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Archive for Chanukah

TIP: Gourmet Grocery Store Gift Card

If you can’t think of a gift for people who like good food—because you don’t know exactly what they’d like—consider a gift card.

A gift card to a premium market enables recipients to try new things or buy luxury items like artisan cheeses.

Many of us our space-challenged at home, cramming those gift sweaters and bath products into already crammed drawers and closets. Unlike most gifts, which require space to store, a gift card can be spent and consumed in the same day.

You can purchase gift cards in-store, of course. Some retailers, like Whole Foods, let you buy the cards online as well, with the option to send them digitally with a personalized holiday message.

The photo is actually the 2014 limited edition holiday gift card from Whole Foods.

Solved: what to get your favorite cook or foodie.



The limited edition 2014 holiday gift card from Whole Foods Market. Photo courtesy Whole Foods.




FOOD FUN: Beer Menorah

For 18 years, the Shmaltz Brewing Company has been handcrafting HE’BREW, classic beers with culturally-relevant names (certified kosher, of course, by KSA).

Chanukah begins tonight, so take a look!


The brewery currently makes:

  • Barrel Aged Funky Jewbellation
  • Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A.
  • Chanukah Beer
  • David’s Slingshot
  • Death Of A Contract Brewer
  • Genesis Dry Hopped Session Ale
  • Hop Manna IPA
  • Jewbelation 18 (18 malts, 18 hops)
  • Messiah Nut Brown Ale
  • Origin Pomegranate Ale
  • Rejewvenator Dubbel Doppel
  • Reunion Ale 2014
  • St. Lenny’s Belgian Rye Double IPA


    Chanukah beer. Photo courtesy Schmaltz Brewing Company.


    There’s a He’Brew Gift pack of eight different styles that includes a custom glass an Chanukah candles to build your own beer menorah, and possibly enter it in the annual contest.

    This is non-denominational enjoyment: Feel free to participate no matter what your religious beliefs.

    To find a retailer in your area, contact your local distributor.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Chanukah Cocktail

    Toast to Chanukah or winter. Photo courtesy
    SKYY Spirits.


    Spell it Chanukah or Hanukkah: The word for the Jewish Festival Of Lights was translitrated from the Hebrew alphabet. The name derives from the Hebrew verb for “to dedicate.”

    This year, Chanukah begins at sundown on December 16th and ends at sunset on Wednesday, December 24th.. The date is based on the Hebrew calendar months*, which are of different lengths than our Gregorian calendar months.

    Chanukah commemorates an event in the 2nd century B.C.E.: the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, that had been destroyed during Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire of Syria.

    According to the Talmud, for the rededication, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the high priest was needed to light the menorah (candelabra) in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night.

    However, only one flask of oil was found, with enough to burn for just one day. Yet, the oil burned for eight days, and during that time a fresh supply of kosher oil was prepared to continue.

    Based on this miracle, an eight-day festival was declared by the Jewish sages.

    Traditional Chanukah foods are fried in honor of the miracle oil: doughnuts, loukoumades (deep-fried puffs dipped in honey or sugar) and latkes (potato pancakes).

    But there is no official Chanukah beverage. So this year, for fun and festivity, we’re publishing a Chanukah cocktail recipe—colored ice blue, a color of the flag of Israel (which is blue and white). The recipe is from SKYY Spirits.

    You don’t have to officially celebrate Chanukah in order to whip up a batch. Several years ago, we received the very same recipe called the Winter Chill.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce citrus vodka
  • 1 ounce blue Curaçao
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce triple sec
  • Ice
  • Optional rim garnish: blue or white sanding sugar (or a blend)

    1. COMBINE the ingredients with ice in a shaker.

    2. SHAKE vigorously and strain into a Martini glass.



    Curaçao (pronounced KOO-ruh-sow) is an orange-flavored liqueur made from the dried peel of a citrus fruit called the laraha, which is grown on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. The laraha was bred from the sweet Valencia orange that was planted by Spanish explorers.

    The orange did not grow well in the nutrient-poor soil and arid climate of Curaçao. It yielded small fruits with bitter, inedible flesh. However, the peels maintained much of the sweet, aromatic essence of the Valencia.

    Orange peel has utility and economic value, so the Valencia trees were eventually bred into the laraha species.

    To make the liqueur, the dried peels are soaked in a still with alcohol and water, and spices are added. The liqueur is naturally colorless like triple sec, another orange liqueur.

    But Curaçao is often colored, typically blue, which creates vibrant-colored, exotic-looking cocktails. The coloring in Blue Curaçao does not alter the taste.



    Blue Curaçao and the oranges from which it is made. Photo courtesy DeKuyper USA.

    *Chanukah begins on the 25th day of Kislev, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. More about the calendar.



    GIFT: Harney Tea In Holiday Flavors

    For Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts, there are seasonal flavors and boxed gift sets for the tea lover. Among the finest are these, from Harney & Sons, include:

  • Cranberry Autumn, flavored black tea is a full-bodied brew, sweet and tart with dried cranberries and orange peel.
  • Pomegranate Oolong, bright, floral. Just open the tin and the juicy aroma of pomegranate wafts up to you.
  • Pumpkin Spice, caffeine-free rooibos (red) tea, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and natural pumpkin flavor
    There’s also a Holiday Tea Blend, a black tea spiced with citrus, almond, clove and cinnamon. It’s available on tea bags and loose teas. A reusable gift tin of 20 silky tea sachets is $8.67 on Amazon.

    White Christmas Tea
    is a white tea with holiday aromas and flavors: nut aromas from almonds, spice from cardamom and sweet creaminess from vanilla.

    For Hanukkah, there’s a Celebration Tea gift set. The tea has traditional English flavors of fruits and nuts, and is packaged with caramels from Torn Ranch, mini Star Shortbreads from Walker’s, Chocolate Coins from Lake Champlain Chocolates and a Delphine Jacquard tea towel. All food products are certified kosher.



    Holiday tea gift box from Harney & Sons. Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

    Teas can be purchased in individual tins or in gift sets, with lovely packaging. Discover more holiday selections at

    For anyone who loves tea and wants to learn more about it, we recommend The Harney & Sons Guide To Tea. It’s informative, meant for consumers (as opposed to tea industry professionals), and is full of “Wow, I’m glad to know that” information.



    PRODUCT: Menorah Challah Bread

    There are different ways to braid a challah, but we’ve never seen one this clever.

    To celebrate Chanukah, Hanukkah or however you spell it, Manhattan specialty food purveyor Eli Zabar has created this whimsical challah menorah.

    It’s not kosher, but it is delicious. Order yours at

    At $45, it may be the costliest bread you’ve ever eaten; but the extra labor to create the menorah must be factored in.


    A menorah made from challah from


    Challah is a special braided bread consumed on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays.

    According to Jewish tradition, the three Sabbath meals (Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and Saturday dinner) and two meals for each holiday (dinner the evening of the holiday and lunch the following day) each begin with two complete loaves of challah. This two loaves commemorate the manna that fell from the heavens to feed the Israelites as they wandered in the desert after their exodus from Egypt.

    According to the legend, manna did not fall on Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion would fall the day before.

    By tradition, each single loaf loaf of challah is woven from six ropes of dough. The braided loaf is then brushed with an egg wash before baking, which adds a golden sheen. Together, both loaves have twelve strands, which represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

    Traditional challah is a sweet, eggy bread mixed from eggs (often five of them), fine white flour, water, sugar, yeast, and salt.

  • Honey or molasses can be substituted as a sweetener.
  • Some bakers add raisins to the dough, and/or sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds on top of the loaf for added flavor.
  • To accommodate contemporary dietary needs, modern recipes can be eggless or gluten free (made with oat flour), or can be made with whole wheat flour.
    Unlike brioche, another sweet, eggy bread, challah is usually parve, containing no butter or milk.


    It is not “hollah.” The “ch” at the beginning of the word is a gutteral sound most familiar as the German “ach,” or the American expression of disgust, “yech.”

    Here’s the actual pronunciation in an audio file (just click).



    HOLIDAY: Challah Stuffing Recipe For Thanksgivukkah

    In case you’ve been off the grid, the hot holiday news this year is that for the first time in history, Thanksgiving coincides with Hanukkah. It’s been dubbed Thanksgivukkah. And it won’t happen again for another 70,000 years.

    So even if you’re not Jewish, think of celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime (many lifetimes, actually) double holiday by adding a Hanukkah tradition.

    Here’s an easy switch recipe: challah stuffing. This recipe is courtesy, one of our favorite recipe bloggers. It adds sausage, and uses a slow cooker, which saves oven space.

    Prep time is 35 minutes, cook time is 4 hours 30 minutes.


    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings


    Challah stuffing. Recipe and photo courtesy


  • Optional: 12 ounces turkey or chicken sausage, ground or removed from casing
  • 1 large challah (about 1½ lbs)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or 6 tbsp if not using sausage)
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped (or 1½ teaspoons dried sage)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram, chopped (or 1½ teaspoons dried marjoram)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
  • 1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth
  • 1 pound sliced white mushrooms
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Salt and pepper

    A plain challah is fine. If you have one with
    sesame seeds, it adds a bit more flavor.
    Photo © Lindsay Basson | Fotolia.



  • Large sauté pan
  • Large skillet
  • Mixing bowls (including one very large size)
  • 5 to 6 quart crock pot or slow cooker

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Cut the challah into ½ inch cubes. Spread the cubes out across two baking sheets. Place the trays in the oven for about 12 minutes, switching trays on racks halfway through cooking. The challah cubes should be toasted and slightly golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

    2. HEAT 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high. Add sausage to the pan and cook until browned. Transfer to a bowl using a slotted spoon and reserve for later. Variation: If you don’t want to include sausage, skip that step and begin by first sautéing the onions, carrots and celery in 6 tablespoons of olive oil, then continue the recipe as written, omitting the sausage.


    3. ADD the onions, carrots and celery to the same pan and sauté for 5-6 minutes until softened and fragrant. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.

    4. POUR 2½ cups of chicken broth into the pan along with 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Remove from heat. Reserve remaining chicken broth.

    5. HEAT the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a clean skillet over medium high heat. Add sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Sauté for 10 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to brown and shrink in size. Remove from heat. You may need to cook the mushrooms in two batches depending on the size of your skillet.

    6. COMBINE in a very large mixing bowl the challah cubes, sausage, vegetable/chicken broth mixture, mushrooms and herbs. Stir to blend all ingredients, making sure the challah cubes are evenly moistened. Add the beaten eggs to the mixture and stir until they are fully incorporated into the stuffing. The mixture may seem dry now, but wait to add more broth until it’s had a chance to cook—the liquid will slowly be absorbed by the bread.

    7. SPRAY the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray; then pour in the challah mixture.

    8. SET slow cooker on high heat and cover the pot. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and stir to redistribute the liquid throughout the stuffing, then check the stuffing for dryness. If it still seems dry, drizzle a little more broth over the top of the stuffing and stir again. Return the lid and reduce heat to low.

    9. COOK on low for 4 hours, checking and stirring every hour to make sure the stuffing isn’t too dry. If it is, add more broth—carefully, as it can easily go from the right texture to overly wet and mushy. After 4 hours, stir, taste, and add more salt or pepper, if desired. Switch to warm setting until ready to serve.



    CHANUKAH: Build A Cookie Chanukah House

    Manischewitz’s Chanukah House Kit. Photo
    courtesy Manischewitz.


    For centuries, many children have celebrated Christmas by decorating a gingerbread house. While there’s nothing religious about it, it is a Christian tradition.

    Now, Jewish children have their own holiday house: a vanilla cookie house called—wait for it—Chanukah House.

    The Manischewitz Chanukah House Decorating Kit includes everything you need to build and design your house: a vanilla cookie base and an assortment of toppings and additions to decorate the house.

    The toppings include blue, white, and yellow icing, sprinkles, mini beads, fondant, sugar and decorative sugar pieces of a Star of David and a menorah. Of course, you can add design elements from your own candy stash.


    If you don’t want a whole house, there is also a Chanukah Sugar Cookie Decorating Kit that contains 4 vanilla cookies shaped like dreidels and menorahs, with a similar selection of sugar decorations.

    The suggested retail price is $14.99 for the Chanukah House Decorating Kit and $9.99 for the Chanukah Sugar Cookie Decorating Kit.



    Through December 15, 2012, you can upload a photo of your hand-decorated Chanukah House to the Manischewitz Facebook page, for the chance to win a cash prize or Manischewitz products.

    The official rules are on the Facebook page.


    If you’d prefer a gingerbread house, Best Cookies makes one in Chanukah colors; you can buy it online.

    Both cookie houses are certified kosher (dairy).


    A gingerbread “Chanukah house” from Best Cookies. Photo courtesy Best Cookies.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: 100+ Gourmet Food Gifts

    Our Top Pick Of The Week is a bit different this week: There are more than 100 of them.

    All year, THE NIBBLE elves seek out and taste (or test) thousands of foods and drinks, kitchen products and books.

    When we find something that we think a food lover would really appreciate, we earmark it for one of our holiday gift lists.

  • Book Gifts ~ General Gourmet
  • Book Gifts ~ Healthy Cooking
  • Chocolate Gifts
  • Cookies, Cakes & Other Desserts
  • General Gourmet Gifts
  • Kids’ Gifts
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Kitchen Gadgets
  • Kosher Gifts
  • Liquor Gifts
  • Stocking Stuffers: Kitchen
  • Stocking Stuffers: Savory
  • Stocking Stuffers: Sweet
  • Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free & Low Calorie Gifts

    A six-ounce box of excellent chocolate-dipped
    peppermint sticks is just $5.95. Photo
    courtesy King Leo Candies.

    Most gifts are less than $40; many are $20 and $25. Kitchen appliances are, understandably, more.

    You can find stocking stuffers for as little as $2. (Because of the recession, we didn’t create a “Luxury Gifts” list this year.)

    If your mission this weekend is holiday shopping, consider clicking instead of elbowing the crowds. Don’t let shipping costs dissuade you. Think instead of gas, parking battles, lengthy treks and long waits to pay (or get a gift box!).


    RECIPE: Celebrate Hanukkah With Latkes

    Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival Of Lights, begins at sundown today.

    In addition to lighting the ceremonial candelabra, the menorah, there are favorite holiday foods.

    Our personal favorite is the potato latke, or pancake, made from grated potatoes and onion, bound with eggs and fried.

    You don’t have to be Jewish to love a latke (pronounced LOT-ka—the word is Yiddish, derived from the Belarusian latka).

    Enjoy this latke recipe with white potatoes or sweet potatoes (our favorite).

    They’re often served with a brisket of beef, but will complement just about anything.

    Happy Hanukkah!


    Potato latkes with applesauce. Photo
    courtesy Zabar’s.

    QUESTION: Do you spell the holiday Chanukah or Hanukkah?
    A look at Google today showed that in the past month, 450,000 people searched for “Hanukkah”; only 110,000 searched for “Chanukah.” And 22,000 people searched for “latke,” with another 80,000 or so searching for “latke” plus another word—“latke recipe,” “Potato Latke,” etc.


    GIFT OF THE DAY: Honey Crème

    Creamed raspberry honey is irresistible.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.


    Honey Ridge Farms has a solution for inexpensive yet delicious small gifts and stocking stuffers.

    The company blends its clover honey with fruit or spice to create Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced Honey Crèmes.

    Luscious, yet light on the palate, these honey crèmes are delicious on just about anything: toast, scones, waffles ice cream, or as a cheese condiment. Add some to grilling sauces or marinades; and by all means, sweeten tea or other beverages. Flavors include Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced.

    The honeys are available in 2.25-ounce, 5.5-ounce and 12-ounce jars at $3.49, $4.99 and $8.99, respectively. For a larger gift, consider a gift crate with three 5.5-ounce jars. Purchase online at

  • See all of our favorite gourmet food gifts for Holiday 2010.
  • Check out the history of honey.
  • Discover the different types of honey.
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