NEW YORK (JTA) — The phenomenon this year of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coinciding could mean even larger family gatherings than usual.
So here are some tips: Pick recipes that are easy to follow and make them well in advance. This way, cooks can enjoy their company.
I like to start my holiday gatherings with soup, and for Hanukkah-Thanksgiving I suggest barley soup with miso. It’s a delicious variation on the traditional mushroom barley that most of us know (and love) from childhood. This recipe is vegetarian, it’s a perfect fall dish, and can be made ahead of time because it freezes well.
What would Thanksgiving be without turkey? And Hanukkah without latkes?
My roast turkey is surprisingly easy to make. For Hanukkah I like to make a grated potato pancake, which is ideal when you are expecting many guests. (For another potato recipe, try the baked latkes dish in my latest cookbook, “Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine.”)
Another holiday favorite for the holidays is Osso Buco (Braised Veal Shanks); make it ahead of time.
To end the festive meal for this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, I recommend everyone’s favorite: Brownies. The fudgy treats can be cut into any size or shape. They freeze well and can be served with sorbet or fruit.
Barley Soup With Miso
The addition of miso adds a delicate Asian flavor; the bright green dill, a nice jolt of color.
2 medium onions
3 garlic cloves
4 celery stalks, peeled
4 medium carrots, peeled
1 pound white mushrooms
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup medium pearl barley
8 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch fresh dill
2 Tbs. barley miso paste
Freshly ground black pepper
It is easy to chop the vegetables in a food processor. Quarter the onions and garlic, and pulse in the food processor until coarse; remove to a bowl. Cut the celery and carrots into large pieces. Pulse them separately until coarse, and add to the onions and garlic. Wipe the mushrooms with a damp paper towel and cut them in quarters. Pulse until coarse and set aside. (If you chop everything together, the vegetables will become mushy.)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onions, garlic, celery, and carrots for 1 minute. Add the barley and broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
Add the mushrooms to the soup along with half the dill. Cook for another 15 minutes or until the barley is tender. Remove and discard the dill. Stir in the miso and season to taste with salt and pepper. Snip the remaining dill for garnish.
Note: You can buy barley miso in most health-food stores.
Makes 12 servings
Grated Potato Pancake
This large pancake is fun to serve to a large gathering — you just cut it into cake-like wedges — and it’s not greasy. Another plus: You can prepare it ahead of time and reheat before serving.
4 large Idaho baking potatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbs. vegetable oil
Peel and quarter the potatoes. If you are not grating them immediately, place them in a bowl of cold water to prevent discoloration.
Using the medium grating attachment of a food processor, grate the potatoes coarsely. Place in a dish towel and wring dry to remove the liquid. Transfer to a bowl. Season well with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add the potatoes, patting them down firmly with a spatula to flatten them and even out the edges. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, until the bottom is golden.
Invert the pancake onto a plate and add the remaining 2 Tbs. of oil to the skillet to heat. Slide the pancake back into the skillet. Pat it down again with the spatula and cook for another 8 minutes, or until the underside is golden.
Invert onto a platter and cut into the desired number of slices.
Makes 12 servings
These fudgy bite-size brownies can be cut into any size.
16 Tbs. unsalted margarine, at room temperature, plus 1 Tbs. for greasing the pan
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 1 Tbs. for dusting the pan
5 ounces good-quality imported semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
Scant 1-3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Generous 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350º. Line a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking pan with wax paper. Grease the paper with 1 Tbs. of the margarine and dust it with 1 Tbs. of the flour. Invert and tap the pan to shake out the excess flour.
Place the remaining margarine and the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Cover and set over simmering water. Stir from time to time until all is melted.
Remove the top from the double boiler. Using a wooden spoon, gradually add the sugar, stirring continuously until the chocolate is smooth. Stir in 1 egg at a time until well mixed. Add the vanilla and flour and blend well. Stir in the chopped nuts.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, tilting the pan to spread the batter evenly. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is slightly firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out moist.
Cool on a wire rack. Run a metal spatula around the sides of the pan to loosen the brownies. Invert the pan onto a board and cut into squares.
Note: These brownies freeze well. Place them side by side in an air-tight plastic container, with wax paper between the layers.
Makes 7 dozen 1-inch squares