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Festive Recipes to Elevate Your Hanukkah Celebration

hanukkah jelly donuts for Hanukkah celebration

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This holiday season, celebrate Hanukkah with elevated, authentic recipes, potato latkes, jelly donuts and more.

Known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah has several traditions, including the lighting of the menorah, playing the game of dreidel and eating fried foods such as potato latkes and Hanukkah jelly donuts to honor the eight nights of oil.

potato latke recipe for Hanukkah holiday

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Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish peoples’ defeat of their oppressors and return to the temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C. The oil they found to light the temple was only enough for one day, but it miraculously lasted for eight days and nights. The miracle of the oil is represented by the holiday lasting for eight nights.

This year, Hanukkah starts on the evening of December 10, although the dates fluctuate every year in November and December based on the Hebrew calendar.

Hanukkah is a time for gifts, festive songs, games and family celebrations. As with all Jewish holidays, the foods and recipes associated with Hanukkah have a special meaning.

“One of the most unique aspects of Jewish holidays is how much meaning food has and what a large role it plays in each holiday celebration. The food of each holiday honors the rich history of the Jewish people in a meaningful, memorable way and brings the holiday to life,” Shifra Klein, editor-in-chief of Fleishigs magazine, a leading gourmet lifestyle publication dedicated to modern kosher cuisine, said.

The food of each holiday honors the rich history of the Jewish people in a meaningful, memorable way and brings the holiday to life

blintzes with cheese for Hanukkah holiday

Vlasov Yevhenii / Shutterstock

“As Jews, we enjoy foods that help us tell the stories of each of our holidays in a significant way. My favorite part of Hanukkah is the permission to fry in oil without reservation together with friends and family,” Ron Ben-Israel, an Israeli pastry chef who owns Ron Ben-Israel Cakes in New York City and Ron Ben-Israel Treats, said. Ben-Israel has appeared on several baking shows on Food Network and Netflix.

In addition to the ubiquitous potato latkes and jelly donuts, dairy is often eaten on Hanukkah, including blintzes, crepes stuffed with cheese and rugelach, a rolled cookie made with cream cheese dough and chocolate, cinnamon or fruit.

Family and community are key elements of the Hanukkah celebration.

“I love to see the excitement of our children and grandchildren in anticipation of the holidays. Holidays are the time of year that appreciation and thankfulness are reflected on and shown in the community,” Neal Borenstein, Executive Vice President of Chompie’s, a deli and bakery with New York roots with several locations in the Phoenix area, said.

Even during the pandemic, families find a way to celebrate. Happiness comes in the form of delicious Hanukkah recipes.

There is a sense of connection to our heritage, but, more so, I love how it brings people together and highlights spreading light and positivity.

Hanukkah with potato latke recipes and jelly donuts

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“As a parent of three children, holidays add excitement to our lives. During the pandemic, celebrating holidays is a nice break from the stress, anxiety and unpredictability,” Klein said. “The holidays bring so much meaning to life. There is a sense of connection to our heritage, but, more so, I love how it brings people together and highlights spreading light and positivity. Beyond that, I love the food, of course.”

Many chefs have found fun and inspiring ways to put a creative spin on fried Hanukkah fare.

“I like to honor the traditional delicacies and recipes of each holiday, but put my own twist on them,” Ben-Israel said. “In my Hanukkah celebrations I’ve served donuts filled with hazelnut and chocolate spread, enhanced with gingerbread spices and enriched with whole wheat flour.”

“I love that each holiday has dishes attributed to it that allow us to celebrate with family and friends,” Lior Lev Sercarz, Chief Culinary Officer and co-founder of the Jewish National Fund’s Galilee Culinary Institute, cookbook author and owner of La Boite, a biscuit and spice shop in New York City, said. “I like to create new traditions based on old ones.”

In the spirit of creating new traditions, these chefs shared some of their recipes that provide an elevated take on traditional Hanukkah foods.

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Chompies peanut butter and Hanukkah jelly french toast

Chompie's

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CHOMPIE’S PEANUT BUTTER AND HANUKKAH JELLY DONUT FRENCH TOAST
Ingredients
● 3¾ inch slices challah bread or brioche
● 5 oz strawberry jam
● 5 oz peanut butter
● 2 oz chocolate chips
● 8 oz milk
● 3 eggs
● 1 tbsp granulated sugar
● ¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Method
Blend milk, eggs, granulated sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside. Take a challah bread slice and spread half the jam and half the peanut butter, sprinkle with chocolate chips, then top with the second slice of challah and top with the rest of the Hanukkah jelly and peanut butter for the donut, sprinkle with chocolate chips, and top with the third slice of challah. Dip into milk/egg/sugar/cinnamon mixture until fully coated. Place in a hot skillet with butter and brown on each side.

latke recipe by Shifra Klein for Hanukkah

Shifra Klein

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SHIFRA KLEIN’S STUFFED POTATO LATKES
Ingredients
● 5 Idaho potatoes
● 1 Spanish onion
● 2 eggs, beaten
● 2 tsp kosher salt
● 1 tsp black pepper
● 2 tbsp flour
● Canola oil for frying

Method
Grate the potatoes and onions using a food processor or hand grater. Squeeze potatoes dry using a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture and yield a crispier potato latke. Mix in eggs, salt and pepper, then add flour (optional). In a large frying pan, heat ½ inch oil on medium/high heat. It is important to make sure that the oil is hot enough to crisp up the potatoes but not too hot that the potatoes will burn.

Place a heaping spoonful of latke mix into the pan. The potato latkes should sizzle and crisp up quickly. Place filling inside. Top with another spoonful of latke mix on top of filling and make sure that the potato mix on top of the filling completely covers the filling. Flip over and fry for about a minute. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

Potato latke filling options:

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PULLED BRISKET AND BARBECUE SAUCE
Ingredients
● 1 cup leftover brisket, shredded with a fork
● 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

Method
Place a spoonful of potato latke mix in a hot frying pan with oil. Top with shredded brisket or roast. Top with a teaspoon of barbecue sauce, then top with latke mix. Flip over and fry for another minute.

mushroom and sour cream recipe for latkes on Hanukkah

ovchinnikova_ksenya / Shutterstock

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MUSHROOM AND SOUR CREAM
Ingredients
● 1 shallot
● 1 package of cremini mushrooms
● 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tbsp dried thyme
● Salt and pepper to taste
● 1 cup sour cream

Method
Sauté shallot in 2 tbsp of oil until translucent. Add mushrooms and thyme, and sauté for five minutes; add salt and pepper to taste. Place a spoonful of potato latke mix into a hot pan with oil. Add sauteed mushrooms. Top with latke mix. Top with sour cream.

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APPLES AND SOUR CREAM CINNAMON TOPPING
Ingredients
● 2 Granny Smith apples
● 1 tbsp butter or coconut oil
● ½ cup sour cream
● 1 tsp cinnamon
● 2 tbsp sugar

Method
Shred apples and sauté with butter until softened. Mix sour cream with cinnamon and sugar. Serve with sour cream cinnamon topping.

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Hanukkah salmon wih green goddess dressing

Gaus Alex Shutterstock

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SALMON AND GREEN GODDESS DRESSING
Ingredients
● 6 oz salmon fillet, thinly sliced
● 3 cups baby spinach
● 1 cup basil
● ½ cup dill
● ½ cup parsley
● 1 cup sour cream or yogurt
● ¼ cup mayonnaise
● ¼ cup lemon juice
● 3 cloves garlic
● 1 tbsp salt
● 1 tsp black pepper

Method
In a large frying pan heat about ½ inch of oil on medium/high heat. Place a heaping spoonful of latke mix into pan. Place a slice of salmon onto potato latke mix. Top with another spoonful of latke mix. Flip over and fry for one minute. Serve hot with green goddess dressing.

To make the green goddess dressing, blend spinach, basil, dill, parsley, sour cream or yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic salt and pepper. Place in container until ready to serve.

fruit filled rugalech Hanukkah recipe by Ron Ben-Isreal

SMarina / Shutterstock

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RON’S RASPBERRY RUGELACH
Classic Cream Cheese Dough Ingredients
● 8 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)
● 8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
● 2 cups all-purpose flour (measured and sifted)

Filling Ingredients
● ½ cup granulated sugar
● 1 tsp cinnamon
● ¾ cup unsalted roasted almonds
● ¾ cup raisins
● ½ cup seedless raspberry preserves or jam (sour cherry preserve is also great!)
● All-purpose flour (for dusting)
● 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
● 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp of milk or cream

Method
For the classic cream cheese dough: Combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for this Hanukkah recipe. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Switch to low speed and gradually add in the flour. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl and beater to make sure it is well mixed. The dough will be sticky. Divide the dough into three portions, wrap each in plastic wrap and flatten to a disk. Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours or overnight.

For the filling: Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Chop the almonds to small bits and toss with the raisins and sugar-cinnamon mixture.

To assemble the rugelach: Dust the work surface with the flour and roll each dough portion to a 10-inch circle. Lightly brush each circle with the melted butter. Spread a third of the preserves or jam on each circle, leaving a clearance of 1/4-inch on the perimeter so the filling won’t ooze out while baking. Sprinkle a third of the almond-raisin-sugar mixture on top of the preserves and press in slightly to help adhere.

Using a pizza wheel, divide each circle into four quarters. Divide each quarter into three thin triangles, for a total of 12 wedges. Roll each triangle from the curved side to the point and place on a parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheet. Refrigerate the sheets for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

The rugelach can be frozen on the trays and then stored in a zip-top bag in the freezer for baking fresh later. Carefully brush each rugelach with the egg wash, trying to avoid drips. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until deep golden. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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