackers, along with a piece of nice chocolate.

If you’re anything like me, then the mere thought of homemade marshmallows knocks your socks off. Before seeing the recipe in Karen Solomon’s “Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It”, I had only vague notions that marshmallows came from anywhere besides a plastic bag in the grocery store. But, like so many things, homemade marshmallows are a game changer.

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Mixing Bowl: Hanukkah Edition, Part 2

By Devra Ferst


Cook the book makes “Kosher Revolution’s” Be-All, End-All Chicken Soup. Check out the recipe. [Serious Eats]

Two Jewish brothers are heating up the kitchens at some of Brooklyn’s hottest restaurants. [Jewcy]

Microbrews for Hanukkah and some Jewish beer history. Bottoms Up! [NPR]

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Q&A: Dough's Fany Gerson Talks Mexico and Donuts

By Temim Fruchter

Ed Anderson

Despite my love for many, many of this country’s donuts, I’m just going to come out and say it: This year, for Hanukkah, I’m going to be I’m spending all my donut gelt at Brooklyn’s Dough.

My Hanukkah-season fixation with Brooklyn’s Dough bakery is due neither to the teeny corner shop’s amazing size-to-price proportions (ginormous donuts; a mere two bucks) nor to the selection of heartbreakingly good glazes (including but not limited to the “rich enough to stop time” earl grey and the simultaneously sweet and tart hot pink hibiscus). And while their yeast-donuts-only policy is exciting to me (a total yeast donut devotee), that’s not my reason, either.

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The Tastes of a Kurdish Hanukkah

By Sarah Melamed

Sarah Melamed

On Agripas Street in Jerusalem, between the workers’ diners and the outdoor market, there is a Kurdish Cultural center. With a dwindling number of native born Kurds, each year their legacy slowly declines. Many of their descendents have naturally assimilated into Israeli culture and no longer keep the traditions of my family’s ancestors.

Sadly, the language, dress, music, folklore….the entire way of life of my ancestors is now almost exclusively confined to the pages of academic research. Food is often the last vestige of a bygone era to survive. It is what differentiates one ethnic group from another and it is also what binds them.

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Savoring the Miracle: Hanukkah Side Salads

By Louisa Shafia

Louisa Shafia

The miracle of Hanukkah was not, alas, brought about by a latke. The eternal flame, it seems, was kept alive not by everyone’s favorite fried Jewish food, but by olive oil. According to historians, there can be little doubt that the oil used to light the menorah 2,200 years ago was olive oil. In ancient times it was used for everything from lighting to food to cosmetics.

Today, we honor the place of oil in our history by making fried food the centerpiece of the Hanukkah feast. No one seems to be able to say exactly why fried food, as opposed to olive oil, gets the spotlight, but it’s likely because olive oil was not available in Eastern Europe, from whence comes the latke. The next best thing, which was plentiful, would have been rendered chicken or goose fat, otherwise known as schmaltz. By frying up potatoes in schmaltz, a European Jew of modest means could make a dish that commemorated the miracle of Hanukkah closely enough.

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