Back to the Kitchen: Celebrate Hanukkah

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gwen-upper110x110BY GWEN KENNEALLY

Growing up in an Irish/Italian Catholic family I got some amazing culinary skills and brilliant recipes. It was not until much later in life that I had the privilege of cooking with some wonderful kosher chefs. During the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah, many families invite relatives and friends over to light the menorah, sing songs, play dreidel, exchange gifts and enjoy traditional Hanukkah food. When I prepare Hanukkah meals people swear I am channeling a Jewish grandmother! I love to slow cook my brisket and make the lightest, fluffiest matzo balls! Curry apples and sweet potatoes are a nice twist for potatoes pancakes. The chocolate mousse cake is rich and simple. So be creative and have some fun as you celebrate the festival of lights with your friends and family and have fun making new traditions and celebrating new cultures!

Hannukah Feast  Photo: Photobucket/Aidel Knaidel

Hannukah Feast Photo: Photobucket/Aidel Knaidel

Matzo Ball Soup

3 large eggs

3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat or Crisco

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

14 tablespoons matzo meal

10 cups chicken stock

3 carrots, sliced

2 medium parsnips, sliced

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and chicken fat until combined. Whisk in 1/2-cup water and salt. Add matzo meal, and whisk until combined. Cover and refrigerate batter until firm, 2 to 4 hours. Line a baking pan with parchment. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large wide saucepan, and reduce heat to a simmer. Slightly dampen your fingertips, and form 2 heaping tablespoons of batter into a 1 1/2-inch ball, being careful not to compress the mixture too much. Place balls on the prepared pan. Repeat process with remaining batter. Using a large spoon, slide the matzo balls into the simmering stock. Once all the balls have been added, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add carrots and parsnips, cover, and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the matzo balls are cooked through.  Garnish with fresh dill, and serve immediately.

Basic Chicken stock

1 red onion, chopped

3 carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups white wine

1 Chicken carcass

10 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot combine all above ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cover and simmer for one hour. Strain the stock and toss the solids. (You should get about 10 cups) You can freeze half or you can freeze in ice cube trays and pop out single servings as needed for sauces.

Beef Brisket

5 pound beef brisket

6 onions cut into 1/4-inch rings

5 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper

5 tablespoons olive oil

1-teaspoon thyme

1-teaspoon oregano

3 cups beef stock

Sprinkle brisket with salt, pepper, thyme and oregano. In a large heavy skillet heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Brown brisket about 5 minutes per side. Remove brisket and place in a heavy roasting pan. Add remaining oil to skillet and add onions, garlic r and crushed pepper. Sauté until golden over moderate heat stirring occasionally about 20 minutes. Stir in beef stock and bring to a boil. Preheat oven to 350. Pour onion mixture over brisket and cover with foil. Cook for 5 hours checking occasionally and adding more water or stock if necessary. Brisket should be very tender. Transfer brisket to a cutting board cover with foil and let rest. Discard fat from onion mixture and spoon into a saucepan. Add beef stock and bring to a boil. Using an emulsion blender, puree until smooth. Slice across the grain into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.

Curried Sweet Potato Latke

2 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams (I like to mix both for color!)

1 apple

1/4 cup half and half

1/3-cup matzo meal

3 eggs

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. curry

1/4 tsp. cayenne

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/2-inch ginger

3 cloves garlic

Peanut or coconut oil

Grate sweet potatoes and apple. Remove any excess moisture. Separate the eggs. Whisk egg yellows and add one at a time, mixing well Add half and half.  Add matzoth meal and baking powder.  Add spices and mix well. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold into the mixture.

In a large skillet Heat oil until hot and put a large spoonful for each pancake. Cook until golden brown on one side, flip and cook until golden brown.

Colorful Vegetable Latkes

6 large baking potatoes

3 large carrots

3 small zucchini

1 large red onion

1 egg

1/4-cup matzo meal

Peanut or Canola oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste

Grate the potatoes and onions using the grating disk of the food processor. Do not process with the standard blade or in a blender. Place a colander large enough to hold the grated potato-onion mixture over a pot or bowl. Remove the grated potato-onion mixture from the food processor bowl and put in the colander. Let stand for five minutes.

Press down on the mixture to quicken the draining process. Repeat this two or three more times at five-minute intervals. The ingredients will be ready when the mixture no longer squishes when pressed (approximately 15 minutes). Removing excess moisture is the absolute key to good latkes. Repeat the grating procedure with the zucchini. Place zucchini shreds in their own colander over a bowl to catch the liquid. Let stand five minutes. Sprinkle liberally with salt and toss well. After five minutes, press down on the mixture to hasten the draining process. Repeat this pressing step until the mixture no longer squishes. For added insurance, place the zucchini shreds on a stack of paper towels and blot up any residual moisture. Grate the carrots. Combine the shredded and drained potatoes, onion, and zucchini with the grated carrots. Add the egg and mix well. Add the matzo meal a little bit at a time until the mixture just starts to dry out. Carefully, pour the liquid out of the bowl/pot, which was placed under the colander for the potatoes and onions. At the bottom of the bowl, you will find a thick, starchy paste (potato starch). Scrape this paste out of the bowl and add to the potato-carrot-onion-egg mixture, blending well. Drop by the spoonful into hot oil and fry until golden and crisp on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

12 oz. 60% chocolate

2 Cups heavy or manufactures cream

1-cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Melt chocolate in microwave for 2 minutes on defrost. Beat cream and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in chocolate and vanilla. . Pour batter into 9″ spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from pan and smooth out the sides with a knife. Shave chocolate, sprinkle with berries and mint and serve.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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