In addition to latkes and fun Hanukkah desserts, my Hanukkah party this year includes these great menu items. This menu is on-trend and super delicious. I’ve added these dishes to my regular Shabbos repertoire and my kids are asking for them all year round.

Pulled Beef Gnocchi

Photo by Chay Berger

Serves 4-5

Pulled beef made its debut a few years ago and still appears often on our table as it’s just comfort, happy food at its best. For Hanukkah, those same rich flavors get dressed up by serving it over trendy gnocchi (any kind—potato, cauliflower, spelt). It’s make-ahead friendly and can be prepared with Yom Tov short ribs or a less-expensive chuck roast. I do like to give it a drizzle of truffle oil for extra flavor and richness and a sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt, and while they are truly optional, it gives it that Hanukkah fancy feel.

  • 2½ lbs. bone-in short ribs or 1 (3 lb.) chuck roast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper + more for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (16-oz.) package frozen potato gnocchi
  • Chopped parsley and truffle oil, optional, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Season ribs with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and brown them on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

To the same pot, reheat oil and accumulated fat from browning the ribs (if it is in excess of 3 tablespoons, discard some of the oil/fat). When oil is hot, add the celery, carrots and onion and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until softened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then add the red wine and beef stock. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Return the ribs to the pot and add the thyme and bay leaves. Cover and transfer to the oven.

Bake for 2½-3 hours.

Remove the meat from the liquid. Discard bay leaves and skim fat off the top of the braising liquid. Shred the meat, discard the bones and return the meat to the sauce.

Prepare the potato gnocchi according to the package instructions (you may want to sear them after boiling to give the gnocchi a little brown color and texture and prevent gumminess).

Toss some of the gnocchi with pan juices. Top with shredded meat and more pan sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with truffle oil, optional. Serve warm.

Cauliflower Steaks with Lemon-Tahini Drizzle

Photo by Chay Berger

Serves 4

These steaks are almost as hearty as a real steak, well kinda, and certainly more on trend. Can you find a cuisine that has not adopted this stunning, filling and dramatic vegetable? I make it in coconut milk for an Indian spin, with ginger, miso and garlic for an Asian fusion dish, and this way for the Mediterranean twist. I love the rustic and textured appearance and the taste is equally as memorable. This recipe can be made with frozen cauliflower too, just adjust the roasting time, as the pieces will cook quicker than the large slices.

  • 2 large heads of cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds or pine nuts
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon warm water
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the cauliflower steaks: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove cauliflower leaves and trim the stem, leaving the head intact. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Gently place the whole head of cauliflower into boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Repeat with the second cauliflower. Remove from water and, when cool enough to handle, place the cauliflower on its side on a cutting board. Cut it in half from top to bottom, slice each half into 1-inch-thick steaks (some florets might come loose; don’t discard them—you can roast them with the steaks and serve them).

Carefully brush each side of the cauliflower steaks with the olive oil and season with salt. Place the cauliflower steaks (and florets, if any) on the lined baking sheet.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cauliflower is lightly browned and tender.

For the tahini sauce: Place all ingredients in a bowl. With an immersion blender, puree until smooth.

To serve: Place the cauliflower steaks on a plate or platter, drizzle with tahini sauce, and sprinkle with parsley, toasted sesame seeds and pomegranate seeds.

Note

The tahini sauce will thicken slightly when refrigerated. Allow it to come back to room temperature, or add an ice cube to thin until desired consistency.

Seared Cod with Balsamic, Pomegranate, and Leek Jam

Photo by Chay Berger

Serves 8

Although this makes for a nice first course, its showstopper appearance and great taste make it a main course in my home. It can be made a day ahead of time and rewarmed or served at room temperature. Do not freeze prepared fish, as the defrosting process changes the taste and texture. Frozen fish can be used, just defrost in the refrigerator, rinse, and pat dry before cooking.

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium leeks, dark green tops removed and discarded, white part halved, and thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 8 (4-ounce) cod fillets
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add leeks, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper and brown for 12 minutes, until lightly golden. Add balsamic vinegar, red wine, pomegranate juice and honey and bring to a boil and cook until syrupy and thickened, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a separate cast iron skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle cod with onion powder, paprika, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Sear cod, top side down, for 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Gently flip the fish over, add ½ of the leek mixture to the skillet and place in the oven to finish cooking, about 6-8 minutes.

To serve, transfer fish and onion mixture onto a platter. Top with remaining leek mixture and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Alternatively, cod can be cooked in a 400°F oven for 12-14 minutes. Make the balsamic pomegranate jam as instructed and serve over fish with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.

Classic Potato Latkes

Serves 8

Basic and perfect. These come out with the right texture, taste and size. It’s my go-to recipe.

  • 4 potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large onion
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon seltzer
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil

In the food processor with the blade, puree 2 potatoes. Change the blade to the grater, and grater the 2 remaining potatoes and the onion. Immediately transfer them to a large bowl and add the lemon juice, eggs, flour, seltzer, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well.

In a large heavy skillet, heat 1/8 inch of oil. With a tablespoon, spoon the batter into the hot oil and flatten the latkes with the back of the spoon. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes a side, turning only once, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and then serve immediately with applesauce, sour cream, or dipping sauce.

** As liquid develops in the batter, use a slotted spoon to prevent excess liquid from drowning the potato mixture.

Apple Fritters

Photo by Howsweeteats

Serves 6

Jeff Nathan, chef and owner of Abigael’s Restaurant in NYC shared this recipe with me a few years ago. They served it in the restaurant during both Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah season. It was requested all year long but they saved it for this special time. It can be made with pears, or Oreos too.

Batter:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 4 crisp apples, such as Jonathan or Golden Delicious
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, plus more for sprinkling

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup soymilk or non-dairy creamer
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt

To make the batter, whisk the flour, sugar, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, and allspice together in a large bowl. Add 2 3/4 cups of water and whisk until the batter is barely smooth. Set the batter aside to rest while heating the oil.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of crumpled paper towels.

Pour enough oil into a large, heavy saucepan to come 2 inches up the sides. Heat over high heat until the oil reaches 365°F on a deep-frying thermometer.

While the oil is heating, peel, core and cut each apple into 6 wedges. If cut too soon, the apples will darken.

Spread the confectioner’s sugar in a medium bowl. In batches without crowding, coat the apple wedges in confectioner’s sugar, and then the batter, letting the excess batter drip back into the bowl. Add to the oil and deep-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a mesh deep-frying “spider” or a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to the paper towels and keep warm in the oven while frying the rest.

For the glaze: Vigorously whisk powdered sugar, soymilk, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.

Sprinkle the apples with glaze and confectioner’s sugar and serve hot.

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