The Jew And The Carrot

A Hanukkah Recipe Lesson

By Sylvia Fallas

Courtesy of Sylvia Fallas
Every November, the stores start piping in holiday music. Santa is everywhere and the shelves are stocked with eggnog, candy canes and shiny decorations. The Hanukkah section is relegated to a small section in Target; some blue paper plates and a box of latkes mix. Last year I ignored it, this year with my daughter coming home from preschool covered in silver and blue glitter, marching like a Maccabee, ignorance was not bliss. I wanted to instill her in her that Hanukah is awesome, and give her an early sense of her Jewish identity.

So, this Hanukah, I decided my pre-schooler and I would go nuts. Old enough to be involved, we went shopping- silver tinsel, an extra menorah, flour, sugar, cookie cutters and sprinkles were all purchased and waiting for Hanukah break. We decorated the house, rolled out dreidel cookies, set up the menorahs, and fried latkes…. And it was only day one of vacation. The only thing left to do was make sufganiyot.

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The Best Jewish Cookbooks of 2013

By Alix Wall

This has been a tremendous year for cookbooks. Choosing just eight to recommend wasn’t easy, but we taste tested, read and, frankly, salivated over a lot of photos to find the best books to recommend to you this Hanukkah season. You will find four here and four more at forward.com/food, one book for each night.

While a hefty vegetarian and international vegan book are among our favorite this year, carnivores need not worry. A book devoted solely to chicken fat — imagine! — made our list, plus one with four seasonal brisket recipes that helps you bring home the deli with an easy do-it-yourself pastrami recipe. Books from two Israeli chefs introduce some Middle Eastern flavors, and a husband-and-wife team offer some refreshing reinterpretations of Jewish classics.

All these would make a great Hanukkah gift, or perhaps leaving a marked-up clipping of this list lying around in a prominent place could yield some favorable results — not only for you, but in the form of some shared memorable meals in the not-too-distant future.

1. What does Portland, Ore., know from Jewish deli? A lot, as it turns out, thanks to Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman, authors of “The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home.” Featuring recipes from Portland’s Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen as well as other new wave Jewish delis, like Mile End and Caplansky’s, this book is perfect for anyone who wants to try boiling his or her own bagels at home or making an extraordinarily succulent and flavorful pastrami — no smoker required. But simpler deli recipes abound, as well. There are numerous variations on egg, potato and chicken salads, as well as soups from matzo ball to kreplach, mushroom barley and borscht.

2. The buzz still hasn’t died down from last year’s “Jerusalem,” but already, the London-based Israeli Jewish and Palestinian dynamic duo Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have another book out: “Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.” This is the third year running that an Ottolenghi book is on our list. Featuring dishes both savory and sweet from their incredibly popular London takeout shops, “Ottolenghi” was their first book to come out in the United Kingdom, but it just made its way stateside. While salads and vegetable sides dominate (along with mouthwatering photos), there is a fair number of entrees, and plenty of tempting sweets. Their roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey is perfect for a holiday meal, and sweet potato galette with goat cheese is on our next dinner party menu. Surprising combinations also sneak into the book, like mixed mushrooms with cinnamon and lemon.

3. In New York, Einat Admony is the queen bee of Israeli cooking. The chef and owner of Taim falafel and the more upscale Balaboosta released her first book this year: “Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes To Feed the People You Love.” The book’s gorgeous photos and straightforward recipes will call even the most timid cook to the kitchen. While the title is Yiddish, Admony herself is of Persian and Yemenite heritage, and it shows in her well spiced recipes, like her mom’s chicken with pomegranate and walnuts, and lamb chops with Persian lime sauce and kubaneh, a Yemenite bread baked overnight. A variety of Israeli dishes — and some Palestinian ones — are sprinkled throughout.

4. “The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes” by Todd Gray, Ellen Kassoff Gray and David Hagedorn grew out of a New York Times article by Joan Nathan about non-Jewish chefs married to Jews. The owners of Equinox restaurant (Kassoff Gray is Jewish, Gray is not) in Washington, D.C., have updated Jewish classics with more flavorful and modern takes, like fig and port wine blintzes, and falafel with pickled vegetables and minted lemon yogurt. While one or two mixed meat-and-milk dishes do appear, each recipe is classified as meat, dairy or pareve, and entire kosher menus are suggested for the Jewish holidays. Matzo-stuffed Cornish game hen for Hanukkah, anyone?

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Getting Good Chocolate Gelt

By Debbie Prinz

Mark Hurvitz

Who knew there could be good chocolate Hanukkah gelt? I figured it had to be waxy and tasteless, left in its foil to decorate a festive table rather than my mouth. A lovely audience in New Jersey shared their favorite Jewish chocolate experiences with me recently and mentioned, among other things, chocolate covered matzah and chocolate macaroons. They did not mention gelt. When I noted that omission, one woman sharply retorted, “Chocolate gelt is sucky.”

And so it often is. Or has been.

Several companies sell gelt. My quality test sampled some, not all. My criteria for gelt goodness includes whether the product is fair trade, kosher, and/or organic. I also care about appearance and taste and quality.

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Hanukkah Gifts You'll Want for Yourself

By Devra Ferst

Leave the bad bottle of wine at your local liquor shop and pick up one of these Israeli treats for your holiday party host. We promise, they’ll be grateful. Oh, and it would only be right to get yourself one too, right?

A Nutty Spread

Devra Ferst

No trip to Israel is complete without a slice of fresh halva cut from a mound of sweetened sesame paste in one of the country’s legendary markets. Longing for a taste of home, Shahar Shamir, who lives in Brooklyn, has reimagined the snack as a line of spreads called Brooklyn Sesame. His nutty tahini pastes are sweetened with honey and blended with a choice of roasted pistachios, sesame seeds or caraway seeds. A recent addition to his line includes a cocoa and sea salt option that would be exceptional atop a good bowl of vanilla ice cream. The pastes are delicious with cheese, on bread or frankly, straight off of a spoon.
Brooklyn Sesame’s Halva Spread; $8-14

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Hanukkah’s Femme Fatale Made Cheese

By Dahlia Abraham Klein

Dahlia Abraham Klein
taken for her upcoming cookbook, Silk Road Vegetarian; Gluten Free and Vegan Recipes for the Mindful Cook.

I know what you are thinking…. the Hanukkah story had a femme fatale?? When you think of Hanukkah you probably think of how the Maccabees defeated the Syrian-Greeks in a revolt that recaptured the Holy Temple. And once the Maccabees did, the first order of business was to light the menorah in the Temple, but very little oil was found and would only last one day. The miracle of Hanukkah was that the little vile of oil that was supposed to last for one day lasted 8 days. It is for this reason that we eat foods fried in oil (typically olive oil because it’s a characteristic of the Land of Israel). What you may not know is that there is an underlying story of events that led to the victory of the Maccabees and it all started in the town of Bethulia, in the Judean Desert with a woman named Judith.

Judith was a pious woman who had a plan to save the Jews by pretending to surrender to an Assyrian general, Holofernes. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was seized and the Jews could not practice their religion. Judith used her beauty and charm to ingratiate herself onto Holofernes. She brought him her homemade cheese and wine (nothing like food to a man’s stomach) and went back to his tent, for “something something”…. Or so he thought.

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Mixing Bowl: What Does Matisyahu Eat?

By Susan Armitage

Ever wondered what a Jewish reggae superstar eats on the road? Matisyahu’s personal chef shares his vegan chulent recipe and more. [What Does Matisyahu Eat?]

Who should regulate kosher and halal food? The Economist chews on a meaty question. [The Economist]

If you didn’t get your fill of fried deliciousness during Hanukkah, Venetian Carnival Galani provide a compelling new reason to break out the oil. [Dinner in Venice]

It may not be a Jewish holiday, but Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to eat chocolate. Check out these edible valentine recipes. [Food 52]

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Mixing Bowl: Brisket Lab; Hanukkah Recipes

By Devra Ferst

Courtesy of Daniel Delaney

There’s a new cookbook about shmaltz! (More details to come soon on JCarrot.) In the meantime check out this first look. [Eater]

Brisketlab. We really live in a wonderful world, when places like this exist. [Serious Eats]

Eight desserts for eight nights of Hanukkah. Personally, we love the marshmallow dreidels. [Serious Eats

Some seriously wacky bagel flavors are coming out of The Bagel Store in Williamsburg. Sweet potato bagel? French toast bagel? What kind of schmear goes with that anyway? [Serious Eats]

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Modern Hannukah Miracle: Jewish Camp Powered by Veggie Oil

By Becca Linden

Hazon Flickr

Early in 2012, Eden Village Camp, the Jewish organic farm camp in Putnam Valley, NY, converted its backup diesel engine to run on used vegetable oil.

Its first test came this past summer, on July 15, 2012, when a big storm hit. The 200 campers and staff were confined to the dining hall until the storm passed. After a thunder crash, the electricity went out, and the campers let out a collective howl in the dark. A moment later, the camp could hear the hum of its backup generator starting up, and the lights returned – and the air was soon filled with a slight scent of French fries. That is the trademark scent of a generator powered by waste veggie oil!

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A Jewish Ice Cream Flavor for Jon Stewart

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Courtesy of Three Twins Ice Cream

Stephen Colbert inspired Ben & Jerry’s “AmeriCone Dream” ice cream, and the company named its “Late Night Snack” flavor for Jimmy Fallon. So, Neal Gottlieb thought it was time for that other late night funnyman — Jon Stewart — to also have his own ice cream variety.

As it turned out, Gottlieb was better positioned than most people to do something about this. As “founding twin” of the Northern California-based Three Twins organic ice cream company, he was able to whip up some flavors he thought might please Stewart’s palate.

This was exactly two years ago at Hanukkah time, and Gottlieb was thinking Jewish. He came up with three original flavors for the Daily Show’s host to sample: “Land of Milk and Honey” (So smooth and creamy even a goy will enjoy); “Carl’s Kugel” (Oy vey! cream cheese, cinnamon, apple sauce and golden raisins!); and “8 Crazy Nights” (Sweet potato latke ice cream with Hanukkah gelt).

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How To Avoid Latke Fatigue

By Devra Ferst

Courtesy of First Press
BAMcafe Indian Spiced Latke with Cauliflower Chutney & Crushed Cashew Nuts

Tonight will be the fifth night of Hanukkah, meaning I’m right on schedule. I have entered into the arena of latke fatigue — and perhaps you have to. It’s at this point in the holiday that I have had more than one too many classic, plain potato latkes. Many of them were delicious, made up of layers of pillowy shredded potatoes surrounded by perfectly crisp and crackly edges. But, at this point, both my mind and my palate are coated in a thick layer of oil and are in need of something new — a flavor to temper the richness of all the oil. If I were a chef on a cook-off show, this is when I would reach for the “acid,” to “balance the flavors.”

To find latke inspiration, I had to leave tradition aside to seek out something different — and, I knew just where to find it. For the past four years, the New York’s Annual Latke Festival has pitted chefs from some of the city’s top restaurants against one another in a latke showdown. This year was no different: 17 chefs took on the challenge to create a latke that would satisfy some 300 guests and a group of judges with some very serious food credentials.

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2012's Best Jewish Cookbooks — Day 4

By Leah Koenig and Devra Ferst

BELLA LIEBERBERG
Cooking Together: The amazing women behind the Oma and Bella cookbook.

From our eight favorite books from the year — one for each night of Hanukkah — we present two below. They are all great holiday gifts for the passionate cook in your life or a treat for yourself. Check out the other books on our list from days 1-3.

Best Cookbooks, Day 1

Best Cookbooks, Day 2

Best Cookbooks, Day 3

Oma & Bella: The Cookbook
By Alexa Karolinski
Self published, 120 pages, $36

Alexa Karolinski, a filmmaker and Berlin-native, had the idea and chutzpah to produce this whimsically-illustrated cookbook of traditional Eastern European dishes. But the recipes themselves are all Oma and Bella’s — two feisty women, both Holocaust survivors (one of whom is Karolinski’s grandmother), who live, cook, and kibbitz together in their shared Berlin apartment.

Karolinski created the cookbook as a companion piece to her independent film Oma & Bella — a 76-minute tribute to the women’s lives and history as told in and through their kitchen. Similarly, the recipes, which range from challengingly old-fashioned dishes like jellied calves foot, pickled herring and boiled tongue, to the more universally-appetizing veal brisket, carrot tzimmes and rugelach, serve as an entree into Oma and Bella’s lives. “Having lost both of their families in the Holocaust, Oma and Bella had to teach themselves, often from scratch, how to make the dishes their mothers and grandmothers made for them.” Now, thanks to their generosity and Karolinski’s patience and diligence (she spent three years watching the women cook, translating their “handfuls into half cups, pinches into teaspoons, and platefuls into servings,” 38 classic dishes are now available to the next generation.

—Leah Koenig

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2012's Best Jewish Cookbooks — Day 3

By Margaret Eby and Leah Koenig

From our eight favorite books from the year — one for each night of Hanukkah — we present two below. They are all great holiday gifts for the passionate cook in your life or a treat for yourself.

Best Cookbooks, Day 1

Best Cookbooks, Day 2

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
by Deb Perelman, Knopf, 336 pages, $35

Enormous, crispy oven latkes? Sweet potato blintzes with farmer cheese? Delicate sweet-and-sour brisket with tender root vegetables? Subtly sweet raspberry rugelach? “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook,” by culinary mastermind and cult favorite blogger Deb Perelman, has all these sumptuous recipes, written in the tone of a good friend offering holiday advice.

“The Smitten Kitchen,” is gorgeously laid out, with dozens of photographs that will make you want to head to your oven lickety-split. Perelman has formulas for everything from calzones to grapefruit pound cake. One look at the table of contents will give any home cook a host of new ideas for holiday dinners and laidback brunches, dinner party desserts and cozy night-in spreads. An added perk is that most of the recipes are new, so you won’t find them on Perlman’s website.

While some of the book’s recipes are not kosher, Perelman has included a separate category in the index for Jewish recipes, to make flipping through for Hanukkah dishes easier. It’s an ideal gift for the dedicated home cook looking to expand his or her repertoire. Just watch out: We bet there’ll be a lot more figs, olive oil and sea salt challah and rhubarb hamantaschen in your life after you gift this cookbook.

— Margaret Eby

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Hip Hanukkah Fare at Brooklyn's 606 R&D

By Temim Fruchter

Claudia Ficca

As winter slides in and makes itself comfy in New York for the next couple of months, locals are — as ever — on the lookout for interesting new edibles in the Hanukkah spirit, even as they pick up boxes of staunchly reliable latkes from Zabars and Russ & Daughters.

Thank goodness for 606 R&D — quite possibly the only hip new Brooklyn restaurant to be serving up a split powdered sugar donut and raspberry jam ‘sandwich’ in honor of the holiday. Not to mention a special potato pancake appetizer served with a dollop of creme fraiche and a slaw of beet, apple and celery root. And while these are definitely special holiday items, stop by 606 R&D year-round for delicious classic cake donuts (inspired by Dreesen’s Famous Donuts in the Hamptons and made by a Kickstarter-funded donut robot) and some extremely tasty latke cousins (try the carrot parsnip pancakes or the cauliflower pakoras).

So what’s the story behind the marriage of such inventive culinary whimsy with such old world Brooklyn Jewish sensibilities?

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Mixing Bowl: Hanukkah Edition

By Devra Ferst

Thinkstock

If you’re going to take advice from someone on how to make a proper latke, that person should be Melissa Clark. [New York Times]

Everything you ever wanted to know about hosting a latke party. [Serious Eats]

Latkes goes modernist. [Saveur]

Try them with….brown butter and cinnamon applesauce. [Serious Eats]

Looking to celebrate the holiday of oil without covering your kitchen in it? Here’s a great list of events. [Serious Eats]

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Edible Gifts: Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels

By Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Martinelli

This Hanukkah, give presents from the heart and the kitchen with homemade food gifts. In this series, we’ll present four sweet and savory ideas to spice up your holiday gift giving for everyone on your list.

Homemade candy makes some of the best DIY holiday food gifts. Besides its visual appeal and delicious taste, most candy recipes produce big batches, so you can knock everyone off your list at once. This year I decided to try my hand at salted caramels, which are simultaneously nostalgic and trendy. They’re not difficult to make, but the secret is all in the temperature.

The base of all caramel recipes is essentially the same: butter, sugar, cream, and corn syrup. Of course, the kind of butter (salted vs. unsalted), sugar (white vs. brown), and cream (heavy cream, condensed milk, or even crème fraiche) vary wildly, as do the order in which to cook it all.

After a good deal of experimentation, I can tell you that I have a preferred method (see below), but that cooking the ingredients in a totally different order also yields tasty results. For example, you could cook the sugar, water and corn syrup together first before adding the cream and butter.

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2012's Best Jewish Cookbooks — Day 2

By Molly Yeh and Ben Harris

From our eight favorite books from the year — one for each night of Hanukkah — we present two below. (Check back every day this week for another two books.) They are all great holiday gifts for the passionate cook in your life or a treat for yourself.

2012’s Best Jewish Cookbooks — Day 1

Meat Smoking 101 for the Deli Fanatic

The Mile End Cookbook: Redefining Jewish Comfort Food From Hash to Hamantaschen
by Noah and Rae Bernamoff
Clarkson Potter, 224 pages, $27.50

For the restaurant that is described by co-owner Noah Bernamoff as a “Montreal greatest-hits album,” its cookbook reads like an intimate liner jacket to your favorite new band’s cover record, where Jewish delicatessen classics are covered by twenty-somethings with a knack for all things local and homemade. A first skim, with sightings of DIY salami and Montreal smoked meat, may intimidate even an experienced chef, but Noah and Rae Bernamoff’s humble-beginnings narrative is relatable enough to encourage even a culinary novice to take a stab at some of the more complicated recipes.

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Edible Gifts: Healthy Recipes in a Jar

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.

Holiday food gifts are often sweet, rich, and calorie-laden. While the colder weather calls for comfort food, why not deliver it in the form of a steaming hot, one pot meal? Recipes in a jar — where the dry ingredients are attractively layered in a clear jar — are a fun and creative gift for a food lover. But instead of the usual cookie in a jar, this Hanukkah hit up your pantry and give the gift of homemade three-bean chili or Middle Eastern mujadara.

The premise is simple: Take your favorite grain recipe, separate out the dry ingredients, and layer them in a nice jar, then include a recipe for the recipient. Unlike baked goods or candies, these presents are shelf stable so there’s no pressure to eat them immediately and the recipient will have a hot meal at their fingertips whenever they like.

Bean chili is a perfect contestant for a recipe in a jar — you can use the recipe below, or adapt your favorite. Use any beans you like (though a mix of red kidney beans, white beans, and black beans has a nice effect) and add in a spice mix. This recipe produces a hearty and richly flavored vegan chili that would satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

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2012's Best Jewish Cookbooks

By Devra Ferst

Nate Lavey

This year my desk has been strewn with cookbooks containing recipes for homemade pastrami, sweet potato and farmer cheese blintzes, German Jewish cakes, Sephardic treasures from the island of Rhodes and delicious dishes to keep one warm during the winter. These cookbooks have called me to the kitchen and many have made appearances both at my dinner table and at the table of the reviewers below. The books have coached us through fermentation experiments, allowed us to travel to Zimbabwe without leaving our kitchens and helped us understand the culinary legacy of Jerusalem’s diverse population.

From our eight favorite books from the year — one for each night of Hanukkah — we present two below. (Check back every day this week for another two books.) They are all great holiday gifts for the passionate cook in your life or a treat for yourself.

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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: Mourning Stage Deli; Hanukkah News

By Devra Ferst

While we’re mourning the loss of the landmark Stage Deli, another deli is in trouble. Sarge’s experienced a serious fire this week but hopes to reopen. [Grub Street

New York is hosting the most bad ass latke throwdown there is. Serious Eats has some free tickets to win! [Serious Eats

Eight oil-fried gourmet foods for Hanukkah including: Panko latkes, Sweet potato parsnip latkes with feta and leeks, not to mention zeppole. YUM! [Food52]

Kutsher’s is serving eight different latkes for eight nights of Hanukkah. Offerings include pastrami smoked duck, pear butter, and sour cherry latkes” as well as a Peking duck, cucumber, scallion, and sesame hoisin variety on the last night. [Grub Street]

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