Holidays

 

Chocolate Gelt For Grown Ups *Giveaway*

 

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Chocolate Gelt is all grown up and dressed up and it has plenty of places to go.

Veruca Chocolates is now making their specialty, hand crafted Hanukkah gelt with CRC kosher certification.  Veruca Chocolates was started by Heather Johnston, a pediatrician who got frustrated with the medical system and was looking to add some sweetness to her life.  She wandered into a chocolate making class and fell in love with the craft of the chocolatier.  Heather began creating high quality artisanal chocolates that seduce the eye as well as the palate.


 

Stuffing Latkes and Link Up

 

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In some circles (very small circles) I am known as the Stuffing Queen.  It’s not the kind of moniker you get etched into a gold necklace or printed on a tee, but from early September to late November every year, it makes me pretty popular.  When I first began hosting family for holidays, I served a wild mushroom stuffing on Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgiving that is now become an annual family tradition. 

On the days leading up to the holiday, I would buy a really nice loaf of bread (none of that pre-sliced stuff) and I would cut into medium sized cubes that I would leave out on the countertop for a day or two to go stale.  These nice big chunks of bread you can only get by cutting it yourself, so take out your battle axe or bread knife and start whacking.  After you think you have finished cooking the stuffing, either in the bird or separately in a pan, place the stuffing in the oven uncovered for about 15 minutes before serving to get the top layer nice and crispy.


 

My New Favorite Turkey and Stuffing Recipes

 

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I will now share with you one of my absolutely NEW favorite recipes – Sour Mash Whiskey-Glazed Whole Roasted Turkey.  I love this recipe and picture so much that I wanted it to be the cover of my new cookbook JOY of KOSHER: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes (William Morrow/HarperCollins 2013).  (Please buy your copy and gift copies, now!  And if you already did – THANK YOU!)   I was out voted only because it said “Thanksgiving” and was not “universal” enough.  I get that – but still wanted it.

There is a story behind this bird that didn’t make the book – it was cut for space – but I am happy to have all the space in the world to share it here.


 

Edible Holiday Gift Ideas

 

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I love presents! I love giving presents. I love figuring out the perfect present. I love seeing the smile on peoples face when they receive the present. Perhaps that is why I make giftware for a living!

It is truly better to give than to receive. And so whenever I am invited to be someone’s guest, I feel it is appropriate to show up with gift in hand. Living in a large, hospitable community I have ample opportunities to exercise my gift giving passion. But frequency comes with a price. And although I specialize in giftware, I am like the shoemaker whose children go shoeless. I rarely feel comfortable just giving my own creations.  So what is an appreciative guest to do?


 

A Brunch Hanukkah Party Menu

 

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We have shared tons of recipes for Hanukkah, new recipes for Thanksgivukkah and tons of Hanukkah menus and table ideas.  The other day, someone on facebook asked for menu ideas for a day time party.  She said they were having a family get together the Sunday after Thanksgiving and were going to be having lunch, what did we suggest.  I realized that we never shared a menu for people to use during the day.  Most people stay together for a Hanukkah party so they can light candles together, but that doesn’t work for everyone and some people need to get their kids home and to bed early (I remember those days).  Some people might even call everyone over for a lunch and then family can stay through to light candles and still get home for dinner.   So, let’s thank our Facebook friend for reminding me to share this menu.  My feeling is that most of the daytime parties will be on Sunday, which means brunch goes all day.  And since latkes are always in order, a brunch menu is perfect.  Latkes go so well with eggs and/or smoked salmon, the possibilities are endless.

Honestly, I can’t decide, so here are a couple options…


 

Day in Jerusalem – Hanukkagiving

 

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A new phrase has been “coined” this year “Thanksgivukkah” as a way of describing the rare occurrence of Hanukka and Thanksgiving falling out on the same weekend. Considering that Hanukka begins first and lasts longer, I have decided to refer to it as Hanukkagiving.  So you might think this would have been a great time to post about Volunteer Opportunities and ways to “give” but we took care of that last month in our post called Volunteer Tourism.  The Thanksgiving activities in Jerusalem are scarce and the days of Norman’s Thanksgiving Feast on Emek Refaim are long gone so to celebrate Thanksgiving, I recommend a nice family turkey dinner at home.

Let’s focus on some unique ways to celebrate Hanukkah in Jerusalem.


 

Thanksgiving Pie Fries

 

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With Thanksgiving right around the corner it is firmly pie season. Sure, I make pies all year round, but there is no one-day of the year that screams “pie” like Thanksgiving. (Ok, maybe March 14th does as well, but only among the slightly nerdy circles I run in.) The challenge of Thanksgiving pies for me is that people expect the traditional flavors, leaving me much less freedom to innovate and play around with the dessert than I usually have. It is rare for me to serve the same dessert twice for Shabbat or holidays, but for Thanksgiving people expect the classics.

That is what makes these pie fries so much fun. They have the traditional Thanksgiving pie flavors of pumpkin and cranberry apple served up in a fun new shape. I had seen apple versions of pie fries all over the web, so when I was given the challenge of turning them into more Thanksgiving like treats I jumped at the opportunity. Although they are baked and not really fried, pie “fries” are the perfect Thanksgivukkah treat.


 

Let’s Have a Chanukah Party

 

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Hosting a Chanukah party?

We have 3 gourmet menus suggested by premiere caterer, Esprit Caterers.  Get some ideas, try some of the recipes and use them for your party.


 

Thanksgivukkah Tablescape Ideas *Giveaway*

 

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If you have checked your “American” calendar ,  you will have noticed that Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fall (no pun intended) on the same day this year. According to Steven Colbert, Thanksgiving is actually under attack!! But wait Steven isn’t it Hanukkah that actually must share the limelight, or wait, aren’t we just killing two birds with one stone. Sorry for the last comment, maybe that wasn’t appropriate….

Anyways… if you were wondering how to decorate your Thanksgivukkah table this year, I have a few easy and fun ideas I would like to share. These ideas are meant for the entire family, not just for Mom, so I hope the kids are following.


 

Hanukkah Gift Guide

 

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This year Hanukkah begins on Wednesday night November 27, 2013.  I can’t remember the last time Hanukkah was even in November.  And who can miss all the excitement over the convergence of the first day of Hanukkah with Thanksgiving, now coined Thanksgivukkah.  Unless you are my mother in law who buys all her holiday presents before Summer is over, you are probably feeling a bit behind schedule this year.  Here is our foodie gift guide, filled with sweets and treats and more to liven up your holiday table.

Let’s start off with my Hanukkah Chocolate Gift Guide:


 

Vegan No Bake Brownies With Variations

 

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Sometimes I really miss baking.  Don’t get me wrong – working as a chocolatier is soul-satisfying, with fine chocolate’s unmistakable taste and aroma and the other fine ingredients I use, I’m in heaven.  On those days when I’m immersed in administrative business tasks and I’m away from the chocolate, I yearn to be back making it.  I love this beautiful food and how happy it makes everyone, including me.

But there is something very special about pastry too, with its varied components coming together in exciting ways when a dessert is assembled and its flavors and textures combined.  When I did pastry full time, I loved coming up with new creations for my clients – whether it was the restaurant needing something special for Mother’s Day or a client with a dietary restriction needing a creative solution.  I miss working regularly with those clients (though many have remained devoted fans of my chocolates too).  And while I still bake for my family, of course it isn’t the same.


 

Light the Menurkey and Celebrate Thanksgivukkah

 

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If you haven’t heard or realized it yet, Hanukkah is really early this year.  So early, that the first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving here in America.  While the anomalies of the Jewish calendar never fail to amaze the casual observer, the confluence of one of America’s most popular secular holidays with one of the best known Jewish holidays occurring on the same day in a happenstance that will not happen again for over 70,000 years* has led to a feathered flurry of holiday mashups.

In the spirit of gobbling good fun, here are some of our favorite Hanukkah/Thanksgiving articles, products and recipe ideas.


 

Shabbat Menu – Rainbow Cake

 

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Every year it seems more and more people are jumping on the rainbow cake band wagon for Parsha Noach.  Probably for the same reason there are so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side.  There is just something magical and mysterious and exciting and it is an easy symbol to draw or create out of food.  You can go all out with multi layered Rainbow Cake or you can try my newest creation for those of us chocolate lovers with just a decorated rainbow made out of Mike and Ike on top.  Either way, we have nothing to hide.

Spiced Maple Pumpkin Soup with Sauteed Cremini Mushrooms

Spiced Maple Pumpkin Soup with Sauteed Cremini Mushrooms


 

The Heart of The Cocktail

 

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It isn’t just for ad execs on Madison Avenue, cocktails have always been a part of popular culture.  Until now, I had only ever tried the basics, Martini (not my thing, Bond can keep it), Gin and Tonic, Screwdrivers, Margaritas and Mojitos.  Once I started to really enjoy wine I didn’t even consider cocktails except on vacation to a tropical destination.  Over the years, friends and Shabbat guests would enjoy single malt scotch and bourbon, but straight liquor was never that appealing to me. Maybe I owe a debt of gratitude to Don Draper, but we are living during a renaissance of the cocktail culture and my rocks glass will never be the same.

My most recent concoction was a mint and lime Julep


 

Shemini Atzeret Menu

 

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In our family, whenever there is something that needs doing and it hasn’t yet been done, my husband Ed says “what are you waiting for, Shemini Atzeret?” It was meaningless to our children when they were young but they understood what he meant. There is a finality to things, an ending, when what we need to accomplish, we must accomplish.

On Shemini Atzeret the year has ended, the annual cycle of Torah readings has come to its end. I like to think of this joyful “ending” as akin to school commencement, which of course means “a beginning.”