Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#Thanksgivukkah Ideas and Wrap-Up

As I had neither enough time or money to make all of these great Thanksgivukkah recipes, I thought I share them with you in case you still need some Thanksgivukkah or simply Thanksgiving ideas.

Many people have talked about how Thanksgiving is a much more appropriate holiday to associate with Hanukkah than Christmas. I've learned how true that is as I went through this series. In the Jewish calendar, Hanukkah is minor holiday compared to the biggies of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover. 

It's also quite fun: Fried foods, small gifts, song, and yes, the dreidel.

As Thanksgiving is only a few days away, I thought I would wrap up the Eight Days of Thanksgivukkah with a list of my recipes along with some other ones I know you'll love.

My #Thanksgivukkah Recipes:

Pumpkin Pie Muhallabieh (Israeli Milk Pudding)

Eight days of Thanksgivukkah, kicking Chrismakkuh's butt one recipe at a time

Recipes from Others:

A great Thanksgivukkah Wrap up from Princess Pinky Girl

This looks amazing: Celery Root Latkes with Pastrami

An updated version of the Hanukkah classic, Sufganiyot: Salted caramel filled doughnuts

The best thing my sister makes at Thanksgiving:  Quince and Cranberry Sauce

A great looking recipe for mulling spices and Mulled apple cider  
from the Mountain Rose

Ideas I didn't get to make:

Mashed potato lakes with garlic and celery root

Turkey dreidel

Roasted turkey with Naples pears or apples

Black and white cookies with turkeys on them 

or this Black and White Cookie...yum

Smoked salmon on challah (or my Everything encrusted salmon on top!)

Cocktail with Dr. Browns Cel-Ray soda, gin, cucumber, and mint

Grilled turkey Brest kebabs in tahini parsley sauce

Rolled turkey Breast with chestnuts, cranberries, and parsley

Just because I thought this was neat: a list of Thanksgiving/Hanukkah prayers from Rabbis across the country. 

I looked far and wide for a Thanksgivukkah video. and let me tell you, there are so weird ones out there. This was the funniest, yet not-so weird one I could find.

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving/Hanukkah/Thanksgivukkah with all your family and friends. Thanks for indulging me these last couple weeks. It was fun.


The Cuisiner

Photos by other sources are credited by links below them.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Matzo Chicken Stuffing #lastdayThanksgivukkah

I love stuffing, dressing or whatever you call the savory bread pudding. It is always one of the best parts of the Thanksgiving meal and one of the more simple dishes to make…at least in theory. We’ve all had that greasy, oily tasting stuffing. Or maybe the pre-chopped bread cubes were undercooked and dry. 

Honestly I was a little afraid of the latter when making stuffing with the classic Jewish Matzos crackers. 

I used Manischewitz, THE brand for boxed matzo, and luckily found in the West Texas grocery store.  I did find a recipe for homemade matzos which I still may try, but if you are going crush them up for stuffing, it seems a little silly to go through all that work just for the stuffing. But hey….I bet it would be amazing.

I originally planned to post this recipe on Friday, rounding off the week and posting my Thanksgivukkah wrap-up today. Though I decided I wanted to tweak this recipe a little more, making it easier.
On first try I used a recipe from The New Jewish Table by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, which stuffed their bread pudding into Cornish hens or 5 lb. chickens. There were two problems I had with this recipe:

First, they used chicken livers to keep the stuffing from crumbling while remaining moist. I don’t like livers, so I used an egg as many stuffing call for. It’s still Parve, so it’s okay. My problem was they stuffing felt apart and wasn’t as moist as I wanted it to.

Second, all the experts say-DON’T STUFF YOUR TURKEY! Why? Because when you stuff the cavity with the bread pudding, you create a breeding ground for salmonella unless you cook it long enough. Unfortunately doing that will over cook your bird. That’s why those turkeys of the 80’s and 90’s were so dry. 

Instead, I made this stuffing on the stove-top in a medium sauce pan. This was the best solution in my opinion. The stuffing got soft and moist and stayed together instead of crumbling, or falling apart. And of course….no salmonella!

If you really miss oven stuffing, I added an optional step to transfer the stuffing to casserole dish to crisp the top before serving. It is prettier.

While photographing this stuffing, I ran into one problem: It’s hard to make stuffing on a plate look sexy. What do you think of my stuffing?

Matzo Chicken Stuffing
(Inspired by The New Jewish Table by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray)
Makes 4-5 servings

5 matzo crackers, (1 sleeve) crushed unto small pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped into a ¼ inch dice
1 large yellow onion, finely minced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2-3 cups chicken broth
¼ cup white wine
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. chopped fresh sage or thyme (not both)
1 tbsp. unsalted butter 
1 tbsp. olive oil

For Parve version: omit butter
Note: If you chose to bake stuffing, you can brush top with one beaten egg yolk with 1 tbsp. water for a golden crust.

In a medium pot bring olive oil over medium heat. Begin to sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic, celery, and sprinkle of salt. Sauté until beginning to soften.

Add crushed matzo crackers and coat in mixture. Add 2 cups of broth, white wine, 1/2 tsp. salt, pepper, garlic powder, chosen herb, and butter. Stir and bring mixture to a boil. Cover with lid and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. If crackers are still hard add more broth, 1/2 cup at a time until stuffing is soft and slightly wet. Adjust seasonings to taste if necessary.

Optional: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Scoop stuffing into a lightly greased casserole dish, drizzle top with olive oil. Bake stuffing until top is crispy and golden brown. This should only take 5-10 minutes so watch stuffing closely due to high temperature. 

Serve with turkey and all the fixings.


The Cuisiner

The Eight Days of Thanksgivukkah wrap-up coming tomorrow! Stay tuned for lots of ideas for your Thanksgiving and Hanukkah alike!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sweet Potato Latkes #8daysThanksgivukkah

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are as quintessential to Thanksgiving as the actual turkey…at least in my family. My mother’s family is about as Pennsylvania Dutch as you can get without being Amish so we always have sweet potato casserole and enough potato filling to feed the greater area.

What’s potato filling? It’s a mix between bread stuffing and mashed potatoes. It’s an acquired taste to say the least. You either love it or hate it. My sister hates it. But it is always at the table to the point where regular potatoes are not always present beside it. We forget it sometimes.

The potato is one of the most notable things Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have in common; at least for American Jews. I won’t get into the long history of latkes are their significance to the story of Hanukkah. But basically the potatoes act simply as a vehicle for the most important part of the story—the oil. Hanukkah is all about the oil lasting for 8 days. Some people are surprisingly unaware of the story of Hanukkah, if so, here you go. For the rest of us, we know the oil used to fry everything from potatoes to doughnuts on Hanukkah is the way oil is incorporated into the holiday through the most tangible way possible—by eating it.

The recipe I’m working from calls for canola oil for good reason. I chose to mix canola and olive oils because I wanted the rich flavor of the olive oil, without using so much of it. Not only is olive oil exponentially more expensive, canola oil fries better and holds up under high heat unlike olive oil. But since olive oil is a lot easier to come by these days than historically before, we add a little to the mix for flavor and tradition.

Just get ready to use your range’s exhaust fan and maybe open a window or too. And don’t wear a nice shirt while cooking them just in case.

I knew I wanted to make sweet potato latkes ever since I came up with the idea for this series. Originally I wanted to make a sweet version instead of the regular savory, in homage to the sweet potato casserole I know so well. But after experimenting with a recipe that included maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc., I found that I like the savory much better. For some reason, the sweet just tasted flat and didn’t come through the way I wanted it to balancing out the potatoes. It just tasted starchy; maybe it was the sugar.

So instead of reinventing the wheel I decided to give the savory version a go. I discovered a perfectly perfect recipe from The New Jewish Table by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, owners of D.C.’s Equinox restaurant. The book is organized by season and then Dairy or Parve classifications. I found a lot that I liked from it and it included recipes from all over, not just the traditional Jewish Diaspora. Their Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato latkes are just simply delicious. I barely made any changes for my own tastes. But my is definitely for the home cook so while I would love to tap them with crème fraiche, grated horseradish and salmon caviar here in West Texas, I’m going with some creamy Greek yogurt instead.

Overall, these latkes are delicious. I would make them year round, not just for Hanukkah or Thanksgivukkah. But hey, that makes them even better for the holiday(s) in my book.

Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Latkes
(Slightly adapted from The New Jewish Table
 by Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray)
Makes 6 5-inch latkes

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (brown much nicer than russets and don't turn gray)
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
1 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup matzo meal or breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp. Olive oil

Toppings: 2% Fage Greek yogurt, or sour cream
chopped fresh green onions or scallions and/or parsley

For Gluten-Free: Use GF breadcrumbs or GF all-purpose flour


Grate the potatoes and sweet potatoes over a box grater or thinly slice then pulse in a food processor working in batches. Squeeze out any liquid with your hands and transfer potatoes to a large bowl.

Grate or finely mince onions, and add to the bowl one with the eggs, matzo meal, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix together with a wooden spoon until ingredients are well blended. If too wet, add a little bit more breadcrumbs or matzo meal.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees to keep latkes warm.

Heat a large nonstick frying pan to high heat and add enough oil (about ¼ cup canola and 2 tbsp. olive oil) to fill the bottom and gets very hot.

Working in batches cooking about 2-3 cakes at a time, shape cakes with your hands making them 5-inch around and ½ inch thick. As each cake is formed, add to the pan.

Lower heat to medium, making sure oil is surrounding each cake. Cook each one for about 4 minutes on each side (try not to move them). You want each side to be golden brown and sturdy, much like cooking an egg; you’ll know when to flip it.

Once sturdy and golden brown, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Once oil is drained, transfer latkes to an oven-safe serving plate and keep warm in the oven.

Repeat with remaining oil until all latkes are cooked are ready to serve.

Top with Greek yogurt and green onions, sour cream, applesauce, or hey marshmallows and maple syrup if that’s your style.


Stay tuned for my very own mashed potato latkes coming next week! A family favorite!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving potato recipe?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Muhallabieh (Israeli Milk Pudding) #6thdaythanksgivukkah

When I started this series I knew I needed to have at least one recipe using pumpkin. Pumpkin has been the en vogue flavor the past few autumns with everything from candles to ravioli to lattes.  With that I knew pumpkin needed a place in these updated Jewish recipes.

I took me awhile to find the perfect fit with pumpkin. But eventually I went back to a somewhat classic interpretation…. with a twist.

I read about Muhallabieh, the classic Israeli milk dessert in none other than Jerusalem: A Cookbook. (I promise I read a lot more books for this series and more to come!) According to the recipe's description, this is a childhood favorite for many and a standard dessert at every restaurant, fancy or not.

For the average person the original recipe might seem a little strange. Crudely described, it is cold milk pudding. But I saw this as an opportunity to turn the panna cotta-like dessert into the perfect platform the pumpkin spice.

This dessert couldn’t be simpler and since it’s “no-bake” it makes it a lot easier to incorporate to your Thanksgiving dinner when oven-real estate is a little crowded. This dessert is also great to make a day or even two days ahead of time, as it needs to set in the fridge at least 3 hours. It’s also the perfect way to give the pumpkin pie flavor to your gluten-free guests.

The only problem you may run into is transporting the individual desserts if you aren’t hosting Thanksgiving yourself. When I was recipe testing I brought these over to a couples dinner and they were easily transported in a box in the back seat of the car.

I love the lightly sweet, spiced flavor of this pumpkin pie recipe. It is a light yet filling dessert. I was so happy when the boys liked it as much as I did. But I wanted to take it one step further. Instead of the traditional syrup, pistachios and dried coconut on top I choose the more seasonally appropriate toppings of fresh nutmeg, chopped walnuts, dried apple rings and homemade crystallized ginger for a little spiciness.

You can easily find dried apple rings or chips in your grocery store, but it is just as easy to make a home along with the crystallized ginger chips. It’s a little harder to find good crystallized ginger everywhere, but a lot easier and fresher tasting than you think to make at home. You can simple pop both in the oven or a toaster-oven while making the pudding or something else; with little fuss.

This recipe is such a fresh, crowd-pleasing twist on the classic pumpkin pie. Even those who don’t like “fancy food” (every family has at least one) will like these. Just tell them its jello….

Pumpkin Spice Muhallabieh 

(Israeli Milk Pudding)
(Adapted to Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi
 and Sami Tamimi)
Makes 4-5 or 6-7 individual desserts


1 cup and 2 tbsp. Libby’s canned pumpkin puree
2 cups 2% or whole milk
¼ cup water
6 tbsp. cornstarch (Clabber girl’s is a good GF variety)
61/2 tbsp. superfine sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. good-quality cinnamon
½-1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
Optional: ½ tsp. all spice


Freshly ground nutmeg
½ jonagold or Fuji apple, horizontally sliced into thin rings (7-8 rings)
1-2 tbsp. fresh ginger root, thinly sliced and chopped into small pieces the size of a tic-tac
2-3 tbsp. refined coconut oil or just enough canola oil to coat pieces
2-3 tbsp. sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
optional: honey for drizzling

You will need:
4-5 dessert cups for larger desserts or 6-7 wine glasses or smaller glass cups for smaller portions.

Note: There are two ways to make this: one with regular canned or pureed plain pumpkin or the pre-spiced and sugared canned “pumpkin pie mix,” both available widely from Libby’s. If you choose regular pumpkin, you may needed to play with the mix of spices, while the pumpkin pie mix will only need 3-4 tbsp. of sugar instead of 6½ tbsp and only half of the spices. It’s up to you which you prefer.

Also, using 2% milk will give you a lighter flavor, while whole milk will make it much creamier and you may want to make divide the mixture into more cups-equally 6-7 instead of 4-5.


In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and 61/2 tbsp. of the milk together to make a paste. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, add remaining milk (about 1 ¾ cup) with water, pumpkin puree, and sugar over medium-low heat. Whisk often until sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to steam.

Once milk begins steaming, gently whisk in cornstarch mixture. The mixture will thicken quickly. Continue to whisk until mixture begins to boil and resembles a thick custard.

Remove mixture from heat and scoop into glass bowls or wineglasses, gently smoothing out the tops with the back of a spoon. Do this quickly as mixture will begin to congeal and harder to smooth. Cover each pudding with plastic wrap right on the surface of the pudding so a film does not form.

Refrigerate the puddings for at least 3 hours until puddings are set (hardens and no longer jiggles; up to two days before serving.

Once ready to serve, remove plastic. (Optional) drizzle a very small amount of honey on the top of the pudding. Next sprinkle a small amount of cinnamon and fresh nutmeg. Top with chopped walnuts, crystallized ginger pieces. Finally top with crispy apple rings.

Serve with homemade whipped cream or by itself.

For apple rings and crystallized ginger:

Preheat a toaster oven or large oven to 200 degrees F.  In a small bowl, gently coat ginger with 1 tbsp. of sugar and 1 tbsp. of coconut oil. On a lined baking sheet, evenly spread ginger mixture into a single layer on one half of the sheet. Other the other half, place apple rings. On each ring, smear enough coconut oil just to coat and sprinkle with sugar. (sprinkle with cinnamon if you’d like as well) Bake in oven for about 30 minutes-1 hour until golden brown beginning to harden. Once cooled, ginger will crack into small pieces. If apples do not crisp, increase heat to 250 degrees and flip, continuing to cook until golden brown. (This may happen if slices are thicker.) Once cooled apples, will become crispy.


What’s you favorite pumpkin recipe?