Kasha Varnishkes

Kasha Varnishkes

Happy Hanukkah and Kasha Varnishkes

Roasted Whole Grain Buckwheat, Bow Tie Pasta,
Caramelized Onion, Sautéed Mushrooms, Walnuts, Parsley

This dish never fails to bring back sweet memories of my Nana and Auntie Edythe. This year my version of Kasha Varnishkes (also called Kasha & Bows) includes mushrooms and walnuts. I remember that Auntie Edythe would prepare hers with lots of kasha in proportion to the bows and no doubt used plenty of schmaltz. My recipe has more pasta and vegetables in relation to the buckwheat.

I was looking through boxes of my mom’s photographs and came across the one below. It is so wonderfully perfect for sharing my Kasha Varniskes recipe and celebrating Hanukkah. Sadly, everyone in the photo except my cousin Robert has passed away. We bless them and they bless us each time we think of them. Our memories keep the people who have passed on close to us.  May their memory be for a blessing. Always and forever.

Kasha and Bows
The Palmer House Chicago c. 1956 Left to Right: Dad Leonard, Mom Joyce, Cousin Robert, Auntie Edythe, Uncle Sydney, Uncle Syd’s Mother Rose, Papa Irving, Nana Fanny.

My Nana (paternal grandmother) was born in Kiev, Russia 1894. The family fled to Canada to escape the pogroms when she was a young girl. Her birth name was Vitte but she took her sister’s name, Fanny, after Fanny was killed in a machine accident.

She met my Papa (paternal grandfather) when they were teenagers and their families were living in the same apartment complex in Montreal. His name was Yitzcok when he was born in Romania 1891 but changed it to Isadore upon arrival in Canada when he was 13 years old. They say he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on the boat.

Fanny and Isadore married then made their way to America and settled in Chicago where Papa took the name Irving, and they raised their children, (my aunt) Edythe and (my dad) Leonard.

Our extended family always called Papa by the name Izzy (from Isadore) and Izzy is now my nephew Jett’s middle name. And Jett’s older brother Stone has Leonard as his middle name. By keeping their names alive, we bless them.

Wishing a very Happy Hanukkah to my big dear family, near and far…past and present.

Kasha Varnishkes Recipe

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Two Potato Latke Recipes – You Decide!

Spiralized Potato Latkes, Sautéed Apples with Wildflower Honey, Sour Cream

 Spiralized Potato Latkes, Sautéed Apples with Wildflower Honey, Sour Cream

We eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate the ancient miracle that occurred in the second century BCE. A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated.

Hanukkah doesn’t start ’til sundown tonight and we’ve already cooked two batches of latkes – our beloved potato pancakes fried in olive oil.

In the first recipe we used a food processor to grate potato and shallot. Ingredients include earthy parsnip, sweet fruity red bell pepper, and fresh bright herbaceous parsley. I joke about the curious red and green color combination in these latkes. But the flavor profile really is spot-on. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!

The second latke recipe employs the new-fangled “spiralizer” to cut long skinny strands of potato, making for a lovely light and lacy pancake. Originally, I thought of the spiralizer as a gimmicky kitchen gadget, but I now find it to be quite useful. And fun. These spiralized latkes are for the purist – simply delicious fried potato served with sour cream. And for a sweet textural counterbalance, my sautéed fresh apples with wildflower honey stand in for the traditional applesauce.

Both recipes are winners in our book. You decide.

Two Potato Latke Recipes

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Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales
Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Sending my warmest wishes to you at Hanukkah
May you be blessed with joy, good health, peace, and tender brisket….

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales

Oh how we adore our brisket. And since the cooking process takes over eight hours, I usually make enough for leftovers and extra to freeze for later too. This year – the intersection of Hanukkah, brisket in the freezer, spying some mouth-watering tamales at LA’s Grand Central Market, and a tamalada (my Latino friends’ traditional Christmas season tamale-making party) – led to a unique holiday treat…Hanukkah Brisket Tamales. Made with my super-tender beef brisket, from a recipe that we have been making for many years. It is so good it’s one of the few recipes that I never adjust. The addition of carrots sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with a bit of cumin, salt and pepper plus a medley of sautéed onion and jalapeño adds fresh flavor and spiciness. The (optional) gouda cheese brings another dimension of smokiness and creamy texture. And lastly, who could resist the adorable little packages all wrapped up like a present, representing the age-old Jewish custom to give gifts of gelt to children on Hanukkah.

Note: Omit dairy or replace with non-dairy vegan substitutes for your Observant guests who follow the laws of kashrut (Jewish dietary laws).

Hanukkah Brisket Tamales Recipe

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Curried Broccoli Latkes, Preserved Lemon Sour Cream

broccoli latkes
Curried Broccoli Latkes with Carrot, Scallion & Dried Cranberry
Preserved Meyer Lemon Sour Cream

May you be strengthened by tradition,
Warmed by the Hanukkah lights,
And may your life be touched with miracles.

We eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate the ancient miracle that occurred in the second century BCE. A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated.

I make latkes every Hanukkah. And they are always a little different. Almost always the base is potato, but not this year. 5773 is the year of the broccoli latke!

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Peace. Love. Light. Latkes.

peace love latkes

Peace. Love. Light. Latkes.

I received a most meaningful card from one of my dearest cherished friends today,
on this first day of Hanukkah in the year 5772.

May you be strengthened by tradition,
Warmed by the Hanukkah lights,
And may your life be touched with miracles.

I hope these days are filled with great light.
Thanks for being a great light in my life.
With love and prayers…

 Could one possibly receive a sweeter gift than that?
Thank you FA, and Merry Merry Christmas to you.

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Roasted Salmon, Latkes, Slaw & Red Pepper Sauce

Roasted Fresh Atlantic King Salmon
Potato Zucchini Red Pepper Latkes
Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Heart Healthy Cabbage Carrot Slaw

On this the Sixth Night of Hanukkah, I invited with my older brother, Bill, who is in town from Florida, over for dinner and to help make latkes! At nightfall we lit the menorah and recited the blessing over the candles.

Blessing over Candles
Hebrew: Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu l’had’lik neir shel Hanukkah.

English: Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the universe who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the lights of Hanukkah.

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