I was the obvious candidate to write a three course Hanukkah menu. Everything I know about the Festival of Lights I learned from Ross & Monica in Friends. Oh, and that season of Sex and the City where Charlotte converted. But I got there, with a little help from The Hairy Bikers and Betty Crocker.
This three course menu is something of a labour of love. I'm going to get you to peel and grate an onion and, like, six potatoes. It won’t be pretty. Did you know onions are roughly 90% water? Except it isn't water, it’s onion juice, and it will go all over your kitchen. You’ll also have to chop a load of pistachios, which is a pretty thankless task and will result in at least one nut to the eye injury. Not to mention probably ruining a pair of scissors cutting up your dates. And that’s before you even consider the main course, which you have to start preparing two days in advance. Still, it’s a once a year celebration so it’s worth making an effort.
A lichtigin Chanukah!
(Makes around 12)
3 tablespoons plain flour
Salt & pepper
1. Peel and finely grate the onion and potatoes. Strain the grated veg thoroughly with a sieve or muslin to get rid of all the excess water. Then clean up your kitchen. Then cancel tomorrow’s gym session, because all that was equivalent to a 90 minute body pump class.
2. Add the egg, flour, salt and pepper to the strained veg and mix well.
3. Heat olive oil in a pan. Take tablespoons of mixture, roll into balls and place in the pan. Squash the ball with a spoon to make a pancake shape. Fry for around five minutes on each side.
4. Serve with soured cream and apple sauce. But remember this is just an appetiser. Don’t fill up on carbs.
Cholent is a Jewish stew which is traditionally cooked overnight and served for lunch on the Sabbath. I was house sitting, so it didn’t feel particularly responsible to leave an unfamiliar oven on while I slept. I cooked it for two and a half hours in the evening, and another couple of hours the next day. And then we ate it all.
For the cholent
1 cup (120g) butter beans
¾ cup (140g) barley
800g braising steak or brisket – cubed
2lb (900g) potatoes – peeled and left whole
For the dumpling
1¼ cup (150g) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 small onion – peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
Salt & pepper
1. 24 hours before you wish to begin cooking, put the butter beans in a bowl, cover with cold water, and walk away. Pour yourself a glass of wine to toast your exceptional organisational skills.
2. When cooking time is nearing, make the dumpling. Put the flour, baking powder, onion, oil, salt and pepper into a bowl and stir well.
3. Gradually add water until the mixture forms a soft dough. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.
4. At cooking time, preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/Gas Mark ½. Rinse the barley, and drain the soaking butter beans. They will have absorbed most of the water, which is apparently normal.
5. Grease a large cooking pot with sunflower oil. Line the pot with the beef, then add the barley, butter beans, dumpling and potatoes. Pour in enough boiling water to cover everything, add plenty of salt and pepper, and then seal with a tight fitting lid.
6. Cook overnight, or for at least 4 hours, check occasionally and add extra water if it starts to dry out.
For the dough
1 cup (240g) butter – softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 standard pack of cream cheese
2 cups (240g) plain flour
Extra flour for dusting
For the filling
½ cup (70g) shelled pistachios – chopped
½ cup (70g) dates – pitted and chopped
⅓ cup (65g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup (60g) butter – melted
Icing sugar for dusting
1. Cream the butter and sugar together, then gradually beat in the cream cheese. Add the flour, mix and then knead by hand until well combined. The raw dough doesn't taste great, sadly.
2. Split the dough into four pieces, roll into balls, wrap in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Grease and line two baking sheets.
4. Mix the nuts, dates, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter in a bowl until combined.
5. Cover a rolling pin and surface with flour. Remove one of the balls of dough from the fridge, and roll out to a 12 inch round.
6. Breaking it up with your hands, sprinkle ¼ of the date mix onto the dough. It should look like a really shit pizza.
7. Cut the pizza into 16 slices. There will only be a little bit of topping on each slice, which is fine. Don’t worry, and don’t start panic adding cheese.
8. Roll each slice from the rounded edge up to the tip. Place on the baking sheet and cook for 12 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool on a rack, and dust with icing sugar before eating.
9. Repeat with the other three balls of dough and the other ¾ of date mixture.
Images © Kate Diamond for BitchBuzz.com