Monthly Archives: November 2010

Pumpkin Latkes

Pumpkin Latkes

Its the day after Thanksgiving and I am enjoying the satiety that come from too much food and drink, and in the miracle of miracles, I finally got a seat at the grown-ups’ table. I had thought it might happen, given the guest count and but I have been having Thanksgiving with the same crowd for about 25 years and had yet to graduate, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope. But happen it did and it was all that I’d hoped for, but I was promptly told it was a fluke occurrence and I would be headed back to the “young adult” table next year. While today I will bask in the glory of my newly recognized adulthood, Hanukkah is just around the corner (starting Wed night) so the frying and latke making has already begun for the Heathens. I figured in honor of Thanksgiving I would carry on the pumpkin theme and make pumpkin latkes. Obviously these have a slightly different texture than traditional potato latkes, and are more pancake like. They are also slightly sweet so I would include them with my apple latkes as a great Hanukkah breakfast or dessert option.

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Filed under Breakfast, Dessert, Hannukah, Holidays, Jewish, Parve, Sephardic

Sephardic Pumpkin Soup

Warm, seasonal and tasty Pumpkin Soup

The prevalence of  New World fruit and vegetables Old World cuisine in is a continual source of wonder to me.

Stop and think for a moment what Italian cooking would be like without tomatoes, Szechuan, Indian or Thai cooking without the various forms of chili peppers, and of course some much of the cooking of Northern Europe would feel empty without the ubiquitous potato. We should add to that list the pumpkin. A member of the squash family, it finds many places in the cuisine of North Africa. From the many slow cooked stews served with couscous to the wonderfully sweet and satisfying pumpkin soup. [For more pumpkin ideas check our our kugelpie and challah]

As you try to add a bit of Jewish flair to your Thanksgiving celebration, let me urge you to chuck those poor, tired (and perhaps even huddled) matzo balls and whip a bit of this seasonal soup that was a staple of the Sephardic kitchens of Morocco, Libya and Tunisia. This soups appears in several forms in both Joan Nathan and Claudia Roden’s cookbooks and even makes an apprearance in Gourmet’s last collection of recipes published just before the magazine was shuttered.

In this recipe I added butternut squash to the mix, but feel free to experiment with what is in season and tastes good. Some recipes call for chunks of meat- if you go that route, use something tough and fatty that will braise in the soup. Beef chuck, or veal shoulder are both great choices. Stay away from turkey though- except for the legs, it really doesn’t braise well and you should really save that for the entrée.

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Filed under Jewish, Sephardic, Soup

Mohn (Poppy Seed) Cookies

Mohn cookies

On my last trip to Berkeley Bowl as I was stocking up on dried chick peas for hummus,  I decided to get a large bag of poppy seeds as well.  As I have the tendency to do when faced with a bulk bin, I bought way more than I would need to sprinkle on my challah. My co-workers have been politely requesting more cookies since the day I introduced them to my crack-like peanut-butter cookies. I needed a post for the blog, I already had the oven heated from roasting pumpkin earlier in the day, and I had vague memories of the existence of Jewish poppy-seed cookie recipes. A quick perusal of the internet and my cookbooks proved I was indeed correct. Mohn (Poppy Seed) cookies originated in Germany or Poland depending on the source you consult and they are frequently served with coffee or tea. This version is only mildly sweet and has a lovely contrasting texture of the soft dough and crunchy poppy seeds. The recipes varied from softer drop cookies to crisp rolled and cut cookies. Unfortunately, almost all of them were parve and called for oil. There is pretty much nothing I dislike more than parve cookies, so I decided to substitute the oil for butter, and to get the dough to the right consistency, (and for added flavor) I added lemon juice and zest.

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Dessert, Hannukah, Holidays, Jewish, Purim

Thanksgiving Redux

Pumpkin Kugel for Thanksgiving

With the holidays rapidly approaching and Hanukkah falling a mere week after Thanksgiving this year, the heathens are in full blown production mode, getting ready to delight our faithful readers with some new holiday fare.   Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that the entire point of the holiday is to simply share a meal with your family and friends. There are no gifts to wrap and no temple to be guilted into going to. My family has a tradition of going around the table and saying what we are thankful for.  As only can happen in families, about 25 years ago the youngest of us at the time, said she was thankful for Jello, and to this day we have a Jello mold on the buffet, despite the fact that it rarely gets eaten anymore.  Every family has the dish that it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without, and I love hearing from my friends of different ethnic backgrounds tell about dishes from their family’s country of origin that have a place of honor at the Thanksgiving table.  So, as you are planning your menu, don’t be afraid to bring in an element of Jewish or Israeli cuisine, to this uniquely American holiday. While we are roasting our pumpkins and grating our potatoes, we invite you to peruse some of our recipes from Thanksgivings past.

Dafna’s Israeli couscous – Thanksgiving Style

Ari’s Pumpkin Kugel

Gordon’s non-Jewish Pumpkin Pie – with pumpkin roasting instructions

My Sephardic Pumpkin Challah

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Filed under Ashkenazi, Fruit and Vegtables, Holidays, Israeli, Sephardic