I know I am a bit late with this, and Hanukkah is half over, but I got sidelined with a killer cold for the past week. I was back on my feet just in time for Latke Ball on Thursday and Chinese food with friends tonight. A couple of week ago, some friends and I decided to kick off Hanukkah early and deep fried a turkey. Combined with niner’s football, latkes and beer, it made for a pretty awesome Sunday. While the tradition of deep frying turkey got started in the American South, and most people associate it with Thanksgiving, this culinary trend was ripe for a Hebraic takeover. Hanukkah is considered a minor Jewish holiday but there are three universal practices associated with it: Lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and eating fried foods. Why settle for simple potatoes when you can fry an entire bird? Now when this idea was first proposed there was a lot of concern that this was a spectacularly dangerous thing to be doing on a small San Francisco balcony. There are a lot of people who have done incredibly stupid things combining a turkey and a deep-fryer and have started some crazy fires. You can even entertain yourself for hours on YouTube watching people do this very thing. I have been lucky enough to have watched the process a few time at my family’s Thanksgiving and got some great pointers from Derek B. Plus a few simple rules can greatly reduce the risk.
- This is not a one person job. You need at least two people or a mechanical pulley system (thanks Alton) to do this safely. Luckily, men really enjoy doing this and I had Ben, Shaun and Sivan on hand to assemble the fryer and do the heavy lifting.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy. (and as Ben helpful pointed out, have it accessible in a place that would not require you to go through any potential fires to retrieve it)
- Totally defrost your turkey. A still frozen turkey = massively splattering oil.
- Don’t over flow the oil. Most of the fires start when the oil overflows the pot and catches the flame which subsequently ignites the rest of the pot of oil. You can do a displacement test with water and your turkey before you unwrap it to determine the amount of oil you need. When you lower the turkey in after you have heated the oil – turn off the flame.
- Last but not least – Get drunk AFTER the turkey comes out.
With the appropriate safety precautions, you will have a fantastic bird and may never roast a turkey again. My crowd of about 15 people cleaned an 18lb turkey down to the bone. The only drawback to this is a lack of leftovers.
Chicken with Apples and Fennel
Question: How long does it take five young professionals in San Francisco to come to consensus on high holiday plans via email and text? I’ll never know the answer. My friends and I started discussing it at the end of August and went in circles for weeks. It was like the set-up to a bad joke – liberal Jews, raised reform, reconstuctionist, conservative, one a convert, all of us with a slight twinge of traditionalism mixed with egalitarianism, and none of us are currently members of a particular synagogue. We even specifically started “shul shopping” by going to some shabbat services looking for a place with the right mix for all of us. The only thing I learned is that the perfect shul does not exist, but in line with the old joke, the one that each person won’t set foot in, does. Luckily, through an impromptu shabbat dinner, we all ended up at the same table and settled on plans within ten minutes. It was a High Holiday miracle!
The dinner came together because I was looking for a Rosh Hashana recipe and serendipitously one appeared in my inbox. I subscribe to a few recipe list and one for salmon with apples and fennel appeared and I knew I was on the right path. Salmon is a pain to make for a crowd because it can easily get dried out, plus it is expensive, not to mention that my good friend, Sarah, now won’t eat fish because she believes it is all unsustainable and toxic. Chicken is almost always the answer for a meal for a crowd of Jews and what I turned to. Since I was sort inventing this recipe I decided a test run was necessary before my larger Rosh Hashana shabbat dinner and invited my friends to serve as guinea pigs.
After working all day and grocery shopping the thought of doing the photography was feeling a bit overwhelming so I called in an old debt and enlisted my good friend Ryan Simon to serve as the official photographer. He has been nagging me to upgrade to an SLR, so this seemed like a good opportunity to let him show me the goods and if it might be worth the investment. All the photos on this post are his, and I threw in a couple of extra because they were particularly good, so I urge you to click and enlarge them.
I also suggest you to look back at some past Rosh hashana recipes as we have a really nice collection going. I personally will be reviewing the how to braid a spiral challah post so I can impress my guest next week. L’Shana Tova!
Cutie "Porcupine" Meatballs
So this is an Israeli version of homey-hibernation-mode meatballs that was passed along from one of the best Israeli home cooks I know (a close second to my grandma). Super easy, extremely fast, and delicious… well apparently-I’m still vegetarian. In a fresh tomato sauce and made in a flash they are ideal for quick hearty meals or to feed the little ones. In Hebrew they are called Ktzizot (keh-tzi-tzoat) Kipod (keep-od), which translates to porcupine meatballs. They are called this because of the way the rice pops out of the meat when they are done, reminiscent of the quills of the cute little animal often seen scurrying around Israel.
Click for the recipe!
Come on, you won’t be disappointed you did.
I suppose this is only not safe for work if you work for a Jewish institution or have an aversion to knowing where your meat comes from (yes Krista, I am talking about you). In my grand tradition of trayfing it up after the long stretch of the High Holidays, I decided to go whole hog… literally. I couple of Tuesdays ago I got a facebook message from Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, that he had gotten his hands on a pig and would be teaching his highly sought out Whole Hog Butcher class that Friday. Ever since Gordon and I took his lamb butcher class I had been wanting to get into the hog class but he hadn’t held one in months so I jumped at the chance and hit redial until I was enrolled.
Grilled Liver and Figs
So I’m still slightly obsessed with figs and was attempting to come up with some creative uses for them. As you may have noticed in previous posts that Gordon and I really like chicken liver. (The rest of the Heathens seem to have escaped this particular affliction) While chopped chicken liver is the more traditional Ashkenazi dish, I felt that the Jerusalem mixed grill gave me a bit of leeway on creating an appetizer that might just be the perfect bit to stave off the hunger pangs of Yom Kippur fasting while awaiting the main break-fast meal. Additionally, this could be a great way to get yourself out in your Sukkah and on the grill while the weather is still nice. I also got a really awesome new infrared gas grill this summer, that I look for any excuse to use. BTW – If anyone has an idea how to put a Jewish twist on pizza, let me know, because this grill converts to an amazing pizza oven.
I started very simply with green California figs as I felt they provided a nice contrast to the dark color of the liver. And while this is a very Mediterranean thing to do I made a simple balsamic vinegar reduction to accompany the figs and liver. I prefer just straight balsamic vinegar but some people like to add a sprig of rosemary or other seasoning. Additionally I used bamboo skewers for the grill but if you are feeling particularly fancy, twigs from a rosemary bush can add a nice bit of flavor. All told this is a sweet, creamy, umami-licous appetizer.
recipe after the jump
Korech, Hillel’s sandwich at the Temple. It is said that when the Temple still stood in Jerusalem Hillel would combine matza, maror and the Pesach lamb into one in order to observe the mitzva of eating the sacrifice on matza and maror (Numbers 9:11). It might also be the case that he was hungry and dinner was still being organized in the kitchen.
Now, what if we still had a temple? What if we still made the sacrifice? What would a modern chef do with such a sandwich? I think the answer would be the kosher for passover BLT. I put this to the test by taking some of the lamb saddle from our butchering class and curing it with pink salt. Cured and smoked I then sliced it up and placed it on some homemade matza, with fresh parsley, horseradish mayo and of course fresh tomatoes.
Hillel would have asked for seconds.
These are best enjoyed with a nice IPA
A few weeks ago Amiee and I went to learn how to butcher a lamb. It was fun and we learned a great deal about breaking down whole quadrupeds. But on a more immediate level we got to try some of Ryan Farr’s chicharrones. Now there is a Jewish version of this, gribenes. I have made them before, usually a result of using chicken thighs for something where the skins weren’t needed and I would slowly render them down and feed them to the kids (my son calls them “chicken chips”). But recently I was breaking down a whole chicken for sausages (post on the way) and I thought that I would try to remove the skin in one go and then render that down. The results were astounding, so I am sharing the results here. By the way, its kosher for passover and you get about a half a cup of nice clean fat (schmatlz) to boot.