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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Put on Your Yarmulke...

Kevin's family has never really been into celebrating the Hanukah thing. I never really got the impression that he missed it. I think that marrying into a gentile family and having Christmas foisted upon him year after year has been getting to him. Lately he has been expressing a lot of desire to buy a menorah.

I don't know what we would do with a menorah. Kevin never went to Hebrew school, so he wouldn't know the blessing for the candles. We would have to just light a candle every night just to say we lit one.

I can't do a formal celebration, but I can at least do the traditional foods, so last night I attempted something of a traditional feast.

I made a roast chicken with an apricot glaze. I mixed apricot preserves with some red wine vinegar and grated fresh ginger and glazed the chicken with that after I stuffed butter under the skin that was seasoned with allspice and cinnamon. My meat thermometer actually worked when I cooked it this time. The chicken was cooked in time.

For a vegetable I went with my Jewish Holiday Standby of spinach sauteed in butter with dried cranberries and grated nutmeg. That was the easy dish.

The challenge is always the latkes. I am just not a good latke maker. I've tried a number of recipes and followed them to the letter, but I haven't had much success. My latkes are never as crispy as I would like them to be, and always heavier than I want them to be. This time around I tried this recipe. These looked intriguing because they had other flavors than just the potato going on. Kevin doesn't like applesauce or sour cream, so I really have to pack flavor into the latke itself. The recipe was very pancake-like, but I wasn't really thinking about how I'm not great at making traditional breakfast pancakes from scratch either. The pancakes still had somewhat of a heavy and doughy consistency, but Kevin thought they were utterly delicious. The man loves his potatoes no matter how you make them I guess (I am not a fan of poatoes myself). If he likes them, I'll make that recipe again. Flavor-wise I thought they were the best I've made, even they weren't so great not consistency-wise.

I made a special treat this year of doughnuts. Deep frying is another skill I have yet to fully develop, so this was really a challenge. I found this recipe, which is more like zeppole than doughnuts. It's been a long time since I worked with yeast (I have enjoyed making bread in the past, but I just don't have the time to devote to dough risings these days), so it was fun giving it a try again. My biggest problem with making the doughnuts was forming them. I had a hard time getting "rounded tablespoons" full. Many of my doughnuts were far larger than they should have been. The recipe was supposed to make 32 and I made 22. I was pleased that they came out crispy and light. Some of them were a little tough though. I'm not sure what I needed to do to prevent that. They were wonderful with the honey syrup on top.

I'm hoping to attempt matza balls in the spring for passover. I'm saving the schmaltz from whenever I make chicken for that purpose. That will be another culinary adventure.

Anyone have a Bubbe to lend me for help with Jewish Holiday cooking?

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