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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Chanukah

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 EliZabar.com.

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 Elizabar.com.

WHAT EXACTLY IS CHALLAH BREAD?

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.

    HOW TO PRONOUNCE “CHALLAH”

    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).

      

    Comments

    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 TheShiksa.com, 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.

    RECIPE: CHALLAH STUFFING

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

     

    Challah stuffing. Recipe and photo courtesy
    TheShiksa.com.

     

  • 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.

     

    Equipment

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

    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.

      

    Comments

    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.

     

    ENTER YOUR HOUSE IN THE DESIGN CONTEST

    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.

    CHANUKAH GINGERBREAD HOUSE

    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.

      

    Comments

    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!).

    Comments

    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.

    Comments

    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 HoneyRidgeFarms.com.

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

    GIFT OF THE DAY: Chanukah Gifts

    These yummy personalized jumbo sugar
    cookies from Harry & David make a perfect
    small gift or party favor. Photo by
    Katharine Pollak | The Nibble.

     

    Chanukah/Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, begins at sundown on Wednesday, December 1st. It continues through sundown on Thursday, December 9.

    There’s a gift for everyone on our list of kosher Hanukkah gifts: cheese, chocolates, cookies, nuts, toffee and other delicious gifts.

    Take a peek; then come back for a little Hanukkah history.

    The holiday commemorates a battle that took place some 2,200 years ago. Judea, the land of the Jews (the southern part of what is now Israel), was under the rule of Greece.

    A Greco-Syrian king forbade the Jewish people from observing their religion. They were prohibited from praying to their God, studying the Torah* and practicing their customs.

    A small group of resistance fighters called the Maccabees waged war for three years to drive the very large Greco-Syrian army out of Judea. When they returned to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, they cleaned and rededicated their house of worship.

    Here’s what most people remember about the Hanukkah story:

    The Maccabees discovered that the enemy had defiled the oil which was used to light the temple’s menorah (lamp). Only enough purified oil remained to light the menorah 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.

    Thus, the Hanukkah Menorah holds eight candles plus a shamash† candle used to light the eight. And why Hanukkah lasts for eight days.

    *Today the Torah comprises the five books of the Old Testament, which contain Judaism’s founding laws and ethical texts.

    †The Hebrew word shamash means “the attendant.” The beadle (synagogue attendant) in a temple is also called a shamash.

    Comments

    HOLIDAY: Happy Chanukah

    Chanukah, the festival of lights, starts at sunset tonight through sunset, December 19th, or in the Hebrew calendar, the 24th of Kislev, 5770. Most people enjoy celebrating with potato latkes (you can send them as a gift from Linda’s Latkes).

    Even if you’re not Jewish, why not make some latkes over the weekend, and join the never-ending discussion over which is the better topping: applesauce or sour cream. (In our book, it’s crème fraîche and salmon caviar.)

    But, for something a little different:

  • Bake a challah with this recipe.
  • Make a pasta salad with kosher star-of-David-shaped pasta from The Pasta Shoppe (read our review).
  • Review the history of Chanukah, and why a menorah is lit for eight nights.
  •  

    dreidel-pasta-230

    Star Of David pasta from The Pasta Shoppe.

    Take a look at our favorite kosher Chanukah gifts for 2009 (or 5770, as it were). For those concerned about packing on the pounds over the holidays, our favorite guilt-free munchies are the Tillen Farms Pickled Vegetables. They prove that, while others are enjoying the latkes and the brownies, the calorie- and carb-counters can have their own fabulous treats.

    Comments










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