Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My First Chanukkah

Last night was the first night of Chanukkah. As someone studying to convert to Judaism, it was my first one that I celebrated for me. In high school, I went to a friend's house for their Chanukkah celebration a few times, which was great and I loved it, but that was for and about them. This was the first time Chanukkah felt like it was mine, too.

So to celebrate in style, I wanted to do it right, with a proper Chanukkah dinner after we lit the candles. Given that Chanukkah is a "festival of lights," a celebration of the miracle of the drop of oil that should have lasted one night but lasted eight instead, traditional Chanukkah food is all about oil. And dairy, to commemorate Judith, who got Holofernes drunk and full on wine and cheese before she beheaded him. (As a former Art History major, the subject of Judith and Holofernes was one that was done by some of my very favorite artists. And I never knew what the story was until now!)

The Menu:

  • Potato Latkes with applesauce and sour cream

  • Broccoli with Crispy Shallots

  • Garlic-Lemon Roast Chicken Breasts

So.... as you know, I was looking for recipes to make my own potato latkes. Well, friends, not only did I not receive any, the ones I found online looked great, but a little over my head to make for the first time on a school night. So I went with my standby -- you may not believe, you may cringe, you may say "oy vey" -- Trader Joe's frozen latkes. And I am not kidding, they are actually really pretty good! They're not the BEST latkes I've ever had, but they are far, far from the worst, and they are tasty if you fry them up in some oil in a skillet. They're not homemade, and they're not made by me from scratch, but they worked. I commit to working on my own potato latke recipe for next year.

I also made an adaptation of the fantastic French Green Beans with Crispy Shallots recipe I recently discovered. Since my market had no french green beans this week, I mixed it up and made it with broccoli instead. It was still delicious. I think I prefer the green beans, but I love broccoli and let's face it: crispy shallots and a dijon-lemon dressing make anything taste phenomenal.

Here are my shallots crisping up in oil, making this a perfect Chanukkah dish:

As for the chicken, I marinated boneless, skinless breasts in a garlic-lemon-herb concoction and popped them into a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes. Easy peasy. I made everything else while they were roasting.

For dessert, hubby and I shared a doughnut, as doughnuts are another traditional Chanukkah food, being fried in oil and all. We also nibbled on some delicious Gruyere cheese in honor of dear Judith, and of course, no celebratory Chanukkah table is complete without Manischewitz. For my first Chanukkah, I wanted to go classic, so I had to have the Manischewitz. Besides, it'll keep in my cupboard forever.

All around, it was a lovely first Chanukkah celebration. Hubby and I had a great time. And boy was the food yummy!

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  1. Frozen latkes? Faye Lobel would be very proud of you.

  2. OMG I'm dying, Kerry. Hilarious! I feel totally validated. (The latkes were good, though, I'm telling you! Someone at TJ's knows what they're doing.)


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