Holiday entertaining with a Hanukkah twist
Puff pastry stuffed by camembert and berries, delicious food

By Tina Wasserman
You can choose to spend a lot of money on catalog or specialty store prepared food or you can make your own. The following are a few recipes to get you through the rest of the month of holiday parties and Hanukkah celebrations when latkes aren’t the only thing you eat.
The following recipe uses cheese in homage to Judith and her heroic use of cheese and wine to save the Jews in her town from Holofernes’ army
Stuffed Brie en Croute
1 14-ounce wheel of Brie cheese
1 10×10 sheet of prepared frozen puff pastry (1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

  1. Thaw the sheet of dough for 30 minutes and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll out one sheet of dough into a 14×14-inch square. Combine the egg and water and brush over the sheet of dough.
  3. Evenly cut the Brie in half horizontally and place one half cut side up on the egg-brushed dough. Place filling of your choice over the cheese and then top with the other half of the cheese, cut side down.
  4. Fold up sides of the dough over the cheese, brushing dough with extra egg wash to “glue” the dough and trimming any excess dough. Press edges to seal and then place seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Brush the top and sides of the dough with the egg wash and use any remaining dough to decorate the top. Brush decoration with egg wash as well.
  6. Either freeze at this point, or bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow cheese to sit at least ½ hour before serving. Serve with toasted French bread or crackers. Serves 12-15.
    Apple-Cranberry Filling
    1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
    2 tablespoons orange juice
    1 small Gala apple
    1 teaspoon unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon Applejack or Grand Marnier
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
  7. Place dried cranberries in the orange juice and microwave on high for 1 minute. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the filling.
  8. Thinly slice the peeled apple and sauté in a nonstick pan in the teaspoon of butter until slightly golden and soft. Add the soaking cranberries and the juice to the pan and gently sauté until the juice is absorbed.
  9. Add the Applejack and the cinnamon and reduce mixture over high heat until liquor is incorporated into the fruit. Add chopped pecans, stir and set aside while preparing dough.
    Mushroom-Chive Filling
    ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 clove finely minced garlic
    8 medium mushrooms, thinly sliced
    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    1-2 tablespoons cream sherry
    6 8-inch stalks of fresh chives, finely chopped
  10. Melt the butter in an 8-inch nonstick skillet. Add the garlic and sauté over medium heat for 30 seconds or until garlic is soft. DO NOT BROWN THE GARLIC OR IT WILL BE BITTER.
  11. Add the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste and sauté over medium heat until soft and lightly browned.
  12. Add the cream sherry and increase heat to incorporate the sherry and reduce the sauce to less than ½ tablespoon.
  13. Turn off the heat and add the chopped fresh chives. Stir and set aside while you prepare the dough.
    Potato-Mushroom Strudel
    Potatoes don’t have to be in latkes to be enjoyed this holiday season! This delicious dish can be served as an appetizer or a side dish.
    2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (approximately 4 potatoes)
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    2 medium onions, diced
    ½ ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
    4 ounces Crimini or Baby Bella mushrooms
    1½ teaspoons truffle-scented flour or all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons parsley
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    1½ teaspoons salt
    Freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1 stick unsalted butter, melted
    ½ pound phyllo dough
  14. Cook the whole, unpeeled potatoes in boiling salted water to cover for 25 minutes or until a knife easily pierces the potato. Drain and cool until easy to handle.
  15. Place the Porcini mushrooms in a 16 ounce bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Allow mushrooms to soak for 10 minutes or until soft. Gently squeeze some of the excess moisture out of the mushrooms and reserve the liquid for later. Chop the Porcini into fine pieces. Set aside.
  16. Chop the Crimini into ¼-inch dice. Set aside.
  17. Heat a 3-quart saucepan over high heat for 15 seconds. Add the oil and heat for 10 seconds. Add the diced onions and stir to coat with oil. Cover, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and then sauté over medium heat until golden brown.
  18. Add the Crimini mushrooms to the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped Porcinis and ¼ cup of the soaking liquid. Be careful to remove the liquid from the top of the bowl to prevent inclusion of sediment from the bottom of the bowl. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the flour. Stir to combine and then cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
  19. Peel the potatoes and mash until smooth. Add the onion-mushroom mixture, parsley, egg, salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined. Check for seasonings.
  20. Place one sheet of phyllo dough, short side facing you, on a clean, large towel and brush with some melted butter. Place a second sheet of dough to the right of the first but overlapping the first sheet by 2 inches. Brush second sheet with butter.
  21. Place a third sheet of dough directly below the first sheet but overlapping it by 2 inches and then brush with melted butter. Place the fourth sheet to the right of the third sheet overlapping the bottom of the second sheet and the right side of the third. Brush with melted butter.
  22. Place a 1-inch-thick line of the potato mixture 1 inch above the bottom of the dough and 2 inches in from each side. Fold bottom up over the filling and then fold the sides in over the filling to conceal. Brush the edges with some butter.
  23. Tightly roll the dough up from the bottom and place the log of strudel on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Brush top with some melted butter.
  24. Lightly score the dough in 1 inch intervals and then liberally sprinkle water all over the dough so that some of the water pools in the bottom of the pan.
  25. Place in a 375-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes or until strudel is golden brown.
  26. When ready to serve, cut log into 1 inch pieces and serve.
    Phyllo dough can be cut into 2 inch wide strips, brushed with melted butter, and then folded like a flag into filled triangles.
    NOTE: Can be served with some sour cream to which some chopped chives have been added.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• When working with phyllo dough it is important to work fast and protect any remaining sheets that you are not using. The best way to do this is to cover remaining dough with plastic wrap and then cover with a slightly damp paper towel. Do not let the towel touch the dough.
Easy Tahini Sufganiot
I was very lucky to be in Israel before Hanukkah a few years ago. With sufganiot sold everywhere one could try different flavors. My favorite was a sweet tahini-filled doughnut with shredded halvah on top. The following is a recipe I created and just premiered at the URJ Biennial in Chicago. Happy Hanukkah!

1 dozen unfilled yeast doughnuts or 2 dozen yeast doughnut holes

½ cup tahini (unflavored, pure)
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon cinnamon or Bharat
1 tablespoon lemon juice

3¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup tahini
½ cup water
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Shredded halvah for topping

  1. Mix all of the filling ingredients together. Place mixture into a pastry bag with a ¼-inch plain tip.
  2. Puncture a small hole in the side of a doughnut with a straw or small, sharp knife blade.
  3. Twist the end of the pastry bag shut and gently insert the tip of the bag into the opening of the doughnut. Squeeze gently until you feel some pressure on the outside of the doughnut.
  4. Meanwhile combine all of the ingredients for the glaze in a bowl over warm water.
  5. When glaze is smooth, dip the top of the doughnut directly into the glaze, lift it and with a quick little twist turn it right side up.
  6. Place on a rack over a baking sheet or directly onto parchment paper. Sprinkle with halvah and allow the glaze to set for 5 minutes if you can wait that long!

Tina’s Tidbits:
• If you can’t find shredded halvah, just run a fork over a piece of halvah to break it into small strands or pieces and then sprinkle on the glaze while it is still somewhat moist.
• Yeast doughnuts are much easier to fill than cake doughnuts; however, if you don’t want to fill the doughnuts you can glaze and top a cake doughnut instead.

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