Can you believe Chanukah starts the night before Thanksgiving! This anomaly has never happened before and may never occur again.
I find the novelty exciting.
“But will Chanukah be eclipsed by Thanksgiving?” a friend asked.
“Chanukah has the advantage, because it starts first,” I said.
In addition, Chanukah is an eight-day holiday, where Thanksgiving lasts one day. This is a plus for the Festival of Lights.
Wednesday night, the first night of Chanukah, is an opportunity to enjoy a traditional holiday meal with potato latkes, brisket and applesauce.
“But what about Thanksgiving?” my friend asked. “What do you serve?”
We agreed that turkey’s a must. Because I own an electric deep fryer, I suggested frying the turkey since oil has such symbolic importance on Chanukah.
Then inspiration struck. “I’m going to prepare an all-American Thanksgiving menu with a Jewish accent,” I said.
There are many Jewish foods that can be tweaked for Thanksgiving: noodle pudding studded with cranberries, sweet potato latkes, tzimmes with apple cider or pumpkin stuffed with turkey, a Bukharan Jewish delicacy.
Conversely, some Thanksgiving fare can be converted for Chanukah. Why not make turkey stuffing with challah, or apple fritters instead of apple pie?
Apple Cranberry Noodle Pudding
3⁄4 cup dried cranberries
1 bag (12 oz.) of wide noodles
3 baking apples (such as Gala, Fuji, Macoun or Cortland)
nonstick vegetable spray
4 extra large eggs
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon
juice of 1⁄2 lemon
3 Tbsps. margarine, melted
Soak the cranberries in 3⁄4 cup hot water for 1 hour.
Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain in a colander and cool to warm.
Meanwhile, peel, core and slice the apples thin.
Preheat the oven to 350˚. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. Separate eggs into 2 large bowls.
Into the yolk bowl, add the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Beat until mixture thickens. Drain the cranberries in a colander, discarding the water. Add the cranberries, apples and noodles. Stir with a spoon until well combined.
With clean beaters, whip the egg whites till stiff and shiny. Fold them into noodle mixture. Spoon into the prepared pan. Even off the surface. Drizzle the melted margarine over the top.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the pudding has solidified.
Cut into squares and serve immediately.
Makes 24 squares.
Apple Cider Tzimmes
2 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled
6-8 carrots, peeled
1 green apple, peeled, cored and coarsely diced
2 and 1⁄2 cups apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves
1⁄8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 cup pitted dried plums
Cut the sweet potatoes and carrots into 1-inch chunks. Place sweet potatoes, carrots and apple into large pot. Add apple cider, followed by the cinnamon stick, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Stir until combined.
Cover the pot. Place the pot on a medium flame until cider begins to boil. Reduce flame to low or medium-low so that the cider simmers slowly. After 30 minutes, add the plums and stir.
Simmer covered for another 10-20 minutes, till potatoes are soft in the center and cider has reduced to a slightly thick sauce. Serve immediately. (Recipe can be made 3 days ahead.)
Serves 6 to 8.
Pumpkin Stuffed With Turkey
1 pumpkin (4 to 4 and 1⁄2 lbs.)
kosher salt to taste
1⁄2 cup uncooked rice
3 Tbsps. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1⁄8 tsp. ground black pepper
1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 Italian plum tomato, diced
1 green apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 lb. ground turkey
2 Tbsps. cilantro chopped
1⁄3 cup dried cranberries
With a sharp, non-flexible knife, cut an opening around the pumpkin’s stem, large enough to get your hand inside. Using a spoon with a sharp edge, scrape out seeds and fibers and discard. Sprinkle salt inside the pumpkin and rub as evenly as possible on its flesh. Reserve pumpkin and the top with the stem.
Prepare rice according to package directions. Keep pot covered as rice cools to room temperature.
Heat the oil in a large pot on a medium flame. Saute the onion and garlic in the oil. Add salt to taste, pepper and turmeric. Stir until well combined. Add the tomato and apple, stirring until wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add the turkey. Stir with a spoon while breaking up turkey into small clumps. Saute until turkey is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, cilantro and cranberries. Stir till combined. Check for salt; add more, if needed. Cool mixture to warm.
Place oven rack on a lower rung to accommodate the pumpkin stem. Preheat oven to 375˚.
Fill the pumpkin cavity with turkey mixture, pressing with a spoon so the stuffing is tightly packed. Replace the top with the stem on the pumpkin.
Fold a 16-inch long piece of aluminum foil into quarters. Center the square in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the stuffed pumpkin on top of the foil. Add hot water until it reaches about an inch up the pumpkin sides. (Add more hot water during baking, if needed.) Move pan into the oven and bake for 2 hours, or until the pumpkin top shrinks slightly and flesh inside is soft, when pierced with a knife point.
Wearing heat-proof mitts, carefully remove the pan from the oven. Let water in roasting pan cool to warm. Using 2 sturdy, long-handled spatulas, lift the pumpkin onto a large round platter. Cut into slices and serve immediately.
Serves 8 as a side dish, 4 as a main course.
Sweet Potato Latkes
8 sweet potatoes or yams, peeled
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 Tbsps. brown sugar
2 Tbsps. flour
corn oil for frying
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Cut the potatoes into chunks that fit through a food processor’s feed tube. Using the grating blade, process potatoes.
Place the grated potatoes in a colander that is set over a bowl. Squeeze the juice from potatoes by placing your palm over them and pressing until drained. Move potatoes to a large mixing bowl.
Carefully pour out the potato juice from the first bowl, until you see a mound of starch at the bottom. Scrape the starch into the grated potatoes. Add the eggs, sugar and flour, mixing well with a wooden spoon.
Fill two large skillets with 1⁄4 inch of oil and heat on a medium flame.
Place a rounded tablespoon of batter into your palm and form into a latke. With both palms, squeeze out the remaining potato juice. Place latke on a spatula and slide into the oil. Flatten latke with the spatula.
Repeat until there is no more batter. Fry latkes for 5 minutes on each side, or until brown and crisp. Continue to flatten latkes as they fry. Add more oil, if needed.
Drain latkes on two layers of paper towels. Place on a platter or two. Do not overlap or layer latkes. Sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.
Makes 16 to 20 latkes.