When Thanksgiving and Hanukkah collide

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Fort Worth Community Hanukkah Celebration Congregation Ahavath Sholom of Fort Worth will have an all-city celebration on the eighth night of Hanukkah, Dec. 4. It is open to the public and free. The family-oriented event, 6:30-8:30 p.m., will include a menorah lighting by special guests, including Mayor Betsy Price. It will feature traditional Hanukkah foods and music from the congregation’s children’s choir. Attendees are encouraged to bring cans of food to donate to the Tarrant Area Food Bank. Additionally, a menorah made out of food cans will be lighted, and the cans will be donated to the food bank. 4050 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth. To reserve complimentary tickets, call 817-731-4721. For more information, visit
Sweet potato-pumpkin cazuela Makes 8 servings 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup dark brown sugar 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 5.6-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (about 2/3 cup) 2 eggs 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling) or 1 small sugar pie pumpkin 1 29-ounce can of yams in light syrup, drained, or 3 large baked sweet potatoes 1/3 cup water 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger 2-inch piece of stick cinnamon, broken into pieces 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds 3 whole cloves 1. Place the butter in a 2-quart Pyrex bowl and microwave for 45 seconds. 2. Whisk the sugars, flour and salt into the butter to combine. 3. Whisk the coconut milk and eggs into the mixture until thoroughly blended. 4. Puree the pumpkin and sweet potatoes in a processor work bowl until smooth. Add this mixture to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. 5. Combine the water with the spices in a small glass cup and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Strain the spiced water through a fine mesh strainer into the pumpkin-potato mixture and stir to incorporate. 6. Butter a 2-quart casserole and pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake covered in a pre-heated 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Serve. Tina’s tidbits: • Sugar pie pumpkins are about 1 1/2 pounds and very rounded. Always use them when a recipe calls for cooked pumpkin. Larger pumpkins are more watery. • Coconut milk is not milk or dairy. It is the liquid formed from ground, fresh, hydrated coconut. Nutritional analysis per serving: 325 calories, 9 grams fat, 59 grams carbohydrates, 61 milligrams cholesterol, 201 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 25 percent of calories from fat. — from Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora by Tina Wasserman
Mixed fruit relish Makes 8-10 servings 12 ounces fresh cranberries 2 apples, pared, cored and cut into chunks 2 pears, pared, cored and cut into chunks 1 cup dark raisins 2/3 cup sugar 1/3 cup honey 1/2 cup fresh orange juice 1 tablespoon grated orange zest 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon 1/3 cup orange liqueur 1. Put all of the ingredients except the liqueur into a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. 2. Cook uncovered 30-45 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Stir occasionally. 3. Add the liqueur and stir until thoroughly blended. 4. Refrigerate for at least three hours. This mixture lasts for months in the refrigerator and freezes well. 5. Serve chilled as an accompaniment to a poultry dinner. Nutritional analysis per serving, based on 8: 259 calories, trace fat, 62 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 4 milligrams sodium, 5 grams dietary fiber, 2 percent of calories from fat. — from Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora by Tina Wasserman
Sweet potato and carrot latkes Makes 8 servings 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled 1/2 pound carrots, peeled 1 small onion, cut into eighths 1 large clove garlic, cut into 3 pieces 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 15 grindings of black pepper 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, or 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 2 large eggs 1/4 to 1/3 cup teff or ground flaxseed Canola or peanut oil for frying Greek yogurt or sour cream for garnish 1. Cut the sweet potatoes and carrots into 1 1/2-inch chunks and grate them using the fine grating disk on a processor or using the larger holes on a hand grater. Set aside. 2. Place onion and garlic pieces in a processor work bowl with the metal blade. Pulse the machine on and off until the onions are finely chopped. Return 1/2 of the potato-carrot mixture to the processor work bowl and pulse on and off about 5 times to combine the ingredients. Empty mixture into a 3 quart bowl. (Note: if you don’t have a processor, grate the onion and chop some of the potato carrot mixture into a fine chop.) 3. Add the spices and the eggs and 1/4 cup of the teff or ground flaxseed to the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Add a little more grain if mixture seems too loose and watery. Do not make the mixture too firm or the finished product will be dry and heavy. 4. Heat a large skillet or griddle for 20 seconds. Add enough oil to totally cover the bottom of the pan. Heat oil for 10 seconds. 5. Each time before you scoop up some of the mixture, mix contents of bowl. Drop 2 tablespoons of potato-carrot mixture into the hot pan. Repeat with more mixture to fill pan but do not overcrowd. 6. When bottoms of pancakes are golden, gently turn them over using two slotted spatulas. When golden on the second side, remove to a plate that is covered with crumpled paper towels. 7. Proceed with the remaining mixture. Serve plain or with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Tina’s tidbits: • Children of all ages can help make the batter for the latkes, but only children over the age of 8 or 9 should be allowed to fry the pancakes. Since this mixture has so much natural moisture, there is a stronger likelihood that the oil will splatter, so taller children should only be allowed to work at the stove. Younger children can watch but NOT while sitting on the countertop nearby! • Using the grating disk on a processor guarantees no nicked knuckles. However, do make sure the feed tube plunger is used! • Crumpling paper towels gives you more surface area to absorb the excess oil on the latkes. Younger children love to do this and feel like they are helping out. • While making latkes, talk with your children about the story of Hanukkah and its use of oil. Do you think Ethiopians told this story to their children? Why would they? Why would they not tell this story? Also, what other vegetables can you add in place of the potato or carrot to create your own holiday treat? Write it down to make another time. Nutritional analysis per serving: 281 calories, 14 grams fat, 36 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 54 milligrams cholesterol, 308 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber, 43 percent of calories from fat. — from Entree to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking and Kitchen Conversations with Childrenby Tina Wasserman
Roasted turkey with vegetables Makes 12 servings Choose a kosher turkey and serve over a bed of vegetables to keep the meat very moist and create a fantastic clear gravy and vegetable side dish. 1 large turkey, 10-18 pounds 5 carrots, coarsely chopped 3 to 4 large onions, diced 3 stalks of celery, coarsely chopped 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/2 pound chicken livers, chopped (*see notes) 1 28-ounce can crushed peeled tomatoes 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped Salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder, to taste 1 tablespoon chicken fat or butter 1. Salt the cavity of the turkey and set aside. 2. Place the carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms, livers and tomatoes in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Season to taste with the seasonings and the fresh garlic, being light handed with the salt if using a kosher turkey. 3. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables breast side up. Season the turkey all over with the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. 4. Rub the tablespoon of fat all over the turkey skin with your hand. Use a little more fat if necessary to cover the wings and legs well. Cover with a tent of aluminum foil, being sure that the shiny side is facing out. 5. Roast the turkey at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature of the breast meat is about 170 degrees and thigh meat 180 degrees. Baste often with the juices in the pan. If necessary, you can add some boiling water to the bottom of the pan. 6. Allow turkey to rest outside of oven for 15 minutes before carving. 7. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in a serving dish. Pour remaining liquid into a gravy boat and serve. Note 1: If you are kosher, first broil the chicken livers until almost done before dicing and adding to the vegetable mixture. Note 2: Turkey cooked this way can be made the day before. Just slice the meat and place it in a large Pyrex dish. Store the gravy and vegetables separately in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, pour some of the clear gravy over the sliced meat and re-heat in the microwave. Reheat the vegetables and remaining gravy in the same way and serve. Your turkey will be moist and flavorful and you won’t have any last-minute mess in your kitchen! Note 3: Foil only protects the breast meat from drying out if the shiny side is facing out because that side reflects the heat away from the bird. If the dull side was placed facing out it would absorb the heat and overcook the meat and make it dry. Nutritional analysis per serving, white and dark meat, with skin: 548 calories, 25 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, 66 grams protein, 310 milligrams cholesterol, 324 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 42 percent of calories from fat. — from Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora by Tina Wasserman
Cranberry and raspberry rugelach Makes 60 to 70 pieces Dough: 1 cup (2 sticks) parve margarine 8 ounces parve cream cheese, softened 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar Filling: 1 cup raspberry jam 4 tablespoons sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 cup dried cranberries 1. To make the dough, place the margarine, cream cheese, flour, and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a mixer or food processor fitted with a metal blade and mix just until dough comes together. You can also mix the dough together by hand with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. 2. Divide the dough in half and wrap each ball in plastic and flatten. Freeze 1 1/2 hours or refrigerate overnight and then freeze 1/2 hour before using. The dough is ready to be rolled when you can press gently into it. If it gets too soft, put it back in the freezer to firm up. 3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 4. To roll out the rugelach, place a large sheet of parchment on the counter. Sprinkle some flour on the parchment, place one of the dough discs on the parchment, sprinkle again with flour, and then top with a second sheet of parchment. Rolling on top of the parchment, roll out the disc of dough to 13 by 10 inches. Peel back the top parchment once or twice while rolling and sprinkle some more flour on the dough. Remove the top parchment but reserve for re-use. Spread half of the raspberry jam evenly on the dough. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and then sprinkle half on top of the jam. Sprinkle half of the cranberries on top. 5. Fold the right and left sides (the short sides) of the dough 1/2 inch in toward the center to keep the filling inside. Using the parchment to help you, roll the long side from the top toward you, working slowly and rolling as tightly as you can. 6. Place the parchment you used on top of the dough when rolling it to line a cookie sheet. Place the loaf on the cookie sheet with the seam on the bottom and flatten slightly. Repeat for the second disc of dough and the remaining fillings. 7. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top begins to brown. Let cool and then slice into 1-inch pieces. These can be frozen. Store covered with plastic or in an airtight container at room temperature for five days or freeze for up to three months. Nutritional analysis per piece, based on 60: 72 calories, 4 grams fat, 8 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 49 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 54 percent of calories from fat. — from The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer
Pumpkin doughnuts Makes 15 servings Pumpkin puree and classic pumpkin pie spices give these doughnuts a soft, comforting texture and taste. 1/4 ounce (1 envelope) dry yeast 1/4 cup warm water 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed 1/3 cup soy milk 2 tablespoons margarine, at room temperature for at least 15 minutes 1 large egg 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting Canola oil for frying 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar for dusting 1. In a large bowl, place the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar and stir. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, or until thick. 2. Add the remaining sugar, brown sugar, soy milk, margarine, egg, pumpkin puree, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and 2 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix on low speed with either a dough hook in a stand mixer or a wooden spoon. Add another cup of flour and mix well. Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, and mix it in until the dough becomes smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl each time before adding more flour. 3. Cover the dough with a clean dishtowel and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place. I use a warming drawer on a low setting, or you can turn your oven on to its lowest setting, wait until it reaches that temperature, place the bowl in the oven, and then turn off the oven. 4. Punch the dough down by folding it over a few times and reshaping it into a ball. Then re-cover the dough and let it rise for 10 minutes. 5. Dust a cookie sheet with some flour. Sprinkle some flour on your counter or on a piece of parchment paper and roll the dough out until it’s about 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut out circles and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. Reroll any scraps. Cover the doughnuts with the towel. Place the cookie sheet back in the oven (warm but turned off) or warming drawer. Let the doughnuts rise for 45 minutes. 6. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a medium saucepan for a few minutes and use a candy thermometer to see when the temperature stays between 365 and 375 degrees; adjust the flame so the oil stays in that temperature range. 7. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on top of it and set it near your stove top. Gently slide no more than four doughnuts, top side down, into the oil and fry for 1 1/2 minutes. Turn the doughnuts over and cook another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, letting excess oil drip off, and place on a wire rack to cool. Repeat for the remaining doughnuts. Dust with the confectioners’ sugar and serve. Store covered at room temperature for up to one day and reheat to serve. Nutritional analysis per serving: 206 calories, 10 grams fat, 27 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 14 milligrams cholesterol, 96 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 42 percent of calories from fat. — from The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer
Apple latkes Makes 20 servings These pancakes look just like potato latkes. You can serve them either as a dessert or a side dish during Chanukah. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon, if batter is very wet 2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon baking powder 2 large eggs 3 apples (Fuji, Gala, or Granny Smith) 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for dusting 1. Place a paper bag over a cookie sheet to use for draining the latkes after frying them. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. 2. Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder into a large bowl and stir. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Set aside. Peel and core the apples and grate them on the large holes of a box grater or the large holes of a food processor blade. Add the shredded apples to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, add the beaten eggs and mix. 3. The oil is ready for frying when it feels very hot when you place your hand two inches above the pan. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of the apple mixture and gently drop it into the pan, using the back of the tablespoon to flatten it. Fry the latkes for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until golden. Drain them on the paper bag and let them cool for about 15 minutes. 4. If the batter gets very watery halfway through the frying, add a tablespoon of flour to the mixture and mix it in. 5. Use a sieve to dust the latkes with confectioners’ sugar. These are best eaten fresh but can be reheated in the oven. Store them in the fridge for up to three days or freeze them for up the three months. To reheat, place frozen latkes onto a cookie sheet and bake them in a 400-degree oven until crisp. Nutritional analysis per serving: 110 calories, 6 grams fat, 14 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 22 milligrams cholesterol, 31 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 49 percent of calories from fat. — from The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer

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It takes more than a little chutzpah to make it through the holidays.

Add a second holiday to your annual cooking, baking and decorating routine and you might find yourself needing some inner shalom.

This year, the beginning of the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide on Nov. 28, and some experts predict it won’t happen again until 79811.

This double-header holiday — dubbed “Thanksgivukkah” in pop culture — needn’t give celebrants a double dose of stress, or at least Jewish cookbook author and food educator Tina Wasserman, doesn’t think so.

“I think it’s fortuitous,” said Wasserman, who lives in Dallas. “Think of all the grandparents and grandchildren who might be together for Thanksgiving, but then can’t be together for Hanukkah because traveling twice is difficult. This will be the first time a lot of families get to be together for both, and that’s terrific.”

Wasserman’s family lives across the country, but they will meet in Washington, D.C., for the convergence of these two holidays. She said her children expect her classic Hanukkah dishes, as well as her Thanksgiving ones, and both will be on the table.

“If you think about it, the foods are so similar and so are the holidays,” she said. “Both are giving thanks for religious freedom. Both are harvest holidays. A lot of the same foods are used, like pumpkin, which has always been a festive food on Jewish tables because it’s symbolic of prosperity and success. So having a pumpkin dish isn’t a big difference.”

Wasserman’s 2009 book, Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora (Urj Press, $39.95), features several pumpkin dishes, as does her latest one, Entree to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking and Kitchen Conversations With Children (Urj Press, $24.95), on sale Dec. 2.

The recipes appeal to every cook — Jewish and non-Jewish — and are inspired by recipes from around the world. Her sweet potato pumpkin cazuela, for one, is a unique dish cultivated by Jewish explorers in the Caribbean in the 18th and 19th centuries. Not to mention it’s an easy-to-make addition to any holiday menu.

Your family’s favorite recipes needn’t be lost to new Thanksgivukkah ones, though, Wasserman said.

“I feel very strongly about tradition, and I don’t think people should substitute their family’s favorite recipes with mine if, say, everyone’s expecting Grandma Marie’s cranberry sauce. You might edit that dish or have two different varieties of relishes, but you never want to substitute tradition or that connection to your grandma, especially if she’s no longer around.”

There is one part of Wasserman’s worry-free Thanksgivukkah plan that might entail a “latke” trouble.

Latkes are tricky to make while working on the bird and other big dishes, not to mention hard to store when made in advance. Wasserman has a few tips on latke preparation and preservation.

Latkes freeze well if you know what you’re doing, she said. She advises cooks to make the latkes, cook them at room temperature and freeze them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. When they’re frozen, quickly transfer them to a freezer bag, close it almost all the way, insert a straw and suck out the air. Then seal the bag as you withdraw the straw to prevent air from getting into it.

When you need to put latkes on the table, she said, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, place your frozen latkes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until the insides are hot.

Wasserman offers a gluten-free version, Ethiopian-inspired sweet potato and carrot latkes.

Desserts on the menu

For a sweeter, dessertlike latke, try apple latkes from another baleboste in kosher baking, Paula Shoyer. The Chanukah chapter of her new cookbook, The Holiday Kosher Baker (Sterling, $35), features a apple latke that doubles as dessert or side dish.

Shoyer created this recipe and others before she even realized that Thanksgivukkah was going to happen, but she echoes Wasserman’s observation that traditional Thanksgiving foods are easy to combine with Jewish ones at the table.

Take Jewish sufganiyot, a doughnutlike fried dessert. This Hanukkah staple is fried in oil to recall the miracle of a one-day supply of oil that burned for eight days. Shoyer’s sufganiyot harkens back to that holiday miracle while adding in rich pumpkin flavor.

As a pumpkin alternative, Shoyer’s cranberry and raspberry rugelach has a soy-based cream cheese for those wanting to remain kosher.

Kosher wines

Once dinner is served, you’ll want to raise a kosher glass, too. Local Goody Goody wine consultants Kate Kostamo and Jared Cadahia recommend a kosher Concord grape variety, such as The Carmel King David Concord, a New York state wine. Its subtle sweetness would pair well with the sweet potato-pumpkin cazuela or any of Shoyer’s desserts.

An Israeli wine called Barkan Chardonnay offers “an exciting nose of guava and pear,” with a hint of acidity, said Cadahia, making it a crisp and refreshing complement to Wasserman’s mixed fruit relish.

Flavors of red cherries, strawberry jam and a hint of spice in the Baron Herzog Merlot, a California wine, would play up the savory spices in the sweet potato and carrot latkes.

Teal Lake Chardonnay from Australia provides soft fruit aromas and a clean citrus finish that won’t detract from the flavors of the turkey or any of the other dishes.

Setting the table

When it comes to putting the finishing touches on your table, what should Thanksgivukkah decor look like? Darla Bettencourt, owner of Blossoms on the Bricks florist in Fort Worth (, designed a hybridized holiday centerpiece that celebrates both traditions.

To play up the harvest aspect of both holidays, Bettencourt started with a tree stump base and stacked it with blue-gray “Cinderella pumpkins,” and the blues and silvers associated with Jewish faith are muted to work with the warmer colors of Thanksgiving.

To bring a harvest feel to the table, moss, mushrooms, stones, and pine cones give natural texture to the centerpiece of flowers, featuring white and ivory roses, blue hydrangeas and white larkspur.

Finally, a warm fall glow from the votives and the Menorah draw attention to the center of the table, pulling together both traditions for a once-in-a-lifetime convergence of Thanksgivukkah.

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