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With Chanukah quickly approaching, my friend Steph and I decided it would be fun to take a ‘New Chanukah Cuisine’ cooking class (put on by our friends at the Rodef Sholom Sisterhood). We are always looking for new ways to build onto her famous Matzoh Ball soup and the menu at hand certainly had a few new twists. The best part about cooking class- the meal shared together afterward. While this post is more of a photo journey, there are two recipes to share. My two favorites from our afternoon with Chef Rebecca Ets-Hokin – Leek & Potato Fritters and Rugelach. Who wouldn’t like fried food and dessert with loads of butter and sugar?! It was bliss on a plate.

The Menu:
Leek & Potato Fritters
Spiced Pomegranate Applesauce
Winter Salad with Persimmons
Chicken Fillets Livorno Style
Braised Broccoli with Lemon
Caramel Poached Pears
Assorted Rugelach

Spiced Pomegranate Applesauce
Winter Salad with Persimmons
Chicken Fillets Livorno Style
Braised Broccoli with Lemon
Caramel Poached Pears

Assorted Rugelach

Leek & Potato Fritters


4 pounds russet potatoes, skin removed
2 large eggs, beaten
4 large leeks, cleaned and thinly chopped
½ cup flour
1 TBS salt
1 tsp pepper
vegetable oil for frying
paper towels for draining pancakes
sour cream (optional)
apple sauce (optional)

Coarsely grate the potatoes and place in a colander, set over a baking sheet or in the sink, so that moisture can drain away. Press out as much moisture from the grated potatoes as possible.

In a large-size mixing bowl, combine the eggs, leeks, flour, salt and pepper. Add the drained potatoes to the egg mixture and combine well.

Heat a large skillet on medium high (or set your electric skillet at 325 degrees) and cover with ¼ inch layer of oil. Place heaping tablespoons of batter into the skillet, flattening each potato pancake (AKA ‘latke’) with a spatula . Fry over moderate heat for about 2 minutes on each side, or until each latke is golden brown in color. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Continue with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan as needed, until all of the potatoes have been used. Serve immediately with condiments of sour cream or apple sauce, as desired.

Do Ahead Tip:*If desired, (and who wouldn’t want to) the cooked latkes may be placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and frozen. Once frozen, transfer them to a plastic bag and return to freezer for up to 10 days. When ready to serve, place pancakes directly from the freezer into a preheated 450 degree oven and onto a preheated baking sheet. Cook latkes until heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Yields approximately 30 x 5-inch pancakes.

Caramel Rugelach

Dough Ingredients

8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour

Filling Ingredients

½ cup brown sugar
1 cup toffee chips
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted

For alternative filling ideas and/or substitutions, please read until bottom of post.

Dough Directions

In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and the sugar until well blended. Add the vanilla and flour and knead lightly until dough holds together. Divide dough into 4 portions, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

To toast the walnuts there are two methods to pick from…
-Baking Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spread walnuts evenly on a baking sheet and cook for approximately 7-10 minutes, checking frequently to make sure they do not burn.
-Stovetop Method: Cook walnuts in a skillet at medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Note: Walnuts can be toasted dry or with a dash of oil, however for this recipe, I recommend toasting the walnuts with out any added oil.

On a lightly floured board, roll out one portion of dough into a rectangle, approximately ¼- inch thick. Sprinkle the dough with a little bit of brown sugar, the walnuts and some toffee chips. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, slice with a sharp knife, and place on a silicone lined baking sheet, with the seam side down. (Another way to prepare this dessert is to keep the dough in a ball shape when rolling out, then cut the dough like a pizza, cover with desired fillings and roll from the bottom of the triangle to the top. Both versions of preparation are captured in the photo below.) Place in the refrigerator to chill, for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

When ready to bake, brush each rugelach with milk and sprinkle with a little more brown sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to racks to cool.

Yields approximately 4 dozen.

Alternative Fillings

¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup raisins, soaked in water 1 hour and drained
½ cup walnuts, chopped toasted
½ cup apricot jam

Other Variations

Substitute mini chocolate chips for the raisins.
Substitute chopped, dried tropical fruit mix for the raisins, (don’t need to soak in water).
Use other nuts, like pinenuts and candied orange rind, or pistachios and dried apricots.

2 Replies to “Bliss on a Plate- The New Chanukah Cuisine”

  1. Printing this out now to enjoy for Chanukah 2011!! Amazing pictures and recipes, Gina, thank you 🙂

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