In case you didn’t notice, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving will be happening at the same time this year.
Han-Turnaka is my working title for the day. It’s a mash-up time in which latkes (potato pancakes) and turkey go hand in hand, and pumpkin pie and chocolate coins compete for best dessert.
Every so often, our wandering Jewish calendar decides that Hanukkah should begin in late November/early December. While I prefer an earlier Hanukkah to one that coincides with Christmas, having the second day of the miracle of lights falling on Turkey Day strikes me not only as funny in terms of menu preparation, but as an opportunity to create (and avoid) some really great recipes.
Quick Hanukkah food lesson: Jews are supposed to eat foods fried in oil to commemorate the miracle of one day’s worth of sacred oil used to light the menorah of the temple lasting for eight days.
4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup shortening
1 cup milk or non-dairy substitute
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
4 ounces dried apricots
4 ounces dried cherries
6-ounce package dried peaches
3/4 cup white sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
Water to cover
For filling: In a large saucepan combine apricots, cherries, peaches, cinnamon and sugar. Add enough water to just cover fruit. Cover pan and simmer, until the fruit is soft. Take off the lid and continue cooking until all the water is gone. Let the mixture cool for at least an hour before filling your pies.
For dough: When you’re ready to make your pies combine the flour, cinnamon, clove and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening with a fork or knife until mixture is crumbly. Mix in the liquid and stir until dough forms a ball. Roll out the dough on a floured surface (about 1/4 inch thick) and cut into 18 6-inch circles.
Divide the filling between the circles (about 1/2 tablespoon each or a bit more) making sure to keep the filling in the center (do not over fill) of each circle. Fold the circle in half, making sure that none of the filling is leaking out. Seal the edges of the half circle by pressing a fork dipped in cold water along the edge.
In a skillet heat the oil to a medium temperature. Fry a few of the pies at a time, flipping once the first side is browned. Drain on paper towels. Cool slightly before serving as the filling will be hot. Makes 18 (you can make the circles a bit bigger if you like).
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potatoes (1 per person)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch per potato (optional)
3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
Paprika or garlic powder or onion powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into long, fry-shaped pieces (try to keep the size uniform). In a large bowl combine the sweet potatoes, oil, cornstarch (if using), salt, pepper and whatever spice you decide you like. Mix really well so that everything is coated. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with sides with nonstick vegetable spray and spread the sweet potato fries on top. Don’t overlap the fries. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, then turn the fries over so bottom can cook too. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes more until the fries are bubbly, crispy and the edges look just a bit burnt.
2 cups mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 beaten egg
Milk or water if the dough is too stiff
Oil for frying
Cinnamon sugar mixture (combine cinnamon and sugar to taste)
In a bowl combine all the ingredients except the oil, water or milk and cinnamon sugar. Mix to combine and add the liquid if needed. Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a deep sauce pan and drop lightly rounded tablespoons of dough into the hot oil (only cook four or five at a time so you don’t overcrowd the pot). Cook, flipping the dough ball as it becomes golden on one side. Repeat on the other side. Remove when golden and drain the fritter on paper towels. When cool and drained for a minute or so, sprinkle the fried fritters with the cinnamon and sugar. Makes 14 to 16 depending on how big you make the fritters.