In the chill of January and February, comfort foods are more than just a welcome respite on the table. For a soul-warming winter dish, I often make soup. And there is one soup that I make that combines several of my favorite flavor profiles: Chicken soup (read: Ashkenazi all the way) with leeks (read: French- and Sephardic-influenced), albondigas, or little meatballs (read: Arab- and Mediterranean-influenced) with quinoa (read: healthy and Latino-influenced).
Quinoa has been a culinary darling for a number of years, but this Peruvian–Bolivian grain is worthy of the attention it gets. It’s packed with protein and gluten free. Oh yes, and it’s kosher for Passover too. The key to quinoa is to rinse it well and let it drain before using, and cook it until the little white circles—those cute curlicues—lift away from the center of the each grain.
In the U.S., leeks, unlike quinoa, are still living in the shadow of other foods—largely by other members of the allium family, like onions. But leeks have a wonderfully gentle flavor that has always been loved in many other areas of the world. Now, they are a bit messy to deal with since soil is embedded between those big leaves.But you can buy them already nice and clean, all cut up, in well-stocked grocery stores, either in the produce aisle or freezer case.
Albondigas means meatballs in Spanish, though they aren’t Spanish at all – they originate from the Middle East. And just about every culture in every country has come up with their own meatballs, based on what they had available and their favorite herbs and spices. For Latino countries, that often meant onions, a bread-style binder, eggs, and fresh, local herbs such as flat-leaf parsley, Mexican oregano, mint, and epazote (another Mexican herb). In Mexico and Central America the most common way to eat little meatballs is in soups.
This chicken soup is an amalgam of flavor profiles, with a distinct emphasis on Latin flavors. Enjoy it—and make it your own; the recipe is as much a formula as a template for your favorite flavors. So reach for what you like best, and have fun with comfort foods from around the world.
To clean leeks, remove the tough green outer leaves and root ends. Cut them in half lengthwise and slice crosswise in half-circles. Fill a bowl with water, place the leeks into it and wash well, separating the interior layers with your fingertips. Leeks absorb huge amounts of dirt and sand as they grow, so keep washing until they are perfectly clean; the dirt should fall to the bottom of the bowl while the leeks float to the surface. Lift the leeks out of the bowl and set aside. (Don’t drain by pouring the water out of the bowl over them or you will be pouring the dirt back onto them.) Rinse the bowl thoroughly, fill with water, return the leeks to the bowl, and soak until you are ready to use them.
Pimenton, a sweet smoked paprika is Spain’s favorite seasoning. It imparts both sweetness and smokiness to recipes and is beloved throughout the Mediterranean region.
Masa harina is a traditional Mexican cornmeal flour. Dried corn is processed in a mixture of lime and water, which makes it easier to hull and also makes its nutrients more accessible. The wet, processed corn is ground into a dough called masa. When the processed corn is dried and ground into flour, it is called masa harina.
For the soup:
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 medium (about 4½ pounds) leeks, trimmed, cleaned, and soaked in cold water (see note above)
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely, divided
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, cut into ½-inch dice
2 large red and/or yellow bell peppers, cut into ½-inch dice
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (see Kitchen Tips)
2 bay leaves
12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed twice and drained
For the albóndigas (little meatballs)
1 lb ground chicken
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and grated, any green center discarded
2 tsp pimenton or sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
4 to 5 sprigs fresh mint, minced
⅓ cup masa harina or fine cornmeal (see notes above)
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp freshly ground white pepper, plus more to taste
Prepare the soup: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven set over high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers.
Add the leeks and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to wilt and become transparent.
Reserve 1 to 2 tablespoons of the parsley in a small bowl for garnish.
Add the carrots, celery, peppers, oregano, corn, bay leaves, and parsley and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes, until the vegetables wilt and become transparent.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Partially cover by placing a lid on the pot, so that about an inch or more of the surface of the soup is exposed. Continue to cook as you prepare the meatballs.
Prepare the meatballs: In a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, eggs, garlic, paprika, cumin, mint, masa harina or cornmeal, salt, and white pepper. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.
With slightly wet hands, form the mixture into meatballs (about ½ inch in diameter), dropping them directly into the broth as you go. Wet your hands again when the meatballs begin to stick. You should have about 75 little meatballs.
Once all the meatballs are in the broth, increase the heat to a low boil and add the quinoa. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through (the inside will no longer be pink) and the quinoa is tender and a white ring appears around each seed. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Garnish with the reserved parsley.
I had not even heard of Tu Bishvat until college when I attended a seder celebrating the holiday. And while it may sound a bit crunchy to celebrate a holiday for the trees, nuts and fruit, it comes at a time in our lives as modern Jews when appreciating our natural resources and the environment is more important than ever.
You can host a full-on seder, or also just take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge our relationship to the land. You can even make a batch of fruit-filled sangria, though my daughter and I decided to try our hand this year at chewy granola bars packed with dried fruit and almonds in honor of Tu Bishvat. We chose to use a combination of dried cherries, blueberries and raisins, though you could use any combo of dried fruit that you like.
This recipe was inspired by this version from Alton Brown.
2 cups oats
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter
½ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup ground flax seed
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mixed dried fruit such as apricots, raisins, cranberries, cherries, blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8x8 square pan.
Spread the oats and sunflower seeds out on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring 1-2 times.
Meanwhile heat butter, brown sugar, honey and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat until brown sugar has completely melted.
Once the oats and sunflower seeds are done toasting, remove from oven and reduce heat to 300 degrees. Place oats, sunflower seeds, flax seed, cinnamon, salt, almonds and dried fruit into a large bowl. Add melted butter-sugar mixture and combine until completely coated.
Pour mixture into the prepared pan and spread out evenly using an offset spatula. This step is important to ensuring even granola bars.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.
Every year when I work on a new recipe in preparation for Superbowl Sunday, I write and reflect on the same fact: I have zero interest in football, but I just love Superbowl snacks. Potato skins. Nachos. Chicken wings. Brisket sliders. All the most delicious and unhealthy bites you can imagine.
I love breaking out my deep fryer for a batch of wings, but it can be time consuming and even a bit messy. Sometimes, you just don’t want a layer of oil all over your kitchen, ya know?
One of the reasons I love this recipe so much, aside from how delicious and fun it is, is that you can improvise to make it any way you like: make a super spicy coleslaw, or your family’s favorite recipe for coleslaw, add corned beef and pastrami, or swap out the regular fries for some sweet potato fries or even tater tots.
You can also make it easy on yourself and just buy a bag of frozen fries. Prepare them as directed and top with chopped corned beef, coleslaw and Russian dressing. No one will be the wiser, and maybe your kitchen will remain that much cleaner. You can also buy Russian dressing, or make your own. I like using this recipe, I just omit the onion.
5 large Idaho potatoes
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
Salt and pepper
1/2 lb chopped, sliced corned beef
1 bag prepared shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp horseradish (optional)
½ tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1 batch prepared Russian dressing
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes into wedges and toss with olive oil, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on two baking sheets.
Bake until crisp, around 40 minutes, or to your liking.
While potatoes are cooking, prepare the coleslaw. Whisk together mayo, white vinegar, sugar, horseradish (if desired), salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add cabbage and toss until completely coated.
Heat up corned beef in oven or microwave briefly.
Pile fries on a platter and add warm corned beef, about half the coleslaw and prepared Russian dressing. Serve while warm.
Cuban cuisine is inspired by many different regions, but in my family, there is a clear Spanish influence. This should come as no surprise, as my mother is second generation Cuban-born, by way of Spain. Her grandparents made the trek from the motherland to Cuba, and brought with them their distinguished culinary traditions. Over time, our family recipes have morphed, depending on the ingredients available, as well as personal preferences. No matter how authentically Cuban our dishes may be, I can almost always find a nod to our Spanish origins in each bite.
Recently, while recreating one of my most coveted treats from the acclaimed Cuban bakery Portos (Guava and Cheese Pastry), I developed a new love for all things frozen puff pastry dough. After taking a bite of my sweet creation, and realizing how easy it was to work with store-bought puff pastry, I couldn’t help but imagine how the dough would taste with a savory filling. My mind quickly went to work envisioning different pairings, and finally, I settled on a Spanish-inspired combination. For the first time in the history of my kitchen, I turned the tables, and made a Spanish dish inspired by the flavors of Cuba.
My savory Manchego and Quince Turnovers seem like second cousins to the guava and cheese pastries I made before. The nutty flavor of Manchego cheese melts together with the slightly sweet quince filling, and the chopped Marcona almonds on top create a pleasant crunchy texture in each bite. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, try the Cuban originals, but if you favor savory flavors, these turnovers will not disappoint.
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
4 oz Manchego cheese
8+ Tbsp quince paste
1 Tbsp water
1/8 cup Marcona almonds, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Roll out puff pastry on floured surface, and cut into 8 even squares.
Fill each square with ½ oz of Manchego cheese and a heaping Tbs. of quince paste.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water to create an egg wash.
Brush the egg wash over the perimeter of the puff pastry squares, and fold one corner over, creating a triangle. Press edges to seal (*note: you can also crimp with the prongs of a fork).
Score tops of triangles to create a small opening for steam to escape during baking.
Brush tops generously with egg wash, and sprinkle with chopped almonds, coarse salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
Remove from oven, and after 10 minutes, place pastries on a cooling rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
When my husband and I first got married and we started to host Shabbat dinner I was determined to make my own challah. My mom made homemade challah each week and I wanted to do the same for my husband, for our guests and, most importantly, for myself. It felt like a rite of passage in becoming an adult and wife.
I am going to tell you about my recipe, but I have a confession to make: I make challah every week but I let my beloved bread maker do the hard work for me. My bread maker kneads the dough while I am at work. I come home, braid the challah, add any of Shannon’s amazing fillings (my favorite is the balsamic apple and date), and pop it in the oven. My bread machine allows me to make homemade challah every week without stressing about the timing while I am at work.
This recipe came from my mom and I have updated it over the years. It’s delicious and easy, But you don’t have to tell anyone else the secret.
1 cup warm water
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs (2 for the dough and 1 for brushing before baking)
1 tsp honey
2 ½ cups bread flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp flakey sea salt
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
Place all the ingredients into machine in order listed and set machine on "dough" setting.
Let sit in machine 60-90 minutes after the machine has completed its cycle.
Remove dough. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for another 30 minutes.
Braid dough into desired shape.
Beat remaining egg with 1 tsp water in a small bowl. Brush liberally over challah. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or the topping of your choice.
Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes. After the challah has baked for 15 minutes do a second brush with the reserved egg mix - this gives the challah a beautiful, shiny gloss.
Sometimes the simplest recipes are just the best. So often we try to complicate our lives and our cooking by thinking more is better, and simple can’t be good. But I have recently discovered the secret to the best, nondairy garlic bread to accompany a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, and it’s simplicity may shock you. Ok, maybe I am being overly dramatic. It is just garlic bread after all.
Roasted garlic is one of my favorite flavors. I add whole garlic cloves to lots of my dishes – roast chicken, root vegetables and even challah. I love the slight sweetness of roasted garlic, plus it’s a cinch to prepare and it’s super healthy! Garlic has more vitamin c than even orange juice.
Recently I roasted a whole head of garlic, added it to a healthy amount of olive oil and smashed it into a baguette for the simplest, most delicious garlic bread. I didn’t miss the butter, or Parmesan that some garlic bread recipes call for. Ok, maybe I missed the butter a little.
I would serve this crispy bread alongside some traditional Italian meatballs or a cozy bowl of soup. You will see – sometimes delicious doesn’t need to be complicated at all.
one large French-style baguette
2 whole heads of garlic
salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place garlic on a baking sheet or in a oven-safe ramekin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 35-40 ,minutes, until garlic is completely soft and golden but not crisp.
Allow garlic to cool. You can prepare this step a few hours or a day ahead of time.
Cut baguette in half. Squeeze cloves from bulb and smash with a fork. Add olive oil and continue smashing.
Spread half the garlic mixture on one side of the bread, and the other half of mixture on the other side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until just crisp and golden. Remove from oven and top with fresh parsley if desired.
By the time January rolls around it’s time to face the music: we’ve indulged in latkes and sufganiyot (It’s only once a year!), avoided insulting co-workers by eating mounds of their homemade cookies, (they stayed up all night baking), and rang in the New Year with a heaping stack of (you fill in the blank) nutty chocolate rugelach made with that cream cheese dough.
It’s time to lighten up, people.
But in the short days of January, when Shabbat approaches in what feels like mid-afternoon, the last thing we want to do is plan a menu of self-denial. I want to be sure there’s plenty of color and big flavors on the plate even if I’m making an effort to cut some calories and load in extra veggies.
We start with this honey whole wheat challah from The Nosher’s Editor Shannon Sarna. It tasted like a sweet indulgent challah, but with the addition of whole wheat flour and even ground flax seed.
This rich, but low cal vegan broth showcases bright orange Pumpkin Matzah Balls. This is great recipe to have up your sleeve for dairy meals or for when you have vegetarian guests at the table.
I chose to serve salmon, the kid- friendly fish. Searching my winter markets I turn to citrus for bright flavor and balance with my favorite local maple syrup. The moist salmon fillets are a perfect foil for a glossy Asian glaze. This dish is fine served at room temperature and will make tasty leftovers.
To go along with the salmon, I love these Chinese sesame noodles. This recipe is great with soba noodles, thin spaghetti, rice vermicelli or those super low calorie, gluten-free tofu Shirataki. With a load of crisp veggies tossed in a tangle of irresistible noodles this dish provides a perfect alternative for kids who may snub fish. The noodles benefit from hanging out in your refrigerator for a day or two before serving, so prepare this one in advance.
While beautiful winter salad greens are hard to come by in the northeast, Bibb or Butter lettuce is usually available and perfect for this avocado salad with carrot ginger dressing. Here’s that carrot/ginger dressing that your kids can’t get enough of.
For dessert, I’ve started experimenting with baked apples lately and with good reason. The carved out cavity provides lots of opportunities for fun filings and it’s a guilt free dessert that satisfies. Take advantage of the fact that you’re serving fish and use butter (not margarine) in this easy, granola based filling. Have gluten-free guests at your table? Consider this version of spiced baked apples instead.
And while we’re lightening it up for this dairy Shabbat dinner, you can chose your favorite frozen yogurt to serve on top of these apples. Be sure to serve them warm, if possible.
Turning to dried fruit is another great way to insert color on the dessert plate without adding fat. These spiced apricots dipped in dark chocolate have three ingredients-two if you omit the spicy chili powder. We’re talking easy, super low fat, and kid-friendly.
Yes, it’s a lightened up Shabbat but nobody expects you to finish without a little piece of some baked deliciousness. If we’re already enjoying a bit of dairy in this dinner I’m ready to bake these spiced chocolate oat cookies. They’re thick, deeply chocolaty and brownie-like. That’ll do the trick.
4 salmon fillets
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 navel oranges (for zest and juice listed below)
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic- peeled and chopped
1 two inch piece fresh ginger- peeled and minced
1/3 cup maple syrup (grade B is best for cooking and baking)
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
3 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp orange zest
Rinse and pat dry salmon fillets.
Place on large plate and salt and pepper each piece. Set aside.
Heat a large, cast iron or non-stick frying pan. Do not oil. When the pan is hot add sesame seeds. Stir often and watch carefully to avoid burning. Toast until golden. Set aside in small dish.
Juice orange to fill 1/3 cup and set aside.
Grate or zest orange peel being careful to do so with a light hand. Do not zest white pith (it’s bitter). Measure 1 Tb. and set aside.
Wipe out frying pan and place on medium flame. Heat EVOO until glistening and place salmon filets, skin side down in pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden.
Turn gently and brown the second side. Do not move fish while it is cooking. If skin sticks or falls off, it’s ok. It may be discarded if you like.
Remove fish from pan and set aside.
Place remaining ingredients (except sesame seeds) in pan and stir to combine. Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce is reduced and thickened.
If using a cast iron pan, return salmon to the pan and spoon sauce on top of fillets. If using a non-stick pan, place fillets in an ovenproof dish (spray with cooking spray to prevent sticking) and spoon sauce over fish.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 6-8 minutes or until fish is cooked to your liking. If you like the salmon, cooked through, it should flake with a fork.
Plate salmon with glaze from the bottom of pan and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Note: This dish may be served hot, warm or at room temperature. It makes great leftovers.
Nearly six years ago, my husband (who was then merely a newish boyfriend in my life) took me out for a lovely meal at a hip new restaurant in Washington, DC called Komi. The dinner was amazing, with course after course of Greek-inspired dishes. I couldn’t tell you exactly what we ate that night except for one absolute stand-out appetizer: mascarpone stuffed dates, which were warm out of the oven and served with a perfect sprinkling of thick, flaky sea salt. I was in love with the sweet, savory, creamy bite and went home to try and recreate it.
After several trials, I realized I must be doing something wrong because my mascarpone filling kept oozing out. Still delicious, but it wasn’t quite the recreation I was looking for. I filed the recipe away, and only years later when we went back for another meal at Komi did I try to master the dish once again.
The waiter serving us at our second amazing Komi dinner wasn’t too keen on giving up the secret of the non-oozing mascarpone, but after careful prodding from my husband, we learned that we needed to chill the stuffed dates before baking them to achieve the desired result of a warm date with creamy filling intact. I went home to test it out again, and eureka: it worked.
This dish is one of my favorite appetizers to serve for any kind of party, and great as a small bite with prosecco or other sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve. Or a random Wednesday.
- Make sure to buy the plumpest-looking medjool dates you can find.
- Don’t want to spend your time pitting the dates? Just buy them already pitted.
- You can use a regular Ziploc bag with an end snipped off to fill the dates BUT I recommend using a proper piping bag to get the filling all the way into the bottom of the date more easily.
36 pitted medjool dates (the plumper the better)
4 ounces mascarpone, left at room temperature
1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp honey
pinch of salt
Mix mascarpone, Greek yogurt, honey and pinch of salt in a small bowl. Scoop out mixture and place in a piping or ziploc bag.
Squeeze small amount into each date. Repeat with remaining filling and dates.
Place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or tin foil. Place in fridge until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 375. While oven is warming up, place dates in freezer for 5-10 minutes.
Bake dates for around 4-6 minutes, until just warm but before filling begins to ooze.
Sprinkle with flaky sea salt such as maldon salt. Serve warm or room temperature.
The holiday season is sort of a strange time for me. Like many American Jews, I grew up celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah. When I decided to firmly embrace my Jewish side, I felt like I had to give up Christmas and some of the secular joys of the holiday season. To complicate matters, Christmas reminds me terribly of my mother who passed away when I was sixteen, and so while it is a connection to her, it is a bittersweet memory.
My mom really got into holidays – all holidays – whether it was Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, she was ready with some tacky earrings, decorative salt shakers and surely an ugly sweater or two as well. She loved Christmas music, and from early December through New Year’s we would be subjected to a rotation of possibly the two worst Christmas albums ever made: Johnny Matthis and Amy Grant. I cringe just thinking about those CDs of hers.
Nevertheless, the season is bittersweet as I balance my desire to connect to these memories of my mother, participate in some kind of festive activities while maintaining the strong Jewish identity of my family. I admittedly tread a fine line: baking holiday cookies every year for my husband’s office, (though not in red or green or Santa shapes) listening to The Nutcracker with my daughter and combining the flavors of chocolate and peppermint in various forms to pay homage to the season. After all, should Christians really get to drink all the skinny peppermint mochas at Starbucks!?
Two years ago I started making a chocolate peppermint bundt cake that my husband and I absolutely adored. And while I have been whipping up lots of batches of peppermint hot cocoa for my little one, I wanted to take these flavors to the next level by adding them to, what else: challah.
What makes this challah so special is not only the deep dark chocolate dough, or the melty,chocolate chips inside, but also the super gooey marshmallows dotting the top. When my daughter spotted the finished product her eyes lit up and she wanted to break into the chocolaty masterpiece right away. Who am I to say no, especially when it makes for such an adorable picture. And yes, she is wearing her ballet costume because she had been practicing her Nutcracker dance moves.
It may not be overtly Christmas-y, nor is it exactly what I did with my mother. But somehow creating something new, that touches upon the joy and spirit of the holiday season, brings me comfort, connects me to my past and allows me to create new memories for my family.
1 ½ Tbsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
4 ½-5 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp peppermint extract
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
¼ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped peppermint bark or chocolate-mint candies, plus extra
Thick sea salt
In a small bowl, place yeast, 1 tsp sugar and lukewarm water. Allow to sit around 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.
In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together 1 ½ cups flour, cocoa powder, salt and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil, vanilla and peppermint extract. Mix thoroughly.
Add another 1 cup of flour and eggs + egg yolk and mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer. Add chocolate chips and peppermint bark (or other mint candies).
Add another 1 ½- 2 cups of mixed flour, mixing thoroughly and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining ½ cup flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 5 minutes (or however long your hands will last).
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise at least around 3 hours, punching down at least once if possible.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Braid challah into desired shape. Allow challah to rise another 45-60 minutes, or until you can see the size has grown and challah seems light. This step is very important to ensure a light and fluffy challah.
In a small bowl beat 2 egg yolks with 1 tsp water. Brush egg wash liberally over challah. Sprinkle with additional chopped peppermint bark (or other mint candies) and thick sea salt.
If making one large challah, bake around 27-28 minutes; if making two smaller challahs, bake 24-26 minutes.
When you have around 7-9 minutes left of baking time, working quickly, remove challahs from oven and place marshmallows on top. Finish baking.
Note: if you place marshmallows on top the entire baking time, they will become too melted and run all over the place.
I have long considered myself somewhat a latke expert, with several varieties under my belt, and never a single latke leftover when serving to my friends and family. That is until I had the chance to spend time with Michelin Star Chef Bill Telepan and Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael of the acclaimed New York City restaurant Telepan last week.
Chef Bill Telepan isn’t Jewish, though his latkes might indicate otherwise. In truth, Bill grew up in suburban New Jersey eating potato pancakes every holiday season prepared by his Hungarian mother. He carries this tradition on with his own family, serving up a big Christmas breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes and, what else, latkes.
But he has also been serving up latkes at his restaurant for nearly ten years, and even won an award for his latkes at the Annual Latke Festival in New York City several years ago. He likes serving them two ways: plain with sour cream and homemade applesauce, or as an appetizer with smoked salmon and creme fraiche (a personal favorite).
So what can a Michelin Star chef teach a nice Jewish girl about frying latkes? Well, a lot. And it turns out I had been making a couple of mistakes.
Bill shared that you want to keep the natural potato starch in the mix, but also need to remove excess liquid. After mixing all the latke ingredients, he allows the mix to sit around 5-10 minutes. Then he drains it, mixes the eggs with the leftover potato starch, and adds that back into the potatoes.
Don’t squeeze out too much liquid: I had been squeezing out the liquid from my latke each time I formed a patty, but Bill told me you don’t want to do that, because then the latkes will be dry. Instead, lightly form a patty using your hands or a tablespoon to keep the moisture in, creating a fluffier and creamier latke.
Onion is key for Bill, who uses a ratio of 1 small onion to every 1 ½ lbs of russet potatoes. When I tried out this ratio over the weekend, my dad immediately said “wow, great onion flavor” so I guess Bill is really on to something.
Another key element is adding enough salt, both in the mix of the latkes, and then a small sprinkle after they come out of the hot oil. While 2 tsp of salt for 1 ½ lbs of potatoes may seem like a lot, Bill pointed out that potatoes really absorb the salt and need a little extra to bring out the flavor.
In my time at the restaurant I also had the chance to spend time with Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael, who has been serving up some of New York City’s best desserts for years, who decided to try her hand at serving Hanukkah jelly donuts this year for the first time.
You have probably had a jelly donut around Hanukkah time. And they are fine, I mean what is bad about fried dough. But what I loved about Larissa’s Hanukkah donuts is the balance of rich chocolate ganache and raspberry jam filling paired with delightfully light, bite-sized donut “holes.” After all eating several small donuts is way more fun than trying to stuff one enormous powder-sugar covered donut into your mouth.
If making donuts from scratch seems like a daunting task, Larissa shared that you can actually allow the dough to rise overnight in the fridge, a helpful tip for the busy home baker. No fancy oil for this frying: just plain old vegetable oil.
So now you can enjoy Michelin Star quality latkes and Hanukkah donuts all from the comfort of your own home.
Latkes and Hanukkah donuts will be available at Telepan from December 16th to 24th and are available both for take-out and in-house dining. Donuts will only be available for the dinner menu.
Chef Bill Telepan’s Potato Latkes, Yield: 6 latkes
1 ½ lbs of Idaho (russet) potatoes
1 small onion
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp salt
Using the large hole on a box grater, grate potatoes and the onions into a mixing bowl.
Squeeze the grated potatoes and onion and save the water from the potatoes. After the water from the potatoes has settled, pour off the water and save the starch which settled to the bottom.
Beat the eggs and add them to the starch and combine well. Add the flour and salt and combine all.
Pan fry in a sauté pan in a generous amount of vegetable oil until golden brown and crispy on the outside, and cooking through on the inside.
For the dough:
2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 medium eggs
2 Tbsp milk
3 scant Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh yeast or 2 tsp dry yeast
2 ¼ tsp salt
7 Tbsp slightly softened butter
For the chocolate ganache:
2 cups + 2 Tbsp bittersweet chocolate
1 cup + 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp heavy cream
Raspberry or strawberry jam
Mix yeast, milk, flour and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, on low speed until combined. Mix in sugar and salt.
Add butter and mix on medium speed until gluten is developed, around 10 minutes. Place dough onto a floured cookie sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise to double in size. Another option is to place in refrigerator overnight.
Once the dough is doubled in size, put onto a floured surface and roll to ½ inch thick. Cut with cookie cutter (I use a 1 ½ inch round cutter) and place on a cookie sheet with parchment, or waxed paper, or lightly floured. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
Heat your oil to 350. Fry the doughnuts for around 3 minutes. Break one open to check that 3 minutes is enough time and that middle is cooked through.
Roll in sugar. You can fill with chocolate or jam or both.
To make the ganache: Melt chocolate in a medium bowl over a pot of boiling water. Set aside. Place cream in a pot and heat until boiling. Pour over chocolate and mix with whisk until combined.