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Jewish food creators share their must-try recipes for Hanukkah

GMA
GMA
 2021-11-30

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Celebrate the festival of lights all week with these holiday recipes .

Whether it's his perfect potato latkes or savory salt and pepper Sufganiyot, food personality, "Jew-ish" cookbook author and beloved "modern mensch" Jake Cohen shared his top recipes with "Good Morning America" to kick off the eight days of festivities.

How to make fried pickle latkes for Hanukkah

Plus, check out how Cheryl Holbert of Nomad Bakery makes her homemade Chanukah Menorah made of Challah.

Chicken Schnitzel Fingers

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Matt Taylor-Gross - PHOTO: Jake Cohen's chicken schnitzel fingers are a great Hanukkah recipe.

Cookbook author

Serves: 4 to 6

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

3 tablespoons white sesame seeds

3 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, beaten

Vegetable oil, for frying

Flaky sea salt

Honey mustard, for serving (optional)

Directions

Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and a second half sheet pan with paper towels.

On a silicone cutting board, slice the chicken breasts lengthwise into 1-inch-wide strips. Using a meat mallet or the bottom of a small saucepan, pound each strip to ¼ inch thick.

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the bread crumbs, panko, sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Place the flour in another shallow bowl and the eggs in a third shallow bowl.

Season the chicken strips with the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Dredge each strip in the flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the beaten egg, letting any excess drip off, and finally toss in the bread crumb mixture, pressing the crumbs against the chicken to completely coat. Arrange the breaded chicken strips on the parchment-lined pan.

In a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet, heat ¼ inch of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, fry the chicken fingers, flipping them once, until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer to the paper towel–lined pan to drain and immediately season with a pinch of sea salt. Continue to fry the chicken, adding more oil to the pan as needed between batches (be sure to let the oil get hot before adding the next batch), until all the chicken fingers have been fried, then serve immediately with honey mustard, if desired.

Perfect Potato Latkes

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Matt Taylor-Gross - PHOTO: Jake Cohen's perfect potato latkes.

Yield: makes about 10 latkes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound russet potatoes, peeled

1/4 medium yellow onion

1/4 cup matzo meal, plus more as needed

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 large eggs

Vegetable oil, for frying

Applesauce, for serving

Sour cream, for serving

Directions

Using a box grater, coarsely grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer to a medium bowl lined with cheesecloth or a thin dish towel and wring the cloth to squeeze out any liquid into the bowl. Set the bowl of liquid aside to sit for 5 minutes. Put the squeezed potatoes and onion in another medium bowl, add the matzo meal, salt, and eggs, and mix until well incorporated.

Pour off and discard the reserved liquid from the first bowl, revealing a thin layer of white potato starch stuck to the bottom. Stir the potato starch into the potato mixture.

In a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet, heat ¼ inch of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Line a plate with paper towels.

Working in batches, scoop 3 or 4 (⅓-cup) balls of the potato mixture into the pan, spacing them 2 inches apart. Using a spatula, smash each ball to flatten. Cook the latkes, flipping once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to the paper towel–lined plate to drain.

Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, adding more oil to the pan between batches as needed (be sure to let the oil get hot before continuing with the next batch).

Transfer the latkes to a platter and serve immediately with applesauce and sour cream.

Notes:

Root Vegetable Latkes: Swap out the russet potatoes for sweet potatoes and add 1 medium parsnip, peeled and coarsely grated, to the mix.

Saffron Latkes: Whisk the eggs with ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, finely ground with a mortar and pestle, before adding them to the potato mixture.

Salt-and-Pepper Sufganiyot

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Matt Taylor-Gross - PHOTO: Jake Cohen's salt and pepper Sufganiyot.

Yield: makes 15 doughnuts Prep time: 45 minutes, plus proofing time

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the dough

1 cup whole milk, heated to 115 degrees

¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar

1 (¼-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs, at room temperature

4¼ cups (575g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For frying and finishing

Vegetable oil, for frying

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups jam or jelly of your choice

Directions

For the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the warm milk and sugar to combine, then sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the melted butter and eggs, then whisk on medium speed until incorporated.

Switch to the dough hook, then add the flour and salt to the bowl. Beginning on low speed and gradually increasing to medium, knead until a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 5 minutes.

Grease a medium bowl and your hands with the oil. Using your hands, transfer the dough to the bowl, gently turning it to coat it with oil, and shape it into a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out to ½ inch thick. Using a 3-inch round cutter, cut out doughnuts and transfer them to the prepared pan. Gather the scraps, roll them out, and cut out more doughnuts so you have a total of 15 doughnuts; discard any remaining scraps of dough. Cover the rounds and set aside in a warm place again until puffy, about 45 minutes.

For frying and finishing the doughnuts: In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 inches of oil to 375°F. Line a half sheet pan with paper towels.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, and pepper to combine. Place the jam or jelly in a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip.

Add five of the doughnuts to the hot oil and fry, flipping once, until golden brown and puffed, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to the paper towel–lined sheet pan to drain for 15 seconds. Before continuing with the next batch, toss each of the hot doughnuts in the sugar mixture to coat, then transfer them to a platter. Repeat to fry the remaining doughnuts in two more batches.

Using a paring knife, make a small cut at the top of each doughnut. Starting with the doughnuts you fried first, insert the tip of the piping bag into a doughnut and squeeze in 2 tablespoons of the jam or jelly. Repeat to fill the remaining doughnuts. Serve immediately while warm or within a few hours of frying for peak enjoyment.

Above recipes reprinted with permission from "Jew-ish: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch" by Jake Cohen. Photography by Matt Taylor-Gross. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright © 2021 by Jake Cohen. Photography Copyright © 2021 by Matt Taylor-Gross.

Challah Menorah

"The 'Chanukiah' or nine-branch Chanukah Menorah is a natural for such a design. My process begins with studying different artistic interpretations of the subject and then, much like tapestry, unfolds into translating those which resonate with me into a new, original design which will hold its stability as bread, as well as beauty and excitement as a piece of art," Holbert told "GMA."

The professional baker who has provided organic, artisan bread to her community of Derry, New Hampshire for eight years added that there's "a whole other layer of story which inspires my diverse range of breads."

"From Challah to Barbari and beyond, which reflects my journey of uncovering an exploration into my own heritage, as well as my most recent challenging season as a caregiver and advocate for my terminally ill husband," she explained. "Through it all, bread has been the faithful Companion and continues to give much more than it seeks to receive in return."

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