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A Celebration of Light: Cozy Hanukkah Menu

A Celebration of Light: Cozy Hanukkah Menu

After lighting the Hanukkah menorah, sit down to a cozy dinner that begins with Grandma's Simple Roast Chicken and ends with Mandelbrot.

Hannukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, occurs in December usually around the same time as Christmas. More than 2,000 years ago, the Maccabees defeated the Syrian army in Jerusalem. When the Temple was clean, the Jews wanted to rekindle the light in the Temple with oil. Although there was only enough oil for one day, the flame lasted for eight days. For this reason, Hanukkah lasts eight days, in celebration of religious freedom.

Many traditional foods are cooked during Hanukkah: potato latkes (pancakes), roasted meats, applesauce, soofganiyot (Israeli doughnuts), and many kinds of cakes.

Hanukkah menu ideas from Molly Yeh

Molly Yeh, cookbook author, blogger, and star of the Food Network series Girl Meets Farm, loves cooking food from her Jewish heritage, and this is especially true at Hanukkah. Here she shares some of her favorites to cook for family and friends. No Hanukkah celebration is complete without a platter of crisp latkes, and for a main course she likes to serve a roast chicken seasoned with baharat, a spice blend that’s popular in some Middle Eastern cooking. For dessert, sufganiyot—fried doughnuts—are a traditional favorite for Hanukkah, but she puts her own spin on them by serving them with a fresh tomato jam.

Molly, a recent Brooklyn transplant to the farmlands of the Minnesota-North Dakota region, has discovered that in the Midwest, she needs to run the Hanukkah show herself. No longer surrounded by latke-serving cafés, she makes her own. Since she loves to host and Hanukkah is eight days long, that essentially means one long party.

Yeh’s whole menu, which you can find at Williams Sonoma , is glorious, with little touches reflecting her Midwestern home and her heritage alike. Though the holiday is in December 2020, she’ll dine outside with her husband Nick and baby Bernie. Think: latkes eaten out of hand over a roaring fire. “The winters here, they are intense, but they force you to really prepare and invest in the heaviest winter coats.” She’s also excited to break out the “‘Chrismukah bush’—a little Christmas tree that we decorate with Hanukkah ornaments!”

Read on and click through to snag Molly’s best recipes, plus why she thinks each recipe is so delightful (though the weather outside might be frightful!) Then plan your own party with Paperless Post Hanukkah invitations.

A No-Fuss New Year Eve's Dinner Party

Ring in the New Year with a celebratory dinner that is indulgent yet totally easy to make, has plenty of make-ahead moments, and is sure to dazzle guests. We think New Year's Eve is the best time to host a dinner party, as gathering at home with friends can be much more fun, relaxing, and altogether delicious than going out on this busy, often cold night. Whether you are throwing an intimate gathering or hosting a larger group, this menu can easily be adjusted to serve any number of guests. In addition to our manageable menu, here you'll find a simple strategy for planning and pulling off the dinner party, which means that both you and your guests are sure to have a fabulous time.

One of our favorite ways to start a party is a with a signature cocktail. It sets the tone and feels more special than serving wine and beer before the meal, though of course we have those options on hand for guests who prefer them. For this dinner, the festivities start with a classy Champagne cocktail that has a modern twist.

The cocktail is served alongside one of our easiest hot artichoke dips, and a Spanish spin on shrimp cocktail which is always a crowd pleaser. Dinner is a feast for the eyes with beautiful spice-crusted racks of lamb and colorful sides full of fresh seasonal flavors. For a sweet ending, we finish the menu with Chocolate Mousse Parfaits which seem fancy but are actually easy to put together ahead of time, and of course there is more Champagne.

8 Nights of Offal to Celebrate Hanukkah

You know how you always skin your knuckles without fail when grating potatoes and onions for Hanukkah latkes? It got us thinking, about holiday traditions, knuckles, and the best Jewish holiday dishes. Chicken liver always comes to mind, but what about other liver and offal for the festival of lights? This train of thought took off and soon enough we were in staff meetings excitedly brainstorming lists and planning photo shoots of unusual offal-based Hanukkah treats — one to celebrate each of Hanukkah’s eight crazy nights. The following is what we came up with.

So light your candles and give these slightly tweaked holiday party favorites a try. There’s something here for any Hanukkah celebration: dishes for small gatherings, main courses for big dinner parties, family-style meals and buffet potlucks, as well as latke party appetizers. The common theme is that they all combine traditional concepts with various offal: heart, liver, tongue, and oxtail. More importantly, they’re as delicious as they are festive. Happy Hanukkah!

1. Beef, Liver, and Onion Meatballs

Beef liver has a unique iron tang. If you love it, you really, really love it. For liver fans, these meatballs are a fun toothpick appetizer for a party. To make, mix finely chopped liver with ground beef, sauteed onions, spices, and egg. Roll the mixture together into balls, then fry them in a pan. Bring them to a potluck and watch what happens: Even non-liver lovers will enjoy them, as the caramelized onions balances the liver in a lovely way, tying these meatballs together.

2. Triple L: Lamb Liver Latkes

What could possibly make a latke better? Lamb liver, it turns out. Before you get up in arms about messing with tasty tradition, try it! Get some liver, slice it thin, and marinate overnight with salt, pepper, and oil (we used safflower). Fry the liver hot and fast so it gets crispy on the outside but remains tender on the inside. Then serve it on top of a crispy latke with a granny smith slice instead of the usual apple sauce for a little sweetness, plus pickled onions for a little bite.

3. Lamb Heart Sliders

If you’re a newcomer looking to break into the world of offal, consider these tasty sliders your training wheels you may not even notice the heart. Mix ground lamb with minced lamb heart, then shape sliders little enough to fit the smallest Martin’s potato bun. Top with a half sour pickle, fry sauce (that’s ketchup and mayo), red onion, and lettuce. A home run. If you’re hosting a party, make extras.

4. Beef Heart Sabich

Fried beef heart is incredible. Unfamiliar with it? If you enjoy flat iron steak, the flavor profile is similar. Slice it thin, fry it, and then stuff it in a toasted pita. Oil-based Hanukkah foods can get a little heavy. You can lighten your sabich up by serving with a refreshing Israeli salad with cucumbers and a bright lemon and oil dressing. A welcome addition to a holiday buffet.

5. Beef Tongue Knish

Pile a party platter high with these and watch them disappear. Don’t be put off by the idea of making knishes. It may feel complex, but making the dough is actually pretty easy. Try this dough recipe , and/or watch this 100 year-old bubbe and learn. (Take that, Pasta Grannies.) Then braise beef tongue for your filling. When you’re done, the tongue will be incredibly tender, while the knish is soft but also chewy — like a bagel. Well, some bagels. These were a staff favorite. We guarantee you will lose track of how many you’re eating.

6. Ground Lamb and Liver Stuffed Cabbage (Holishkes)

If you’re hosting a sit down or buffet meal for Hanukkah, holishkes are main course material. And no one needs to know how easy they are to throw together. The basics are: take ground lamb, finely chopped lamb liver, salt, pepper, and whatever spices you like. Brown them all in a pan with rice and diced onions. Next, wrap the cooked mixture in boiled cabbage leaves. Finally, cook the stuffed cabbage leaves in a pan filled with tomato sauce for an hour in the oven. If your baking dish is pretty enough to serve in, go for it. Or transfer to a more festive serving dish and take to a potluck.

7. Fried Beef Heart Sofrito

When it’s just a family night lighting the candles, and you’re all latke-ed out, beef heart sofrito will be a new instant tradition. This is pretty much a thick beef heart stew with root vegetables, including sweet potatoes. You take chunks of beef heart and slow cook in beef stock until most of the liquid is evaporated. You’re left with very tender heart and a savory, condensed flavor. Serve in your favorite bowls and sit by a fire. So good on a cold and cozy winter night spent at home celebrating with loved ones!

8. Spicy Oxtail Shakshuka

Before you start cooking, make sure you have crusty bread, or even pitas to toast. You’re going to want bread to serve with this. The method to the madness is to cook the oxtails in a spicy red sauce until they fall apart, elevating the tomato sauce in just the right way. Then, as if that weren’t tempting enough, there are poached eggs. Shakshuka is best known for brunch, and it makes for a celebratory Hanukkah one, but it can also light up a dinner table with friends and family.

Ordering and Inspiration

To order offal not available on our site, just fill out this form. If you’re seeking further inspiration for planning Jewish holiday meals, or tips on how to cook the basics, we’re big fans of Joan Nathan, the OG Arthur Schwartz, and the always lovely Jewish Food Society.

How to Celebrate Hanukkah 2020 Safely

The Festival of Lights runs from December 10 through December 18, which means it’s time to think about how you’ll celebrate Hannukah 2020 safely, with the coronavirus lurking. With a little creativity there’s plenty of Hanukkah fun to be had without increasing your family’s risk of contracting the disease.

Make Hanukkah 2020 Simple

As you plan your Hanukkah celebration, keep in mind that the CDC recommends hosting any get-togethers with people outside your household virtually to help contain the spread of the virus.

“It’s really a return to a simplicity of the holidays, how they used to be. We’re going to have smaller moments together with our trusted inner circles,” says food and lifestyle expert Chadwick Boyd. “Hanukkah and Christmas are going to be more intimate and contained.”

Indoor, Outdoor, or Virtual?

Indoor celebrations put you and your entire family at high risk. The same goes for traveling long distances to get together with friends and family. We’re lucky here in Santa Barbara to have beautiful year-round weather making it possible to celebrate outside. But even that comes with a moderate risk, so consider your options carefully. Your best bet is to celebrate with those household members who are riding out the pandemic with you, while inviting others to join virtually.

Celebrating Hanukkah 2020

When the pandemic began, some celebrated rabbis created which lists ideas for family activities, cooking tips, Hebrew lessons and more. The info is invaluable this year. Check out the site for excellent ideas for your Hanukkah celebration from more than 50 Jewish Community Groups worldwide.

The Festival of Lights, as it is known, is all about bringing light to the world. That’s why families light one candle each night on the special Hanukkah menorah. The menorah is placed in the window to show its light. December is the perfect time of year to do that since the days are short, making it the darkest time of the year.

What Are Traditional Hanukkah Foods?

  1. Matzoh Ball Soup: It&rsquos traditionally eaten Passover, but some families serve it for many Jewish holidays. Matzoh balls, made of matzoh meal, eggs and some kind of fat (like schmaltz), are a serious upgrade from crumbled crackers, no?
  2. Latkes/Levivot: Bless these crispy, addictive potato pancakes. Latkes and levivot are essentially the same&mdashthe main difference is that the former is a Yiddish word, while the latter is Hebrew.
  3. Brisket: No, not what you buy at your favorite barbecue spot. Jewish brisket is equally as tender but braised in the oven like a stew, often with potatoes and carrots.
  4. Kugel: It&rsquos basically a noodle casserole made with egg, cottage cheese and sugar.
  5. Sufganiyot: Aka jelly doughnuts. While doughnuts were traditional holiday fare by the 12th century (foods fried in oil are an homage to the Hanukkah miracle), Polish Jews started filling them with jelly in the 16th century once sugar became cheap.
  6. Challah: This old-school braided egg bread can do a lot more than make for a top-notch French toast. No Hanukkah spread is complete without it.

Here are our favorite recipes to bookmark for Hanukkah 2020, traditional and modern alike.

Toffee Eggnog

Eggnog is a Christmas holiday essential. The sweet taste of toffee is the perfect way to dress up the drink this holiday season. You can serve this toffee eggnog recipe with or without alcohol. Try garnishing it with crushed toffee candy or broken Skor bars, for an extra-special holiday treat.

Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Buffalo 'Wings'

The Spruce / Jolinda Hackett

Do you love the taste of Buffalo wings but crave a healthier, meatless option? These vegan oven-roasted cauliflower buffalo "wings" are smothered in your favorite hot sauce, making them a surprisingly satisfying way to get the taste of pub-style hot wings without the chicken. The florets are coated in a soy milk batter and then baked until tender and golden around the edges then, they're covered with a hot sauce-margarine mixture and returned to the oven to allow the sauce to bake right in.

Festive Chanukah Dinner Recipes

There always must be something to remind us about miracles that happened to us. And there always must be something to give us some time for enjoying those pleasant memories. It looks like nothing could combine these two features more perfectly than some festival. Such as Chanukah.

Even our early preparations for this holiday seem to be pervaded with an unexplainable expectation of a wonder. It comes to you while you&rsquore looking for the best place to put a menorah, or when you&rsquore anticipating the family reunion. You can feel it while purchasing presents for your dearest and nearest, or when planning a menu for a lavish Chanukah dinner.

Let this feeling inspire you to throw a wonderful celebration this year! As there are still a few days left to December 12, it&rsquos the right time to check out some delicious Chanukah recipes.

All seasoned with the centuries-old traditions, which modern Jews still uphold, these dishes not only please your guests&rsquo palates. Historically, Chanukah treats have special meanings. And we are here to learn more about them and make your 8-day celebrations even more flavorful and cozy.

Find the best kosher recipes here! While Marky&rsquos is going to provide you with the freshest products of excellent quality.

You&rsquoll Definitely Need (More) Cheese

Let&rsquos add something cheesy to your holiday menu. Certainly, cheese proves to be a very versatile ingredient in any dinner. But there&rsquos actually a whole story behind serving it for Chanukah celebrations.

As we know, the holiday commemorates the Maccabean revolt, when Jews, led by Mattathias the Maccabee and his sons, managed to drive Greeks and Syrians from their lands. So, along with the great deeds of the Maccabees we can&rsquot but remember about what one courageous woman did to save her home town from the Assyrian warriors.

Her name was Judith. One night she came to the Assyrian camp and brought some salty cheese and wine to the leader of the troops, Holofernes. The cheese made Holofernes thirsty, and witty Judith gave him wine to quench his thirst. The drunk warrior fell asleep. Judith seized his own sword and beheaded him. She came back to her town with Holofernes&rsquo head, and the frightened Assyrians, who found their leader dead in the morning, hurried to leave.

That&rsquos how this very dairy product got incorporated into the traditional Chanukah menu. And this tangy cheesy salad with pears and walnuts will perfectly accompany all the other holiday treats.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 medium cooked beets (cut them into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 8 c. lettuce
  • 1 large Anjou pear (core and slice it)
  • 1/4 c. toasted walnuts (chopped coarsely) or try these caramelized walnuts
  • 3 sticks Mozzarella cheese (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
  • 1 1/2 oz. thinly sliced Gouda cheese (about 5 slices)
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted and crushed coriander seeds, to taste

Directions for the dressing:

  1. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Whisk in oil and blend. Set the dressing aside.

Directions for the salad mix:

  1. Combine cubed beets and 1 tbsp. dressing in a small bowl.
  2. In another larger bowl, toss lettuce with the rest of dressing.
  3. Add sliced pear, cut cheeses, chopped walnuts.
  4. Sprinkle with crushed coriander and serve.

Make Sure You&rsquove Bought Enough Oil

Because you do know you&rsquoll need quite much of it for traditional Chanukah latkes!

Besides, oil carries a symbolic meaning in the context of this holiday. After the Maccabees and their people entered the Holy Temple of Jerusalem, in shambles and desecrated, they cleansed it and wanted to light the menorah. But the only jar of pure oil they miraculously discovered was not enough to keep the flame of the candles until the new supply could be brought to the Temple.

Yet, the Jews lit the menorah, and the candles were burning for eight days. As long as it took to deliver more oil. That is why we celebrate the holiday for eight days. By the way, the word &ldquoChanukah&rdquo or &ldquoHanukkah&rdquo means rededication. That reminds us that the Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple to one G-d.

Back to our culinary theme, we recommend that you select your favorite latkes recipe but try these compelling and tasty toppings. So, make sure you&rsquoll have enough latkes in reserve, as with these toppings from Melissa Clark your guests will definitely ask you to serve more and more:

  • You can spoon some cream cheese over each latke, place a slice of smoked salmon on it and top it with salmon roe. But what if you toss the cheese and fish into the mixer and make a scrumptious spread? That would be great as well. Just spoon it onto latkes and add a few beads of roe.
  • Or you can sprinkle your crispy latkes with Gorgonzola cheese and top them with some fig condiment. That&rsquos going to me a magnificent combination!
  • If you can&rsquot choose from apple, pumpkin or pear puree, place the jars filled with each of them on the table, so your guests could put a dollop or two on the latkes. Don&rsquot forget to serve some creme fraiche and pepper as well. The fruit, creamy and spicy flavor will perfectly accompany each other.

Check This Piquant Idea of the Best Chanukah Beef Brisket

A brisket is certainly going to be the main course of the festive dinner. Traditionally, this dish is related to poverty cuisine. Most Jews couldn&rsquot afford to buy &ldquotender&rdquo meat, like ribs or chuck. As Gil Marks writes in his Encyclopedia of Jewish Cuisine, they had to learn how to deal with less expensive and desirable beef.

So, that&rsquos where all festive baked briskets come from. Today you can flavor this dish with everything, from bourbon to fruit purees. By the way, why not look at some really interesting combinations?

After you rub the meat with some salt, pepper, paprika, and cinnamon and refrigerate it for 2 hours, in a pot cook a garlic and onion mixture in grapeseed oil. After you transfer ready garlic and onions onto a plate, add more oil to the pot.

Then put cooled brisket into it, along with

  • chopped tomatoes (3)
  • chopped carrots (2)
  • chopped celery (3 stalks)
  • soy sauce (1/2 c.)
  • and balsamic vinegar (2 tbsp.)
  • beef stock (8 c.)
  • some bourbon (1/2 c.)
  • brown sugar (1/2 c. or to taste)
  • and thyme leaves.

Over high heat bring it all to simmer. Then cover the pot with foil and put into the oven. You should bake the brisket for 4,5 hours, until the meat gets tender but still holds the shape. After its ready, transfer it to a separate platter and tent with more foil.

Strain the braising liquid that remains in the pot and set aside 1/2 cup of it. Cook the remaining liquid for about 15 minutes more. Meanwhile, combine the 1/2 cup of braising liquid together with peach preserve and 1 tbsp. bourbon in a blender to make the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

As the meat gets cooler, score the fat side with a knife. Make 1/4-inch-deep narrow cuts in a crosshatch manner. Return the brisket to the pot as soon as the braising liquid reduces, with the meaty part submerged in the liquid.

Add the garlic and onion mixture as well as the peach dressing (3-4 tbsp.) and glaze the brisket. Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and broil the meat for 4-5 minutes, until the glaze gets brownish.

And a Finishing Touch Must Be Sweet

Of course, real Chanukah celebrations can never go without traditional jelly doughnuts or sufganiyots. They should be cooked in a large amount of oil, and that again reminds us about the historical roots of the holiday.

If you have literally two minutes to come up with a good idea of a Chanukah dessert, try these 10-minute-cooking donuts!

Buy a few packages of refrigerator biscuits in advance. Make sure you have enough raspberry jam or any other jam you like. Also, you&rsquoll need some vegetable oil.

Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large pot and separate the biscuits into similar rounds. Fry the rounds until they get golden brown (1-2 minutes). Flip them one time.

As the rounds are ready, transfer them to a separate plate or wire rack and let cool. Now you need to fill pastry bag with jam and poke a small hole in each donut with a tip to fill their centers. Sprinkle with a dusting of powdered sugar and serve warm.


Here’s a Hanukkah side dish that represents so much more than something tasty to serve at dinnertime. I’ve cut carrots into coins and called them Hanukkah Gelt so the story of Hanukkah can be retold each year and celebrated in joyful long-standing tradition.

These carrot coins are sautéed with a Middle Eastern herbal blend called zaatar and make a flavorful dish served during the eight days of Hanukkah. If yellow carrots are available, they would look even more like gold coins than the orange ones. Some food distributors have yellow carrots available year round. (See below).

What is Hanukkah gelt?

Gelt is a Yiddish word meaning money. In ancient times, money was in the form of gold coins. Today, many Jewish families give Hanukkah gelt, or Hanukkah money to their children during the eight days of Hanukkah. Some families give real coins, while others present the kids with coins formed from chocolates wrapped in gold foil and stamped to look like gold coins. These little gold coins, made in different sizes, are wrapped in tiny mesh bags and sold in groceries across the country during the November/December holiday season.

It’s a fun tradition the kids look forward to each year, but how did this practice begin? Meaningful historical events contributed many reasons to give Hanukkah gelt, not only to children, but, sometimes, to others in the community.

How did Hanukkah begin?

Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the re-dedication of an ancient Jewish Temple that was desecrated by Greek armies. The Jews fought back and won and restored their ruined temple. In the wreckage, they found a tiny bottle of sanctified oil to relight the eternal light over the altar, but there was only enough oil to last one day. The miracle was that tiny bottle of oil burned for eight days. To commemorate the miraculous event the people celebrated in a grand and very fitting way–by lighting candles and celebrating for eight nights in remembrance of the miracle. The tradition was called Hanukkah.

Many families created their own Hanukiah or Hanukkah Menorah, a candelabra with nine branches, eight to hold the eight candles for each of the eight nights the oil burnt, and an extra branch to hold the special candle, the shamash, that lights the other candles.

Hanukkah gelt tradition

Hanukkah lights are considered sacred and are never snuffed out. Instead, the candles are allowed to burn until they go out naturally. Because the lights are considered sacred, they are not used for other purposes, such as using the light to count coins. So families gave their children coins, or Hanukkah gelt, to reinforce the rule and honor the sacred candles.

Because the Hanukkah lights were so venerated, families made it an annual ritual to remember the miracle of the oil. They gave Hanukkah gelt to the poor so they, too, could afford to buy candles to commemorate the holiday.

During the Greek army invasion, the Jews were forced to give up their religious rituals and adopt only Greek practices. During that long period, many Jews forgot their traditions and Torah lessons and had to relearn them when the temple was restored. Families gave their children Hanukkah gelt during Hanukkah as a reward for Torah study.

Jews also gave Hanukkah gelt to celebrate their freedom from the Greek armies and their return to their own traditions. Rather than placing value on material gifts to celebrate the holiday, the Hanukkah gelt represented a celebration of spiritual values.

Today’s Hanukkah rituals

Because Jews follow a lunar calendar, their holidays don’t always fall on the same date of our Gregorian, or Western calendar. Frequently, though, Hanukkah occurs in December during the festive Christmas season and has suffered the influence of commercialism to varying degrees. Many families give material gifts to their children along with the gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins. Tradition does prevail in some families where Hanukkah gelt, the real thing, offers an opportunity for parents to retell the story of Hanukkah to the children.


Yield: about 4 to 5 servings

3 large carrots, sliced into coins

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

Freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. In a large, deep skillet, combine the carrots, shallots, water, zaatar, canola oil, and garlic. Cook and stir over high or medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to cook the carrots and prevent burning.
  2. When the carrots are beginning to soften, add the salt and pepper and cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue to cook and stir until the carrots are slightly browned.

Note: Zaatar is a traditional Middle Eastern herb blend with a long history and is used throughout the Fertile Crescent, Iraq, Arabian peninsula, and Israel. Many food historians believe the original zaatar was made of hyssop. Today, the mixture frequently consists of ground thyme, sesame seeds, salt, and sumac and is available in Middle Eastern groceries. Some cooks may include oregano, marjoram, savory, cumin, coriander, or fennel seeds. The herb blend is used as a seasoning on meats and vegetables, but it’s zaatar manakeesh we see most often, which consists of combining the herb blend with olive oil and spreading it over pita bread.

Watch the video: Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights Starts Tonight. National Geographic