12-19-22 First Night

The web is awash with so many recipes to prepare for celebrating Hanukah – more than enough for the eight days of the festival. Who know there were so many ways to fry so many ingredients? Call me old fashioned. Call me traditional. Don’t call me experimental and adventurous; I am both of those from time to time. When it comes to holidays, however, I like to stick with the tried and true, and that’s what I did for first night. The menu was latkes, roast leg of lamb, steamed haricot verts, and a mélange of roast vegetables.

Latkes. Every cook has their favorite way to make potato pancakes. I think the most prevalent recipes use shredded potatoes or mashed potatoes. In the past few years, I’ve experimented with latkes. One year I used murasaki sweet potatoes, a purple skinned Japanese sweet potato, along with the usual Yukon gold (see 12-16-20 post). Another year following a recipe from some magazine I tried sheet pan latkes (see 11-29-21 post).  Earlier this year it was rosti, a kind of an oversized skillet shredded potato dish (see 1-17-22). I think I’ve made this potato dish using frozen hash brown potatoes.

This year, I cheated. Daughter was going to a party afterwards, then away for 3 days … I did not want lots of leftovers. I picked up some readymade latkes of the mashed variety. To revive them, I put them on a foil-lined pan in the oven with the roast vegetable. They were really tasty, good use of onion.

Roast Lamb with Orange and Lemon. The lamb recipe was actually a new one harvested from the flood of recipes in my in-box. Food and Wine had sent out Roast Lamb with Orange and Lemon using a butterflied leg of lamb; I had everything on hand.

Start by heating the oven at 350. Next zest one medium orange and on lemon, mix with 2 tsp chopped thyme. Juice the orange and lemon and keep separate. With the lamb on a work surface, sprinkle 1/3 cup of juice on the meat and two-thirds of the zest mixture, season with salt and pepper. Roll the lamb and tie with kitchen twine. Rub it with olive oil, the rest of the zest mixture, and salt and pepper. Place in a medium roasting pan. Pour ¼ cup of dry white wine and ¼ cup of water (I did not want to open a bottle of wine, so I used ½ cup of water.)

The roasting is complex. Start with 30 minutes at 350. Then increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Pour two tbsp juice over the lamb and add ¼ cup of water; roast another 45 minutes*. Finally, pour the rest of the juice over the lamb and roast 20 minutes. My family prefers their meat rare, so I stopped after the second stop and the meat came out perfect, nicely reddish pink and juicy.

*Oh, I had a small bit of butternut squash that I cleaned and sliced into rings. I put them into the roasting pan when I increased the heat.

Melange of Roast Vegetables. Spoiler alert, these were leftovers from a meal earlier in the week, Roasted Chicken in Pomegranate and Date Molasses (see 6-14-21 post for the recipe). I had peeled and chopped eggplant, butternut squash, and added parsnip and boniato (Cuban sweet potato), both excavated from the pantry. The recipe always makes too many vegetables. The leftovers were put into a medium roasting pan and into the oven for the final 20 minutes to reheat. PS, I still have leftovers, to be enjoyed with the leftover lamb!

The haricots verts were simply steamed and served as is … no almonds, no butter, simple to enjoy their flavor.

No dessert this year … daughter was taking cookies and donuts to her party. Constant Companion is not a dessert eater. And me, I fell asleep in front of the tv, missed whatever shows were on!

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