We asked three Denver restaurateurs about their traditions for the Jewish festival of lights, otherwise known as Hanukkah. In their restaurants and at home, Alon Shaya, Ben Susnick and Jerrod Rosen are celebrating with warming comfort foods and fruit-filled holiday desserts. Here, they each offer a recipe for a typical dish latkes, matzo ball soup and rugelach made new with slightly different preparations and accoutrements. You can also order all three of these signature foods at their restaurants around Denver: Safta, Hoja and Rye Society. Chag sameach!
From Alon Shaya at Safta.
8 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled (resulting in 3 pounds grated)
1 large onion (resulting in pound grated)
1 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
1 bunch green onions
7 egg whites, whipped until frothy
Butter or canola oil for frying
Salmon Roe Ikra (recipe below)
Apple Butter with Turkish Chiles (recipe below)
Grate the russet potatoes and onions through a cheese grater. Combine the grated onion, potato, salt and lemon juice together and place in a towel over a colander to drain. Add weight to the colander to press out any excess liquid. Let it sit for 1 hour then ring out the mixture to dry it even more.
Fold the whipped egg whites, cornstarch and green onions into the russet mixture. Pan-fry the latkes in thin even layers in clarified butter until golden brown on both sides. Canola oil can be substituted for clarified butter.
For the Salmon Roe Ikra
5 brown anchovy fillets, packed in salt
1 garlic clove
cup extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
cup sour cream
1 shallot, thinly sliced
Salmon roe caviar
Crush the garlic clove and place in a bowl with the juice of 2 lemons. Let sit for 15 minutes, then strain and reserve the juice. Place anchovy fillets and lemon juice in a blender and puree together. With blender on medium speed, slowly add extra virgin olive oil to emulsify. Set puree aside.
Place room temperature cream cheese in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer and whisk attachment, whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Continue to whip on low and add the sour cream until incorporated. Continue to whip on low and slowly add cup of anchovy puree until incorporated. Spoon into a serving dish, and garnish with thin-sliced shallot and caviar.
For the Apple Butter with Turkish Chiles
6 Granny Smith apples, skin on and core removed
cup apple cider vinegar
cup date molasses (or a dark amber honey)
teaspoon baharat or pumpkin pie spice
teaspoon urfa biber pepper flakes (can substitute chipotle pepper flakes)
In a medium sauce pan, add the apples, vinegar and enough water to cover the apples only halfway. Cook on medium low heat for roughly 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fruit is falling apart. The skins of the apples should be an army green color. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender until completely smooth. Be careful to start on a low speed to avoid an overflowing blender.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve and place back into the pot. Add the date molasses and baharat. Cook on low heat for about 25 minutes while stirring frequently. The puree should become a dark caramel color.
Turn off the heat and add the urfa biber pepper and let fully cool until room temperature. Refrigerate.
Matzo Ball Soup
From Ben Susnick and Amy Perlman at Hoja.
For the soup:
2 cups yellow onions, small dice
1 cup carrot, sliced or diced
1 cup celery, diced
3 quarts chicken stock
1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon white miso paste
salt and pepper to taste (a lot)
1-2 cups diced or pulled (cooked) chicken
Sweat vegetables in light vegetable oil or chicken fat (skimmed from homemade stock, if available) for about 15 minutes. Add dry seasonings and sweat an additional 5 minutes. Add stock and a few big pinches of salt. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Turn up heat and add cooked chicken and miso paste. Gently stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon or lime jice. Serve with freshly chopped parsley and dill, plus fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
For the matzo balls:
cup light vegetable oil
cup seltzer (like Top Chico)
cup matzo meal
Whisk eggs with salt and oil. Fold in seltzer, then matzoh. Let rest 30 minutes before rolling and dropping into simmering, heavily salted water. Simmer matzo balls until you can poke through one with a skewer without resistance.
Aunt Cindys Apricot Rugelach
From Cindy Kutner, aunt of Jerrod Rosen, owner of Rye Society.
Makes 40 to 48 pieces
For the dough:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
8 ounces butter (2 sticks), at room temp
teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (267 grams)
For the apricot filling:
cup apricot preserves, pureed (use a stick blender or a food processor)
cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
40-48 large yellow raisins (optional)
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cream the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until light. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix just until combined. Place the dough onto a well floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball into quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (If using convection oven, 325 degrees.)
To make the filling, combine sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and walnuts.
On a floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 10 inch circle. Spread the dough with a VERY thin layer of apricot preserves and sprinkle with one quarter of the filling. Cut the circle into 10 or 12 equal wedges. If using raisins, place one at the wide end of the wedge. Starting at the wide edge roll up each wedge, then curve into a crescent shape with the point tucked under. (At this point, they can be frozen.)
Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Brush each rugelach with the egg wash to keep them from cracking.
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together. Sprinkle the mixture on each rugelach. Bake on parchment for 20 minutes or until browned (not too dark). (Bake 14 minutes at 325 degrees if using convection oven.) Remove to a wire rack and let cool.