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Hanukkah Radish Salad Canapés

Tina Wasserman

Following in the Maccabean folkloric tradition, radish salad makes for a delicious Hanukkah appetizer.

1 pound large fresh red radishes (about 2 dozen)
2 large scallions
2 tablespoons rendered chicken fat or extra virgin olive oil
1 1⁄2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (about 10 grinds)
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
1 firm brick of Pumpernickel bread or 3 whole-wheat pitas
1 head Bibb lettuce (optional)
Extra chicken fat for spreading on bread (optional)
Coarse sea salt for garnish
  1. Thinly slice the radishes by hand or using a thin slicing blade on a food processor.
  2. Trim off the very ends of the scallions. Slice the scallions lengthwise in half through the white part. Cut the scallions crosswise into thin slices, using all of the green part as well. You should have about 2⁄3 cup.
  3. Combine the radishes, scallions, chicken fat or olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar or honey in a medium bowl and toss gently. Refrigerate for 1⁄2 hour to meld flavors.
  4. Meanwhile cut thin pumpernickel slices in half on the diagonal or cut 8 wedges from each pita. Lightly toast the breads so they are slightly crisp.
  5. When ready to serve, spread a little bit of additional chicken fat on the tops of the bread triangles, and place a small mound of radish salad on the tops of the toasts. Sprinkle the tops of each radish mound with a pinch of coarse sea salt, if desired. Alternatively, place a few lettuce leaves on a salad plate, and mound some of the radish salad on the lettuce. Place a few triangles of bread on the side, and serve.

Yield: 24 canapés or  6–8 servings.

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Red radishes tend to bleed their color when exposed to acidic foods for long periods of time. Either add vinegar an hour before serving or serve the same day as preparation.
  • Spreading a thin layer of oil or fat on a bread base prevents the bread from getting soggy, especially when covered with a moist filling.

Arugula Salad with Dates and Chevre

Tina Wasserman

Date palms are intrinsic to Sukkot, both for the use of their fronds in the lulav and for their fruits. Sunflowers and pomegranates are indigenous to the area where the Abayudaya reside, and domesticated goats provide milk and cheese. I created this salad with our Ugandan brethren in mind. It's also an excellent recipe for celebrating Tu BiShvat!

4 ounces of Arugula, about 4 cups
8 large, pitted soft Medjool dates
1/4 cup diced red onion
4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup dry-roasted shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup Vanilla Pomegranate vinaigrette (see recipe below)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (available in Middle Eastern markets)
2 teaspoons sugar or 1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon Adams' Best Vanilla or any rich vanilla extract
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Rinse the Arugula and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a salad bowl.
  2. Lightly oil a cutting knife and then cut the dates in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise about 2 or 3 times. Set aside.
  3. Toss the Arugula with 1/4 cup of the dressing. Place on 4 or 5 individual plates. (Alternatively, see step 6.)
  4. Evenly distribute the dates, onions, goat-cheese crumbles, and sunflower seeds on each plate.
  5. Grind a little black pepper on and drizzle with the remaining dressing.
  6. You can also toss everything together in one large bowl and serve.

 Pomegranate Vanilla Vinaigrette:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake thoroughly until well blended.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • If your dates are too hard, place them in a glass bowl and cover them with water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes and allow them to sit in the hot water until they're pliable.
  • Pomegranate molasses is perfect for salad dressings because this concentrated juice is syrupy, sweet, and thick.

Ugandan Fall Harvest Fruit Salad

Tina Wasserman

This salad contains the three most eaten fruits in Uganda: bananas, mango, and jackfruit. Bananas are actually a staple of the Ugandan's diet. Per capita consumption is 500 pounds a year! Many of the spices in this recipe are now grown in Uganda, a legacy of the spice trade route through Africa centuries ago.

Want to learn more about Jewish life in Uganda? Check out this interview with Shoshana Nambi, who was raised in the Abayudaya ("People of Judah") Jewish community in Uganda.

3 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed--divided use
1 20-ounce can of jackfruit in syrup
1 cup of coarsely chopped mixed dried fruits (apples, peaches, pears, apricots)
2 bananas, peeled and sliced (1/2-inch thickness)
1 small can of mandarin oranges (drained)
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut
1 teaspoon of prepared Garam Masala or to taste
1 teaspoon of tamarind liquid concentrate or lemon juice
Honey (optional)
  1. Slice the mangoes from the stem to the bottom, running your knife along the edge of the pit on both sides. Cut the flesh away from the skin, then cube the mango into 1/2-inch pieces (see "Tina's Tidbits" below for easy dicing tips).
  2. Puree about 1/3 to 1/2 of the mango cubes to make 1 cup of mango puree. Place the puree in a serving bowl with the remaining cubed mango.
  3. Remove and drain the jackfruit. Cut the translucent white ovals into lengthwise strips. Add to the mango mixture.
  4. Add the dried chopped fruits, sliced bananas, and salt to the bowl and gently stir with a rubber spatula. Set aside.
  5. In a small processor workbowl, combine the coconut, Garam Masala, and tamarind concentrate (or lemon juice). Pulse the mixture on and off about 20 times until it forms a paste. If you don't own a processor, cut the coconut into small pieces with a large knife, then mix with the other ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, carefully stir the spice paste into the mixed fruit. Add honey if needed.
  6. Refrigerate the fruit salad until you're ready to serve (for dessert or as an accompaniment to grilled meats).
  7. Just before serving, garnish with a little extra coconut on top.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • To ripen mangoes, place them in a brown paper bag. Adding a banana to the bag will hasten the process.
  • To dice a mango easily, cut it in half along the seed and remove the seed. Score the meat, just to the skin by slicing lengthwise and then crosswise about 1/2-inch apart. Bend the skin back and the meat stands up like a porcupine's back. Run a knife along the skin to dislodge the fruit and you will have perfect 1/2-inch dice!

Algerian Vegetable Mélange in Pastry Shells

Tina Wasserman

This simple, but elegant holiday dish is served at the Aferiat home. Yolande Aferiat, from Oran, taught her daughter-in-law Kathy how to make it, and Kathy, who now lives in Dallas, described it to me. Kathy’s use of peas rather than fava beans is a sign of the Americanization of Yolande’s traditional dish.

6 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1⁄2-inch chunks
1 bay leaf
10 medium pitted green olives
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon flour
3⁄4 cup chicken or mushroom stock
1 cup frozen green peas
Salt, if needed
Freshly ground black pepper
Frozen puff pastry shells
Minced parsley for garnish
  1. Place the carrot slices in a 1-quart saucepan and cover with salted water. Add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for approximately 10 more minutes, until the carrots are tender but still firm. Set aside.
  2. Rinse and drain the olives. In a small covered saucepan, boil them in water for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Cut crosswise into 1⁄4-inch slices. Set aside.
  3. Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over high heat for 15 seconds. Add the olive oil and heat for another 10 seconds.
  4. Mix in the diced onions and sauté until they’re soft and medium golden brown.
  5. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms.
  6. When the mushrooms are soft and lightly golden, add the flour.
  7. Stir for about 1 minute, until the flour is totally incorporated.
  8. Add the chicken stock, stirring constantly so that the flour dissolves and the mixture begins to thicken.
  9. Add and combine the cooked carrots, sliced olives, and frozen peas. Cover the pan and simmer the vegetables until the peas are just cooked—about 4 minutes. Check for seasonings and add as needed.
  10. Bake the pastry shells, following the package instructions.
  11. When ready to serve, remove the center “lid” of dough and place the vegetable mélange in the cavity of the pastry. Garnish with minced parsley, if desired. Serve at once.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Avoid using yellow-green bay leaves in your dishes: they’re old, and may add a bitter taste. Instead, seek out freshly dried, bright green, firm, and only slightly brittle bay leaves for their earthy-sweet, subtle flavor. You’ll be very glad you did.

Hungarian Cabbage Strudel (Káposztás Rétes)

Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's book, Entree to Judaism for Families filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

Food encased in dough is popular for Rosh HaShanah because of the visual reminders of being "sealed" in the Book of Life in the coming year. The following strudel dish, reminiscent of apple strudel (for which Hungarians are renowned) but including cabbage and caraway seeds (indigenous to Hungarian cooking) and discarding cinnamon and sugar, demonstrates the creativity of Hungarian Jewish cooks in times of scarcity.

The round, light-green vegetable we call cabbage became popular in Germany about nine hundred years ago. Because it was very easy to grow in cold climates like Northern and Eastern Europe, it was very popular in Jewish cooking, especially in the poor communities of Eastern Europe. Cooked in every way possible, cabbage was often found in soup, stews, or even pickled (sauerkraut). For festivals, cabbage was “dressed up” and stuffed or used as a filling in pastries, an alternative to costly nuts, fruit, sugar, and spices. The combination of cabbage and caraway seeds in this strudel was a classic Hungarian preparation. Cabbage was very popular in Ashkenazic communities during all the Jewish fall festivals: sealed in strudel for Rosh HaShanah, as we hope to be sealed in the Book of Life for the coming year; served during Sukkot as a fall harvest food; and, according to culinary historian Gil Marks, served during Simchat Torah because the Hebrew word for cabbage, k’ruv, sounds like the word for the cherubim on the top of the Ark that held the tablets of the Ten Commandments

1 pound cabbage (half of a medium head)
1⁄2 Tablespoon salt
2–4 Tablespoons unsalted butter or 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
3 Tablespoons dried bread crumbs
Up to 1 stick unsalted butter for brushing Phyllo dough
8 sheets of Phyllo dough, defrosted (see tidbit below)
  1. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise, then thinly slice into shreds crosswise. Place in a large bowl, add 1⁄2 tablespoon salt to cure the cabbage, and toss. Set it aside for 15 minutes to half an hour.
  2. Using strong paper towels or a clean cloth towel, squeeze the water out of the cabbage and pat it dry.
  3. Heat a 10-inch frying pan over high heat for 20 seconds. Add 2–4 Tablespoons butter or butter/olive oil blend, allowing it to melt but not brown.
  4. Mix in the cabbage and stir over medium heat for 10–15 minutes until the cabbage is soft and slightly browned.
  5. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and caraway seeds (if using).
  6. Place the cabbage in a bowl to cool.
  7. Melt the remaining butter. Set aside.
  8. Remove 4 sheets of defrosted Phyllo dough (keeping the remaining sheets folded and covered by a sheet of plastic wrap that is re-covered with a damp paper towel). Spread out a thin towel, sheet of waxed paper, or plastic wrap that is as long as the dough.
  9. Place one sheet of Phyllo on the towel and brush it liberally with some of the melted butter. Place another sheet of dough on top of the first and brush with melted butter.
  10. Repeat this with the remaining 2 sheets.
  11. Lightly sprinkle the bread crumbs over the last sheet and then place half of the cabbage in a 2-inch-thick strip parallel to the short edge of the dough. Leave 1 inch of room on the side ends so the cabbage can be encased.
  12. Using the towel or plastic wrap, fold the dough tightly over the cabbage. Brush the 2 long edges of the dough with butter, then fold them in about 1 inch to encase the cabbage. Lift up the towel to help you tightly fold the roll of dough. Place the finished roll seam-side down on a parchment-lined, low-sided cookie sheet.
  13. Repeat the process with the other half of the dough and the filling.
  14. Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and lightly cut on the diagonal through a few layers of dough with a sharp knife at 1-inch intervals.
  15. Bake the strudels in the center of the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut through slash marks and serve.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • To prevent Phyllo dough from cracking when handled, thaw it in its sealed box in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or alternatively thaw on the kitchen counter away from direct heat or sunlight for about 4 hours. Do not try to defrost the dough in the microwave!
  • If your dough is stuck together and cannot be rolled, crumble it, toss with a stick of melted butter, and place half of it in the bottom of a 13" x 9" pan. Cover with the cabbage mixture and then with the rest of the Phyllo crumbles mixed with butter. Bake at 375˚F for about 20–25 minutes, until the Phyllo is golden. Cut into squares and serve.
  • Any recipe using Phyllo dough may be frozen before baking so long as the filling is pre-cooked. Just don’t freeze raw fruits and vegetables or uncooked eggs, as they will crystallize and become grainy.

Hungarian Mushroom Turnovers

Tina Wasserman

Hungarians were fond of making dough containing rich ingredients such as cheese and butter. These mushroom turnovers in a rugelach-like dough are so savory, you won’t miss the nuts, raisins, and sugar!

4 ounces unsalted butter
4 ounces cream cheese
Pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1⁄2 pound fresh mushrooms
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cream sherry
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon water
Sesame seeds
  1. Cream the four ounces of butter and cream cheese in a mixer at high speed until they’re well combined, light, and fluffy.
  2. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the mixture, then add the flour. Mix on medium speed only until the flour is incorporated and the mixture just begins to hold together.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten to 1 inch. Refrigerate for 20–30 minutes.
  4. Sauté the onion in the 4 tablespoons of butter until it’s lightly golden.
  5. Wash the mushrooms and pat dry. Place them in a food processor and pulse on and off until they become uniformly small, fine pieces. Alternatively, finely mince the mushrooms.
  6. Add the mushrooms to the onions. Sauté for approximately 5–7 minutes until the mushrooms give up their juices and begin to look dry.
  7. Add the seasonings and the sherry.
  8. Roll a ball of dough 1⁄8-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and cut into approximately six 2-inch circles.
  9. Place a teaspoon of mushroom sherry filling in the center of each circle. Dip your finger in water and brush the edges of each circle with it. Fold the circle in half. Pinch the edges together and use the tines of a fork to crimp them. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  10. Follow the same procedure with the rest of the dough.
  11. Brush the egg yolk glaze onto the tops of the turnovers. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 400°F for about 15 minutes, until light and golden. Serve hot.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Water is good for sealing dough that has a high flour content and is going to be baked. It helps “glue” the edges together.

Cheese Blintz Casserole

Amy Kritzer

My favorite traditions involve food. Latkes on Hanukkah, matzah ball soup on Passover, and Bubbe’s blintzes whenever her bubbelahs are in town (or for Shavuot, as is traditional for the holiday). Blintzes are sweet or savory, filled with jam or fruit, meat, potatoes, or in this case, cheese. I like mine in casserole form.

6 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 egg
1 pint cottage cheese
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  2. For the batter, mix wet ingredients together until combined.
  3. Mix in sugar, flour and baking powder.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together filling ingredients.
  5. Pour half of batter mixture into a greased 9 × 13-inch baking pan.
  6. Top with all of the filling.
  7. Pour the rest of the batter on top.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden.
  9. Top with sour cream.


Amy Kritzer is a food writer and recipe developer in Austin, TX who enjoys cooking, theme parties and cowboys. She challenges herself to put a spin on her Bubbe’s traditional Jewish recipes and blogs about her endeavors at What Jew Wanna Eat. Her recipes have been featured on Bon Appetit, Daily Candy, The Today Show Blog and more. You can follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook and watch her cooking videos on Google+.

Spiced Angel Pecans

Tina Wasserman

These angel pecans are truly heavenly! A perfect treat to make in the fall when pecans are freshly harvested, you can serve them to guests in your sukkah during Sukkot.

1 egg white
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
  2. Place egg white in a 2-quart bowl and beat with a whisk until light and foamy.
  3. Fold melted butter and vanilla into the whites. Add the nuts and gently stir to coat all the nuts with the egg white mixture. 
  4. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt, and gently fold into the nuts to coat evenly.
  5. Spread the nuts onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper, and bake for 45 minutes, stirring the nuts after the first 25 minutes. Nuts should be very crisp and dry.
  6. When completely cool, store in an airtight container or freeze in ziplock freezer bags until ready to use.

For Savory Nuts: Substitute 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce for vanilla, and use 1 1/2 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoned salt, 1/4–1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon curry powder instead of the spices. Prepare as directed above.
For Orange-Spice Nuts: Substitute 1 teaspoon orange extract for the vanilla, and use 1/2 teaspoon cardamom instead of the nutmeg. Prepare as directed above.

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Beating the egg white for coating provides more surface area for the sugar to adhere to and makes the pecans more crunchy and “heavenly”!
  • Pareve margarine or oil may be substituted for butter to make it suitable to serve at meat meals.

Kasha Varnishkas

Tina Wasserman

Kasha (buckwheat) is probably the grain most identified with Eastern European Jews, but the grain (actually a fruit seed) least eaten by contemporary American Jews. This earthy, chewy gluten-free grain could easily replace rice or potatoes on the modern Jewish table, but it doesn’t. What a pity! There is nothing like pot roast gravy on a pile of little brown granules mixed with golden fried onions and mushrooms to transport one back to the "good ol' days" that weren't so good but are long, long gone. "Try it, you’ll like it" ... and it's good for you too!

1 cup kasha
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
2 beef or vegetable bouillon cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 ounces pasta bow ties
  1. Heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and add the kasha. Pour the beaten egg over all of the kasha and stir constantly until egg evenly coats the grains and each grain separates from the rest of the kasha. This should be done over a medium heat so that the egg does not cook before it coats the kasha grains. Put kasha in a bowl. 
  2. Reheat pan for 10 seconds then place the oil in the used pan and sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté another 3–5 minutes or until the mixture is golden. 
  3. Return the kasha to the pan with the onions and mushrooms. Add the boiling water, bouillon cubes, salt, and pepper, and stir to dissolve the bouillon. Cover and cook over a low flame for 15 minutes or until the kasha is tender. 
  4. Meanwhile cook the pasta bow ties according to package directions. 
  5. Combine the kasha and bowties and serve as is or with some gravy from your meat entrée on top.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Kasha (buckwheat) is a naturally gluten-free food, not a ceral or wheat product. 
  • Coating the uncooked granules with the raw egg prevents the kasha from swelling up. If you eliminate this step, you will feel like you are eating a bowl of Wheatena.
  • Always sauté onions alone initially before adding other vegetables with a high water content. This allows the sugars in the onion to caramelize and makes the onion sweeter.
  • Although any pasta shape can be used, bow tie pasta is to kasha what grape jelly is to peanut butter!

Grandma Gussie’s Potato Knishes

Tina Wasserman

In my family, knishes weren’t the large, square, hard cushions of dough with potato on the inside. They were a soft patty of potato dough with fried onions encased in the center. No family function at my grandmother’s house was without this treat, and you had to act fast or you didn’t get to grab more than one. When she was recovering in the hospital from a heart attack, everyone centered their conversation on Grandma’s knishes. Subliminally everyone knew that the precious recipe had not been written down. No one was able to comprehend “a bissel” (little) of this and “a shiterein” (handful) of that until one day I came across a recipe that reminded me of Grandma’s knishes. With a little tweaking, I now pass the recipe on to the next generation!

4 1/2 cups dry mashed potato (no liquid or fat added)
3 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1/2 cup or more flour or matzah meal
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 teaspoons salt, divided use
1/4 cup olive oil or chicken fat
3 large onions, finely diced
Additional olive or vegetable oil for frying knishes
  1. Mix the potatoes, eggs, flour or matzah meal, pepper, and 2 teaspoons of salt together to form a smooth, but slightly sticky dough. Set aside for 20 minutes while you fry the onions. 
  2. Heat a 10-inch skillet over high heat for 20 seconds. Add the oil or chicken fat and heat for another 10 seconds, turning down the heat if the oil begins to smoke. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are dark golden brown but not burnt. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining teaspoon of salt. 
  3. Heavily flour a board and your hands with flour or matzah meal. Take about 1 tablespoon of dough and, using your fingertips, flatten it in your palm or on the board until it is about a 2- to 3-inch circle. If dough is too sticky, roll in additional flour or matzah meal.
  4. Place a scant teaspoon of the onion mixture in the center of the circle, and fold the dough edges over the filling to meet in the center to create a smaller, filled circle of dough.
  5. Place on a floured plate until ready to fry or fry immediately. Note: These should not stand too long or they will get soggy.
  6. Heat a clean frying pan for 20 seconds. Add the additional oil to a depth of 1/4 inch and heat for 15 more seconds.
  7. Place the knish seam side (the side where the dough came together) down in the hot oil and fry over moderate heat for 4 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the knish over and fry until the other side is golden, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain. Let cool for a minute or so.
  8. Serve as soon as they are not too hot to handle. Enjoy!
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Cooked mashed potatoes tend to hydrate when they sit out for a long time. To prevent excess moisture, use within an hour of mashing or leave the potatoes whole until ready to proceed with a recipe. 
  • These knishes are perfect for Passover if you eliminate the flour. However, the dough will be smoother if flour is used. 
  • Matzah meal acts like a sponge, absorbing excess moisture in dough. To allow for this, the mixture must rest for 15–20 minutes before using. 
  • Sometimes tossing the dough very lightly on a floured board will make the dough less sticky and the process of shaping will be easier.


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