Shabbat Shalom and Chag Samayach! It’s hard to believe that Hanukkah is almost here.
I heard that the perception of the passage of time is slower for younger people and that time speeds up as one ages. I had such a busy fall, I don’t know where the time went. I guess that’s a sign of aging.
However, there is one fall event that went really slowly: the release of Norene’s Gilletz’s new book, The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Brain. Good news: it’s finally scheduled to be released this week.
I actually saw a copy of the book and it’s terrific. The recipes come with really good scientific information provided by Norene’s co-author, Ed Wein.
The photography is gorgeous and each recipe includes an in depth nutritional profile. I can’t wait to get my hands on my own copy.
In my family it’s official: my husband is now the designated latke maker. My sister asked me if she should order latkes for our Hanukkah party. There’s no beating the taste of a home-made latkes so I volunteered my husband and he said he’s up for the job.
His go-to recipe is Easy Potato Latkes from Pleasures of Your Food Processor by Gilletz. This processor book has undergone four printings. Since it was first published in 1980, there have been three subsequent editions and it’s definitely a Canadian cookbook classic.
I found Hanukkah Beignets in A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman, who is based in Montreal, and it’s another holiday classic.
The excellent book was originally published in 1998, and there are at least two other editions. I checked and the book is readily available on Amazon.
These days there are many people following gluten-free diets, whether it’s medically necessary or not. To make Hanukkah an inclusive eating celebration for all guests, I am including recipe for gluten-free Glazed Doughnuts and Almond Avalanche Bars.
These two gluten-free desserts are from Sweet Vegan Treats by Hannah Kaminsky. She’s written several cookbooks and she’s only 30 years old. She even does all her own photography!
Kaminsky was offered her first publishing contract at age 18. Sweet Vegan Treats (Skyhorse Publishing) is actually a revamped edition of Kaminsky’s earlier book, My Sweet Vegan. In the introduction, she explains that she’s improved and updated the recipes.
Published more than a decade ago, the book is “a relic of antiquated baking techniques,” she says, noting that Sweet Vegan Treats makes use of a wider variety of gluten-free whole grains, vegan butter and higher quality oils, and she has reduced the amount of sugar in many of the recipes.
EASY POTATO LATKES ( Norene Gilletz)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and scrubbed
1 medium onion
2 eggs or 1 egg plus 2 egg whites
180 ml (1/3 cup) matzah meal
5 ml (1 tsp) baking powder
3½ ml (3/4 tsp) salt
5 ml (1 tsp) freshly-ground pepper, to taste
125 ml (¼ cup) (approximately) vegetable oil for frying
Fit the processor bowl with a steel blade. Cut the potatoes in chunks and the onions in half. Place in the processor with the eggs. Process until pureed, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients except the oil and process a few seconds longer to blend into a smooth mixture.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Drop the potato mixture into the hot oil with large spoonfuls to form pancakes. Brown well on both sides. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove the latkes and drain them well on paper towels.
Add additional oil to the pan if needed. Stir the batter before cooking each new batch. The latkes can be placed on a baking pan and kept warm in a 130°C (250°F ) oven until ready to serve.
Makes 2 dozen latkes.
HANUKKAH BEIGNETS (Marcy Goldman)
60 ml (¼ cup) warm water
20 ml (4 tsp) dry yeast
75 ml (1/3 cup) plus a pinch granulated sugar
310 ml (1¼ cups) plain evaporated milk or half and half cream
10½ ml (2½ tsp) vanilla
60 ml (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted
7 ml (1½ tsp) salt
**(1060 ml) 4¼ to (1250 ml) 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and baking sheet.
Vegetable oil for frying
**Goldman says that using half bread flour and half all purpose flour is ideal
In a large bowl, stir together the warm water yeast and a pinch of sugar. Allow the mixture to stand for a couple of minutes for the yeast to swell or dissolve. Stir in the milk or cream, the remaining sugar, vanilla, eggs, butter, salt and most of the flour to make a soft dough.
Knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes by hand. If using a stand mixer use a dough hook. Add more flour as needed to form a firmer, smooth and elastic dough.
Place the dough in a greased bowl. Place the bowl in a plastic bag and seal. If not using right away, the dough can be refrigerated.
Let the dough rise for 45 to 60 minutes. If the dough has been refrigerated, let it warm up for 30 to 45 minutes before proceeding.
Gently deflate the dough and then roll it out in a rectangle, about 36 by 43 cm (15 by 18 inches). If the dough is too elastic ( i.e. it retracts every time you work with it), allow it to relax for a few minutes before stretching it or rolling it further.
Cut the dough into 7 x 12- cm (3x 5 -inch) rectangles. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes while heating the oil.
Ina deep fryer or heavy Dutch oven (a wok also works well), heat 7½ cm (4 inches) of oil to 195°C (385°F). Stretch the doughnuts slightly before add them to the oil. Do a few doughnuts at a time to avoid crowding the pot to ensure even cooking.
Fry them until the undersides are deep brown and the doughnut have puffed up noticeably, about 1 to 1½ minutes. Turn once and finish frying for 1 to 1½ minutes on the other side.
Lift the beignets out with a slotted spoon or tongs and drain them on paper towels. Dust with sifted icing sugar or drizzle them with Donut Glaze (see below).
500 ml (2 cups) icing sugar
60 to 90 ml (4 to 6 tbsp) water
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract or use rum, maple or coffee extract, or any flavour you prefer
Icing sugar for dusting
When the doughnuts are cooling, in a bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, water and vanilla or other extract flavouring. Whisk to achieve a very thick glaze. Add water as needed to achieve this.
GOLDEN GLAZED DOUGHNUTS (Hannah Kaminsky)
12 ml ( 2¼ tsp) packet active dry yeast
30 ml (2 tbsp) warm water
45 ml (3 tbsp) vegan butter
60 ml (¼ cup) granulated sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) whole flaxseeds, finely ground
185 ml (¾ cup) unsweetened nondairy milk
5 ml (1 tsp) apple cider vinegar
2½ ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
2½ ml (½ tsp) salt
625 ml (2½ cups) all-purpose flour
1 litre (1 quart) ) canola or vegetable oil, for frying
45 ml (3 tbsp) vegan butter
250 ml (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
15 ml 1 tbsp water
Rainbow sprinkles (optional garnish)
*Chocolate Glaze: Add 60 ml (¼ cup) Dutch-process cocoa powder to the glaze recipe
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a small dish and let sit for 5 minutes, until it reactivates and becomes a bit frothy.
Meanwhile, in your stand mixer, fitted with the beater attachment, cream the butter and sugar together and beat until fluffy. Add the flaxseeds, followed by the nondairy milk, vinegar, vanilla, and salt. Incorporate the water and yeast next. The mixture will likely look a bit lumpy at this point, so don’t stress over appearances.
Add in 500 ml (2 cups) of flour, letting the mixer run until it’s fully incorporated. Add in the remaining 125 ml (½ cup) of flour and continue mixing to combine.
Replace the beater with a dough hook, if you have one, and agitate the dough on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Alternatively, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand. Continue agitating or kneading until the dough feels smooth and elastic — tacky but not too sticky. Move the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and place in a warm location to rise. Wait for the dough to double in volume before proceeding, approximately 1 hour.
Grease a baking sheet and set aside. On a lightly floured surface, turn the dough out of the bowl and gently roll it out to a thickness of approximately 1¼ cm (½-inch). Use a doughnut cutter, or one large and one small circular cookie cutter (about 4 inches and 2½ cm (1 inch,) respectively), lightly dipped in flour, to create each doughnut shape.
Move the raw doughnuts onto the greased baking sheet. Cut any remaining dough into small circles to make doughnut holes and stash these on the baking sheet as well. Cover loosely with a clean dish towel, and let them rise for another hour or so, until they double in size.
Once the dough is ready, begin heating the oil in a deep fryer or large pot. While the oil is heating, prepare the glaze.
Glaze: Over medium-low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the sugar, vanilla, and water until the glaze is completely smooth. Pour the glaze into a shallow dish that is wide enough to accommodate your donuts. Set aside. Don’t worry if the glaze begins to solidify while you are frying. The heat from the donuts will melt it back to a liquid state.
When the oil hits 350ºF (175ºC) you’re ready to start frying. First and foremost, be very careful! You will only be cooking one or two donuts at a time to avoid crowding the pot and ensuring they cook evenly.
Gently slide the raw dough into the oil using a wide slotted spatula. Fry for about 2 minutes per side, until deeply golden brown. Remove using the same spatula, briefly pat any excess oil off using a paper towel, and dip them into the glaze while the doughnut is still warm. Top with rainbow sprinkles, if desired.
Repeat this process for the remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes.
Makes 6 to 8 doughnuts plus 8 or more doughnut holes.
ALMOND AVALANCHE BARS (Hannah Kaminsky)
125 ml (½ cup) vegan butter
125 ml (½ cup) coconut sugar or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 2/3 cups almond meal
2½ ml (½ tsp) salt
500 ml (2 cups) crunchy almond butter
250 ml (1 cup) maple syrup
10 ml (2 tsp) vanilla extract
250 ml (1 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (optional)
250 ml (1 cup) sliced almonds
Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC) and line a 23x 33-cm (9×13-inch) baking pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease and set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until homogeneous. Slowly incorporate the almond meal, followed by the salt.
Transfer the mixture into the prepared baking pan and pat the dough into the bottom, keeping it as even as possible. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until firm and lightly browned. Let cool, but leave the oven on.
Topping: mix together the almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix until smooth and fully combined, but don’t go too crazy, as it will continue to thicken the more you mix, which can make it difficult to spread smoothly into the pan. Fold in the chocolate chips, if using (and using them is recommended).
Drop this mixture evenly over the crust, pressing and gently spreading as necessary to form an even layer, taking care not to disturb the bottom layer. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top and bake for 12 to 15 more minutes.
It is OK if the bars look moist or under baked. A raw cookie dough appearance is what you are going for.
Let cool completely before cutting into bars. The bars must be cool enough for the chocolate chips to re-solidify. Chill for 1 to 2 hours in advance for the best results.