Serious Entertaining: Hanukkah Dinner Party

Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

20111213-seriousentertaining-hannukah-latkeswithapplegingerchutney-post.jpg

[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

Hanukkah is a fun holiday. There are games (dreidel) with better-than-cash prizes (chocolate coins), and a free pass for indulging in fried foods.

Though a really good, freshly fried doughnut is undoubtedly a treat, my favorite Hanukkah food is and will always be the humble latke. So on this menu I serve them as the main course, with a few delicious bookends.

Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Shallots

20111213-seriousentertaining-hanukkah-cauliflowersoupwithcrispyshallots-post.jpg

This smooth cauliflower soup is an elegant way to start off the meal. Because it doesn't contain any cream, it's actually extremely light and a perfect primer for the next course, latkes, which is where people really want to gorge themselves. The crispy shallots add a nice textural contrast and an homage to the traditional fried foods.

Get the Recipe »

Latkes With Apple Ginger Chutney

I've tried all kinds of newfangled latkes (sweet potato, potato mixed with parsnip), but the traditional recipe is still my favorite. Where I will switch things up is the condiments. This Apple Ginger Chutney is a nice twist on the traditional latke accompaniment of apple sauce, using ginger and raisins to round out the fruit flavor. The chutney gets a slowly creeping heat from red pepper flakes, and the vinegar base helps cut against the heaviness of the fried food. The latkes themselves are just how I like them: crispy on the edges with a discernible sweet, oniony flavor.

Note: I always make 1.5 times the latkes I think I'll need. If (and that's a big if) there are any leftovers, I can freeze them and reheat them in the oven. Latkes for breakfast, anyone?

Get the Recipe »

Orange Olive Oil Cake with Candied Walnuts

20111213-seriousentertaining-hanukkah-orangeoliveoilcakewithcandiedwalnuts-post.jpg

This cake is dairy-free, but still supremely moist. The dough gets a nuttiness from ground walnuts and a brightness from a combination of fresh orange juice and zest. I make sure to use a fruity olive oil that will compliment the citrus flavor. To make this cake extra special for the holidays, I top it with crunchy, addictive, salty-sweet candied walnuts.

Get the Recipe »