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Hanukkah Table Musts

Hanukkah Table Musts

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Whether you're hosting a few or many, set your scene with these festive pieces

Saturday, Dec. 8 is the first night of Hanukkah this year, and whatever traditions your family has — whether it’s making dozens of latkes, giving funny gifts to family members each night, or having a big, jelly donut-filled breakfast, you should create a festive ambiance that’s fit for the occasion.

Create a table that’s warm, inviting, and full of all of the trimmings that Hanukkah brings. From table linens to menorahs to all of the napkins and plates in between, see our favorite picks for Hanukkah:

• Let’s start from the bottom up — table linens: This stark white tablecloth has an extra hint of pizazz with a sparkle menorah in each corner.

• Plates like these don’t even need an introduction. This bone china set is the perfect mix of Bohemian and classic.

• Classic, and reusable — hello, eco-friendly! — Pottery Barn’s Hanukkah napkins tie together the traditions of the occasion.

• Festive napkin rings are adorned with signature charms for the holiday and create texture on the table.

• Tie place cards around these adorable sacks of Hanukkah gelt and center them on your setting to mark guest’s seats.

• This entire collection of glassware has us swooning — with their old-fashioned, mouth-blown and sand shaped appearance — and the subtle blue color will serve as a perfect accent for the table.

• Serving ware with a purpose — each plate is marked with its reason, from challah to latkes, so you’ll be prepared

• As for a menorah, look no further than this little guy from Jonathan Adler.


THE idea of Hanukkah without latkes would be as unacceptable to many Jews as a bagel without lox. Latkes, or potato pancakes, have long been considered a traditional part of the holiday celebration.

Yet it is not the latkes but the oil in which they are fried that symbolizes the occasion. It commemorates the miracle of the temple lamp that burned for eight days on a day's worth of oil after Judas Maccabeus's victory over King Antiochus of Syria in 165 B.C. Thus it is that the holiday, which this year begins on the evening of Dec. 18, lasts eight days.

Only the Jews of Eastern European or Ashkenazi origin insist that the food prepared in the oil be latkes. Among Sephardic Jews, who settled throughout the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe after the Diaspora, various dishes are deep-fried. The fritters called bimuelos are their typical Hanukkah treat, the name deriving from the Spanish for fritters, bunuelos.

Bimuelos are being served this Hanukkah at Andree's Mediterranean, a restaurant on East 74th Street in Manhattan that is owned by Andree Levy Abramoff. The pastries, which Mrs. Abramoff called zalabia, are part of the restaurant's special menu, which will be available in addition to the regular menu on the first night of the holiday.

Mrs. Abramoff was born in Egypt, so it is her recollections of festive Hanukkah meals when she was a child in Cairo that became the basis of her restaurant's Hanukkah offering.

She noted, for example, that in Cairo the dinner would include five or six courses. ''We would start with fish, usually fishballs like quenelles that were first deep-fried, then simmered in tomato sauce,'' she said. ''They were made with salt cod.'' The fish was followed by whole artichokes, prepared in oil and very spicy, a roast with peas and a pilaf, and desserts.

Unlike other holiday dinners, she said, the Hanukkah meal did not feature chicken. Rather, the main course was usually lamb or veal in a stewlike preparation called sofrito, or a special veal roast called taglio bianco - literally ''white cut.''

An aunt who was born in Israel would make jelly doughnuts filled with rose jam. These, known as soofganiyot and reputed to have originated in the Maccabbean era, continue to be a popular Hanukkah pastry in Israel. Buttery shortbread cookies stuffed with dates were also on the holiday table in Egypt they will be served at the restaurant this year.

''We did not light a menorah with candles,'' Mrs. Abramoff recalled. ''We had a tray on which little cups for the oil were set out, and each night of the holiday we lit another little oil lamp.''

Edda Servi Machlin describes a similar 'ɼhanukiya'' oil lamp in her book, ''The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews'' (Everest House). She explains that the first time she saw candles lit for Hanukkah was at the end of World War II: a group of American soldiers had improvised a menorah by placing candles on the tops of helmets set on the ground.

The accompanying Hanukkah recipes were created by Mrs. Abramoff from the traditional Egyptian menu. Although several courses involve fried dishes, the overall meal retains a sense of balance since the fish is served in tomato sauce and the artichokes, which are merely blanched in oil, are given a splash of vinegar to cut the oil and create a warm vinaigrette.

Andree's Mediterranean is at 354 East 74th Street (212-249-6619). The price for the Hanukkah meal is $32 a person.

(Fish dumplings in turmeric sauce) 2pounds cod or tilefish fillets (see

note) 1small onion, quartered 3cloves garlic, sliced 2teaspoons ground cumin 1/8teaspoon cayenne pepper 1egg Salt and freshly ground black

pepper to taste 1cup matzoh meal Oil for deep frying 4cups fish stock or water 2tablespoons lemon juice 1/2teaspoon turmeric 3tablespoons tomato paste Sprigs of flat-leaf parsley.

1.*Cut fish into 1-inch pieces. Place in food processor and add onion, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, egg, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Add matzoh meal and process until incorporated.

2.*Shape fish mixture into plump ovals about 3 inches long.

3.*Heat oil for deep frying to 375 degrees in deep fryer, saucepan or wok. Fry until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.

4.*Bring stock or water to boil in 1 or 2 large saucepans, add lemon juice, turmeric and tomato paste. Bring to slow simmer. Drop drained fish rolls into simmering broth and cook slowly, uncovered. Rolls should be single layer. Simmer until broth has reduced and thickened, about 40 minutes.

5.*Serve warm garnished with parsley.

NOTE: If fish are purchased whole, have them filleted and make the stock for the recipe by simmering the heads and bones. This recipe can also be made with salt cod or bacalao by soaking it for 24 hours in several changes of cold water, then preceding with the recipe. Artichokes, Sephardic Style 8medium artichokes 1lemon 4cloves garlic, very finely

minced 1teaspoon hot red pepper flakes 1/2cup chopped parsley (packed) 2tablespoons kosher salt Oil for deep frying 1/2cup red wine vinegar.

1.*Cut off stems flush with each artichoke and trim off coarse outer leaves. With sharp knife slice off about 1 inch of top of each artichoke and, using scissors, snip prickly points off leaves. Rub cut areas with half the lemon. Then juice lemon.

2.*Bring kettle of salted water to boil. Add lemon juice and artichokes. When water returns to boil, cover and cook over medium heat 20 to 25 minutes, until artichokes are tender and a leaf can be removed easily. Drain artichokes upside down until cool.

3.*Combine garlic, hot pepper, parsley and salt.

4.*When artichokes have cooled remove fuzzy choke and center leaves from each by gently spreading center of artichoke open and pulling out choke or scooping it out with spoon.

5.*Fill each artichoke with parsley mixture, tucking it between the leaves and in center. Set aside or refrigerate until 1/2 hour before serving.

6.*Heat oil for deep frying to depth of 2 or 3 inches in deep saucepan, deep fryer or wok. When oil has reached 375 degrees fry artichokes for 30 seconds each, until leaves begin to curl. Drain briefly on paper towels.

7.*Sprinkle each with tablespoon of red wine vinegar and serve.

Yield: 8 servings. Taglio Bianco Veal Roast 3pounds of veal rump, tenderloin

or shoulder, tied at 1-inch intervals with string 2to 3 garlic cloves, slivered 3tablespoons flour Salt and freshly ground black

pepper to taste 1/4cup light (not extra virgin) olive

oil 3tablespoons lemon juice.

1.*Cut small deep slashes in meat and insert slivers of garlic. Roll in flour, dust off any excess and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2.*Heat oil in large, heavy pot with nonreactive enamel, stainless-steel or dark gray anodized aluminum finish. Sear roast over medium heat until nicely browned. Add lemon juice, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Check from time to time, adding tablespoon of water if liquid in pan seems to be evaporating. At just under an hour roast should be medium, registering 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part. If you prefer veal well done, cook longer but not beyond reading of 160 degrees.

3.*Remove roast from pan and set aside for 30 minutes. Just before serving, reheat pan juices and check for seasoning. Slice meat and serve with hot pan juices. Rice or bulgar wheat pilaf and fresh green peas are appropriate accompaniments. If peas are not available, serve green beans or zucchini.

Zalabia, or Bimuelos (Hanukkah fritters in syrup) 1package dry yeast Pinch of sugar 1 1/2cups warm water (110 degrees)

approximately 3cups flour Pinch of salt 1/2cup milk (see note) 1egg Oil for deep frying Syrup (see recipe) Ycup confectioners' sugar 1teaspoon cinnamon.

1.*Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water. Set aside in warm place until doubled, about 10 minutes.

2.*Place flour and salt in food processor. Pour in yeast mixture, milk and 1 cup of warm water. Process for just a few seconds. Add egg and process few seconds more. Continue to process, using on-and-off (pulse) mechanism until flour has been completely incorporated and mixture is smooth. It should be gooey mass thicker than pancake batter and about consistency of muffin batter. If it is too thick, add a little water, tablespoon at a time.

3.*Transfer batter to bowl, cover with damp towel or plastic wrap and set in warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

4.*Heat oil for deep frying to 375 degrees in a deep fryer, saucepan or wok. Using teaspoon that has been dipped into cold water, drop small mounds of batter into hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes. Do not crowd fritters in pan. As they are finished, transfer to absorbant paper to drain.

5.*Pile finished fritters on platter while still warm. Pour syrup over them and sift confectioners' sugar mixed with cinnamon on top, or serve just dusted with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve at once.

Yield: 3 1/2 to 4 dozen small fritters, serving 8.

NOTE: For a kosher meat meal, use water instead of milk. Syrup for Fritters 2cups water 2cups sugar 2tablespoons lemon juice 2tablespoons orange flower

1.*Combine water, sugar and lemon juice in saucepan. Bring to boil, then simmer until reduced to little more than 1 cup.

2.*Add orange flower water and cook 2 minutes longer. Set aside to cool. Menena (Date cookies) 3/4pound pitted dates 1/2pound sweet butter or margarine, softened 2tablespoons sugar 2cups flour, sifted 1/4cup water 1tablespoon orange flower water Confectioners' sugar.

1.*Soak dates in cold water for 2 hours. Drain, pat dry on paper towels, then chop fine in food processor.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil.

3. Cream butter or margarine in food processor or electric mixer or by hand until fluffly. Add sugar and mix until incorporated. Add flour gradually, then water and orange flower water. Mixture should be very soft but not sticky.

4. Roll lumps of dough into little balls, hollowing out as you go to make room for the filling. Stuff each with a little of date mixture, less than teaspoon. Seal opening gently with fingers and shape into round, flattened dumpling 2 inches in diameter. Gently indent tops of each with tines of fork and arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool, then dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.

Joan Nathan's Recipes for Classic Hanukkah Dishes

A Hanukkah feast is not just about the potato latkes. Jewish cuisine expert Joan Nathan shares some other classic recipes for the holiday table.

Nathan's book The Jewish Holiday Kitchen celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and she has just released a new version, Jewish Holiday Cookbook , which encompasses classic dishes from her previous cookbooks with a new generation of recipes.

Nathan joins NPR's Scott Simon for some food tasting and tips. She introduces the "comfort food" of fried noodle pudding, and jelly doughnuts, which she calls "the only true Israeli dish." Simon samples the fried noodles and poppyseed mandelbrot cookies.

Jewish Holiday Cookbook offers an abundance of history along with the food, including an explanation of oil's significance to Hanukkah."The holiday commemorates the Maccabean victory over Antiochus of Syria some twenty-one centuries ago," Nathan writes. "Going to cleanse and rededicate the Temple, the Maccabees found only enough sacred oil to light the menorah for one day. But a miracle occurred, and one day's supply lasted eight."

Many Hanukkah dishes feature oil as a staple ingredient, but that doesn't mean the latkes need to be oil-soaked lumps. Nathan also offers latke-making tips, and offers her suggestion for the one must-serve dish for the Hanukkah table besides fried pancakes.

A Perfect Passover

This collection of savory side dishes and desserts rounds out a Passover table&ndashor any meal&ndashin fine style.

Passover, a holiday about new starts and freedom, coincides appropriately with spring. A serious time but a joyous one, too, the celebration is as much about food and family as it is about history and remembrance. More than any other Jewish holiday, Passover is a "table holiday."

Passover commemorates the Jewish people who, led by Moses, fled bondage in Egypt and subsequently wandered in the desert seeking entry into the Promised Land. The celebration lasts eight days and starts with two symbolic seder meals served on the first and second nights. During these, the host narrates the Passover story, and the meal unfolds in an order traditional to the holiday. Specific foods–including bitter herbs that represent the bitterness of slavery, and a roasted egg that represents mourning at the Second Temple and the circle of life–symbolize aspects of the plight of the Israelites.

Leavened baked goods of any kind�kes, cookies, as well as any items made with regular flour𠄺re not permitted during this time. And there are other limitations on ingredients, too, that can stymie even the most capable cook. Because of these restrictions, Passover meals tend to focus on chicken, turkey, or beef brisket, and friendly squabbles about hard and soft matzo balls. But savory sides and small desserts can round out the menu and more fully evoke the holiday.

This recipe collection offers both sweets and savories that appeal to everyone at any time𠄽ishes you would choose to prepare regardless–with the added benefit that they work for a Passover menu. They cover a spectrum of light and colorful spring flavors, and they use familiar pantry ingredients that are kosher for Passover. These dishes are simple to prepare–no high-rising sponge cake or complicated tortes among them. They&aposll complete a classic Passover meal in fine form.

As an added bonus, all are easy to make ahead and refrigerate or freeze. Use disposable foil bakeware for cooking and storage. Transfer the food to Passover serving platters to serve. And celebrate.

Passover Particulars

Food symbols reflect the Passover story and observance. Although customs vary among different cultures, there are some basics.

The Passover story mentions matzo, the symbolic cracker, described at the seder table as the "bread of affliction." As the story goes, when Moses led the Jews from Egypt to the promised land, they left so quickly their bread had no time to rise. Matzo is a thin, brittle, unleavened bread that replaces other breads during the holidays, and matzo crackers are ground into meal to replace wheat flour in holiday cooking and baking.

Beyond leavened baked goods, other ingredients not permitted include fermented items, particularly those mixing flour, water, and yeast the ban also includes other leavening, such as baking soda and baking powder. Eggs and whipped egg whites are acceptable and the primary leavenings at Passover–hence the popularity of sponge cakes.

In addition to flour, other grains (and their byproducts) and seeds are avoided. For example, mustard is off-limits because it is made from a seed. Because grains such as corn are not permitted, potato starch is substituted for cornstarch.

Hanukkah: The Food and Traditions

Learn more about the Jewish Festival of Lights and the traditional foods prepared in celebration.


Hanukkah, a festival commemorating deliverance from religious oppression and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, is a beloved Jewish holiday. Deep- or shallow-fried dishes like jelly doughnuts and potato latkes abound, serving as a delicious reminder of the "miracle of the oil" at the heart of the Hanukkah story, when a single day's worth of oil kept the Temple flame alight for a full eight days. While every family's tradition is different, brisket is a go-to standby, often enjoyed while children spin the dreidel for gelt, chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.

Region of origin plays an important role in what makes up the traditional Jewish table. Whether food is smothered in onions and sprinkled with paprika, or flavored with lemon, garlic and mint, it'll most likely reflect the host's ancestry. A little more on each style:

Ashkenazic Jewish Cooking (Central and Eastern European)

Sauteed onions, sweet and sour sauces, chicken noodle soup, and braised beef brisket are typical of this region. Simple seasoning and minimal use of herbs and spices create dishes that are sometimes delicate, but never bland. Potatoes appear in many forms: cooked with meat, fried as pancakes, baked in kugels (casseroles). Challah is the bread of choice, and luscious strudels, creamy cheesecakes, honey cakes, babka and blintzes satisfy the sweet tooth.

Sephardic Jewish Cooking (Mediterranean)

Sephardic cooking, in the term's current use, broadly encompasses the worlds of Judeo-Arab (Middle Eastern), Judeo-Spanish (Iberian) and North African Jewish cooking. These diverse styles share much in common. Cumin, coriander and cinnamon are the seasoning stars. Rice and chickpeas are staples. Dishes are pungent and aromatic, heady with garlic, herbs, lemon and pomegranate. Lamb is the meat of choice, frequently stewed in tomato-based sauces. Artichokes, eggplants, spinach, okra, olives and peppers accompany the meal, often in the form of olive oil-drenched salads. In households with origins in the eastern Mediterranean, pita bread and tahini-based spreads are common, and bulgur and lentils are additional pantry staples. Desserts are based on pistachio and pine nuts, honey, and filo dough.

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with Food Network's best Hanukkah recipes.

Parve Chocolate Mousse

Anna Kurzaeva / Getty Images

Made with margarine instead of butter and chocolate, this easy parve chocolate mousse is both parve and vegan-friendly. Your guests will rave about the heavenly texture and deep, bittersweet chocolate flavor.

Bring a piece of the South to your Hanukkah table with these inspired recipes

Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish holiday, is a time of light, prayer and, of course, food. These recipes mix in just the right amount of fresh, new flavors to excite your guests without straying too far from tradition.

Here are four Southern-inspired recipes to add to your menu.

Low and Slow Braised Beef Brisket
This no-fail, fall-apart tender brisket recipe gets a tasty kick with a secret ingredient: Cajun seasoning. This recipe requires at least 12 hours of oven time, so feel free to cook it up ahead of time and reheat in the oven before dinner. (Or, feel free to use a slow cooker for a no-fuss approach.)
Get the recipe

Sweet Potato Cakes
No Hanukkah celebration is complete without some kind of tasty treat fried in oil. These addictive sweet potato cakes do just that, so be sure to make plenty — these crispy cakes will go fast!
Get the recipe

Homemade Fig, Mustard and Apple Chutney
With just the right amount of sweet and spice, this chuntey is a serious upgrade from applesauce in a jar. With a beautiful depth of flavor, it goes beyond the latke and can be served alongside a holiday roast, used as a spread for your next sandwich or grilled cheese, or added to a holiday party cheese board.
Get the recipe

Triple Layer Applesauce Cake
Finish the meal with something sweet, plus a little nod to tradition with this delecately spiced cake. The key to this fluffy and light dessert is the applesauce mixed in — be sure to use chunky applesauce or the batter will be too runny.
Get the recipe

Photo Credit (Homemade Fig, Mustard, and Apple Chutney): Lisa Lotts

Dena Rayess is a recipe editor and cookbook author based in San Francisco. She enjoys exploring new foodways in and around the Bay Area and beyond, and has been known to whip up a mean house cocktail at dinner parties.


Blintzes, a favorite Hanukkah treat, are popular year-round. Typically, blintzes are made of crepe-style pancakes wrapped around sweet ricotta cheese and baked. These days, however, blintzes are stuffed with a wide range of cheeses cream cheese is often substituted for ricotta. They are topped with sour cream or applesauce and are often eaten as a side dish.

10 Servingware and Tabletop Essentials Perfect for Your Hanukkah Celebration

Sure, latkes and sufganiyot are great, but there's more to the Hanukkah table than simply delicious food. A beautifully decorated table, filled with sentimental décor and sophisticated servingware items, is key to creating a warm (and memorable) Hanukkah experience for friends and family. "A good Hanukkah table should offer something sentimental about the holiday," says interior designer Sam Allen. "My grandmother always laid out the same blue paper link chains&mdashdrawing from the color of the Jewish flag&mdashthat she'd had since my mother was young to bring a sense of tradition and heritage to the table."

Along with meaningful table accents, a well-decorated Hanukkah table should also feature certain essentials. "A menorah is a must as the lighting of the candles is the point to the whole holiday," Allen says. "Every menorah has eight holders that represent the eight nights of Hanukkah, as well as one holder (called the "shamah") which is used to light all of the other candles. It can be homemade by children out of tin foil or really fancy and expensive&mdashwhat it looks like is irrelevant because it's all about the symbolism."

Of course, like any holiday table, the goal is to create an inviting scene that will leave a lasting impression on loved ones. "Think about how your table will be remembered," Allen says. "Whether with family heirlooms or special serving ware pieces, there should be something that represents your own connection to the holiday."

To dine and design an unforgettable Hanukkah feast this season, shop for these ten stylish items.

A Hanukkah Menu from Ina Garten

Happy Hanukkah! To help you create the perfect celebration, we asked TV host and cookbook author Ina Garten for a traditional menu of her favorite dishes. From braised brisket to a simple but foolproof pound cake, this is easy entertaining, perfected. Read on for her dishes, and learn how to bring it to life with our hosting tips.

Braised brisket with carrots and onions is a great one-dish meal, and Garten’s version is easy to make ahead. She makes the meat ahead of time, slices it when it’s cooled a bit, then reheats it with the vegetables in a pretty ovenproof serving dish.

The Barefoot Contessa made this noodle kugel a dozen times before she got it just right, balancing savory with sweet, crisp with creamy. It’s sweet — good for the kids — but not too sweet, so it works as a side dish. (We recommend adding our Brussels sprout and arugula salad to the table for some color, too.)

For dessert, Garten’s pound cake is simple, but precise — she sifts the flour more than once to create the ideal delicate texture.

Modern Hanukkah Recipes: A Dinner Party Menu For The Festival Of Lights (PHOTOS)

Some of our Jewish-holiday-celebrating compatriots may be able to commiserate with us on one particular point -- we have a lot of holidays throughout the year and frequently, we end up eating the same things over and over again. Please don't misunderstand us, we love brisket. But after eating it for Passover, Rosh Hashanah, multiple Shabbat dinners, etc., by the time Hanukkah rolls around, we're craving something a little different.

The menu below is a celebration of all the things we love about Hanukkah. We love olive oil -- we love frying in it, roasting in it, baking with it and dressing salads with it. We love latkes, although we've mixed them up just a little bit. Most importantly, we love lots of leftovers for the next few days of Hanukkah. Of course, for all of us, there are some things we just can't change. On our table, straight potato latkes are non-negotiable. But, let us know if you give any of these modern Hanukkah recipes a try. We'd love to hear whether your friends and family revolt, or fall in love with something new.

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Watch the video: How to Set a Colorful Hanukkah Table (August 2022).