While Hanukkah dishes like latkes, brisket and matzo ball soup can be comforting, a truly festive eight-day celebration calls for some variety amid the traditions. These upgraded kosher classics—collected from some of the country’s top chefs—include exotic and delicious influences from China, Southeast Asia, Mexico, Argentina, France and Egypt.
Brisket & Brussels Sprouts Fried Rice
Recipe courtesy Jonathan Wu, chef/partner, Fung Tu, New York City
Wu suggests the Terre des Chardons “Bien Luné” 2013 Costières de Nimes, a Rhône of equal parts Syrah and Grenache. Its meaty and spicy qualities and bright acidity echo similar flavors in the dish.
Canola oil, for frying
6 ounces cooked beef brisket, diced (about one heaping cup)
2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced scallion white, reserving the sliced greens for garnish
3 cups cooked jasmine rice, dried 1–2 days in refrigerator
2 eggs, beaten and scrambled with 2 tablespoons garlic chives, sliced
1 cup sliced Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon black rice vinegar
¼ cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted
Pinch of salt
½ packed cup roughly chopped spinach
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds, stored in pickling liquid (2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon water)
Heat a wok over high heat. Add enough canola oil to film the bottom of the wok. Add the brisket, ginger, garlic and scallion whites. Toss rapidly. Add the rice, egg, Brussels sprouts, soy sauce, black rice vinegar and vegetable stock. Season with fennel seed and a pinch of salt. Toss rapidly, and use the wok spatula to break up any rice that clumps together.
Add the baby spinach, toss and cook for a few seconds until it wilts. Divide among 4 bowls. Garnish with the pickled pomegranate seeds and scallion greens. Serves 4.
Kamut and Vegetable Holishkes (Stuffed Cabbage)
These popular stuffed cabbage rolls in a traditional sweet & sour tomato sauce have been on Brasserie Zentral’s menu since it opened in early 2014. Klein replaces the traditional beef and veal from his great-grandmother’s recipe with a vegetarian filling made with kamut (available in gourmet shops or Whole Foods), an ancient Egyptian wheat. Serving two side-by-side is said to resemble the scrolls of the Torah.
As for the wine pairing, Nicolas Giraud, wine director at Brasserie Zentral suggests an Austrian red. “St. Laurent might just be, literally, the German cousin of Pinot Noir, coming from the Austrian plain of Burgenland, and the 2012 Sattler St. Laurent is showing a wonderful balance of sour cherry, bright berries and a bit of spice,” he says. “It’s perfect to enjoy with the sweet & sour tomato sauce that makes the holishkes so enjoyable.”
3 cups cooked kamut (cook according to package directions)
½ cup peas
1 red onion, grilled and chopped (or chopped and sautéed in olive oil)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 large (outer) leaves of Savoy cabbage
Sweet & sour tomato sauce (recipe below)
In a large bowl, mix together the kamut, peas, onion, herbs, vinegar and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and put a bowl filled with ice water in the sink. Add the cabbage leaves to the boiling water and cook until just tender, 1–2 minutes. Leaving the salted water in the pot, immediately put cabbage into the ice water to stop cooking and preserve the color. Dry on paper towels.
To assemble the holishkes, lay each leaf, rib side facing up, atop of a sheet of plastic wrap a little larger than the leaf. Place about ½ cup of the filling on the leaf and roll up, tucking in the sides as you roll. Wrap each holishke tightly with the plastic wrap and set aside.
When the holishkes are assembled, boil them in the salted water for 15 minutes. Remove the holishkes with a slotted spoon. Discard the plastic wrap, and put them on a deep plate or shallow bowl with the sauce. Garnish with shaved raw vegetables, sprouts, herbs or edible flowers, if desired. Serves 4.
Sweet & Sour Tomato Sauce
1 onion, sliced thinly
5 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon coriander seed, toasted and crushed
2 cups sour mix, preferably homemade (equal parts sugar syrup, fresh lemon juice and fresh lime juice)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 16 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, drained, reserving ½ cup of the liquid
1 bay leaf
1 bunch lemon thyme leaves (or regular thyme, if necessary)
In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion until brown and sweet, approximately 15 minutes. Add the garlic, brown sugar and coriander seed, and cook until the sugar is melted. Add the sour mix, raise heat to high, and boil until the mixture is reduced by half. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, reserved liquid, bay leaf and thyme, reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Blend, and strain over a large bowl so ensure a smooth consistency. Return the sauce to the saucepan and keep warm until use.
Guacamole with Smoked Whitefish
Recipe courtesy Julian Medina, chef/owner, Toloache, New York City
Contributing Editor Paul Gregutt suggests a Chardonnay that can adapt to each of the dish’s seemingly disparate elements—richness, acid, spice and smoke. “The Willamette Valley Vineyards 2012 Dijon Clone Chardonnay is soft and spicy, as is the usual style, but here it exhibits the extra richness of this landmark vintage. Broad flavors of peach, apricot and banana are accented with lime-tinged acids and set in a lightly toasty frame.”
1 cup smoked whitefish
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
5 tablespoons diced red onion, divided equally
1 teaspoon minced chives
1 jalapeño, chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 Hass avocados, seeded, pulp scooped out
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or more, to taste)
In a medium bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients, mix well and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the remaining onion and jalapeño with the lime juice and a pinch of salt, and let marinate for 3 minutes. Add the avocado, cilantro and whitefish mixture. Mash the ingredients together, leaving the avocado a bit chunky. Add salt, to taste. Serve with warm corn tortilla chips. Serves 4.
Sweet Potato Latkes with Pineapple Sambal
“My typical partner with Southeast Asian food, especially fruity and spicy dishes, is German Riesling—I’d love a young Koehler-Ruprecht Spätlese,” says Marcus. “However, due to the occasion—a celebration of a great miracle for the Israelites—I’d say Champagne would be the ideal match. Bubbles are always great with both spicy and fried foods as well, like fruity rosé Champagne with nice acidity to cut through the spice, such as Billecart-Salmon Rosé or Geoffroy Rosé de Saignée.”
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
½ pound Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
½ yellow onion, diced
¼ cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
Salt, to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying
Pineapple sambal (recipe below)
Thai basil, chopped, for garnish
Add the potatoes, eggs, onion, cornstarch and five-spice powder into a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until finely minced, adding salt, to taste.
Heat ¼-inch of vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. For each latke, place 3 tablespoons of the potato mixture in the oil, being sure not to overcrowd in the pan. Cook until the edges begin to brown, then flip and repeat on the other side. Place finished latkes on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels. (Latkes can be kept warm in an oven set to 150–200˚F.) To serve, top each latke with pineapple sambal, to taste, and garnish with large pieces of Thai basil. Serves 4.
4 cups pineapple, diced
½ cup honey
½ cup sambal oelek
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Thai basil, chopped
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, mix all ingredients until smooth.
Matzo Ball Soup with Foie Gras and Truffle
Recipe courtesy Luke Venner, chef, BLT Steak, New York City
Venner’s ultra-luxe, pan-cultural matzo ball soup is worthy of the most festive Hanukkah celebration.
“The Patrick Javillier 2005 Meursault les Tillets is a beautiful pairing for the matzo ball soup,” says Venner. “It has an elegant and complex palate, with a nose full of white flowers and lively ripe citrus fruits. The body of the wine goes great with the umami flavors from the soy, and there’s a lean and fresh minerality to brighten the palate and bring out the foie gras and black truffles.”
12 cups good-quality poultry stock (Venner uses duck broth), divided
1 cup matzo meal
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons soda water
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 piece kombu (a type of edible kelp available in Asian markets, optional)
2 tablespoons white soy sauce
1 baby leek, or half of a regular leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
4–8 ounces best-quality foie gras (Venner uses duck liver from Hudson Valley Foie Gras [hudsonvalleyfoiegras.com]), sliced into 4 pieces, ½-inch thick
Salt and pepper, to taste
¼ Perigord black truffle, for garnish
2 tablespoons very fresh carrot tops, minced, for garnish
Heat 4 cups of the stock in a medium saucepan with enough water to achieve at least 3 inches depth. Combine the matzo meal, egg yolks, soda water and baking powder in a bowl and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
Make golf ball-sized matzo balls using about 2 tablespoons of mixture for each. Poach in batches for 15 minutes each, turning occasionally, being careful not to have them bump into each other, as they could disintegrate. Divide equally among 4 serving bowls (matzo balls can be quickly reheated in the stock if they cool too much before serving).
While the matzo balls are poaching, put the remaining poultry stock, kombu (if using) and white soy sauce in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook until tender, about 8–10 minutes. Divide the leeks equally among the bowls, and keep the stock warm.
Season the foie gras liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a medium skillet over high heat (the pan should be very hot) and sear the foie gras for approximately 30–45 seconds per side. Divide equally among the bowls.
Gently ladle the stock into the bowls, and garnish with shaved black truffle and carrot tops. Serves 4.
Lengua Latkes with Chimichurri
Recipe courtesy Eli Sussman, chef, Mile End Deli, New York City,
Wine Enthusiast’s Spain and South America Editor, Michael Schachner, says “the Cruzat NV Cuvée Réserve Nature Sparkling from Mendoza [Argentina] is the best among Cruzat’s line of sparkling wines. It can cut the starch and grease in the potato pancake, and handle the tang of chimichurri. It’s fresh on the palate, with orange and green-herb flavors, and a citrusy finish.”
5 Idaho potatoes, peeled and grated into water to prevent oxidation
2 large white onions, grated and pressed to remove liquid
1 cup matzo meal
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying
½ pound beef tongue, thinly sliced
1 scallion, sliced thinly on the bias
Chimichurri (recipe below)
Drain liquid from the potatoes and onions by squeezing over a sink, then mix with the matzo meal and eggs. If the mixture feels wet, add an additional ½ cup of matzo meal until it’s tacky. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Form latke patties that are ¼-inch think and 2 inches in diameter. Place on a baking sheet and put in the refrigerator.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add 1 inch of vegetable oil until a pinch of the latke mixture sizzles on contact. Add the latkes to the frying pan and cook approximately 2 minutes on each side, or until a deep golden-brown. Place latkes on a drying rack or cookie sheet lined with paper towels. (Latkes can be kept warm in an oven set to 150–200˚F.)
While latkes are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the tongue and cook just until the edges are crispy, approximately 5 minutes.
Serve the fried latkes topped with crispy tongue, chimichurri and diced scallion. Serves 4.
1 cup olive oil
2 cups Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 bunches cilantro, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green Fresno (or other) chili, minced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, zested
1 lime, juiced
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Add additional salt to taste.
Hazelnut Macaron Cake
Recipe courtesy Francois Payard, owner, FP Patisserie and Francois Payard Bakery, New York City
Contributing Editor Anna Lee C. Iijima recommends a sparkling saké for a change of pace: “The Mizbasho Sparkling Pure [imported by DSWE] is one that I’m particularly enamored with. It’s the only sparkling saké on the market that’s produced méthode Champenoise, lending a really delicate effervescence, and compared to most sparkling saké, it’s refreshingly brut in style. There’s a touch of caramel and nougat on the palate that would pair beautifully with the hazelnut and almond notes in the macaron cake.”
To prepare the macaron shells
½ cup almond flour (or very finely ground almonds)
½ cup hazelnut flour (or very finely ground hazelnuts)
1 cup powdered sugar
3 egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar
In a small bowl, whisk together the flours and powdered sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they begin to form stiff peaks. Sprinkle in the sugar, and whip until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the flour mix in two stages (the mix should be easy to pipe, not too thick or too fluffy).
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Using a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch or larger plain tip, pipe the mixture in a spiral onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet, making two large circles. Let stand for 20–30 minutes to form an outer crust. Bake for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to 325˚F and bake for an additional 7 minutes. Let the macarons cool.
To prepare the candied lemon
1 lemon, peeled and quartered, pulp and white pith scraped away
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
Put the lemon peel in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover. Over high heat, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, and repeat this process twice to eliminate bitterness. Combine the drained lemon peel, sugar, corn syrup and 3 tablespoons water in the saucepan and place over low heat. Simmer for approximately 1 hour, until the peel becomes slightly translucent. Remove from heat, and let sit in the syrup until cool. Cut the cold peel into very thin strips about 1-inch long. The peels, in syrup, covered and refrigerated, will keep for up to 2 weeks.
To prepare the hazelnut buttercream
3 large egg whites
¾ cup sugar
2 sticks best-quality kosher butter or margarine, softened but still cold, cut in tablespoons
1¾ ounces hazelnut paste
Fill a medium pot ⅓ full with water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Hold the bowl over the pot, making sure it’s not touching the water. Whisk the mixture by hand until the sugar has dissolved and it’s hot, 3–5 minutes. Place the bowl in the mixer and beat on high until the whites hold stiff peaks and are cool, approximately 5 minutes.
With the motor running, add the softened butter, 3 tablespoons at a time, then mix in the hazelnut paste. Mix until all of the butter is incorporated, and the mixture is light and fluffy. Bring to room temperature before using. The buttercream will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week.
To assemble the cake
Spread the hazelnut buttercream over the top of the smooth side of one of the macaron shells. Add candied lemon zest pieces and cover with the second macaron shell, flat side down. It’s best to make this the night before, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving. Serves 6–8.
Gefilte Fish Fritters
Recipe courtesy Eli Kirshtein, executive chef/partner, The Luminary, Atlanta
Kirshtein’s simple take on gefilte fish celebrates the Hanukkah tradition of fried foods, and resembles the crispy catfish brandade he serves at his buzzing new French-American brasserie, The Luminary, in Atlanta’s Krog Street Market. If you like gefilte fish a touch sweet, or loaded with black pepper, season the mixture accordingly.
“The 2010 Baumard Savennières has a great balance of acidity with light residual sugar,” says Kirshtein. “It pairs very well with the richness and creaminess of the fish, and helps cut through the fattiness of the frying method.”
2 pounds boneless white fish fillets (flounder, cod or halibut)
4 eggs, divided
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1⅓ cups matzo meal, divided
½ onion, finely minced
2 celery stalks, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Vegetable oil, for frying
Lemon or lime wedges, for serving
Tartar sauce, for serving
In a food processor, blend the fish, 3 eggs, salt, and ⅓ cup matzo meal to a paste, then empty into a bowl. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the fish mixture, mixing well by hand. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Put 1 cup matzo meal in a shallow dish or plate, and beat the last egg in another. Form the fish mixture into balls about 2 inches in diameter, lightly dredge in the matzo meal, then the egg, then back in the matzo meal. Set on a plate until ready to fry.
In a saucepan or deep skillet over medium-high heat, pour enough oil for a depth of at least 2 inches, and heat until the oil registers 350°F on a candy thermometer. Fry the balls a few at a time, turning frequently, until golden brown, approximately 4–5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot with lemon or lime wedges and tartar sauce.