By Hillary Blaney
Most of us are intimately familiar with the usual holiday foods and drinks. Every family has a unique customary menu for each get-together that rarely differs from year to year: Eggnog, ham, fruitcake, gingerbread. But have you ever wondered what kind of spread may be on someone else’s table?
Though Hanukkah is considered one of the more minor holidays in the Jewish religion, its close proximity to Christmas has led many Jewish families to celebrate on a greater scale, including large family dinners. One popular food served for Hanukkah is a pastry called a Loukoumades (https://www.thespruceeats.com/loukoumathes-greek-honey-puffs-1705541), a puff of fried dough usually dipped in honey or sugar. The prep time for these delicious treats is lengthy, mainly because it’s important to allow the dough to rise before frying, but the outcome is worth every second.
A common meat dish served for Hanukkah is beef brisket. There are countless ways to cook and flavor this breast meat, including this recipe for a Sweet and Sour Brisket (https://www.thespruceeats.com/sweet-and-sour-brisket-2121651). The most critical part of this meal is the meat itself. It is recommended that you find a cut with good fat marbling, which gives the meat a more tender quality.
Of course, no Jewish meal would be complete without latkes (https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015533-classic-potato-latkes). This crispy potato dish is served fried and hot. The type of oil chosen in the frying process is key in making a perfect latke. Traditionally, these were made with olive oil, however because of the oil’s low smoking point, it is suggested that the olive oil be mixed with another type of oil, such as canola or avocado.
Since there are no traditional Jewish liquors, many families find it’s fun to add a twist on other cocktails. The Menorah Martini (http://www.mydailyfind.com/2009/12/11/the-weekend-cocktail-the-menorah-martini/) mixes vodka, vermouth and blue curacao, with blueberries for garnish.
If martinis aren’t your thing, the Dreidel Cocktail (https://www.food.com/recipe/the-dreidel-cocktail-342694) combines plum brandy, apple and lemon juice, and a cherry liqueur of your choosing with egg white and angostura bitters. Shaken and served over ice, this is a sweet, fruity cocktail that makes a perfect dessert drink.
No matter the tradition, this is a great time to gather together and enjoy a magnificent meal and a delicious drink with friends and family. Here’s hoping you and yours have a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year! Cheers!