Of Dreidels and Menorahs

2010.Dec.09 Thursday · 1 comment

in Casa SaltShaker, Food & Recipes

“The first Jewish family I met asked me if I spoke Yiddish,” Bortnick remembers, now laughing. “When I said that I had never heard Yiddish in my life, they said, ” What kind of Jew are you?” She had to learn what a dreidel was and how latkes tasted. As a result, she felt she was neither Gentile nor Jew. “My whole concept of what being Jewish meant was shaken,” she now recalls sadly. “I felt very lonely because my father had told me that the first thing I should do was to meet Jewish families in America. I did that! They doubted I was Jewish and they were not the kind of Jews that I was familiar with.”

– Brigitte Sion, Where have all the Sephardim gone?

Chanukah rolled around this year, as it always does, this time not coinciding with Christmas festivities (so we didn’t have to do a Jesus-Maccabee mashup again). That still didn’t mean I was going particularly traditional – though I have to admit, I was surprise my how many folk who came hadn’t ever eaten a latke – and that wasn’t just the gentiles! Differing traditions and all that.

Asparagus and Caramelized Onion Salad

I started off with an inspiration from, rather than Chanukah, Passover, a dish from chef Anne Rozensweig (hmm, there’s a funny story in here that I should tell one day… maybe in my memoirs…), of an asparagus and caramelized onion matzoh farfel (don’t worry about it if you have no idea what that is). I turned it into a salad with a base of a pecorino cheese tuile, topped with caramelized red and green onions, a leaf of red lettuce, some blanched asparagus drizzled with a dijon and red wine vinaigrette, and a hard-boiled quail’s egg.

Roasted Squash Soup with Malfatti

You might remember from a short while ago the squash bomb soup I made for Guy Fawkes’ night. The soup is the same, but I decided to make malfatti out of spinach and goat’s milk brie for the “filling” (also using gluten free flour, for pretty much everything these dinners since a couple of people had either gluten or wheat allergies). Some toasted squash seeds for a little crunch.

Latke with Smoked Salmon

I stuck with virtually the same latke and smoked salmon course as in the meal linked up at the top. However, instead of a big rectangular pan of latke mix cut into squares, I made individual ones – much better texture.

Roast Chicken, Fried Cauliflower Ravioli

From a dinner that we did back in April, roasted chicken with fried cauliflower ravioli and lemon sauce – the only difference, some sauteed zucchini added to the plate, and the dough for the ravioli a more classic semolina and egg pasta (for the wheat free folk, I just fried up some cauliflower florets in hazelnut oil and grated some cheese over them).

Almond Cheesecake

And, a finishing touch of a an almond cheesecake with a frangipane crust (almond paste), topped with lightly sweetened sour cream and mixed fresh berries.

Light me some candles and spin me a dreidel, we had some fun!

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