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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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dutch puff pancake

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A simple-to-make pancake with several names, I first tasted this along the Turquoise Trail in New Mexico. My host called it a Dutch Puff, though it also goes by the name Dutch Baby or German Pancake. Fluffy-light but filling, the soufflé-crêpe-popover-esque pancake whips up in no time and makes for an impressive plate. The batter can be blended together the night prior and then heated in the oven to serve on the spot. It’s a perfect dish to serve for breakfast or brunch, and it can be topped with a range of jams, jellies or marmalade, fresh fruit or dusted with seasoned sugar. Serve it for dinner or dessert, it won’t disappoint, it’s delicious.

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Dutch Puff Pancake
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a medium cast-iron pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter (ensure that it doesn’t brown) and set aside. In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla, and 1/4 cup sugar. Blend until smooth and foamy, about 1 minute. Pour the batter into your skillet; bake until the pancake is fluffy like a soufflé and lightly brown,roughly 20 minutes. Serve immediately while hot. Don’t expect any leftovers.

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accordion fingerling potatoes

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Every once in a while a side dish will steal the show. I first had these fingerling potatoes at a friend’s pool-side picnic and all of the guests found the dish to be a fun way to serve up spuds. Easy to prepare, these accordion-cut potatoes are a conversation-starter and remain memorable even while you’re clearing plates from the table. Adapted from Food & Wine magazine, here’s the recipe:

accordion fingerling potatoes
1 pound washed fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt or rock salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley for garnish

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Note: Try different seasoning options such as adding smoked paprika to the mix. Another option, in place of the parsley, add fresh chopped dill or rosemary to the olive oil and garlic mixture before tossing with the potatoes and placing in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the minced garlic and add seasoning. Wash the fingerling potatoes (keeping the skins on) then pat dry. Using a sharp paring knife, cut slits into each potato at intervals but be sure not to slice all the way through to the bottom. Toss the pototoes in the olive oil seasoning before placing on a baking sheet. Season with additional salt and pepper. Roast the potatoes with the cut sides up for roughly 35-40 minutes until golden and crisp. Transfer the potatoes to a platter, garnish before serving.

If you’ve ever wondered why potatoes are called spuds, a quick read shares some insight. And Bon Appétit shares the etymology of the word “potato” in their Eat Your Words section.

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roasted eggplant with moroccan charmoula

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Charmoula is a robust Moroccan marinade that is bursting with flavor. It’s most often used as a marinade or dry rub with fish, but the sauce lends itself to vegetables as well and is an exciting blend to try with eggplants. Charmoula, also spelled chermoula, is a mix of herbs, spices, crushed garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. It’s simple to make, and simply adds a world of flavor to a dish.

Recipes for charmoula are easy to find and popular throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. This recipe comes from one of the most prolific writers and cookbook authors on Moroccan cuisine, Paula Wolfert. Her book ‘The Food of Morocco’ (which hit shelves in 2011) is an exquisite and colorful journey through Morocco for the eyes and palate. Pick up a few eggplants at the market, also known as aubergines, along with a few basic ingredients and you’re on your way to taste of the Marrakesh.

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1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Moroccan paprika
pinch of cayenne
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt to taste

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Place all of the ingredients in a bowl. Whisk together, then set aside for at least a half an hour to give the sauce some time for the flavors to mellow and meld together. Mix again just before adding it to the eggplant.

Cilantro is a popular herb used in Moroccan cuisine. For some though the flavor of it can pose a challenge, thus simply substitute the cilantro with more parsley. Fresh squeezed lemon is ideal in this sauce, but if not accessible, vinegar can be used in its place. Moroccan paprika is a more vibrant red compared with its Hungarian counterpart, and it’s also moistened with a hint of olive oil that’s blended in. Here I use a Moroccan paprika ground by hand that I acquired in Israel. Penzeys Spices or Whole Spice Market in California may carry Moroccan paprika, and Moroccan cumin as well, if you’re curious to give both spices a try. Good quality ingredients, as with any dish, makes a difference, as does the flavor of the olive oil you choose. Olive oils have different flavor profiles; here I used a versatile extra virgin olive oil that has a bit of a buttery and fruity aroma from California Olive Ranch.

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For the eggplants, slice two medium eggplants, spread out each slice separately on a cutting board, then sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on top of each and set aside for about 10 minutes. This method enables the eggplants to sweat and helps remove some of the bitter juices. Dry each slice with a paper towel before turning and applying the same technique to the other side.

Wolfert calls for a two-step process in her book to prevent the eggplants from acting as a sponge and absorbing an excess amount of olive oil. There are several options to preparing the eggplants for you to consider. The first is frying, which as noted, will drench the eggplants in oil. Another is to lightly coat or brush them with olive oil to crisp up in a hot 425 degree oven, then finish frying them on the stovetop; the baking-then-frying method enables you to use a lot less oil. Another option is to simply heat the eggplants (that were first roasted in the oven) in a dry frying pan (just before serving) no additional olive oil required. Yet another method is to heat the eggplants in a GreenPan roasting dish; vegetables don’t usually stick to this material and can be roasted dry. Lastly, there’s always the option to prepare the eggplants on the grill.

Frying or roasting with the added olive will result in a crispier dish, but I found that I don’t miss the extra oil once the eggplants are smothered with the sauce. It’s a matter of preference. Whichever route you choose, place your roasted eggplants on a serving dish, then smother them with the charmoula marinade. The dish can be served warm or room temperature; garnish with extra herbs once plated and enjoy!

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For more details on why some find cilantro to be offensive, read more on cilantro and soap in the New York Times. Miller’s Blend by California Olive Ranch is an olive oil I use regularly, and they were kind to provide me with Everyday California Extra Virgin Olive Oil as a sample to taste. For friends who are part of the Tasting Jerusalem community, and all are welcome to join the group, there’s a Chermoula Aubergine and Bulgar recipe to try. And I highly recommend Wolfert’s book for even more dishes with charmoula and as an incredible source for Moroccan cuisine.

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caramelized onion, red pepper and feta galettes

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These puff pastry bites are simple to make and perfect for a picnic. The seasoning here has a Mediterranean flare to it, but you can be creative and try a variety of different spices and herbs to find your favorite combination. The filling makes a great pizza as well. Delicious, it’s a crowd-pleasing dish.

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Caramelized Onion, Red Pepper and Feta Galettes

1 medium onion
1 small red pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs, chopped, stems removed
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese (more or less based on preference)
1 tbsp sour cream
1 sheet of puff pastry dough
1 ggg for an egg wash
Filling makes about 4 individual size puff pastry bites

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the pepper (discard the seeds) into long strips. Peel and slice the onion into strips as well. Sauté the pepper and onion in a pan on the stove, medium heat, for roughly 10 minutes. Add the fresh thyme sprigs and seasoning. Continue to cook for an additional minute or so until onions are golden to light brown in color and the red pepper is soft. The vegetables will continue to cook once in the oven.

Roll out the puff pastry and cut into squares, then place on a baking tray. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash. Spoon a thin to medium layer of sour cream around the center. Add a spoonful of the sautéed vegetables on top along with crumbled bits of feta cheese. (Note, preferable to crumble the cheese on your own). Bake for roughly 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven, remove when the crust is browned. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Enjoy!

yumivore feta pastry picnic

Notes and Variations
– Pitted Kalamata olives are a wonderful addition to the onions, peppers and feta
– Additional toppings that would work well here include: roasted garlic, artichokes, pine nuts
– Try adding a sprinkle of the spice blend za’atar, add chili flakes

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stuffed mushrooms

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A home cookbook isn’t complete without at least one recipe for stuffed mushrooms. It’s the kind of dish that’s coveted by a crowd and goes fast at any party. Easy to make, the variations are endless. This classic appetizer is widely popular in many cookbooks worldwide and worth a bite.

Stuffed Mushrooms
20 medium white button or crimini mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (more or less to taste)

Directions: Wash and dry the mushrooms. Grasp one at a time, cap face down in the palm of your hand, and gently gripping at the base, wiggle the stalk loose and remove, then set aside. Repeat this step until all the mushroom have a hollow center. Prep the stalks by slicing and discarding the dark ends then finely chop the rest. Note that some stalks may not be suitable for cooking and should be discarded. In a large pan on the stovetop, melt the butter on medium heat. Cook the mushrooms cap face down for several minutes until lightly brown before turning over and cooking on the opposite side for another minute or two. At this stage add the wine to the pan and cook for an additional minute. Remove the mushrooms and place them in an oven-proof baking dish. Using the same pan, sauté the scallions for a couple of minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Taste and add additional seasoning as required. When the mixture is ready, spoon a portion into the hollow center of each mushroom. Place the stuffed mushrooms in a 300 degree oven; bake for approximately 15-20 minutes prior to serving. Serve warm.

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Notes: Once you get a hang of removing the stems, all sorts of fillings can be stuffed inside. In place of scallions, shallots are a superb and tasty option as are leeks. Fresh chopped garlic is also a great addition. For an extra bite add Parmigian-Reggiano cheese to the mix. For a vegan version, replace the butter with an olive oil that is naturally buttery in taste.

The filling inside the mushrooms can be mile-high and overstuffed, or the filling filled up to the rim, it’s up to the cook to decide. Try adding sausage for a meat-lovers version or crab if you’re craving seafood fare. Different types of cheese can be blended in as well, or the mushrooms can even be stuffed with a creamy spinach or artichoke mix. There’s lots of room for creativity. I can assure though this simple recipe is mouth-watering as is. Since the recipe calls for a dry white wine, try Dry Creek Fumé Blanc which is enjoyable both for drinking and cooking. Cheers and bon appétit!

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spring pea and ricotta crostini

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With spring bursting across the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s hard to not be inspired in the kitchen by the bright green grass and early buds suddenly covering the landscape outside. This open-faced sandwich can easily be prepared year-round, though the combination of flavors seems to suggest spring. No matter where you’re located, the ingredients are relatively easy to find, and as with any dish, using the finest will add zing to the plate and your palate. This creamy ricotta and garden pea combination works wonders with pasta, or is perfect spread across crostini. Bright, fresh it’s like biting into the season.

Spring Pea and Ricotta Crostini
Adapted from Sonali, the Foodie Physician | Food52

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 cups fresh or frozen spring peas
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 1/4 cups fresh ricotta cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 loaf of rustic bread or baguette
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shavings for garnish*

In a saucepan on the stovetop, sauté the shallots and garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Cook until translucent, then add the peas and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pan; cook until the peas are tender. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and add the lemon zest, tarragon and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The original recipe* calls for 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese added to the mix; I omitted this and changed the quantity on the ricotta to accommodate. Either way, it’s a matter of preference. Purée until smooth. Add the ricotta and pulse until combined. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

On the ricotta, I recommend Grande Ricotta Sopraffina if you’re able to locate it at your market. It’s beyond delicious and worthy of being eaten just with a spoon. A friend suggests Bellwether Farms ricotta (I trust their opinion, though I haven’t had this yet myself). In Israel, Romania, Bulgaria and other parts Urdă is almost identical to ricotta and can be found at many markets.

For serving, select a rustic hearty bread. I choose to use a loaf I picked up from the Manresa Bread Project available at a local farmers’ market. Slice your bread or baguette, place on a baking sheet and brush both sides with the remaining olive oil. Place the sheet in a hot oven and bake until lightly toasted on both sides. Spread some of the pea and ricotta mixture across each slice. Top each with a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings and tarragon, along with crushed pepper. A simple, creamy and delightful way to enjoy the season. Bon appétit!

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buckwheat blini

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Blinis, Russian in origin, are small pancakes that are traditionally made with buckwheat flour. It’s served with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche on top, along with either caviar or smoked salmon. Other smoked, pickled or salted fish can be substituted; the slightly sweet almost nutty-flavored pancakes are incredible with the contrasting salty fish and creamy crème fraîche. Paired with Champagne, it’s a classic appetizer to serve during the winter holidays, and is popular for Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, but there’s no reason not to prepare blinis year-round. It’s wonderful not just with a flute filled with something bubbly, vodka is the drink of choice in Russia and makes a crowd-pleasing drink with this pancake.

Blini and caviar is a dish that’s on the Mad Men menu for those who are fans of the hit television show. Season one, episode six, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism finds itself shopping for an advertising agency and delegates pay a visit to Sterling Cooper. Early 1960s, Roger Sterling proposes positioning the young Jewish state as a land of “exotic luxury”. There’s a lot of thought behind serving the blini which speaks to the roots of many early pioneers of Israel of whom hail from Eastern Europe and Russia. More details can be found in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men. Regardless if you’re preparing a Mad Men cocktail party, buckwheat blini is a hint sweet and savory hors d’oeuvre to add to your menu any time of year. As I often say, it’s a party for your taste buds.

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Buckwheat Blini
recipe adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous
My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 cups warm whole milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 eggs, separated
butter, canola oil or cooking spray for frying
makes approximately 24 blinis

In a bowl dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the honey (or substitute with sugar) and set aside until bubbly for about 7-8 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix the first three dry ingredients together. Pour the dry ingredients into the yeast mixture, add the egg yolks along with the melted butter and blend well. Cover with a dish towel and set aside in a warm area for an hour.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff then slowly fold into the batter just before it’s ready to prepare on the stove. The secret to relatively round blinis is a squeeze bottle usually used to serve condiments. Pour the batter into the bottle. Heat a skillet or griddle to medium heat and coat lightly with butter. Squeeze a small amount of the batter in a circular motion onto the pan. When the batter starts to bubble on the surface, flip the blini over with a spatula and cook for roughly an additional minute. Transfer to a plate and keep warm. Serve with sour cream or crème fraîche topped with caviar or smoked fish such as salmon or lox, whitefish or trout. Garnish with dill or chopped chives.

The caviar captured here is called Tobiko, Flying Fish roe or Tobiuo in Japanese. Tobiko is referred to as the “poor man’s caviar“. Sustainable seafood is the preferred choice for any recipe; a few tips on selecting sustainable caviar on a budget. For more appetizer ideas to nibble on, try Bagna Càuda, a scrumptious and easy garlic and anchovies recipe, and try delicious freshwater prawns prepared as Gambas au Beurre d’Escargot. Cheers to happy eating!


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