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thanksgivukkah: the latke turkey sandwich

yumivore thanksgivukkah latkes

Dominique Ansel, a now famous pastry chef in New York, burst onto the scene this year with his creative invention, the half-croissant half-doughnut, the Cronut. This year also brought us the Ramen Burger, a juicy burger wedged in between crispy-fried ramen patties. Hybrid foods are nothing new though. Take the Iraqi-style sabich sandwich in Israel. Sabich is an acronym in Hebrew for salat salad, baytzim eggs, and chatizilim eggplant. A twist on falafel, pickles included, the sabich proves that food just fits well in pita. But back to 2013, perhaps this year will be best remembered for the holiday mashup of Thanksgiviukkah and the creative dishes that’s to be dished up with it. That’s right, the convergence of two holidays on one table. The last time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fell on the same date? Only once before in 1888 and won’t happen again for another 78,000 years.

So how does one celebrate Thanksgivukkah? Latkes alone feels like an entire Thanksgiving feast after you’ve eaten a few. Surprisingly, there are quite a few dishes that can capture the flavor of both holidays in one bite. Behold one such solution: The Latke Turkey Sandwich. Assembly required, recipe below.

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For this dish, you’ll need slightly larger than usual latkes that are also a bit firmer to hold the weight of the turkey meat. I modified my mother’s potato pancake recipe adding more egg and matzo meal to the latke batter. I also formed the potato pancakes into patties before dropping them into the frying pan.

Large Potato Latkes
1-1/4 pounds large potatoes, peeled (the russet potato works best for frying)
1 medium onion
1 + 1/2 an egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
3-4 tablespoons matzo meal
1/2 cup or more of vegetable oil (or canola oil)

Follow directions found here: My Mother’s Potato Pancake (Latke) Recipe via Faye Levy’s International Jewish Cookbook. When you’re ready to place the latkes (levivot in Hebrew) into the pan, first form them into patties. The extra matzo meal and egg will bind the batter together and allow you to do so.

The sauce for this sandwich is simple. Combine your favorite apple sauce with a chunky cranberry one. Homemade or from your favorite market, mixing cranberries and apples makes a delicious concoction, the fruit based sauces blend beautifully well together. Of course a lakte turkey sandwich needs turkey. Select your favorite cut (and tofurkey or other vegetarian protein works well too) to add to the mix. When you’re ready to serve, spread the sauce onto two latkes, place the turkey in between and serve warm.

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Hot, crispy savory potato latkes straight out of the pan, with slightly tart and a hint sweet cranberry applesauce with juicy turkey wedged in between – it’s the best of both holidays all in one bite. Serve it up on Thanksgiving, the first night of Hanukkah for dinner, it’s fancy enough to be a main meal. Or make it for lunch, it’s a great sandwich solution for turkey leftovers. I can assure you, it’s so scrumptious, you don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy this.

For more Thanksgiving + Hanukkah = Thanksgivukkah ideas, see How To Celebrate Thanksgivukkah, The Best Holiday Of All Time. There’s also Carve the Turkey and Pass the Latkes, as Holidays Converge. I think even Seinfeld fans who celebrate Festivus would agree, Thanksgivukkah is going to be something.

Happy Hannukah, Thanksgiving, Thanksgivukkah, and may it be a delicious holiday.

For past Hannukah related posts see:
potato pancakes
sweet sufganiyot and the foods of hannukah

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drakes bay oyster farm

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.” -Jonathan Swift

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When you drive up to Marin County, there’s a good chance you’ll spot signs for Save Our Drakes Bay Oyster Farm. The signs are visible throughout Napa and Sonoma as well. And they become even more visible as you get closer to Point Reyes. Hand-painted with a simple message, they reflect a community that cares. A historic farm, owned by a third-generation ranching family, Drakes “provides local jobs and a sustainable food product that supports local businesses.”

Fog-filled skies, cold weather along the marsh and bay, an afternoon in pictures.

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“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” -Ernest Hemingway

Drakes Bay is a great spot for a picnic with friends to enjoy delectable fresh oysters. The Oyster Shack will shuck the oysters for you, or give you a quick tutorial so you can give it a try on your own. For more about the plight of Drakes Bay, visit:

Alliance for Local Sustainable Agriculture
Appeals court deals blow to Drakes Bay Oyster Co.
Drakes Bay Oyster Company Will Be Forced To Close [Update: Maybe Not]

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chimayó chiles

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San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Bauer spent time in Santa Fe earlier this month and shared a taste of his visit to the city’s farmer’s market for a green chile cheeseburger smackdown. With harvest behind, bushels of peppers to buy and festivals to look forward to, it’s prime chile season in New Mexico this time of year. Reading about it reminded me of my own trip to the Land of Enchantment a couple of years back, and it served as an incentive to revisit and dish up my own memories.

With the exception of staying a few nights along The Turquoise Trail, Santa Fe served as my home base for the duration of my visit to New Mexico allowing me to take leisurely day trips to nearby places of interest. With the hopes of capturing postcard views, I set my sites on a northeastern town that promised adobes and an opportunity to experience local culture.

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Destination: Chimayó
Roughly 28 miles heading northeast from Santa Fe along what’s dubbed as the high-desert corridor, I set out to see El Santuario de Chimayóm, an old adobe church that’s visited by thousands of pilgrims each year. Food is always on my mind, but traveling a bit on a whim I hadn’t realized at the time that Chimayó is not only a draw for its church, but it’s also famous for its chiles. I learned this along the way when I stopped at a roadside stand selling green and red heirloom peppers along with locally grown squash.

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Harvested in late summer, Chimayó chiles are picked when green, or left longer to ripen on the vine and then picked later in the fall when a lush red. The red dried peppers are strung into chains or wreaths that are called ristras or dried and ground into a chile molido or powder. Though both are from the same plant, the green chiles tend to be fleshier than their red counterparts. The red peppers tend to exhibit a deeper, richer flavor. The founders of the Chimayo Chile Project describe the flavor of these peppers as “chocolaty with more flavor than heat” and “if sunbaked they get an added tang”. Red or green, chiles are synonymous with New Mexico’s cuisine and are incorporated into almost all traditional dishes.

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The Chimayó Chile Project grows its chiles using “natural cultivation methods” and is intent on preserving the seeds to pass on to future generations. These heirlooms have a long history, arriving with the Spanish to the New World more than 300 years ago. Similar to wine, “terroir” and uniqueness of place is important to this industry as well as the state goes to great lengths to protect its name affiliated with these premium homegrown peppers.

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If you’re curious for more about Chimayó chiles and for a taste, here are a few reads and recipes:
Chimayó’s Chile Culture Saveur
Mrs. Sanchez’s Red Chile Sauce Saveur
Huntley Dent’s Red Chile Sauce Serious Eats
Chimayó-Chile Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms Food & Wine

While you have chiles on your mind, be sure to checkout East of Eden’s Chili Corn Bread made with Hatch chiles, a variety also grown in New Meixco.

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wise sons deli

photos du jour: a taste of Wise Sons Deli

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Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen on 24th Street in the Mission, San Francisco
Wise Sons Deli
Getting Wise: How a community helped build a deli

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petals for breakfast

“The earth laughs in flowers.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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A beautiful way to turn simple toast into something special- top it with petals. Edible flowers are a common ingredient or addition to dishes in Northern California, but the idea to add flowers to my toast stems from a whimsical meal made by fellow food-blogging friend Sarah Melamed of Food Bridge who is across the globe in Israel. No doubt, a bouquet of petals scattered on the plate will turn any bite it into edible art.

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Flowers on Toast
To impress a guest or even for your own repose:
Start with hearty bread. Here, Tartine Bakery’s walnut loaf sliced relatively thin for toast.
Select your favorite cheese. I used labneh, but a cream cheese, creamy goat cheese, triple-cream – any spreadable soft white cheese will do.
Add seasoning. To the labneh I mixed in a bit of finely chopped parsley and garlic along with a spritz of lemon and salt before slathering it on my toast.
Top your bread with edible petals. Pansies added color to my plate. Mustard flowers, white wild radish flowers, roses, yellow arugula flowers – check your market for local flowers that are in season.

Flowers have been part of our meals since antiquity. For a detailed list of edible flowers and its culinary history see:
Edible Flowers
Harvesting Edible Wildflowers
The History of Edible Flowers
A Feast of Flowers – An Epicure’s Guide to Edible Flowers
Recipes and tips for growing, cooking, and eating flowers

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across the bridge, to brooklyn

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My memory of Brighton Beach of the time that’s captured here is faint at this point. I vaguely can conjure up images of my mother’s friends who lived in Brighton, and my trips across the Brooklyn Bridge to get there. Though I was often adverse to many foods at this stage, it’s not at all odd to me now that what I remember most from my visits to Brooklyn is in fact the food.

I recall my mother’s passion for the delicacies from her motherland and her quest to find them; Little Odessa was often the place to oblige her palate. Hot golden-colored pirozhki pop in my mind. We enjoyed these treats with either savory or sweet fillings. Made from a yeast dough, the buns would be shallow-fried and turn out golden in color, a bit oily to the touch and taste, it would be stuffed with chopped meat and mixed with sautéed onions. Mashed potatoes stuffed inside was another option and sometimes I’d be surprised to find sautéed mushrooms hiding within as well. A sweet option that was never truly sweet but memorable would be pirozhki stuffed with sour cherries. The cherries I remember would make me pucker. A few pirozhki, usually the meat-filled ones, would be wrapped up in parchment paper and placed in a brown paper bag for the ride home. Bialys fresh from a bakery, likely nearby, would also find themselves stuffed into a paper bag, and one would always make its way into my hand. Today I would grab these rolls if I could get them. Bialys are a bit like a pizza crust-like bread with a deep center filled with diced onions, and usually poppy seeds would be sprinkled inside as well. Other delicacies to discover would be pickles, and most certainly pickled herring, along with a smorgasbord of other fish such as smoked sturgeon, lox, trout – and only the finest quality would do. It sounded to me like arguing, but my mother would fervently speak to the shopkeepers or folks behind the counter in Russian or Yiddish; I would pick up bits here or there of the conversation as she searched for the finest tidbits to taste.

Eventually settling in for meal at a friend’s home we’d find a plate of varenykis, dumplings, sometimes also called pierogi. These too would be stuffed with a variety of combinations, spinach and cheese, potatoes and onions, or a meat filling similar to the pirozhki. Finely chopped and sautéed onions would be served on top if filed with meat, a large dollop of sour cream if it was potato pierogi. Sour cream seemed to find it’s way atop what seemed most dishes, including my favorite, blinztes, very similar to a crêpe and filled with farmers cheese or pot cheese. Likely from my memories I would have declined eating anything more at this point, and with the conversation in dedicated Russian, I often could escape from the table without protest and seek comfort in a book, a friend who usually was in tote wherever I would travel. Books continue to be my faithful friends today, though I could never have imagined engaging in such an affair with food.

In addition to the photo of me reading, you can catch a glimpse of me walking along Brighton Beach Avenue with my mother. I’m helping her carry bags filled with delicacies (perhaps even produce) that we had picked up at the markets and bakeries. The pictures were taken by photographer Carol Kitman and shared with permission.

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the french laundry garden

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Early spring, a mildly hazy but wonderfully warm day. Following an impromptu visit to the renowned French Laundry for lunch, a romp through the restaurant’s edible garden. Sit back and savor the moment.

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For more pictures from that exquisite visit, enjoy photos and a taste: Lunch at The French Laundry.

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lunch at the french laundry

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I’m reveling in bliss for having eaten a symphony of stars and finally having taken a bite out of the one perhaps most challenging to reach in the constellation. The French Laundry is lauded with international accolades including landing on many Best and Top Restaurants lists, is a James Beard Foundation recipient, and has garnered three Michelin Stars, defined as a restaurant reflecting “exceptional cuisine and worthy of a special journey”. There wasn’t a special occasion on the calendar to celebrate that sent me on a long drive up to Yountville in Napa Valley. Just an impromptu chance for my taste buds to celebrate, and a ‘carpe diem’ opportunity not to miss. For a gastronome, arriving at The French Laundry is like reaching the pinnacle of a trip. But I’m fortunate to say that the journey does not end here, there is far more cuisine, from the simple to the exotic, to go on to explore. For someone with a deep interest in gastronomy and passionate about the intersection of food, history, and culture, indulging in haute cuisine now and again is gratifying. The experience doesn’t transcend eating a meal where the recipes for the dishes have been passed on from generation to generation for example, nor does it even surpass eating something simple yet sublime. But venturing into one of the distinguished establishments of the Les Grandes Tables du Monde is an adventure and ultimately an experience. For a moment (or perhaps several hours) I was fortunate to experience The French Laundry and step into the world of world-renowned Chef Thomas Keller.

Photos du Jour | Step inside, sit back, sip some champagne and wine, and enjoy a parade of dishes from the kitchen – a tasting menu and feast for the eyes, then a taste of the kitchen itself.

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So often art on a plate is an intimate experience relished for only a few moments, then left to memory. In the food world, there’s currently a debate whether diners should or should not take pictures of their food, and some restauranteurs and chefs feel camera-enabled smartphones (such as the iPhone) is intruding on the dining experience. This sentiment may also be felt by other guests at the table or guests at nearby tables. Some chefs are also concerned the quality of the pictures being snapped may misrepresent the dishes that are being served. Being aware of the debate, prior to taking these photos, I did out of courtesy ask the staff if it was acceptable to take pictures, and they in fact encouraged it.

While I would be delighted to know the images are enticing and whet your appetite, documenting my dishes is foremost a way for me to capture a moment I hope to look back on. Relevant to yumivore, to quote Thomas Keller: “I think that you’ve got to make something that pleases you and hope that other people feel the same way.” So often these carefully crafted plates are lost after being devoured, and all that remains are just a few memories of the experience. Perhaps this is by design and the way fine dining is meant to be. Documenting dishes can serve though as not only a way to capture a personal experience but also a way to reflect on what we as a society are currently eating or indulging in, and with a changing landscape, our foods may very well be quite different in the years ahead. So too our philosophy may change (or even mine) regarding taking pictures while dining.

There are many more interesting debates taking place in the food world today, some hot topics include sustainability, the “tyranny” of the tasting menu, or even fine dining making a comeback. Some of these topics are very relevant to Chef Keller. There’s too much fodder to cover in one sitting but it all makes great food for thought. I’ll end with a thought from the chef:

“When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.” -Chef Thomas Keller

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