Chanukah

 

Gifts and Gadgets and Giveaways

 

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Chanukah is fast approaching, the first night (less than a month away) is December 9th and now is the time to gather the best gifts and gadgets that your friends and loved ones will be thanking you for.   That is why we have compiled some of our favorite gift ideas from our kitchen to yours including some that you WIN right here, right now.

 


 

The Deliciousness of Donuts

 

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Chanukah is filled with nostalgia, memories of years past, childhood, and of our ancestors. Each house has its own customs and traditions which bring the Mitzvot closer to the heart.

Borrowing from both Sephardic and Ashkenazic traditions we opt to have latkes and doughnuts for our Chanukah treat, it’s like having dinner and dessert. A “healthy” meal of fried comfort foods; one week only! I think my kids look forward to this week all year. I try to get everything ready so we can eat while sitting snuggly in the afterglow of the blessings. Each year I ask myself whether to make doughnuts using yeast or a quick raised cake doughnut (one using baking powder or baking soda).


 

How to Cut Calories on Chanukah

 

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With all the fried food Chanukah is hardly the dieter’s dream holiday (honestly, what Jewish holiday is?).  But, tongue firmly in cheek, here are 8 ways to keep your Chanukah calorie count down.  (I promise to do these all next year. No, really …)

1. Eat latkes over the sink. Everyone knows calories consumed over a sink don’t count.


 

The Best Oil For Frying and More Frying Tips

 

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I always prefer extra-virgin olive oil for frying as for cooking. Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil is the unprocessed “juice” of the olives, and seems much healthier to me than any of the industrial heat-processed seed oils. Besides, in Italian cooking, oils and fats are used as flavoring agents, not just for texture, and would you really do a canola oil tasting?

I’ve read in a couple of blogs that extra-virgin oil has a smoking point that’s too low for deep-frying. This does not make sense, because its smoking point is above 405 F, and you should fry at 360 F, or you’ll burn the food. Plus, if your oil starts smoking, it will be pretty obvious, and trust me, you won’t stick around long flipping latkas. Obviously, you should choose a mild-flavored, low-acidity oil, or they will taste too strong. I even like using olive oil for sweets (I choose a mild extra-virgin from Liguria), but some people prefer a less distinctive taste: in this case, peanut oil is a good choice (unless you are allergic, in which case you can try sunflower or canola), because it has a pleasant after-taste and a high smoking point.


 

Kosher Wine for Hanukkah

 

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The sun is setting and the Hanukkah lights are aglow.  The kids are quietly and patiently waiting to open their presents.   You have already cleaned up the dishes from dinner, wiped the splattered olive oil off the stovetop and are ready to sit back and relax.  Who am I kidding?  Hanukkah was never so simple!  Peeling, squeezing, slicing, dicing, frying, serving, cleaning.  Repeat.  Sound familiar?

It all looks so effortless on the plate.  The applesauce and sour cream have it easy.


 

Crispy Chanukah Delights

 

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So I am not at all embarrassed to admit that I love fried foods. After all I am not the official dietician on our site — I leave the uber healthy stuff to Tamar. When we were deciding what to do for the 8 nights of Chanukah – since the 8 nights of latkes concept felt so played out – (and in fact we have over 50 recipes for latkes) I said to Tamar “I’ve got it! 8 nights of Fried Desserts!” She was like “What? No way!” The professional in her couldn’t let go. But I did my duty and convinced her our readers and the world will love this. It’s Chanukah – it’s practically a mitzvah to fry. So since I covered Savory Fried Treats in the Nov/Dec issue of JoK magazine we are focusing on sweet crispy delights on Jok.com. So 8 nights, 8 treats from me and all our “professional” Jok.com friends, like Jeff Nathan, Alessandra Rovati, Chef Laura and more!! You may hate me for it, but after you taste my Nutella Banana Egg Rolls I do think you will be thanking me!

Don’t miss out on the rest of the recipes -


 

Jamie’s Chanukah Sizzle Reel

 

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I wanted to share what we in the “industry” call a sizzle reel. Translation - a 2 minute clip of the pilot we shot for PBS. We actually shot this before Rosh Hashanah. My neighbors got a kick out of all the menorahs in the window in the middle of September and my kiddies loved opening their presents early. I was obviously uber-pregnant (could barely reach the counter) and collapsed at the end of the 14 hour shoot (feet throbbing, head aching, back burning kinda collapse). We are editing together the full half hour episode now, I am so excited.

The food star of this episode, my Caprese latke tower – cover of this month’s JoK mag and my new favorite way to dress up a latke. Tell me what you think? Of the latke and the sizzle. Don’t you just LOVE this song from the Moshav Band? I cried like a baby the first time I heard it and not just because I was an emotional pregnant mess. Every time Hubby plays it my oldest goes “oh is Mommy going to cry again?”


 

Chanukah Menu

 

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Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah! SO SO SO excited it’s finally here. Although, in all honesty I have been celebrating Chanukah since August, no joke. Between preparing for the Chanukah issue of the magazine and shooting a Chanukah themed pilot for PBS, before the first candle I have already made latkes 3 times, fried donuts twice, baked Chanukah cookies with the kiddies once, lit the menorah as a family, wrapped presents, and washed my clothes and sheital to rid them of the smell of fried oil that is the holiday. Now that it’s finally here, for real, I almost need someone to pinch me to prove it – although I’ll settle for opening some presents.

As is customary for the holiday we do dairy every night. Why you ask? I told you last year. You don’t remember? Read here. So to update my repertoire I’ve got some new dishes for your Chanukah parties.


 

Host the Best Chanukah Party

 

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Chanukah is here! Every year I try to think about how I can make this year special and create wonderful memories with my family and friends. I love to entertain and always have at least one Chanukah party.  I try to personalize my table, make it kid friendly, and give back to the community. To accomplish all three goals is a hard thing, but every year I try.

To Personalize My Table: I start with a color palette. Chanukah has a natural color palette of blue, white, and silver. But, you can add a pop of orange or lime green or play with the tones of the blues.  I love what the Jewish Hostess shared for a chanukah table on this site last week.  I find the hardest part is making the table look beautiful, so here are some tips:
  1. Layering: the key to every table is layering. I try to use stuff I all ready own and add accents to make the table come together. You can even start with a normal white table cloth.  Then use some fun chargers to give a three dimensional look to everyday normal white dishes. You can find stainless steel, sequined, a cloth pattern, or even cut a decorative rapping paper.
  2. Vases: You can do a lot to dress up a room with vases.  Over the years I have collected a whole bunch in all different sizes (easy to get at Michael’s).  Then before the party I bring them to the supermarket flower department and the rest is done for me.
  3. Supplies:  Always keep some ribbons and a glue gun at hand.  You can make napkin rings out of ribbons and glue on a big broche or jewels to give it a rich feeling.
To make it kid friendly: Start by talking with the kids and getting them involved.  This year mine have really gotten excited over baking. And with cake pops being all the rage, I got a cake pop maker with tons of blue and white edible sprinkles.  Now we can make cake pops as a centerpiece for the kids table. Custom placemats – every year I like to make our own placemats as a fun decoration and an acitivty for the kids.  There are a few ways you can do this.
  1. You can collect pictures of your child through out the year and glue them down on a big 11×17 piece of paper. You can also pull some hannukah pictures of driedles, blue and white patterns you like. Then just go to your local staples and ask them to laminate it. They come out great and the kids love seeing themselves at the table.
  2. I also love graphic patterns. I create a pattern in my color scheme and put there name on it and laminate it, just like the one above.  In case you don’t know how to make your own patterns I have three here for you to choose from.  Download and print them now.  Chanukah Placemats.


 

Chanukah Placemat Designs You Can Print

 

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When I design my placemats I always make a front with a fun design and space to put their name and a back that they can draw on with washable markers.

Print out these designs, fill in your child’s name and have them laminated.  Now you have a decoration that doubles as an activity for your kids.


 

Easy and Gorgeous Do-It Yourself Chanukah Table...

 

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Calling all Jewish Hostesses! Let’s use our year-round Jewish holidays to express our creative passions, as well as our desire to keep our families coming back for yummy food and a great Jewish holiday atmosphere. With so many table setting shopping resources at our fingertips, its exciting to set a fun holiday table that combines the old with the new, has a dash of color and sparkle, while also making sure to connect to the Jewish holiday theme at hand. No matter what your own personal style, budget, and the table decor that you already own, there is always a creative, yet easy way to update your holiday look.

This year, I decided to stick with the traditional Hanukkah blue and silver color combo mainly because I already owned blue water glasses given to me by my consuegro (Syrian word for son-in-law’s mother) as a Rosh Hashanah gift, plus I happen to own a set of blue and silver rimmed Greek style dishes (a perfect Macabee theme!). Wanting to add some holiday knicknacks to my Chanukah table, I decided to check out the local Ikea and West Elm stores and see what I could pick up without too much of a dent to my wallet.


 

Slick Tips for Cooking with Oil this Chanukah

 

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Chanukah might be known as the Festival of Lights, but for cooks, it’s really all about the deep fried oily foods that become an indispensable part of our menu. I’ve noticed that during this time, I smell like a fast food joint for 8 days straight; you’d think that I had deep fried my clothes, my shoes, everything I touch.

So what better time is there to discuss the oils we use in cooking? It is important to become familiar with the different types of vegetable oils for best results in baking, frying, and serving with fresh foods. Vegetable oil may be made from a single ingredient or a blend of several. Most will be available as either refined (lighter in color and bland) or unrefined. Depending on the refining process, oils will have varying smoke points. Refined oils (especially peanut or safflower oil) are recommended for high-heat frying. Unrefined oils are best as dressings, as an ingredient in marinades, and for low-temperature sautéing. Some of these are a healthier choice and will be full-bodied.


 

Get Ready For Chanukah

 

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We’re just days away until the first candle is lit on your family’s Chanukah menorah. It’s never too soon to get out your holiday check list. So, did you buy a new box of candles yet? Are your pounds of potatoes and onions purchased for batch after batch of latkes? More important than anything else, especially if you have children, are all of your gifts bought, wrapped, labeled, and hidden?

Some years ago we started a Nathan family tradition, attempting to combat the mad rush we usually experience while preparing for the holiday. More like a family concept than a tradition, I should note… This two-step idea just made sense to us so feel free to adapt it into your family’s Chanukah routine…


 

Quick & Crafty Chanukah Decorating With Pom...

 

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With Chanukah just around the corner, now is the time to pull out some quick and crafty decorating ideas to get your home ready for the holiday! Not to worry, I’ve got a few ideas that will get you started in no time, and your house will look more festive that ever without too much effort. Sounds great, right?

Chanukah Pom Pom Chandelier JOK