Posted by Elana Horwich
Defying all laws of physics, so we have been told, the “Chanukah oil” lasted for eight days and nights. Because I don’t personally have any connection to oil menorot or to oil lamps of any kind, it’s hard for me to conceive of the magnitude of this miracle.
What I personally find incredible is the act of historical chutzpah that Chanukah represents. Our Temple had been turned into a pagan sanctuary. Inside its walls, pigs were slaughtered for sacrifice, and a shrine was erected to Zeus. Law prohibited the practice of Judaism.
Morale could have been crushed, but the ancient Jews did not sulk or retreat with their tails between their legs. Under the leadership of Judah Maccabee, they fought back against the legions of King Antiochus and won.
They immediately rededicated the Temple and lit the menorah, making the clear statement that even though their place of worship had been desecrated by enemies, its inherent holiness could not be extinguished.
Chanukah food, on the other hand, is not so miraculous.
As a tribute to the oil, food is generally fried. Does processed vegetable oil really uphold the miracle of ancient Jerusalem? If the Maccabees had been eating food fried in Wesson, they would have been too fat to fight the olive-oiled Greek-Syrians.
Are jelly doughnuts really a memorial to Judah Maccabee? I grew up in a family that opted instead for those hardened blue-frosted dreidel cookies. Sorry, Mom, but shortening and chemical icing do not uphold the holiness of Chanukah either.
The oil used in the Chanukah menorah was untainted olive oil. I propose a sweet Chanukah meal that is dedicated to extra virgin olive oil. If you want to extend the miracle, use olive oil from Israel.
Turn your Chanukah dinner into a latke party. Latkes are often served as a side dish, which, in my opinion, is a mistake. Latkes are the emblem of Chanukah and should be served when they are at their best: right out of the pan! Invite everyone into the kitchen to either participate in making them or simply in eating them. By the time you all get to the dinner table, everyone will be in great spirits!
2 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 large onion, peeled
2 tablespoons potato starch
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup olive oil
Grate potatoes into a large bowl using large holes of grater. Grate onion using small holes of grater. Remove outer layer of leek, and grate the white part only. Add the potato starch, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, and mix with hands.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add olive oil to cover bottom of skillet, about 1⁄4 cup at a time, and let it get very hot. (Test by dropping in a piece of potato; if its sizzles and browns easily, the oil is ready.)
Pick up a tablespoon-size quantity of potato mixture. Squeeze between your hands to flatten and release the water. Carefully place in oil, and fry until deep golden brown on each side. Remove from oil, place on paper towels. Sprinkle with additional salt, and serve immediately, with applesauce if
Makes about 35 dollar-size latkes.
CHICKEN TAGINE WITH APRICOTS AND PRUNES
Enlivened with cinnamon and other warming spices, this chicken will embrace your heart in a way that will link you directly to the ubiquitous superhero grandma that we all know, even if yours is no longer around: the grandma that loves you unconditionally even when you fail a test or hit your brother; the grandma that has a piece of candy in her purse for you at temple just when you thought you would die of boredom and starvation; the grandma whose joy in life is you. Grandma equals love, and so does this chicken.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 whole clove or pinch of ground cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon cumin
1⁄8 teaspoon turmeric
1⁄8 teaspoon ground ginger
5 chicken thighs, bone-in, organic
if possible (see note)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup dried apricots (sulfur-free,
Turkish apricots if possible)
1⁄2 cup pitted prunes
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1⁄2 cup chicken or vegetable broth,
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Place a tagine, Dutch oven or heavy cooking pot (it must be able to go both on the stove and in the oven) over a medium flame, and pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add spices to olive oil, and let cook for about 1 minute. Add the chicken pieces, skin-side down, and cook for a few minutes on each side until browned. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, skin-side up, and add the dried fruit. Sprinkle with salt, add in 40 grinds of the pepper mill, and pour in broth. Use a wooden spoon or tongs to cover the chicken with the onions and fruit. Cover the tagine or Dutch oven, and bake in oven for 1 hour.
Remove the tagine from oven, uncover, and place on stovetop over medium heat. Use wooden spoon to smash the fruit so it becomes part of the sauce. (You may want to remove the chicken as you do this, particularly if you used some white meat.) Cook until juices thicken, then return chicken to sauce and keep over low heat or in oven at 250 F until ready to serve.
Makes 3 to 5 servings.
NOTE: If using some white meat instead, cut breasts in half to create smaller pieces. Also add more broth to the pot, about another 1⁄2 cup.
The trick to flavorful couscous is to make it with homemade broth. Don’t be scared. This is quick and easy. Chances are that you are also making something that has onions in it, so save those onion peels — the outer layer and the skins. They have great flavor.
3 cups water
1 onion, peel and outer layers only
1 carrot, cut in half
1 celery stalk, cut in half
1 bay leaf
1 sprig parsley (optional)
2 to 4 chicken necks (optional)
1 cup couscous
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
Place water in a medium pot, and set over high heat. Add the vegetables, herbs and chicken, if using. Cover and let boil for 15 minutes or more to create broth.
Place couscous in a baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, and drizzle with olive oil. Add 1 1⁄2 cups of hot broth. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit 15 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork before serving.
Makes 3 to 5 servings.
OLIVE OIL CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE-CHUNK COOKIES
1 (3.5-ounce) bar best-quality 70 percent
cacao dark chocolate
1 cup oat flour
1 cup almond meal (almond flour)
3⁄4 cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin
1⁄4 cup unsweetened rice, almond or
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Chop the chocolate bar into 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch pieces. Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl, add the dry ingredients and whisk until mixed. Add olive oil, rice milk and egg. Use hands to mix ingredients together.
For a rustic look: Pinch dough together to form 1-inch balls.
For a more polished look: Roll dough into 1-inch smooth-edged balls using the palms of your hands.
Place dough balls 2 inches part on baking sheet. Bake for 13 minutes. Let cool until they can be picked up without breaking.
Optional: Use your fingers to sprinkle an additional 1 teaspoon cocoa powder on the cookies when finished.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
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November 20, 2012 | 11:23 am
Posted by Elana Horwich
Thanksgiving is my least favorite meal of the year. The problem with the holiday is that it’s difficult to feel thankful when you’re slumped on the couch in a food coma after the meal. It’s hard enough as it is to maintain decent conversation with distant relatives and their straggler friends; I don’t need a digestive drain on my system, to boot.
Let’s be real, people: It’s not the turkey. I know about the supposed effects of tryptophan, but no one complains about the effects of tryptophan while in line for a noontime turkey sandwich every other day of the year. It’s not the turkey.
The problem is that most Thanksgiving meals are prepared in a way that demonstrates zero gratitude to our bodies. On the contrary, the marshmallows on top of candied yams, the white-bread stuffing, the high-sugar cranberry sauce and the overly sweet desserts are the real culprits.
Don’t get me wrong: I would never eat “lite” on Thanksgiving — just smart. Enjoy these recipes that I hope will add a healthier indulgence to your holiday.
This broth is the basis of my Thanksgiving meal. With one fell swoop, I can whip up a root vegetable soup and add the over-the-edge homemade feel that I am looking for in my stuffing. I then freeze the rest to make future risotti, braised meats, and other soups and purees.
If you think store-bought broth is no different than homemade broth, it’s because no one ever taught you differently. Your therapist can’t fix what’s been missing in your food. Love is in this soup.
16 to 20 cups water
2 parsnips, tops cut off
3 onions, unpeeled
3 whole carrots, tops cut off, unpeeled
1 rib celery
2 celery roots, peeled
1 turnip, peeled
2 russet potatoes, unpeeled
1 yam, unpeeled
4 pounds chicken (I use 3 pounds necks and 2 whole leg-thigh sections )
2 beef marrow bones
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 bunch parsley
6 to 10 thyme sprigs
3 whole cloves
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients except salt in a large stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours, until all vegetables are cooked through. Remove from heat and let broth cool slightly. Remove chicken and marrow bones. Use broth and vegetables for soups and purees, adding salt to taste.
Makes about 6 quarts.
Vegetables from prepared Broth That Keeps Giving:
1 onion, peeled
1 small celery root
1 russet potato
1 celery rib
10 to 12 cups Broth That Keeps Giving
Salt and freshly ground pepper
20 to 30 sage leaves
3 teaspoons olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Use tongs to remove the vegetables listed above from the broth. Cut vegetables into manageable pieces and put them, in batches with a few cups of the broth, in a Vitamix, food processor or powerful blender. Puree. To each batch, add salt and pepper to taste. Add more broth for thinner consistency if desired. As each batch is finished, pour into a large soup pot and mix gently.
To crisp sage leaves, put 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat; be careful not to burn it. Add half of the sage leaves and cook until crisp, about a minute or so on each side. Place on paper towels when done. Repeat with remaining sage leaves and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, reserving a few fresh leaves for garnish. Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, and top each serving with one of the reserved fresh sage leaves.
Makes 8 servings.
Stuffing is the star of Thanksgiving. There are few things better than good bread, and once homemade broth, herbs, and roasted mushrooms and fennel are added, what else do you want in life? This stuffing is a winner.
3 portobello mushrooms
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon thyme sprigs
3 fennel bulbs
1-pound loaf crusty, multigrain bread, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes
8 tablespoons duck fat or shmaltz
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped sage
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 links uncooked chicken sausage (mild Italian or chicken apple), squeezed out of its casing (optional)
1/8 cup chopped parsley
2 1/2 cups Broth That Keeps Giving
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Wash mushrooms, pull off stems, and carefully remove brown “gills” underneath, using a paring knife. Slice into 1/2-inch cubes, arrange on one of the baking sheets, drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Add 20 grinds of the pepper mill.
Holding the thyme sprigs at one end, use the fingers of your other hand to gently slide down the stem, pulling off the leaves, and sprinkle the leaves on the mushrooms (discard thyme stems). Using your fingers, mix gently.
Remove feathery fronds from the fennel bulb, and cut bulb in half vertically (discard the fronds). Use a paring knife to carefully remove the triangularly shaped tough core. Cut the fennel into vertical slices about 1/4-inch thick and then again into 1/4-inch cubes.
Place fennel on the other baking sheet and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and add 20 grinds of the pepper mill. Using your fingers, mix gently. Put both baking sheets in preheated 400 F oven and roast for about 17 to 20 minutes.
To stale the bread: Place bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes at 375 F. Let cool.
To assemble the stuffing. In a large pan, over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons duck fat or shmaltz. Saute onion, leeks, celery, sage and 1 teaspoon thyme leaves for about 7 minutes. Put in large bowl and set aside. If you are using chicken sausage, add 1 tablespoon duck fat or shmaltz to pan and saute sausage for about 4 minutes or until cooked through. Add it to the bowl.
Add the vegetable/herb/sausage mixture, bread, mushrooms, fennel, eggs, parsley and broth to the bowl; mix well. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Transfer to a 13x9-inch baking dish or deep casserole and dot with remaining 3 to 4 tablespoons duck fat or shmaltz.
Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crisp on top.
Makes 8 servings.
It may be a little labor intensive to use fresh pumpkins, but honestly, how many times a year are you making this? The crust, on the other hand, takes only minutes. The filling is adapted from Sarah Raven’s “In Season.”
Flourless Pecan Crust (recipe below)
2 medium sugar pumpkins
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 of a whole nutmeg, grated
1/4 to 1/3 cup honey
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 orange
Prepare Flourless Pecan Crust; set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cut pumpkins into 1-inch wedges; remove and discard skin. Steam pumpkin in a steamer over boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes. Put pumpkin into a food processor and puree; you should have about 3 cups of puree.
Add all remaining ingredients to pumpkin puree; pulse into well mixed. Pour mixture into unbaked crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Remove pie from oven; use aluminum foil to cover the edges of the crust to prevent it from burning. (Place two large sheets of aluminum foil, one atop the other, like a plus sign. Place pie pan on top, and fold foil over edges of crust.) Return pie to oven and bake 20 minutes longer or until filling is firm to the touch. Let cool to room temperature before serving.
Makes 1 pie, 8 to 10 servings.
3 cups pecans
10 to 12 dates, pitted
5 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
Place pecans, dates and 4 tablespoons coconut oil in a food processor, and pulse into a paste.
Use the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil to generously grease a 9-inch pie pan.
Using your fingers, press the pecan/date mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan to form the crust, making it about 1/4 inch thick.
Elana Horwich teaches cooking classes in Beverly Hills. For more information and a link to her blog, go to mealandaspiel.com.