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Archive for Chanukah

HAPPY CHANUKAH ~ MERRY CHRISTMAS

Bagel Tree Ornament

   
 
 
 
Only 4 times in the last 100 years
has Chanukah fallen on Christmas Eve.

Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!

Say hello to Chanukah Harry!

 

 
  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Potato Latkes & Beyond

Classic Latkes

Potato Pancakes

Potato Cauliflower Latkes

Latke Smoked Salmon Caviar

[1] Nana’s latkes, served with applesauce and sour cream (photo courtesy Melissa’s).[2] A more elegant presentation (from Anne Fruart via Vermont Creamery. [3] Mix it up: potato latkes with cauliflower from Idaho Potatoes (recipe at right). [4] Our personal heaven: latkes with smoked salmon, caviar, filled sour cream and a bit of chive (photo courtesy Diva Eats World).

 

You might prefer the parting of the Red Sea, the when God delivered the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, or Passover, when 10 plagues passed over the households of the children of Israel and wreaked havoc on all others, culminating in the Exodus, freedom from slavery.

But our favorite Hebrew miracle is the Chanukah lamp oil. resulting in the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the miracle of a temple lamp (menorah) which had enough purified the oil for one day. It would take a week to make more purified oil. But a miracle occurred: After the the menorah was lit, the flames burned for eight days—by which time new vats of purified oil were ready.

Why is it our favorite Jewish holiday? It comes with fried food, commemorating the lamp oil. That includes latkes, fried potato pancakes.

THE HISTORY OF LATKES

The popular potato latkes of European Jewish cuisine descend from Sicilian ricotta pancakes that appeared in the Middle Ages. They traveled north to Roman, where the Jewry called them cassola. Here’s a recipe for ricotta latkes. Traditionally sweetened, you can make a savory version with herbs instead of sugar.

Potato latkes (meaning “fried cakes” in Yiddish) are an Ashkenazi invention that gained popularity in Eastern Europe during the mid 1800s.

While the ricotta pancakes, a cousin to cheese blintzes are delicious, our bet is that most people would rather have fried potatoes!

Here’s a longer history of latkes in Idaho Potato (photo #3).

RECIPE #1: POTATO, ONION & CAULIFLOWER LATKES

In addition to varying the latke ingredients, you can try different condiments. We made a curry-yogurt dip for these.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 4 Idaho baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Topping (see below)
     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the cauliflower florets in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times until it resembles a rice texture. Pour into a large mixing bowl.

    2. ADD the onion to the food processor and pulse a few times until it is very finely chopped; add to the mixing bowl.

    3. REPLACE the steel blade with a shredding blade or attachment and feed the potato pieces through the tube until all are shredded. Add to the mixing bowl.

    4. ADD the eggs, flour, salt, pepper and parsley to the bowl and combine thoroughly. If liquid begins to accumulate at the bottom, remove with a spoon.

    5. HEAT the oil in a large skillet or cast iron pan and add scoopfuls of the mixture to form pancakes. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with sour cream, Greek yogurt or other garnish of choice.

  •  

    FOR THE TOPPING

    You can serve more than one topping. Our mom always served sour cream and her homemade applesauce (as did her mom); but this is another century. Try fusion seasonings, go crazy (within reason) with toppings like cardamom applesauce, curried Greek yogurt or 3-herb sour cream.

  • Dairy: crème fraîche, Greek yogurt, sour cream
  • Fruit sauce: apple sauce, cranberry sauce
  • Salsa (corn, corn and bean or tomato)
  • Poached egg (for a main course)
  • Gourmet: smoked salmon and salmon caviar (or other roe)
  •  
    Plus

  • Chopped fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, thyme
  • Mesclun salad
  • Grilled or roasted vegetables, ratatouille or other vegetable medley
  • Pesto
  • Asian slaw (no mayo), cucumber salad, carrot-raisin salad, etc.
  •  

    BEYOND POTATO LATKES

    And here’s an even more veg-centric recipe from Good Eggs: the classic potato-onion combination with parsnips, carrots and leeks.

    And for beet lovers, there are (drum roll) beet latkes. Try them now or save them for Valentine’s Day. Serve them Russian style with fresh dill and sour cream.

    You can also make parsnip-centric latkes, carrot and raisin latkes: Go wherever your palate takes you.

    Want cheese with your latkes? Start with this recipe for Ginger Pancakes With Herbed Goat Cheese by Najwa Kronfel of Delicious Shots.

    RECIPE #2: VEGETABLE LATKES

    In photo #5, these latkes are paired with a crunchy Asian slaw.

    Ingredients

  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1 white onion, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • ¾ pounds parsnip, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Canola oil
  • Coarse salt
  •  
    Toppings

  • Arugula pesto
  • Apple sauce
  • Crème fraîche
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the peeled potatoes and onions in a big bowl; mix with your hands. In another bowl, combine the peeled parsnips, leeks and carrots.

    2. SQUEEZE the excess liquid out of the potato-onion mixture, using your hands, a clean kitchen towel, cheesecloth or your hands. (We use a large strainer and press down the mixture.). Place in a separate bowl and add the eggs, a few big pinches of salt and flour—again mixing with your hands. Form patties about 3 inches in diameter and just shy of an inch thick. Do the same for the parsnip mixture.

    3. ADD oil to a large skillet, until it’s about ¼-inch deep. Heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the first batch of latkes, leaving plenty of room between each of them. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side until they’re a deep golden brown on each side, and fully cooked through.

    4. DRAIN: Place the latkes on a platter or in a baking sheet/dish covered in paper towels and sprinkle with flakey salt immediately. Keep the latkes warm in an oven set to very low. Repeat until you’ve cooked all of the latkes.

     

    Latkes With Slaw

    Beet Latkes

    Carrot Latkes

    [5] Latkes with four different veggies and a side of Asian slaw, from Good Eggs (recipe at left). [6] Beet latkes from Williams-Sonoma. Here’s the recipe. [7] Carrot latkes from Elana’s Pantry.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Jewish Chicken & Matzoh Ball Soup Soup

     

    In the 1970s, one of the most beloved subway advertising campaigns in New York City was, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish rye.”

    Each poster or print ad in the campaign featured African-Americans, Asians, choir boys Irish cops, Italian grandmothers and WASPs, enjoying a slice of the rye bread (see photo #4 below).

    The pitch was successful in getting non-Jews to buy—and become fans of—the style of rye bread loved by the Jewish community: a light rye bread with caraway seeds.*

    It was so popular, that some 45 years later, it is referenced by advertising professionals, professors, journalists and consumers. You can purchase full-size posters of your favorites from AllPosters.com).

    We’d like to adapt the rye bread campaign to chicken soup.

    While Campbell’s chicken noodle soup is the #1 canned soup in the U.S., often tied with Maruchan chicken ramen noodle soup, in our humble opinion there’s nothing like Jewish chicken soup.

    The latter is not easily found in cans, except for Manischewitz Matzo[h] Balls in Chicken Broth, which we assure you, can’t hold a candle to the recipe below.

    So our tip of the day is: Step beyond your usual chicken soup and go for the gold.

    RECIPE #1: CHICKEN SOUP WITH MATZOH BALLS

    Make the soup a day in advance so the flavors can meld. We increase the amount of vegetables to enjoy larger portions of them in our soup.

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 3-1/2 to 4 quarts water
  • 1 large onion, sliced (or chopped if you prefer)
  • 5 large carrots, in 1/2-inch coins
  • 4-5 large celery ribs, chopped (we prefer chunky)
  • Optional: 3 turnips, in 1/2-inch coins
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill‡
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley‡
  • 1 4-5 pound chicken, quartered or cut into 8-10 pieces, skin removed†
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  •  
    ________________
    *Food trivia: Dark, unseeded rye bread is called pumpernickel. It is made from coarse rye flour and has a very long baking period, which gives the bread its characteristic dark color.

    †Removing the skin cuts down on much of the fat, which most people have to skim off later. Also, boiled chicken skin is not a particular treat.

    ‡We often tie a half bunch of dill and a half bunch of parsley with kitchen string and add them to the pot. We pull them out when the soup is done, and then use the rest of the dill and parsley to snip onto the bowls of soup as a garnish.
    ________________

    Preparation

    1. ADD the water to a 6-quart pot, filled by the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, skim any foam, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.

    2. REMOVE the cooked chicken from the pot and cut off the bone. You can shred it or slice it, as you prefer. Refrigerate.

    3. MAKE the matzoh balls per the recipe below (you can also do this a day in advance).

    RECIPE #2: MATZOH BALLS

    We were brought up with light-as-a-feather, soft matzoh balls. Our mother referred to firm matzoh balls as rocks.

    But it’s a matter of preference.

    If you only have one large pot, make the matzoh balls first. You can store them in another container in the fridge, and the pot will be free to make the soup.
     
    Ingredients For Soft Matzoh Balls

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  

    Jewish Chicken Soup

    Matzoh Ball Soup
     
    Italian Matzoh Ball Soup

    You Don't Have To Be Jewish To Love Levi's Real Rye Bread

    [1] The way we like it: lots of vegetables, lots of chicken and matzoh balls (photo courtesy Food Network, from an Andrew Zimmern recipe). [2] Some gourmets add wild mushrooms and truffles instead of carrots and celery and serve crostini with pâté de foie gras, but we’re happy with these chopped liver crostini (photo courtesy David Burke | Fabrick | NYC; here’s the recipe). [3] From a Jewish Italian grandmother: pasta, of course. Our grandmother (not Italian) and others often added fine egg noodles (photo courtesy Lincoln Ristorante | NYC). [4] One of several beloved posters of a 1970s ad campaign for Jewish rye bread (photo courtesy AllPosters.com).

  • 4 tablespoons melted schmaltz (chicken fat; substitute canola oil)
  • 1 cup matzoh meal (unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup seltzer water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons minced chives or scallions
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill‡
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley‡
  • Optional spices‡‡: 1 teaspoon each of dill or parsley, dry or fresh; 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
  • Optional: chicken broth of stock for reheating (we use Swanson’s
  • ________________
    ‡‡Some cooks add onion salt or garlic salt. We don’t like them in our matzoh balls, although we’ve personally added ground chipotle (although most guests opted for the fresh-herbs-only version).

    Chicken In The Pot

    Chicken Soup With Chickpeas

    Grandma's Chicken Soup

    [5] Chicken in the pot refers to an entire chicken cooked with the same ingredients as chicken soup (photo of AllClad stock pot courtesy Williams-Sonoma). [6] Want variety? Check out the list of variations at the right (photo courtesy Good Eggs |SF).[7] You can even send a chicken soup gift by mail, from Grandma’s Chicken Soup.

      Ingredients For Firm Matzoh Balls

    Use the above ingredients and:

  • Add 4 tablespoons water or broth.
  • Omit the baking powder.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY BEAT the eggs and add the remaining ingredients until well blended. Do not over-mix or you’ll get tough matzoh balls. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour to set. Meanwhile…

    2. BRING a 6-quart pot of salted water (1 tablespoon salt per 4 quarts water) to a boil. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the matzoh ball dough into 1-1/2-inch balls—larger as desired, but two smaller matzoh balls are easier to slice and eat in the soup. (We use a cookie dough scoop; Mom formed hers by hand.) Add to the water, one at a time, with a slotted spoon. When all the matzoh balls are floating on the top…

    3. LOWER the heat to a rolling simmer for 40 minutes. AVOID the temptation to stir! Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish.

    3. STORE in the fridge. An hour or two before serving, bring them to room temperature and warm them in the pot of soup.
     
    CHICKEN SOUP ADDITIONS

    While we love classic Jewish chicken soup and eat it often, we also like to have fun by varying or adding ingredients. For example:

  • Asian greens: bok chtoy, Chinese/napa cabbage, Chinese broccoli/gai lan, snow peas/shoots/leaves, water spinach.
  • Beans or lentils.
  • Challah or pumpernickel croutons.
  • Chicken cracklings/gribenes, recipe below.
  • Chicken gizzards (Mom had to buy extra because the kids fought over them).
  • Chicken sausage (cooked with the soup and then sliced, or pan-fried and sliced as a garnish.
  • Eggs: beaten eggs for Jewish egg drop soup or stracciatella; egg yolks and lemon for Greek-style avgolemono soup; poached egg or sliced hard-boiled egg for novelty.
  • Fine egg noodles or fideo.
  • Green vegetables: garden peas/pea tendrils, snap peas, spinach and the Asian vegetables above.
  • Garnish: chicken sausage, mini chicken or turkey meatballs, parmesan ribbons, thin-sliced jalapeños,
  • Kreplach or other dumpling.
  • Mushrooms: wild or other
  • Other herbs, e.g. basil, cilantro, ginger root, thyme.
  • Pillow pasta: ravioli, tortellini, wontons
  • Rice or other grain (we really like wild rice).
  • Soup pasta: ditalini, orzo, pastina
  •  
    Any other suggestions? Let us know!

     
    RECIPE #3: GRIBENES

    The by-product of rendering chicken skin for fat (schmaltz) are cracklings: crispy pieces of chicken skin. They’re a prized treat to eat on potatoes or anything else.

    In Yiddish they’re called gribenes (GRIH-beh-ness) or grieven (GREE-vin), which means “scraps” in Hebrew.

    When a whole chicken is being used for soup and the skin isn’t needed (it just adds fat that needs to be skimmed off later), it can be cut into strips for gribenes. Cooked with sliced onions, the result is memorable.

    Ready to render?

    Ingredients For 1/2 Cup

  • 8 ounces chicken fat and/or raw skin, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the chicken fat and any skin in a small saucepan, along with the thyme, garlic and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.

    2. COOK until the fat has rendered (liquefied) and the skin pieces are crispy, about 35 to 45 minutes. As liquid fat fills the pan, drain it into a measuring cup or other vessel; the gribenes will take longer to get crisp.

    3. EAT the gribenes as soon as possible after they come out of the pan. Don’t refrigerate; they’ll go limp. These delicious cracklings can be eaten with potatoes, garnish a salad or chicken/turkey sandwich, grits or polenta, etc. Both Nana and Mom ate them straight from the pan.

    4. COOL the chicken fat slightly, then strain it into a lidded jar. It will keep for up to one week, maybe longer.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Blue Cocktails For A Chanukah Party

    We’ve never heard of a Chanukah cocktail party, so we decided to throw one this year.

    The menu:

  • Wine: red, white, sparkling
  • Chanukah beer from Schmaltz Brewing
  • Blue cocktails and cocktails (recipes below)
  • Nibbles: brisket sliders, chopped liver with bagel chips, mini bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon, mini potato latkes with crème fraîche (substitute sour cream or applesauce)
  • Sweets: donut holes (fried foods are traditional Chanukah fare, commemorating the miracle of the oil), noodle kugel with dried fruits
  •  
    CHANUKAH COCKATAILS

    All of these are simple: no complex or time-consuming mixology.

    You can make cocktails blue with:

  • Blue curaçao (an orange liqueur)
  • Blue food color
  • Blueberry juice
  • Blue-colored simple syrup
  • Blue flower extract
     
    RECIPE #1: BLUE MARTINI OR BLUEBERRY MARTINI

    For a standard Martini, add food color to the bottle of vodka or gin.

    For a fruit “Martini,” mix with blueberry juice. You can also use citrus-infused vodka; but note that these sweet drinks are not Martinis. A Martini is a savory drink made with vodka or gin plus vermouth (Martini history).

    For a darker blue, add a drop of blue food color. You can add more curaçao, but that adds more sweet orange flavor.

     
    RECIPE #2: BLUE SPARKLER

    Orange-flavored vodka plus curaçao make this a nicely orange sparkler.

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 2 ounces orange infused vodka
  • 2 ounces blue curaçao
  • Sparkling wine
  • Rim: blue or white sparkling sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. RIM the champagne flutes with sparkling sugar. Add 1 ounce each orange vodka and blue curaçao into each.

    2. TOP off with sparkling wine. Stirring isn’t necessary but if you want to blend, use one brief stir so the bubbles don’t pop.
     
    RECIPE #3: CHANUKAH CANDLE

    This is a variation of the Blue Sparkler, above, with a different garnish. Orange or gold sparkling sugar puts the “flame” on the “candle.”

    Ingredients Per Cocktail

  • 1 part blue curaçao
  • 1 part orange-flavored vodka (or plain vodka)
  • 3 parts sparkling wine
  • Rim: orange or gold sparkling sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. RIM a champagne flute with honey and orange sugar.

    2. ADD the curaçao and vodka to a champagne flute, and top with sparkling wine.

    NOTE: Sparkling sugar is available online, at baking supply stores and at craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby.

       

    Blue Martini

    Blue Chanukah Cocktail

    Chanukah Champagne Cocktail

    Blue Chanukah Cocktail Recipes

    [1] Blue Martini (photo courtesy SKYY Vodka). [2a] Blue Sparkler (photo courtesy Announcing It). [3] The Chanukah Candle, a sparkler with a bit of honey and gold or orange sparkling sugar (photo courtesy Living On Cloud Nine). [4] Blue Star, with a slice of starfruit (photo courtesy Recipe Plus).

     
    RECIPE #4: BLUE STAR

    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • Ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup blue curaçao
  • 1/2 cup freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Sparkling wine (to top off)
  • Garnish: 2 slices star fruit*
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker. Add the curaçao and grapefruit juice and shake well.

    2. STRAIN into a cocktail glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with the star fruit.
     
    ________________
    *The Star Of David is a six-point star, but we only have what nature provides: the five-point star of the carambola (star fruit).

     

    Blue Margarita

    Blue Chanukah Cocktail

    Blue Soft Drink

    [5] Mazel Tov Margarita (photo and recipe courtesy Host The Toast). [6] Turn a White Russian into a Blue Russian by substituting blue curaçao for the coffee liqueur (recipe and photo courtesy Mix That Drink). [7] Put a sparkling sugar or coconut rim on a blue soft drink (photo courtesy Garlic My Soul).

     

    RECIPE #5: MAZEL TOV MARGARITA

    Notes from Host The Toast, creator of the recipe:

    The classic Margarita is made with orange liqueur, originally Cointreau but often the less expensive generic orange liqueur, triple sec.

    Curaçao is another orange liqueur, from the Caribbean. It is a clear liqueur; but years ago, blue color was added to create blue curaçao for more festive cocktails.

    Per Host The Toast: “We find the flavor of the blue a little more bitter, so we’ve balanced the drink by using half blue curaçao and half triple sec.” Try it both ways, to see which you prefer.

    Here’s how the different types of orange liqueur differ; from curaçao and triple sec, which are generic terms, to brands like Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Gran Gala.
     

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • Coarse salt (e.g., sea salt or kosher salt)
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce blue curaçao
  • 1 ounce triple sec
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CREATE a salt rim on a margarita glass, mason jar or other glass: Rub the rim with a cut lime and dip and twist the glass in a shallow dish of coarse salt until the rim is coated. Place the glass in the freezer for a few minutes to chill.

    2. COMBINE the drink ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well. Pour into the chilled glass and garnish with a wedge of lime.

     
    RECIPE #6: BLUE RUSSIAN

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces blue curaçao
  • 1 ounce light or heavy cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. ADD two or three crushed ice cubes of ice to a martini glass or rocks glass.

    2. ADD the curaçao, followed by the vodka. Top off with the cream.

     
    MORE FESTIVE GARNISHES: GLASS RIMMERS

  • For sweet drinks: sparkling sugar, shredded coconut, silver or gold dragees, blue and/or white sprinkles
  • For savory drinks: coarse sea salt or kosher salt, Margarita salt
  •  
    And how about:

  • Blue ice cubes, colored with food color
  •  
    BLUE MOCKTAILS

    Mix a clear soft drink with food color or blueberry juice:

  • 7 Up, Sprite, etc.
  • Plain or flavored club soda
  • White cranberry juice
  •  
    WHAT IS BLUE CURAÇAO

    Curaçao is an orange liqueur made from the dried peels of the laraha (LA-ra-ha) citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles (southeast of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean).

    The laraha is a de-evolved descendant of the Valencia orange, which was brought over from Spain in 1527. It did not thrive in the Southern Caribbean climate. The oranges that the trees produced were small, fibrous, bitter and inedible. The trees were abandoned, and the citrus fruit they produced evolved from a bright orange color into the green laraha.

    When life gives you bitter fruit, distill it! It turned out that while the flesh of the laraha was inedible, the dried peel remained as aromatic and pleasing as its cultivated forebear. Experimentation led to the distillation of Curaçao liqueur from the peel.

    The distilled liqueur is clear. Some brands are colored blue or bright orange to create color in cocktails. The color adds no flavor.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Challah Bread Pudding & Different Types Of Challah

    Challah bread pudding, like Challah French Toast, should not be limited to Chanukah. In terms of egginess, it’s the closest thing to brioche—and much less expensive.

    With Chanukah starting in two weeks (this year, it coincides with Christmas Eve), you try a batch this weekend; then adjust it as you like over the eight days of Chanukah. Serve it for breakfast or dessert.

    What other holiday gives you eight days of French toast and bread pudding?

    DIFFERENT CHALLAH BREAD PUDDING RECIPES

  • Pumpkin Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce
  • Savory Bread Pudding
  •  
    RECIPE: CHALLAH BREAD PUDDING

    This recipe is ready in 40 minutes.
     
    Ingredients For 6 To 8 Servings

  • 1 loaf challah, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 2/3 cups raisins (substitute dried cherries or cranberries, or a blend)
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  •  
    Favorite Variations

  • Chocolate chunks and sliced bananas
  • Crème fraîche garnish
  • Fresh blueberries in season
  • Sliced or cubed apples with cinnamon, or with shredded Gruyère or Cheddar
  • White chocolate
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Spread the challah cubes on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally until the cubes are dry but not brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.

    2. ADD the raisins and bourbon to a small bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds; set aside.

    3. COMBINE the brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar in another small bowl. Set aside.

    4. BEAT the egg yolks, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla and salt with electric beaters or a whisk. Beat/whisk in the cream and milk until combined. Add the raisins and bourbon.

    5. RESERVER 2 cups of the prettier challah cubes for the top layer. Stir the remaining cubes into the egg yolk mixture and pour into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Set aside for 30 minutes so the bread is fully saturated by the custard.

    6. DIP the remaining challah cubes into the melted butter and place evenly, butter side up, on the top of the pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top.

    7. BAKE for 50-55 minutes until custard is set (pressing the center of the dish does not release any liquid). Cool for 45 minutes and serve warm.
     
    TYPES OF CHALLAH

    There are two words for bread in Hebrew: lechem, the everyday bread, and challah, the sabbath bread. Jewish custom requires that Sabbath and holiday meals begin with challah.

    Challah is a braided, honey-sweetened egg bread made from wheat flour and topped with an egg white wash.

    The word refers to a tithe of bread that was given to the priests, who had no income. A portion of the dough was sanctified and tithed, the remainder was given over for ordinary consumption.

    In biblical times, the Sabbath challah was probably more like present-day pita. Through the ages and as Jews moved to different lands, recipes evolved and the loaves varied. For Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, the loaf was formed in a circle, to signify the desire for a long life. [Source: Food Timeline]

    MODERN CHALLAH

    Traditional challah is made from wheat flour, although some modern bakers make it from spelt, whole wheat, gluten-free flour, even sprouted wheat.

    They can be plain or mixed with raisins and other dried fruit. On the savory side, onions and herbs can be added to the dough; sesame or poppy seeds garnish the top of the loaf.

    The shape can be oblong or round, depending on local traditions. Another variation is the number of braids: traditionally three or four braids; more recently two-braid loaves have appeared.

     

    Challah Bread Pudding

    Braided Challah

    Braided Challah With Poppy Seeds

    Turban Challah Sephardic

    Raisin Challah

    Chocolate Challah

    [1] The bread pudding from today’s recipe (photo #1, #3 and #5 courtesy Good Eggs | SF). [2] Braided challah (photo courtesy Hewn Bakery | Chicago). [3] Braided challah with poppy seeds. [4] A Sephardic turban challah with honey (here’s the recipe; photo courtesy National Honey Board). [5] A round with raisins (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [6] Irresistible: chocolate-orange challah from Yin and Yolk.

     

    In more recent times, pull-apart loaves and challah rolls have become popular. During the holiday season, some bakers and home cooks make Chanukah loaves are shaped like menorahs.

    Today, people of all faiths enjoy challah, at any time of the day.

    One of our team brought in a challah made with pumpkin seeds and chia for our afternoon tea. And for breakfast and snacking, check out this gorgeous chocolate-orange challah.

    Go seasonal with this recipe for challah made with butternut squash and sage.

    Check out this rainbow challah, made from six braids, each a different color. It’s a dazzler.

    And here’s how to turn a challah into a special centerpiece for the breakfast table or a buffet.

    So much challah, so little time. We’re off to buy ingredients for Yin and Yolk’s stunning chocolate orange challah. Note to NIBBLE team: Don’t expect there to be any left over on Monday.

      

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