Home & Garden

Dining In: Celebrating the Festival of Lights

recipes This year, Hanukkah, the Festival of LIghts, begins Monday evening, Dec. 18, and continues for eight days. Each evening of the Jewish holiday, one candle on the Menorah (a nine-branched candelabrum) is lit, and traditional blessings are recited.
   Every night during the holiday, family and friends gather together to celebrate the victory of the Maccabees.
   The Temple De Hirsch Sinai provides this history of the celebration of Hannukkah:
   "In the year 167 B.C., the King of Syria established a program of forced Hellenization forbidding traditional Jewish practices. As a result, statues of Greek gods were erected in the Temple in Jerusalem. When an old priest named Mattathias witnessed a Jew making a sacrifice on a Greek altar, he killed the Jew, and thus began a guerilla war against the Hellenized Syrians.
   "Following the death of Mattathias, his son Judah Maccabee became the leader of the outmanned guerillas, but because of his superior strategy and bravery, the guerillas defeated the Greek forces.
   "After the liberation of Jerusalem and the rededication of the Temple, there was only enough undefiled oil for the candles in the Menorah to burn for one day. However, a miracle occurred, and the candles burned for eight full days until a new supply of pure oil could be prepared."
   Today, the Jewish Federation of Seattle describes the celebration of Hanukkah as a symbol of the courage, strength, and will of the Jewish people. The true miracle of Hanukkah is the remarkable survival of the Jewish people.
   Hanukkah is indeed a joyous holiday, enjoyed by children and adults alike. Although there is no command to feast during Hanukkah, there are some foods connected with the joyous holiday, most of which are fried in oil to commemorate the Miracle of the Oil.

Latkes
(A blender recipe)
   1/4 c. flour, or 2 Tbsp. matzah meal
   2 eggs
   1 small onion
   1 tsp. salt
   2 Tbsp. parsley
   3 c. diced raw potatoes, approximately 2 large potatoes
   Put everything except potatoes in blender. Cover and blend. Keeping the motor on, remove top and add potatoes. As last piece of potato goes in, turn blender off. Ladle by half-cupfuls onto well-greased griddle or frying pan. Brown on both sides. May be accompanied by sour cream or applesauce.

Potato pancakes
(Another recipe for latkes)
   6 medium potatoes, peeled
   1 carrot
   2 onions
   2 eggs
   1/2 c. flour
   Salt and pepper to taste
   Vegetable oil
   Grate potatoes, carrot, and onions. (As a time saver, use defrosted commercially-made grated hash brown potatoes.) Sprinkle with soda and squeeze out excess liquid. Add eggs, flour, salt, and pepper. Drop by the spoonful into hot oil and fry until golden and crisp on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Again, serve with sour cream or applesauce.

Birmuelos
(Raised doughnuts)
   2 pkgs. (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
   3 c. warm water
   2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
   1 tsp. salt
   2 Tbsp. plus 6 c. vegetable oil, divided
   6 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
   Honey or confectioners' sugar
   In large bowl, combine yeast, warm water and granulated sugar. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes until foamy. Stir in salt and 2 tablespoons oil. Gradually add flour. Mix well until a smooth, sticky dough forms. Place dough in large, greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down dough and let rise again, about 30 minutes.
   Break off dough in 2-inch pieces and form into small balls. In large deep saucepan or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat 6 cups oil until it reaches 375 degrees on a candy/deepfrying thermometer. Fry balls of dough in hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time, turning once. Doughnuts are done when golden on both sides. Remove from hot oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve warm, drizzled with honey or sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.

Zalabia
(Funnel-shaped pastries)
   1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
   2 c. warm water (about 115 degrees)
   1 tsp. sugar
   2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
   1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
   1/8 tsp. salt
   Vegetable oil for deep frying
   Orange syrup (recipe follows) or honey
   In large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar and let stand 10 minutes until foamy. Stir in flour, 1 tablespoon oil, and salt. Let batter stand 30 minutes.
   In large, deep skillet or large saucepan, heat 2 1/2 inches oil to 375 degrees on a candy/deep frying thermometer. Pour batter into a plastic squirt bottle or into a funnel with a small opening. Squeeze or pour the batter into hot oil, swirling with a spoon to form a circular, spiral design about 6 inches in diameter. Fry until golden on both sides, turning once. Remove carefully and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all the batter is used. Serve drizzled with orange sauce or honey.

Orange sauce
   3 c. sugar
   1 1/2 c. water
   2 Tbsp. lemon juice
   1 Tbsp. orange blossom water
   In small suacepan over high heat, heat sugar, water and lemon juice to boiling; boil 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook gently until syrup thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. Stir in orange blossom water and simmer 2 minutes longer. Cool before serving.

Mandelbrot
   3 large eggs
   3/4 c. vegetable oil
   1 c. granulated sugar
   1/4 c. orange juice
   2 Tbsp. grated orange peel
   1 tsp. almond extract
   3/3/4 c. all-purpose flour
   1 Tbsp. baking powder
   1/4 tsp. salt
   1 cup nuts, coarsely chopped
   In a large bowl, beat eggs and oil with electric mixer at medium speed 5 minutes until fluffy. Gradually beat in granulated sugar; beat in orange juice, grated orange peel, and almond extract. At low speed, beat in flour, baking powder and salt. (Beat in up to 1/2 cup additional flour if dough appears too sticky.) Stir in 1 cup nuts, coarsely chopped.
    Refrigerate dough, wrapped in plastic, for 1 hour. Heat oven to 350 degrees and grease large cookie sheet.
    Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 14x2-inch log. Place logs on cookie sheet, spacing well apart. Bake 25 minutes until lightly browned.
   Remove cookie sheet from oven, maintaining oven temperature. Remove logs to cutting board and cut into 1-inch diagonal slices. Place slices, cut side up, on cookie sheet and return to oven. Bake 15 minutes until crisp and golden. Cool on racks. Makes 30 slices.