Wolfgang Puck, Spertus, & the Delicious Miracle

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Tonight is the official opening of the new building of the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. Many people may not be familiar with the institute and it’s mission:

Spertus invites people of all ages and backgrounds to explore the multifaceted Jewish experience. Through its innovative public programming, exhibitions, collections, research facilities and degree programs, Spertus inspires learning, serves diverse communities and fosters understanding for Jews and people of all faiths, locally, regionally and around the world.

And the beautiful new $55 million building overlooking Michigan Avenue now has a dairy kosher restaurant from none other than Wolfgang Puck. So how better to celebrate than with Puck’s recipe for dessert pancakes with raspberry sauce and creme fraiche for Hanukkah. As he notes in his column:

Hanukkah traditions center on foods fried in oil, such as latkes, the potato pancakes so popular in European and American Jewish communities, and sufganiyot, the doughnuts that Israelis share. Oil figures prominently in the Hanukkah story: A single day’s worth of oil miraculously kept the light burning for eight nights during the rededication of the main Temple of Jerusalem after Jewish warriors recaptured it in 165 BC.

Yet another tradition commemorates the cunning of Judith, who during the same period helped defeat an enemy general by feeding him salty cheese and then getting him intoxicated on wine. For this reason, dairy foods (but not necessarily wine) star on some Hanukkah tables.

My contribution to the Hanukkah party combines elements of both those traditions in the form of dessert pancakes. They are fried on a griddle or in a skillet and they include tangy buttermilk and some butter. (MORE)

I’m not sure his knowledge of Judaism actually extends to the story of Judith. But I’m willing to bite. After all, I’m sure it’s delicious.

Posted on November 29, 2007

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