Saturday, December 5, 2015

Yum Yum Hanukkah

Hanukkah begins at sunset Sunday December 6, 2015.  Hanukkah, like other Jewish holidays involves celebrating with family and eating special  holiday foods.
In the United States, it is favorite holiday of many Jews for many reasons; the fun, the  giving of gifts and the food.

Although it is a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, it has become a very important Jewish holiday in the United States.  Hanukkah is a happy holiday, commemorating an historical event, the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C.E.  The Syrian king Antiocchus Epiphanes sent soldiers to Jerusalem, abolished Judaism, giving Jews  the choice: convert or die. On the 25 day of the month of Kislev, a group of Jews, led by the Maccabees family, although greatly outnumbered, defeated Antiochus's army in two decisive battles.  Now that the Jewish people controlled Jerusalem again, they proceeded to rededicate the Temple.  The ner tamid, the eternal light, was rekindled, using oil from the only remaining jar of oil.  Normally, a jar of oil lasts for only one day, but this jar lasted for eight.
The holiday lasts for eight days  and is centered around lighting the Hanukkiah, a candelabra with eight branches and a shamash, the candle used to light the others.  Special foods are served and gifts are exchanged.  Many of the foods are cooked in oil, a way to remember the miraculous oil that lasted for eight days.

In my family, three foods are always served: brisket, latkes and sweet and sour meatballs.  I am sharing the family recipes for two of these delicious dishes, sweet and sour meatballs and brisket.
My sister-in-law, Sheila helped me write out the recipes, since the cooks in the family prepared these foods from memory.

Sheila’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs.

A delicious appetizer for Hanukkah or any holiday.

2 pounds lean ground beef
2 eggs
½ tsp dried garlic powder
½ cup matzo meal
1 ½ to 2 cups water

2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
½ onion, chopped
1 C. brown sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 to ½ tsp sour salt (citric acid)*Add this to taste, since it is very sour.
salt and pepper

1.     In a large bowl, mix ground beef, eggs, garlic powder, salt and pepper and matzo meal together, until combined.  You should be able to roll a small ball from the meat mixture—if not, add more matzo meal until the meatballs hold together.
2.     Roll the meat mixture into small balls and set aside.
3.     Add about 1 ½ cups water to a 4 quart pot.
4.     Add onions and tomato sauce. 
5.     Heat until the mixture comes to a low boil
6.     Drop the meatballs into the water. Some may fall apart, this adds to the flavor of the sauce.
7.     Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for 5-10 minutes
8.     Add the brown sugar, lemon juice and sour salt.
9.     Continue to simmer for 10 more minutes on a low heat.
10.  Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sour Salt can be found in Kosher grocery stores, or in grocery stores that sell kosher foods. It is also available online from The Spice

Tasty and Easy Beef Brisket
1 3-4 pound beef brisket, flat cut with extra fat trimmed off. You can ask the butcher to do this for you.
1 bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
1 onion chopped
1 bottle beer, any kind. You can use red wine in place of the beer.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  1. Heat a large frying pan and brown the brisket on both sides, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Remove the brisket and put in a roasting pan.
  3. Cover the brisket with the chopped onion.
  4. Pour the entire bottle of chili sauce over the brisket.
  5. Add the beer to the pan.
  6. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, making sure that you have a good seal.
  7. Put into preheated oven and bake for about 2 1⁄2- 3 hours until tender. Stick it with a
    fork to test for tenderness.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven, and let the meat rest for about 10 minutes. The meat
    should be very tender, almost to the point of falling apart.
  9. Save the pan sauce, separate the fat from the sauce, discarding the fat. Add salt and
    pepper to sauce to taste. Keep the sauce warm in a small sauce pan.
  10. Slice the brisket against the grain.
  11. Serve the meat with the sauce.