Never mind the cultural appropriation, here’s the latkes and kugel

We’re about halfway through Chanukah! This Friday is the last evening. I guess some Christians have taken to lighting menorahs, which is weird, especially if you already have an advent wreath to light. So I wrote 760 words about why it’s weird. Then I deleted them! Because I have a better idea: Let’s eat. 

Food is almost never appropriation. It’s just food, and it’s meant to be shared. Individual dishes are meant to be shared with other people at your table, and recipes are meant to be shared with people all around the world. It’s food! Have some!

Here are three Chanukah-worthy recipes: Jelly donut puffs, latkes, and noodle kugel.

Last year, I made jelly donuts (sufganiyot) using this King Arthur Flour recipe, which doesn’t use yeast. They describe it as “light doughnuts with a crisp exterior and wonderfully tender, creamy interior,” and that’s accurate. It’s a simple recipe and it went great except for the part where you get the jelly inside the donuts. I made a complete hash out of this part, and got jelly and sugar everywhere.

Nobody complained, mind you; but nevertheless, this year, I opted to buy a giant tub of jelly munchkins at Dunkin’ Donuts instead, and again, nobody complained. (They actually do come in a tub.)

Jelly donuts are a traditional Hanukkah food because they’re cooked in oil, which is a feature of the Hanukkah story. The jelly part signifies that jelly is delicious. 

I also intend to make (or possibly stand back while someone else makes) a ton of potato latkes. I don’t go for a lot of add-ins with latkes, although there are a million crazy varieties.

The secret is to let the shredded potato drain in a colander for a while, and then squeeze the heck out it before you mix it into the batter, so it isn’t too soggy when you fry the latkes. You want a crisp outside and a yielding, mealy center. I like mine with a little sour cream and apple sauce. Here’s the recipe:

Potato latkes

Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

  2. Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well. 

  3. Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying. 

  4. Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.  

  5. Take a handful of the potato mixture, flatten it slightly, and lay it in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, making several batches to leave room in between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven, but not too long. 

  6. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices. 

This year, the last night of Chanukah is a Friday, so for a meatless meal, I’m going to make latkes and a cozy little noodle kugel.  Kugel, with a “u” like in “put,” is a sort of baked pudding, and it is not a dish of subtlety or sophistication. It is a dish of egg noodles and sweet cheese and plump little raisins, and you serve it in steaming wedges. Here’s a recipe that resembles the one my mother used to use. My mother was not a great cook, but her kugels were hearty and comforting. I may add in some apple bits and maybe soak the raisins in something interesting. 

Here’s a Wikipedia photo, since I haven’t made mine yet:

Stuart Spivack, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Some kugels are savory, with onions and vegetables, rather than sweet. Apparently it’s more common for Litvak-style kugel to be savory, rather than sweet; but more common for sweet kugel to be pronounced “kigel.” But my family, who were Litvaks, favored sweet kugel and pronounced “kugel.” Yet another thing I wish I could ask my parents about. My father keeps turning up in my dreams, and I generally say, “Hey, I thought you were dead!” and he just wiggles his eyebrows at me, so that’s no help. You know, I think eating kugel will help. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 234: In which I discover how to make rugelach without burnt bottoms!

Raise your hand if you’ve been falling asleep on the couch every night. Not that hand, you’re still holding a glass of wine! Oh well, those were old pants anyway.

Before we go any further, here is some Creedence, with Keep On Chooglin’. 

Good for any old time, but especially when you have set yourself up to make 160 little rugelach and every time someone comes into the kitchen, they comment that you just keep on rugelin’, which is true.

Here’s what else we ate this week: 

SATURDAY
Loaded baked potatoes, onion soup

I made this meal mainly so I could stop wondering how this meal would go over, even though I knew the answer would be: Okay. I baked a bunch of giant potatoes and set them out with bacon, sour cream, french onion dip, chili, cheese, scallions, and I forget what else. And I made a pot of onion soup just so they couldn’t say I only fed them potatoes for supper. 

I honestly believe this was just as filling and interesting as any meal I make, but some people just couldn’t get past the mental roadblock of having a side dish as a main dish. So now I can cross that off my “how to be a monster” list, and get back to serving real meals of meat and potato, rather than fake meals of potato and meat. 

They didn’t really complain, but they definitely pondered and discussed for longer than absolutely necessary. Some people don’t remember when the dinner we could afford was oatmeal soup, and it shows! Come to think of it, I don’t really have a problem with that.

Here is my basic onion soup recipe. 

Jump to Recipe

I made it in the Instant Pot just to keep it out of the way, which is legitimately handy sometimes, but there was no other advantage to using the IP instead of the stove to caramelize onions, despite what lies people may tell. You have to let the pot come to pressure, then cook the onions, then release the pressure, and then finish them up on sauté anyway, so it takes exactly as long. I guess there is a little less stirring, but it definitely isn’t a time saver.

SUNDAY
Beef fajita bowls

Last time I made this dish, I went on autopilot and accidentally cut up the meal before marinating it, and then pan fried it. That was very tasty, but this time, I marinated the roasts whole, and oven roasted them (350 for about 40 minutes) and then sliced them up.

(Sorry, I know it’s Friday.)

A vast improvement to an already delicious dish. My goodness, it was so tender and juicy and flavorful. This is a really tangy, savory marinade.

Jump to Recipe

I had mine with rice, meat, guacamole, beans and tomatoes with chili peppers, cilantro, sour cream, fresh lime, and corn chips, and I scooped up some of the sauce from the meat pan and gave everything an extra little gravy baptism, mmmmm hmmmmm.

Somehow I’ve gone most of my life without using Worcestershire sauce, and I did not associate it with Mexican food at all, probably because of the. name. When you live in rural NH, you have to figure these things out the hard way (by reading recipes on the internet). Well, I’m a big fan now! Not quite up to putting it on my pizza, but a fan nonetheless. 

The guacamole was definitely B grade guacamole. Canned tomatoes, garlic powder instead of fresh, canned jalapeños instead of fresh, and the avocados were overripe, so I had to mash them pretty hard, rather than leaving some nice chunks. Here’s my recipe for decent guac:

Jump to Recipe

MONDAY
Hot dogs, chips, beans

Monday was shopping day, so we needed something fast and easy. I used to buy cheapo hot dogs and then a few Hebrew National or something yummier for people who cared. Then I discovered people who care prefer natural casing hot dogs to Hebrew National, so I bought a few of those. Then more people started caring, so I started buying more natural casing hot dogs. But I had it in my head that there needed to be an alternative hot dog, so now I buy a big box of natural casing hot dogs plus a small package of terrible cheap weenies. A few people asked me why, and I had to admit that I did not know. 

TUESDAY
Ravioli, chocolate strawberries

Tuesday was Benny’s birthday. We’re having an at-home party on Saturday, but she really wanted to do some special stuff on the actual day, so she chose dinner (frozen ravioli, can do) and we made chocolate-dipped strawberries. Actually I made one, and then I left the room. This is generally the best way to ensure the kids have a fun kitchen experience. 

She opened one of her presents, Moe made her french toast, and then we played hooky from virtual school and got Wendy’s for lunch, which we attempted to eat on the bridge by the waterfall

but it turned out it’s December, so we finished our meal in the heated car. Which is where I found out that she thought a Baconator was pronounced “buh-CON-ah-torr,” like “matador,” so that was a little present for me, too.  

Then we went to Walmart and bought a new zipper pull for her jacket and a Mickey Mouse balloon, and then Dora stopped by the house with a present of a stack of books she liked when she was that age. Benny ended up having a wonderful day, because she is a wonderful kid.

WEDNESDAY
Chicken thighs with chickpeas

This is one of my favorite meals. I got up and got the chicken thighs marinating in the yogurt marinade pretty early, and also got the yogurt dipping sauce and the onion salad made; so when it was time to eat, all I had to do was open a bunch of cans of chickpeas and throw it all on a pan to cook. 

If you like shawarma, you will probably like this meal. If you like crispy, toothsome chicken skin, you will adore this meal. 

We had plenty of pita bread and I was so happy, tearing off bits and dunking it in the yogurt sauce and scooping up a little bright, lemony red onion and cilantro. The chicken just falls off the bone, and the salty chickpeas are a little chompy on the outside and tender and mealy on the inside. So good. The yogurt sauce came out so garlicky, my breath was glowing in the dark.

THURSDAY
Salad with chicken

Bit of a lackluster meal. I was planning a hearty, harvest-y salad, like this one, maybe with candied yams on the side, but I ended up just roasting some chicken breast and serving it on greens with dried cranberries and crumbled goat cheese. Oh, I did make a big batch of croutons from our vast collection of stale rolls and hot dog buns.

I didn’t even end up eating dinner, because I got caught up in a sudden baking frenzy. I made rum balls and, because it was the first night of Chanukah, three kinds of rugelach. 

Jump to Recipe

 (this is an updated recipe card, with step by step pictures, simplified and improved from the previous version I’ve shared)

Let me tell you about rugelach. To me, they taste normal and cozy when the bottoms are absolutely burnt to hell, like this:

This is because, no matter how thinly you spread the filling on the dough, it oozes out, pools around the pastry, and then burns. Normal, but so frustrating. 

WELL.

I always say I hate baking, but really what I hate is feeling stupid, and baking almost always makes me feel stupid. But this one time, I felt smart! I made a big batch of rugelach dough, enough for eight batches, and I kept on experimenting until I figured out how to get golden brown rugelach without a burned bottom.

 You line a pan with parchment paper to contain the mess, but you put a baking rack on top of that, spray it with cooking spray, and bake the rugelach on the rack, and then the filling still oozes out, but it oozes onto the parchment paper below

leaving your rugelach unburnt!

Then you move the rugelach off the rack onto a lined tray as soon as they come out of the oven. If you wait, they will just cement themselves to the rack, and they won’t burn, but the bottoms will get torn up. I find a butter knife is the best tool for this job, and you will absolutely burn your fingers, oh well. 

I made three kinds: Apricot walnut (my favorite)

blueberry, which for some reason doesn’t brown up as much,

and Nutella.

Lovely. This recipe is labor intensive, but requires very little skill. The dough comes out light and tender, but it’s much, much easier than pie crust or other kinds of pastry dough. It holds together very well and doesn’t need a light touch. It’s just butter, cream cheese, and flour, and then you roll it in tons of sugar. Spread your filling on, cut it in triangles, roll them up, and bake, doop! Here’s the recipe again:

Jump to Recipe

Some fruit fillings ooze more than others, but you won’t really know until you try them. I really love rugelach. They are so cute and nice, and they freeze well, too, so you can make a bunch and give them out as gifts. 

Oh, the rum balls, I made using this recipe, but I used chocolate wafers rather than vanilla ones, because that’s what they had at Aldi. I can’t taste them because migraine, but the kids said they were good. I made some rolled in powdered sugar and some rolled in little candy balls. Wishing I had done some in finely-chopped nuts, but I have no idea where I put the nuts.

FRIDAY
Pizza

And don’t you forget it! I got some olives and artichoke hearts and we’ll just have to see what’s nessa. 

Okay, here are the recipe cards!  We made it through another week, and good for us. 

Simple French onion soup

Serve with a piece of toasted baguette at the bottom of each bowl. Finish with cheese on top.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 cups onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 4-6 cups beef broth (can also use chicken broth or a combination of water and white wine)
  • pepper
  • parmesan or mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. In a heavy pot, melt the butter and then add the onions. Cook very slowly over a low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and somewhat darkened.

  2. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Stir in the flour and mix to coat.

  3. Add the broth (or water and wine). Add pepper to taste and simmer for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.

  4. Serve with a hunk of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Sprinkle cheese on top, and if you have oven-safe dishes, brown under the broiler to form a skin on top of the soup.

 

5 from 1 vote
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Beef marinade for fajita bowls

enough for 6-7 lbs of beef

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.

  2. Pour over beef, sliced or unsliced, and marinate several hours. If the meat is sliced, pan fry. If not, cook in a 350 oven, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. I cook the meat in all the marinade and then use the excess as gravy.

 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

 

chocolate-dipped strawberries (or chocolate-dipped anything)

Basic chocolate dip for just about anything. The shortening makes it smoother and helps it harden into a shell, rather than remaining gooey. Do not use Aldi chocolate chips! They melt very badly. Also be sure to dry strawberries thoroughly, or the chocolate won't adhere well.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb strawberries, washed and dried thoroughly
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp shortening

Instructions

  1. In the microwave or the top pot of a double boiler, heat the chocolate chips and shortening until they are melted, stirring frequently until the mixture is smooth.

  2. Grasping the strawberries by the leaves, dip them in the melted chocolate and shake them gently to get excess chocolate off.

  3. Lay them on a tray covered with wax paper or parchment paper and let them harden in a cool spot for an hour. If you leave them in the refrigerator for more than a day, the chocolate will begin to separate slightly from the strawberry.

 

Cumin chicken thighs with chickpeas in yogurt sauce

A one-pan dish, but you won't want to skip the sides. Make with red onions and cilantro in lemon juice, pita bread and yogurt sauce, and pomegranates, grapes, or maybe fried eggplant. 

Ingredients

  • 18 chicken thighs
  • 32 oz full fat yogurt, preferably Greek
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp cumin, divided
  • 4-6 cans chickpeas
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 red onions, sliced thinly

For garnishes:

  • 2 red onions sliced thinly
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 32 oz Greek yogurt for dipping sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Mix full fat Greek yogurt and with lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. Marinate several hours. 

    About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.

    Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, the remaining tablespoon of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.

    Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.

    The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.

Garnishes:

  1. While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:

     -Chop up some cilantro for sprinkling if people like.

     -Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper and more cilantro. 

     -Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper. 

 

Yogurt sauce

Ingredients

  • 32 oz full fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • fresh parsley or dill, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together. Use for spreading on grilled meats, dipping pita or vegetables, etc. 

Rugelach

These are tender little pastries for Chanukah or any time. Use whatever kind of filling you like: Jams, preserves, cinnamon sugar, nutella, etc. These are time consuming, but don't take much skill, and they freeze well, so they make pretty little gifts.

Servings 80 rugelach

Ingredients

dough

  • half pound butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup or more sugar, for rolling

filling

  • 1/4-1/2 cup preserves or other filling
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add in the flour and keep mixing until smooth. You can do this by hand, but it will take a while! The dough should be fairly stiff and not sticky when it's done.

  2. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400.

  4. Prepare a pan by lining it with parchment paper, then spraying a baking rack and putting the rack on the parchment paper. Line a second pan with parchment paper, to which you will remove the rugelach when they come out of the oven.

  5. Use the sugar to cover your work space, and use a rolling pin to roll a ball of dough into a round shape the size of a large plate. It should be thin enough to flap a bit when you give it a shake. If your rolling pin sticks, sprinkle more sugar on. You can turn the dough over to make sure both sides get sugared. It doesn't have to be perfectly round, as it will be cut into pieces.

  6. Spread the jam or other filling over the dough, leaving an open space in the middle. If you're adding nuts, sprinkle them over the filling.

  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 16-20 triangles.

  8. Roll each triangle up from the outside in. Place each rolled rugelach on the sprayed baking rack on the pan, with the skinny point down. They puff up a bit, so leave the space of one rugelach in between.

  9. Repeat for each ball of dough.

  10. Bake for ten minutes. If the dough isn't golden brown, give it another two minutes. These go from perfect to burnt very quickly, so be alert.

  11. When they bake, the filling will ooze out and pool and burn on the parchment paper, but the rugelach will not burn.

  12. When the rugelach come out of the oven, immediately use a butter knife to transfer them to another pan or rack to cool.

  13. Once they are cool, they can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the freezer for weeks without harm.

 

What’s for supper? Vol. 197: Latkes! Jelly donuts! Sushi! Oh the sushi! and Calzones.

Happy new year! If I had stayed on track back in October, I would have hit Vol. 200 of What’s For Supper right on Christmas. Instead, here we are, starting out the new year and new decade with . . . Vol. 197. The good news is, I won’t wake up at 3:45 a.m. feeling bad about this, because I’ll be too busy feeling terrible about not doing a podcast, not exercising, why is my fat head so fat, not inculcating my kids with a love of the saints and the arts, and the fact that one of them saw a bumper sticker that said “GOD BLESS JOHNNY CASH” and disagreed. Also, one of them heard Bob Dylan for the first time and said, “Who crawled into a hole and found this guy crouching there?” but I can’t really argue with that. 

Anyway, here’s what we had this week, spanning 2019 and 2020 or whatever it is:

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese, chips, broccoli and dip

I had to spell “broccoli” three times before the red line went away. 

SUNDAY
Hamburgers, cheezy weezies, more broccoli

I ate broccoli with the fervor of someone who needs vegetables like fresh meat needs salt and vegetables. 

MONDAY
Beef barley soup, jelly donuts

Monday was the last night of Hanukkah– 

Wait, did I show you my lovely latkes? I guess that was during that weird in-between week after Christmas day, during Hanukkah, before New Year’s. Weird, man. Anyway, we have some lovely latkes, which I will now show to you:

It was a Friday and we finally decided that Friday within the octave of Christmas was a very nice day indeed, but not a solemnity, so it had to be meatless. I dunno, we get scrupey sometimes. But I really wanted latkes, so I went to the store and brought home the following side dishes: Frozen cheese blintzes, which I served with blackberry jam; frozen cheesy bread sticks, which I served with marinara sauce; crab cakes with lemon wedges; almond stollen; and crackers with sour cream, smoked salmon, and caviar. This is how we preserve Fridays as a day of penance and I don’t want to talk about it. 

Latke recipe card at the end. See my latkes! See my lovely latkes!

Gosh, they were so good. Crispy on the outside and soft and mealy inside, just right. 

Okay, so I was saying how Monday was my final chance to try making jelly donuts. (It’s traditional to eat foods cooked in oil, to commemorate the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days in the temple lamps.) I didn’t feel lucky about using yeast, so I found this King Arthur recipe for easy donut holes that just uses baking powder. It really was easy. (I did use a candy thermometer to make sure the oil was hot enough, and was very surprised at how long it took to come to 350. If I had been winging it, I would have started frying much too soon.)

You just mix up the batter (and if it seems too thin, let it sit for a bit, and it becomes more dough-like) and blop it into hot oil. It puffs into cute little balls,

which you then roll in sugar and fill with jelly. 

Actually the recipe says to put the jelly in first and then roll them in sugar, which makes no sense to me.

See, you get sugar on your jelly. It’s weird.

It also makes no sense to attempt to make jelly donuts when the most advanced jelly-squirting equipment you own is a sandwich bag, and yet that is what I did. 

They became somewhat less cute in the process, but the kids did like them, so I may make it a tradition. But I will make sure I have some kind of pastry bag or injecting tool, because yeesh, what a mess. 

Oh, the soup was good. Beef barley soup is always good. 

Jelly donuts were a strangely good match for the soup, I thought. Although I may have become deranged from breathing in hot oil. Honest to goodness, Hanukkah is going to kill me. Don’t tell my doctor. Tell him about the broccoli. 

TUESDAY
NYE Sushi party!

I took most of the kids to the vigil mass while Damien and Lena covered some political thing. Corrie was . . . she wasn’t even being bad. She was just being Ultra Corrie. Right at the elevation of the Host, she turned to me with a scratch pad picture clenched in her teeth, and, through clenched teeth, said, “This is a picture of you, dead.” Which it was. 

Then we came home and STARTED MAKING SUSHI. This is our New Year’s Eve tradition, and I like it. Normally we make DIY sushi cones (which just means you take a sheet of seaweed, slap some rice in one corner, poke whatever you want on top of the rice, and then roll or wad it up and stick it in your mouth; but this year, I attempted actual rolled sushi. It wasn’t that hard, with a bamboo rolling mat, but you can see, these are a little rough.

Oops, forgot the fishy eggs! Shprinkle, shrpinkle, fishy eggs. 

Next year I’ll watch some videos first, but we muddled through. I also bought a few kits of something called sushi candy, which turned out to be plastic trays with little packets of powder marked “tuna,” “seaweed,” “rice,” etc. , and you mixed the contents with water from a little dropper and used a tiny plastic paddle to make various kinds of gelatinous heaps of gel that actually resembled tuna, seaweed, rice, etc. Then you could shape them into sushi. It was simultaneously ingenious and very terrible, which has been my experience with every single kind of Asian candy. 

I made a batch of good rice (Nishiki brand. They look like mother of pearl) and mixed it gently with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt (I cooked eight cups of raw rice and used 1 cup of rice vinegar, half a cup of sugar, and 3 tablespoons of salt. You put the vinegar, salt, and sugar in a pot and heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, then fold it gently into the cooked rice while someone stands there fanning it with a paper plate so it doesn’t make the rice mushy). The Instant Pot makes great, sticky rice for sushi. 

We had raw salmon and raw tuna, seared mahi mahi, sautéed calamari, black caviar (couldn’t find any of that neat red-orange roe), little cooked shrimpies, sticks of cucumbers, avocado, and mango; wasabi sauce, sriracha mayo, pickled ginger, and of course soy sauce. We needed more crunchy elements. Maybe next time I will do a shrimp tempura. Or even just toast up some panko flakes. You know, it takes a lot of sushi to make twelve people feel like they ate too much, but we managed. 

We did make a bunch of hot dogs just to make sure everyone had something to eat (and this accounts for the bottle of ketchup you may see in some photos! We may be uncultured swine, but we do not put ketchup on our sushi). Then, according to tradition, we watched a Marx Brothers movie. This time it was A Night At the Opera, one of the best. Boogie boogie boogie!

WEDNESDAY
Calzones, banana splits

Birthday! She was the first child born in that city on New Year’s Day. They sent a reporter and photographer to the hospital and tried to get me to say that it wasn’t a big deal because we already had a bunch of other babies. I remember saying that it was a big deal, though, so there. Sophia is still a big deal, and always will be. 

We went to see a Star War (and I am exactly the right level of Star Wars fan, which means that I had a vague idea of who most of the people were, and found the movie entertaining and nice, and then as soon as the lights came on, I forgot about everything I just saw) and then came home for calzones and banana splits. A few of them spilled their guts in the pan

But most of them retained their dignity.

Corrie helped me with the egg wash, which she called “polish.” 

THURSDAY
Nachos

The high school kids had to go back to school on Thursday, can you believe it? The other kids were still on vacation, and had an “argh, vacation is almost over and we didn’t have enough fun” sleepover. I went to visit my mom and somehow persuaded myself that I’d be back in town in time to take the little guys to the caterpillar lab thing, but I barely had time to buy extra meat and fry it up before dinner. You can see that I went all out with the exotic seasonings.

Today, caterpillar lab o morte

FRIDAY
Pahster.

And very find pahster it was. I decided I didn’t want to deal with caterpillars, and we went to the children’s museum instead. Here is a photo of Benny and Corrie, intergalactic heroes, running out of oxygen shortly before crashing into the sun.

(Ten years later, they returned triumphantly to earth with a dog they had rescued from space, so don’t worry!)

And here are your recipe cards! Smell you next week. 

Potato latkes

Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

  2. Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well. 

  3. Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying. 

  4. Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.  

  5. Take a handful of the potato mixture, flatten it slightly, and lay it in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, making several batches to leave room in between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven, but not too long. 

  6. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices. 

 

Beef barley soup (Instant Pot or stovetop)

Makes about a gallon of lovely soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or red onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 lbs beef, cubed
  • 16 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 6 cups beef bouillon
  • 1 cup merlot or other red wine
  • 29 oz canned diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice) with juice
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy pot. If using Instant Pot, choose "saute." Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and carrots are softened. 


  2. Add the cubes of beef and cook until slightly browned.

  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the beef broth, and the merlot, plus 3 cups of water. Stir and add the mushrooms and barley. 

  4. If cooking on stovetop, cover loosely and let simmer for several hours. If using Instant Pot, close top, close valve, and set to high pressure for 30 minutes. 

  5. Before serving, add pepper to taste. Salt if necessary. 

Calzones

This is the basic recipe for cheese calzones. You can add whatever you'd like, just like with pizza. Warm up some marinara sauce and serve it on the side for dipping. 

Servings 12 calzones

Ingredients

  • 3 balls pizza dough
  • 32 oz ricotta
  • 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 egg yolks for brushing on top
  • any extra fillings you like: pepperoni, olives, sausage, basil, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400. 

  2. Mix together filling ingredients. 

  3. Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate. 

  4. Put a 1/2 cup or so of filling into the middle of each circle of dough circle. (You can add other things in at this point - pepperoni, olives, etc. - if you haven't already added them to the filling) Fold the dough circle in half and pinch the edges together tightly to make a wedge-shaped calzone. 

  5. Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends. 

  6. Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones. 

  7. Grease and flour a large pan (or use corn meal or bread crumbs instead of flour). Lay the calzones on the pan, leaving some room for them to expand a bit. 

  8. Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.  

What’s for supper? Vol. 153: Hugs and knishes

This week, we ate like kings! Kings who should look around for a new menu planner.

SATURDAY
Brats and chips

Nothing to report. Brats are good.

SUNDAY
Grilled chicken on baby spinach with feta, green apples, and pecans; potato latkes with sour cream

So when I was planning the menu last weekend, I forgot that it was Hanukkah week, so I didn’t really plan meals around Jewish food. Planning a meal around Jewish food is like choosing knick knacks when the middle of your room looks like this:

You’re not complaining, but you will not have a lot of extra space to work with, either.

Hanukkah food, in particular, is supposed to involve oil, to recall the miracle of the lamp oil that lasted eight days. So, latkes! You can make matzoh meal latkes or potato latkes. If you have a food processor, I strongly suggest  potato. You shred them, mix it with a batter of egg, flour, salt and pepper, and fry them up in oil.

This recipe calls for making a pouch out of cheesecloth and letting it drain in a colander for half a hour, because potatoes give up a ton of water; but I was in a hurry, so I just gave each handful of potato batter a good squeeze before I put it in the oil, and they turned out lovely. I’ll write up a recipe card for the end.

We had them with sour cream and slices of apple.

Crisp and crunchy outside, tender and mealy inside. Perfect. I may make them again before Hanukkah is over. Can I just say, having no baby and not being pregnant is actually kind of exciting? I can, like, do things.

MONDAY
Grilled ham, cheese, and apple sandwiches

Always a favorite. I had two green apples left, so I sliced them nice and thin. Sourdough bread, cheddar cheese, ham, apples with the skin on, and more cheese, with mayo on the outside of the bread,

and grilled lightly in butter.

 

Listen, we’re bulking up for winter. Must stay warm. Pickles help, too.

TUESDAY
Kielbasa with roast red potatoes and cabbage

A super easy one-pan meal from Damn Delicious. Chop the potatoes, chop the kielbasa, slice the cabbage. Everything gets some olive oil, salt, and pepper, pop it in the oven, flip it once, back in the oven, and that’s it.

The balsamic mustard sauce recipe she gives is too oily for my tastes, so I used my own proportions, which the kids pronounced “too mustardy.”

WEDNESDAY
Carnitas, guacamole, beans and rice

I put a pork shoulder in the slow cooker with beer, salt and pepper, chili powder, and adobo peppers. When it was done, I pulled away the fat and shredded it, then browned it up under the broiler with some of the peppers, plus plenty of salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder.

The beans and rice and guac were a little bland, but it was a decent meal anyway. Recipe cards at the end.

THURSDAY
Um, fish tacos, shrimp tacos, and knishes; tortilla chips

Remember, I had forgotten it was Hanukkah when I planned the menu. Normally I make fish tacos with frozen fish, shredded cabbage, avocado, cilantro, and lime juice. I had all that, and Damien also said he would cook up some shrimp if it was on sale, which it was. He mixed up the shrimp with a tablespoon of garlic powder, a little chili powder, salt, and lime juice, and sautéed it in olive oil with red pepper flakes. Yuhm.

And then Dora decided she wanted to spend her day off making knishes (which are little sort of dense dumpling snacks with filling and dough. I’m most familiar with a sort of mashed potato and onion filling and a fried, crusty wrapper, but there are tons of variations). She’s at work at the moment, but I’ll get her recipe when she gets home.

I warned her that knishes are not to be undertaken lightly, either to cook or to eat. I can still taste the last knish I had, which was back in 2016.  Well, she did it anyway, and it took, like, seven hours. You have to make the filling, make the dough, roll the dough, fill it, roll it up, cut it up, wrap them, and then cook them. She used a baked knish recipe, which I had never heard of. And she made . . .  eighty four of them?

They were super (and yes, that is one of my alert children giving the knishes bunny ears for the camera). Quite different from knishes of my past, so a new kind of delicious. I had mine with the balsamic mustard sauce from the other night. L’chaim! I’m eating two more as I type.

FRIDAY
Pasta

The high school kids have the day off, and guess what Clara’s doing? Making mini apple pies. I think this is what they meant by “your children will rise up and bless you.”

Potato latkes

Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

  2. Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well. 

  3. Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying. 

  4. Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.  

  5. Take a handful of the potato mixture, flatten it slightly, and lay it in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, making several batches to leave room in between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven, but not too long. 

  6. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices. 

4 from 1 vote
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Slow cooker carnitas

Serve on tortillas with sour cream, guacamole, beans and rice, salsa, cilantro, or whatever you like.

Ingredients

  • 1 pork shoulder
  • 1 can beer (or soda)
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Put pork shoulder in slow cooker with beer. Cook on low for five hours or more, until pork falls apart when poked. 

  2. Preheat broiler. 

  3. Shred meat, mix together with spices, and spread in a thin layer on a shallow pan. Broil for a few minutes until meat is slightly crisped.  

  4. Serve on tortillas with whatever additions you like. 

Beans and rice

A good side dish, a main course for meatless meals, or to serve inside carnitas, etc.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 15-oz cans red or black beans, drained
  • 1 20-oz can diced tomatoes with some of the juice
  • 1 diced jalapeno
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook rice. Add rest of ingredients, adjusting spices to taste. If it's too dry, add more tomato juice. 

 

White Lady From NH's Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, diced

Instructions

  1. Peel avocados. Mash two and dice two. 

  2. Mix together with rest of ingredients and add seasonings.

  3. Cover tightly, as it becomes discolored quickly. 

How (and how not) to make rugelach for Hanukkah

Hey, it’s your friendly neighborhood Jew(ish) lady! It’s the first night of Hanukkah tonight, and I’m here to show you how to make rugelach (and what horrible errors to avoid). The fact that I kept on chugging even after screwing it up so many times tells you how good rugelach are.

This post has been edited to reflect some changes I figured out this year. You can skip the recipe card at the end for the final version, in which I solve some of the problems described here. 

Jump to Recipe

Rugelach (pronounced “ROO-guh-lachhh,” possibly Yiddish for “little twists,”) are sticky little filled pastries, made of insanely rich, tender dough and rolled up with any kind of sweet filling you like. My favorite is apricot and walnut, but you can also use raspberry or any other fruit preserves, nuts-and-cinnamon, sour cherry, raisins, poppy seeds, even Nutella. A few years ago, for Thanksgivukkah, and I made pecan pie rugelach. Rugelach will work with you.

Other spellings: rugelakh, rugulach, rugalach, ruggalach, rogelach. These are all plurals. I don’t know what the singular is, because who could eat only one? This recipe is from my sister, Abby Tardiff, who reminds us that these freeze beautifully.

I’ll share the ingredients and very basic directions first, and then go through it step by step with photos and more detailed instructions. This recipe will make about eighty little pastries or more.

INGREDIENTS

Dough
Two sticks of butter (half a pound)
One 8-oz package of cream cheese
Two cups of flour
White sugar for rolling

Filling: 
Maybe 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of preserves or jam
1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped walnuts

You will also need parchment paper, a pizza cutter, a rolling pin, and some baking racks. It helps to have a standing mixer, as the dough is pretty stiff at first.

BASIC DIRECTIONS

Blend dough ingredients together. Roll dough into 6- 8 balls, cover, and chill them in fridge.
Roll chilled dough in sugar into a round. Add filling, leaving the center bare. Cut into triangles, roll from wide end, place on pan on parchment paper, and chill rugelach again.
Bake at 400 for 11-14 minutes.

Now here’s the more detailed instructions, with photos:

Blend the dough ingredients together until it’s smooth. This is not like pie crust dough; you can use the standing mixer and really manhandle it.

Divide and roll the dough into 6-8 balls, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. Chilling it should make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 400. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Rugelach get very messy while baking. If you want to avoid the problem of filling oozing out, pooling under the rugelach, and burning, put a baking rack on top of the parchment paper and spray it with cooking spray. 

Sprinkle the counter (or a very large sheet pan, if you have it, to contain the mess) heavily with sugar.

Yep, you’re going to roll out the dough in sugar, rather than in flour. Roll it out as thin as you can, so it’s the size of a large dinner plate. I like to turn the dough over a few times while rolling it, so both sides get coated.

It doesn’t have to come out perfectly round. It should be thin enough to flap a bit if you pick it up and shake it.

Swizzle up your jam with a fork to make it more spreadable. Spread the filling and sprinkle the nuts all over the dough, leaving a circle in the middle bare.

You really just want a thin skim of filling, even less than what is shown here. Too much will bubble over and make a horrible mess (especially if you’re not using a rack). If you are using nuts, it’s also good to chop them finer than I did here, so they stay put.

You can make more than one kind of rugelach at a time. This pic shows too much filling, though, so don’t do that.

Cut it like a pizza into 16 triangles. I use a rolling pizza cutter. It helps to hold the center in place with one finger so the dough doesn’t curl up while you cut.

Roll each triangle up, starting from the wide end.

Put the rolled-up rugelach, tip down, on the pan covered with parchment paper. Leave a rugelach’s width between pastries. These are this close together just because I was making a bunch to bake later! Bake them spaced further apart. 

Chill them again for half an hour or more before baking. At this point, turn on the oven so it can preheat while the rugelach are chilling. You can make a ton of rugelach ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator, then put them on pans in smaller batches to bake.

Bake them in the preheated oven for 11-14 minutes. They should be slightly golden on top.

They will leak a bit when baking. This is inevitable, and this is why you used parchment paper! Just let them cool for ten minutes or so before you peel them off the pan.

OR, if you want to avoid the spillage altogether, use the rack-on-parchment method.

and use a butter knife to lift them off the rack onto another pan as soon as they come out of the oven.

The finished rugelach will be slightly crisp on the outside, studded with sparkling sugar, and tender, sweet, and rich inside.

And now here are some horrible errors you can commit:

You can spread too much jam on and bake them too close together, so the filling will all leak out and form one solid platform of jam taffy with little rugelach islands trapped in it.

You can still eat them, but it cuts down considerably on how presentable they are. It’s only really a problem if you use too much filling, bake them too close together, and burn them, too:

I’m here to tell you that you can still eat them like this, if you break them apart. I did it for science.

Believe it or not, you can also get tired of waiting for them to bake, and turn on the broiler for “just a second” to brown up the tops, and then you forget to turn the broiler off before sliding the next batch in:

This, too, cuts down on their general attractiveness, as they become quite turdly.

Good luck! They’re a lot of work, but so worth it.

Rugelach

These are tender little pastries for Chanukah or any time. Use whatever kind of filling you like: Jams, preserves, cinnamon sugar, nutella, etc. These are time consuming, but don't take much skill, and they freeze well, so they make pretty little gifts.

Servings 80 rugelach

Ingredients

dough

  • half pound butter
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup or more sugar, for rolling

filling

  • 1/4-1/2 cup preserves or other filling
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add in the flour and keep mixing until smooth. You can do this by hand, but it will take a while! The dough should be fairly stiff and not sticky when it's done.

  2. Divide the dough into 8 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400.

  4. Prepare a pan by lining it with parchment paper, then spraying a baking rack and putting the rack on the parchment paper. Line a second pan with parchment paper, to which you will remove the rugelach when they come out of the oven.

  5. Use the sugar to cover your work space, and use a rolling pin to roll a ball of dough into a round shape the size of a large plate. It should be thin enough to flap a bit when you give it a shake. If your rolling pin sticks, sprinkle more sugar on. You can turn the dough over to make sure both sides get sugared. It doesn't have to be perfectly round, as it will be cut into pieces.

  6. Spread the jam or other filling over the dough, leaving an open space in the middle. If you're adding nuts, sprinkle them over the filling.

  7. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 16-20 triangles.

  8. Roll each triangle up from the outside in. Place each rolled rugelach on the sprayed baking rack on the pan, with the skinny point down. They puff up a bit, so leave the space of one rugelach in between.

  9. Repeat for each ball of dough.

  10. Bake for ten minutes. If the dough isn't golden brown, give it another two minutes. These go from perfect to burnt very quickly, so be alert.

  11. When they bake, the filling will ooze out and pool and burn on the parchment paper, but the rugelach will not burn.

  12. When the rugelach come out of the oven, immediately use a butter knife to transfer them to another pan or rack to cool.

  13. Once they are cool, they can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the freezer for weeks without harm.