This holiday season brings a rare coincidence: Hanukkah starts on Thanksgiving this year, and already, pundits are chortling about Thanksgivukkah, menurkeys and whether it's kosher to cry "Gobble tov!" Even Manischewitz has set up a website dubbed Thanksgivukah.com (with one "K," not two) with recipes for Pilgrims' Potato Kugel and dishes that call for "the official broth of Thanksgivukah."
The two holidays have not coincided like this since 1888, and they may not do it again for another 70,000 years, so Jewish chefs and home cooks are mulling the options. Stuff the turkey with challah? Make latkes with sweet potatoes? And what about dessert?
So we turned to pastry chef and food writer Paula Shoyer, author of the new "Holiday Kosher Baker" (Sterling, $35, 288 pages), for ideas. Shoyer has riffed on holiday sweets for years, making hamantaschen in every flavor, from green tea to red velvet, for Purim, and playing with flavors for jelly-filled sufganiyot or doughnuts for Hanukkah. Her first batch of cinnamon-kissed pumpkin doughnuts emerged from the fryer several years ago, long before it had dawned on anyone that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah might ever coincide.
"It never crossed my mind that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah would be on the same day," she says. "For culinary people, it's very exciting."
Shoyer gets creative with her weekly Shabbat menus, but when it comes to the big holidays, she has always been a traditionalist. Thanksgiving means roast turkey. Hanukkah is brisket, with latkes and doughnuts, the fried food an homage to the oil that burned so brightly and so long. Now she's sharing five ways to combine the two traditional menus without losing the pumpkin pie.
Roast the turkey.
"Hanukkah is eight days. Thanksgiving is one night, and it's the holiday that everyone in America celebrates with the same ingredients. It has this really special menu that's deeply American. You can have brisket the next night the next seven nights."
But start with latkes.
"I've served latkes before as an hors d'oeuvre. It's such a great appetizer, and you can put salmon on it."
Then make more latkes.
The thing about latkes, Shoyer says, is that "there's no such thing as leftovers," and you can play with flavors to your heart's content. Make them with sweet potatoes for a Thanksgiving side dish. Or try apple latkes, which work as an appetizer, side dish or dessert.
"Pull the flavors of Thanksgiving into the Jewish stuff," she says, "or the Jewish flavors into the Thanksgiving stuff."
Riff on the cranberry theme.
Shoyer will be serving a cranberry babka this Thanksgiving and offering both her family's favorite cranberry sauce made with fresh and dried cranberries as well as cranberry juice and applesauce to complement the turkey and latkes.
Do a doughnut and do a pie.
Doughnuts are a classic Hanukkah treat, and Shoyer likes to flavor hers with pumpkin, or add an apple or pecan pie-inspired filling. But, she adds, "I will still make my pumpkin pies and a chocolate-pecan pie. Otherwise everyone would rebel."
A twist on the classic Hanukkah latke adds a Thanksgiving twist, just in time for Thanksgivukkah.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus one tablespoon, if batter is very wet
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
3 apples (Fuji, Gala or Granny Smith)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar for dusting
Place a paper bag on a cookie sheet; you'll use it to drain the latkes after frying them. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking powder.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs.
Peel and core the apples; grate them using the large holes of a box grater. Add the shredded apples to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Sprinkle with lemon juice, add the beaten eggs and mix.
The oil is ready for frying when it feels very hot when you place your hand 2 inches above the pan. Scoop up a heaping tablespoon of the apple mixture and gently drop it into the pan, using the back of the tablespoon to flatten it. Fry the latkes for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, until golden. Drain them on the paper bag and let them cool for about 15 minutes.
If the batter gets very watery halfway through the frying, add a tablespoon of flour to the mixture.
Use a sieve to dust the latkes with confectioners' sugar. These are best eaten fresh, but they can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 months. To reheat, place frozen latkes on a cookie sheet and bake them in a 400 degree oven until crisp.
Makes • 20
Note • This twist on latkes makes a great appetizer, side dish or dessert.
â Reprinted with permission from "Holiday Kosher Baker" by Paula Shoyer, Sterling Publishing Co.