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Fried Elegance for Chanukah

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Fried Elegance for Chanukah photo

I want Chanukah this year to be a WOW! I am potato-ed out and frankly the thought of another sweet potato latke is as about as exciting as last year's Thanksgivukkah. HO-HUM!

I want a crunchy, crispy, and elegant Chanukah. Sure, I love latkes and apple sauce. I am crazy for sufganiyot. But this year, I want stylish food for my Chanukah gathering.

I am thinking of beautiful plates of golden-brown, fried delicious root vegetable ribbons, and cups of flavorful dips and sauces and sauces and all sorts of goodies waiting to be sampled. 

Don't fret and worry your pretty little head that crispy fried treats are a kitchen nightmare and a Gordon Ramsey fright scene in your own home. My Chanukah party requires few tools, few ingredients and allows you, the host, to attend your own soiree. 

The menu I have designed can be a part of larger party and these items used as starters or these items can be served as a casual or elegant cocktail party. 

This year I am doing simple peeled root vegetables fried to a golden brown, finger licking green beans coated in delicate tempura batter, and-for dessert—I have golden fried fritters with the jelly on the outside! Skip the gooey pastry bags and drippy countertop. These fritters are a snap to prepare.

Root vegetable chips with spicy smoked salmon and wasabi mayo  

1 medium carrot, sliced about 1/8 of an inch thick (I use a vegetable peeler to yield thin delicate ribbons) 
1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced about 1/8 of an inch thick (I use a vegetable peeler to yield thin delicate ribbons) 
Several large Jerusalem artichokes,* peeled and sliced about 1/8 of an inch thick (I use a vegetable peeler to yield thin delicate ribbons) 
1 medium yucca, peeled and sliced about 1/8 of an inch thick (I use a vegetable peeler to yield thin delicate ribbons) 
2-3 cups canola oil 
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper 

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan until it is 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan with paper towels or a brown paper bag will also absorb the oil. 

2. Fry the vegetable chops/ribbons, in batches, until they are crispy and brown, about 1-2 minutes per batch. 

3. Transfer the fried veggies to the lined pan and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Continue until all veggies are crispy. 

4. The vegetable chips can be fried up to 1 day ahead and can be stored, once cool, covered at room temperature. 

*The name Jerusalem artichoke is actually a misnomer. These bumpy tubers have nothing to do with Jerusalem, nor are they a member of the artichoke family. In fact, they are actually the root of the sunflower plant, which is why they are also known as sunchokes. They have a nutty, earthy flavor similar to an artichoke. Jerusalem Artichokes are in season twice a year, in the late spring and again in the fall. 

For the aioli 

4 ounces best quality smoked salmon 
2 heaping tablespoons wasabi powder 
2 teaspoons lemon juice 
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish 
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper 
2 cups homemade or purchase mayo 

1. Pulse the salmon in a food processor. 

2. Stir all the ingredients together until well combined.  

3. Serve the dip with the vegetable chips. 

4. Any leftover dip can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 


Crispy green beans with sesame, ginger soy dipping sauce  

⅓ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup rice flour
¾ cup club soda
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound green beans, stem end cut off 
2 cups canola oil 

1. Fill a large bowl with ice and a small amount of water in it. Place a smaller bowl in the ice water and whisk together the tempura batter.  

2. Heat a medium sauté pan with 1 inch of extra virgin olive oil in it over medium high heat. 

3. Dip the beans into the batter and allow the excess batter to drip off. When the oil is at 350 degrees, gently place the dipped beans into the batter and fry it until it is crispy and golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Turn the beans and fry the other side. Transfer the beans to a paper towel lined baking sheet.  

4. Sprinkle with salt and serve.


Sesame, ginger-soy dipping sauce  

This is a great all-purpose dipping sauce for any Asian delicacies. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to
5 days. 

½ cup good quality soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger-I use my microplane to grate the ginger
2 large garlic cloves, grated, I use my microplane to grate the garlic
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon sugar
Garnish: chopped scallions, thinly sliced hot chilies

1. Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce together and garnish with scallions and chili rings 


Fritters with cranberry conserve

These fritters are a snap. There is no dough to make or roll out. I use a simple and rich chocolate pound cake that is sliced, fried to a golden brown and served with tart and ruby-red cranberry conserve. Delish! 

1 cup all-purpose flour 
½ cup best quality cocoa powder (I only use Valrhona)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I only use Callebaut 71%), melted
3 eggs
½ cup brewed coffee
1½ cups packed brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees 

1.  Lightly grease a loaf pan with canola oil and then dust it with cocoa powder.

2.  Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Set aside

3. Mix the chocolate, eggs, coffee, brown sugar and vanilla together in a small mixing bowl. 

4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Be careful not to over-mix or the cake will be tough. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in a preheated oven for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick can be inserted and will have moist crumbs on it.

5. Place the cake pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and unmold onto a plate.

For the fritters

1 pound cake
2 cups canola oil
½ cup Powdered sugar

1. Cut the cake into 2-3 inch cubes and set aside.

2. Heat a small saucepan with the oil.

3. Once the oil has reached 350 degree, add the cubes, a few at a time and fry until crispy and dark brown on each side.

4. Transfer the cake to a plate lined with paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Cranberry conserve

3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup orange juice
Zest of 2 oranges
1 cup sugar

1. Cook the ingredients together in a small sauce pan, over medium heat.

2. When the cranberries start to pop, turn down the heat to low.

3. Once the berries begin to "gel" (the berries will be very gooey and look like jelly), turn off the pan and allow to cool

4. Serve the conserve with the fritters. Any remaining conserve can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or frozen for 2 months.


Maccabi's Hammer 

Crisp, bubbly apple cider is refreshing and only made better and more complex with rosemary and smoky, molasses-rich bourbon. *For an alcohol free version, omit the bourbon.

Serves 4

1 lemon, cut into slices
1 rosemary sprig
1 teaspoon sugar
12 ounces sparkling apple cider
6 ounces bourbon
Garnish: apple slices

1. Place the lemon, rosemary, and sugar into a glass and muddle the mixture for a minute to get all the juice out of the lemon and to infuse the juice with rosemary.

2. Divide the apple cider between 4 glasses. Add 1½ ounces of bourbon to each glass. 

3. Strain the lemon juice and top each cocktail with the rosemary-lemon juice.

4. Garnish with fresh apple slices. 

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