Hanukkah, Chanukah or the Festival of Lights is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days around late November to late December. The name is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “to dedicate,” and during Hanukkah, the Jewish people commemorate the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem and the “Miracle of The Oil.”
The Talmud says that after the Temple had been liberated by the Maccabees from Antiochus IV, only a day’s worth of consecrated olive oil was left to fuel the eternal flame. Miraculously, it remained burning for eight days, which was just enough time to make more of the oil.
Hanukkah 2014 began in the evening of Tuesday, December 16 and ends in the evening of Wednesday, December 24. We light one candle each night of the festival using a menorah.
Hanukkah food is considered to be quite decadent as most are deep fried and use a lot of oil, representing the “Miracle of The Oil.” There are a whole lot of foods which are served on Hanukkah, from beef briskets to noodle puddings and cookies, but the most popular are potato pancakes called latkes or levivot and jelly doughnuts called sufganiot.
In my Tunisian traditions, we eat of course yoyos, deep fried caky beignets, farka on the 6th day of Chanukah as we celebrate the festival of the girls or “fete des filles”, and not really latkes… but I love this recipe below
A favourite game of children and adults alike on the Festival of Chanukah is playing with a Dreidel (in English – top, in Hebrew – sevivohn). This delightful game has an ancient history. The Dreidel has four letters from the Hebrew alphabet, imprinted on each of its sides. In Israel the letters are Nun, Gimel, Hay, and Pay, which stands for Nais Gadol Hayah Poh — a great miracle happened here. Outside of Israel the letters are Nun, Gimmel, Hay, and Shin, which stands for Nais Gadol Hayah Shahm — a great miracle happened there.
The game is played by distributing to all participants either nuts, chocolates, or Chanukah Gelt (coins). Everyone places a coin in the middle and someone spins the Dreidel. If the Dreidel stops showing Nun, he neither wins nor loses. If Gimmel, he wins the entire pot. If Hay, he gets half the pot. If Shin, he must put one in the pot.
The game then continues with the next person taking his turn, and so on around the circle until someone has won everything. It is of course nice to distribute plenty of consolation prizes so that everyone can go home a winner!
Where did this wonderful game originate? Truth be told, it was a game of life or death. The Greek Syrians had become a progressively more oppressive occupying force. At first they felt they would convert the Jewish population to their pagan ways through being kind and gentle with the Jews. Much to their chagrin the Jews remained steadfastly committed to their own religion (aside from a small percentage who became Hellenized).
Frustrated by their lack of success the powerful regime passed a series of laws outlawing the study of Torah as a religious work. They additionally outlawed many types of ritual commandments like circumcision and Shabbat observance. The Jews were compelled to take their Torah learning “underground,” for they knew, a Jew without Torah is like a fish out of water.
In order to disguise their activity the Children of Israel had to resort to learning Torah in outlying areas and forests. Even this plan was not foolproof, for the enemy had many patrols. The Jews therefore brought along small tops that they would quickly pull out and play with after secreting away their texts, so that they could pretend to be merely playing games.
This ruse did the trick, and the unbroken tradition of Torah scholarship thankfully remained intact!
JC – Roasted Chicken with olives and preserved lemon
Best made 2 days in advance to enhance the flavours
Preparation time 15 minutes
Cooking time 1.5-2 hours
One large chicken roaster of 1.8-2kg
Salt, pepper, turmeric
2 large onions sliced
300ml of Water
500g of green pitted olives
350g of preserved lemon in their juice (keep the juice to pour it over the chicken)
Place the chicken in a roasting tray.
Add the sliced onion, some salt, pepper, and generously some turmeric (about 2 TBS).
Cut the lemon in slices and add a bit inside the chicken and the rest all over the tray.
Poor 300ml of water on the chicken, and the juice of the lemon jar.
The chicken will create its own gravy with its own fat, you don’t need to add any oil.
Roast in the oven at high temperature (200C on a fan oven) for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven after 30 minutes and turn the chicken on the less roasted side, and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Repeat process until the chicken has a beautiful roasted colour. Repeat the process three times.
Add the olives in the last 30 minutes of cooking process.
Preparation 20 minutes
Cooking 15 minutes
250g of basmati rice
1 large onion
6/8 garlic cloves
Half a tsp of saffron
4/5 table spoons of sunflower oil
150g of mixed roasted nuts
150g of mixed dried fruits
Sugar to caramelize the onion
Chicken or vegetable stock
Rinse the rice and drain.
Slice the onion, peel the garlic and cut it in four pieces
Fry the onion and the garlic with oil on a medium heat and let it become brown; add one TBS of sugar to caramelise. Add the rice and the fruits, and the saffron.
Prepare 750ml of water with some chicken or vegetable stock and add it to the rice.
Boil, and then simmer for 10-15 minutes uncovered until the rice is tender but not overcooked. The water will have evaporated.
Add the mixed nuts. Mix all ingredients together and serve.
Warm salad with roasted kale, pumpkin balls, pistachio pesto and date syrup
200g of curly kale
500g of pumpkin (you need to halve the pumpkin)
6 medjoul dates
Method for the kale and the pumpkin
Cut your dates in slices (you make 4/6 slices with one date) and keep aside
Lay the curly kale on a roasting tray and drizzle 6 TBS of olive oil on it
Cook at 180C on a fan oven for 20 minutes, mixing regularly to make sure it becomes crispy all around
Wash and halve the pumpkin; scoop out the seeds.
Keeping the skin on, lay it on a roasting tray and drizzle 6 TBS of olive oil
Cook the pumpkin in the oven for 45 minutes at 180C
Once cooked, cool it down.
Using a melon baller, prepare as many little pumpkin balls as you can get with the pumpkin
To assemble the salad
Lay the kale on a large plate, and the pumpkin balls on it
Using a teaspoon, add a bit of pistachio pesto on top of each ball.
Decorate with the dates, and drizzle the salad with 4/6 date syrup
Add salt and pepper
JC Pomegranate and fig yeast Cake and Roulade makes 4 cakes/roulades preparation time 30 minutes, rising time 1.30 hour-2 hours minimum, plus 30 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes approximately
For the dough
4 sachets of dried yeast (30g approximately)
1 cup lukewarm water 1.5 kg plain flour 150g of sugar 4 eggs, room temperature 150ml milk or soya milk at room temperature 1/2 teaspoon salt 200gr butter or margarine, cut into pieces, room temperature for the Egg Wash 3 egg yolk
12 table spoons of pomegranate sauce
250g of Fig jam
6 Fresh figs
Pomegranate syrup In a large cup, mix the yeast to the 1/2 cup of warm water and let rest for 10 minutes until the yeast bubbles.
Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar and salt into the mixer bowl and incorporate with a spoon. If you use a robot, with a dough hook attachment mix into the flour mixture, the milk and eggs, incorporate and shortly after add the yeast. While the dough is kneading with the machine, add the pieces of butter one by one. Knead for about 7-8 minutes until all the ingredients are incorporated. Place the dough in a large freezer bag closed, to activate the rising process, and leave for about 1.30 hour.
If you don’t have a machine, start mixing with a spoon and then use your hand to start kneading the dough. Using the palm of your hand, stretch the dough and bring it back in the centre and add the butter gradually while you are kneading, this for about 10-15 minutes.
Divide the dough to 4 equal parts. Roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Spread some pomegranate sauce and add a thin layer of fig jam. Add pieces of fresh fig inside, and some pomegranate grains. Roll like a roulade, cut in two pieces, slash and forms cuts on the inside and form the shape you want either round or long.
Place the roulade on a baking parchment on a baking tray and let proof in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Brush with the egg yolk, sprinkle with pomegranate and pieces of figs and bake in a preheated at 180C fan oven for 25 minutes.
JC RECIPE – Summer 2014 – Courgette and artichoke salad with anchovies dressing
The anchovies dressing in this colourful salad gives a wonderful gentle original flavour, the lemon adds the necessary tangy taste. If you don’t like anchovies, you can always replace them with sardines.
For 8, preparation time 40 minutes – Cooking time 30 minutes for the artichokes bottoms
500g of frozen artichokes bottoms, defrosted
3 large courgettes
250g of anchovies
15g of flat fresh parsley
One red onion
Coarse sea salt
JC RECIPE – Trio of White, milk and dark chocolate mousse
Nothing like a chocolate mousse to finish a meal, but this is THE chocolate mousse to serve to impress
Dark chocolate mousse
6 medium eggs or 5 large
200g of dark chocolate
Milk chocolate mousse
6 medium eggs or 5 large
200g of milk chocolate
White chocolate mousse
200g of white chocolate
200 of double cream
In a large bowl alternate dark chocolate, white, and then milk.
Keep in the fridge at least six hours or overnight if you can.
Mushroom soup to be good?
Photo: Sandrine Aim
Serves: 6 Preparation: 30 minutes Cooking time: 15 minutes in a pressure cooker, 45 in a pan
350g mushrooms (cup, chestnuts or forestiere) 4 medium-sized potatoes 1 onion 1.5 litre vegetable stock Olive oil To serve: 150g chestnut mushrooms diced into small pieces A dash of single cream, crème fraîche or pareve cream 15g flat parsley, finely chopped
Peel the potatoes and quarter them.
Wash the 350g of mushrooms and cut them in half.
Slice the onion and put it in a pressure cooker or a large saucepan with 4-6 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté until it is golden brown.
Add the vegetable stock, turn heat up and bring to the boil.
Add the halved mushrooms and potatoes and cook in a pressure cooker for 10-15 minutes or at medium temperature for 30 minutes in a traditional saucepan on a hob.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables and some of the stock to a blender.
The soup should be a velvety texture — not too thick, not too liquid. Add the stock gradually so as not to thin it too much.
To serve: dice the remaining 150g of mushrooms and sprinkle them over the soup with the parsley and a bit of cream.
Or Mont Blanc, to be naughty?
Photo: Sandrine Aim
Mont Blanc is an indulgent dessert that reminds me of childhood trips with my sisters to see the extravagant windows at Galeries Lafayette over the festive season. Afterwards we would always stop at a patisserie for a Mont Blanc each. Those cakes were five times the size of the mini versions here, which makes me slightly less guilty.
Preparation: 45 minutes
Cooking: 120 minutes
For the meringues:
3 white medium sized eggs
175g caster sugar
For the topping:
250g sweetened chestnut purée
300ml double cream
One vanilla pod
Coloured sprinkles for decoration
3 large disposable piping bags
Preheat your oven to 100°C.
For the meringues: beat the egg whites until very stiff and gradually add the sugar, beating again until stiff.
Lay baking parchment on an oven tray and use a piping bag to pipe 3cm round mini meringues.
Cook the meringues for two hours. They are done when dried out and easily peeled from the baking parchment.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, slit your vanilla pod in half lengthwise and scrape off the seeds.
Put the cream in a deep bowl with the vanilla seeds.
Beat the cream until it holds its shape but is not too firm. It should be like Greek yoghurt in texture — fluffy and light — not too stiff like butter.
Put the cream in a large piping bag — with a medium cut at the end — and refrigerate until needed. Put the chestnut purée in the last piping bag — with a small cut at the end — and also refrigerate until ready to assemble the meringues.
When the mini meringues are fully cooled and just before serving, pipe cream all over each meringue and then pipe chestnut cream in lines over the top of each one leaving space between so you can see the cream below.
Sprinkle with the decorations and serve immediately or soon after assembling so the meringue stays crunchy.
FARKA, this week JC recipe, Happy Chanukha!
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 60 minutes
Cooling time before eating: one night
500g of fine couscous
500g of medjoul dates
100g of ground walnuts
50g of walnuts
100g of caster sugar
100ml of sunflower or vegetable oil
The juice of two oranges
Orange peels of one orange
150 of mixed dried cranberries and raisins
A bit of almond extract
• Boil some water in a large sauce pan with a sieve that you can put on top.
• In a bowl, wash the couscous. Let it drain on a sieve.
• Reserve some of the whole walnuts, dried cranberries and raisins for the decoration.
• Put in back in the bowl and add the sugar and the sunflower oil, the ground walnuts and the rest of the mixed cranberries and raisins.
• Cut the dates in small pieces and add them to the couscous.
• Mix all the ingredients in the bowl if possible by hand or with a large fork in order to blend them all together and almost puree the dates in the couscous.
• Put the preparation on the sieve and cover it with the lid. Steam the couscous at high gas mark with the lid on the sieve for approximately 30-45 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure all the ingredients blend together and steamed.
• Let it cool down and add the orange juice, a few drops of almonds extract and the orange peels. Mix well and put in a nice square 25cm dish.
• Decorate with walnuts, dried cranberries and raisins.
• Keep in the fridge overnight and serve the cake on the 6th day of Chanukah.
This colorful autumnal salad is very rich in flavors. The sweetness of the walnuts goes very well with the bitterness of the chicory leaves and the sharpness of the warm creamy sauce.
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
300ml of single cream
300g of blue cheese
300g of walnuts
600g of chicory leaves, a mix of white and red ones
4 table spoons of sugar
Ground black pepper
Cut the end of the chicory and wash the leaves
Dry them thoroughly
Arrange them on a serving plate
Cut the blue cheese in pieces and put it in a large saucepan
Add the single cream to the cheese
Warm at low temperature, stirring regularly, until everything has melted
In the meantime, put the walnut in another saucepan with the sugar and stir well
Cook the walnut at medium high temperature for 5 minutes until the sugar has caramelized
Add the warm sauce on the walnuts and sprinkle with the caramelized walnuts
Nutty burgers with spinach and carrot buns
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
500g minced beef
1 red onion, finely chopped
20g finely chopped fresh flat parsley
60g ground walnuts
60g chopped pistachios
2 medium eggs
A generous shake of cumin, paprika and turmeric
Sunflower oil for brushing
For the dressing:
4 tbsp mayonnaise,
1 tsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard
Fresh baby spinach, sliced red onions, sliced tomatoes, sliced pickled cucumbers
Spinach and grated carrot burger buns
Cooking: 20 mins
Makes: 20 medium size rolls
250g fresh spinach
3 sachets fast action dried yeast
2 large carrots, grated
1 tbs caster sugar
500g-600g of strong white bread flour
Approximately +/- 300ml of warm water
6 tbsp sunflower and olive oil
Courgette spaghettis salad with sundried tomatoes and tomatoes
Prep time: 15 minutes
4 large courgettes
12 sundried tomatoes cut in half
12 cherry tomatoes cut in half
White wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
25g of fresh basil
Three melons fruits salad with water melon granita
This refreshing and pretty fruits salad will be the perfect desert or afternoon tea treat in a hot summer day.
No cooking time, but allow one hour for the water melon juice to become frozen and make into granita.
JC summer recipe 2013, cakes
June 27th, 2013 and June 6th 2013
White chocolate and red fruits charlotte
Creamy and light dessert with summer berries, a sweet and sharp combination, Make the day before
200g of white chocolate
300ml of double cream
3 egg whites from 3 large eggs
150g of raspberries
150g of blueberries
150g of blackberries
3 or 4 strawberries
250g of sponge fingers biscuits
50ml of milk
One vanilla pod
One Charlotte or large jelly dish
220g of self raising flour
100 g of crystallised fruits
125 g caster sugar
125 g margarine or butter
10 cl of old Rum
Cut the crystallised fruits in cubes. Warm the Rum and add the sultanas to it. Leave it to soak for 30 minutes. Then, drain the sultanas and add 10g of flour on them, making sure you do not mix the flour to them, you must still see the white of the flour. Add 10g of flour on the crystallised fruits without taking of the flour.
Separate the white from the yolk of the eggs. Mix the yolks with the sugar. Melt the margarine and pour it on the preparation. Add 200g of flour. With an electric whisker, beat the white until firm. Add them to the sugar/flour/egg mixture. Add the fruits. Put some melted margarine in a rectangular 25cm baking tray, put 10g of flour all over the tray, and remove the excess by putting it upside down. Put the mixture and bake at 180C (th 6) for 45 minutes approximately. Leave it to cool down before you remove from the tray.