Many of our Christmas friends gathered around their trees yesterday morning, opening presents. In the evening, our family gathered around the Hanukah menorah full of all eight candles to bid farewell to the annual festival of light. This year, the two holidays overlapped.
We enjoyed some old recipes and some new improvised ones. Early in the week, I raided the pantry for two cans of salmon and took two classic Sephardic cookbooks (both originally published in 1971) down from the shelf. Some people think community cookbooks are the best; I agree, especially these early ones because sometimes the more recent ones include recipes from the previous generations.
Salmon loaf. I’m sure this is not an original idea. I prefer not to fry if I can avoid it (you’ll see it in something I cooked at the end of the week.) I take the salmon patty recipe and instead make it into a loaf and bake.
This is pretty much a kitchen sink recipe: two cans of salmon, three eggs, one onion chopped, celery stalks also chopped, and matzah meal or bread crumbs. Mix it all together and spread into a baking pan or loaf pan. One hour in a moderate oven. It makes good leftovers as well.
Side dishes were potato wedges and surprise squash (turned out to be spaghetti squash) half-moons baked in the same oven with the salmon loaf.
I also foraged in the grocery store earlier in the day … A while ago, I noticed that some people who buy fresh beets, leave the greens behind. I have a nice agreement with the produce manager who lets me take just the beet greens, from about four bunches of beets. Note: you have to rinse them a number of times to remove the dirt. Chop and sauté as any other green with onion and garlic – delicious.
Like the rest of the continent, we are in the midst of a cold snap. For the last night of Hanukah, I went from Sephardic to Ashkenazi with a hearty beef, barley, and mushroom stew. Start by braising about three pounds of beef chuck roast chunks in about 3-4 tbsp. of oil. When evenly browned, remove from pan, season with salt and pepper. Add to the pan: 8 oz. chopped mushrooms, 2 chopped medium onions, 3 crushed garlic cloves. Cook til lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Return the beef, along with the drippings, 1 ¼ cup beef broth (I used half red wine, half water), and 1 bay leaf. I also added the left over squash from a few lights ago, peeled and chopped. Being to a boil, then cover and simmer for 1 ½ hour. Add ½ cooked pearl barley (not quick barley). Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes. I also added more liquid from time to time. Add 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed, and cook for about 3 more minutes.
Improvisation for the side dishes: baked latkes and a vege bake. Again, not liking to fry, Prepare one or two boxes of potato pancake, mix as directed. Pour into a baking dish and bake in the 350 oven for an hour.
Vegetable bake. In preparation, peel and slice one large globe eggplant lengthwise about in about ¼ inch thick slices. Brush with olive oil. Cut a few cubanelle peppers (or whatever sweet peppers in your refrigerator), remove seeds.* Place all on a baking sheet. Bake about 30-45 minutes in a 350 F oven. You can easily remove the peels from the peppers when cool. I also had a package of mixed greens that I sauteed to use in this bake.
*If you have a few zucchini or summer squash in need of cooking, slice as the eggplant, too.
You can use either spaghetti sauce or some tomato paste thinned with water, with garlic powder and basil added, and spread on the bottom of a baking pan. Layer the vegetables over the sauce. Mix one small container of cottage cheese with 1 egg, salt and pepper, spread on top of the vegetables.* Bake with the potato dish for an hour.
*Come to think of it, you could make a bechamel sauce if you are fancy!
Enjoyed a nice meal on an unusually chilly evening to bid Hanukah 2022 goodbye.