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Cooking with Judy: New Hanukkah cookbook combines tradition and something new

"Jewish holidays are never on time, and Hanukkah is early this year. Get ready for a latkes and oil crisis!"

Hanukkah is a holiday that always seems to come either early or late, never on time. This year, the holiday is sneaking up on us, with candles set to be lit at sundown on December 7th. This means it's time to prepare for an oil crisis, but not the kind you might be thinking of. The tradition of frying foods during Hanukkah dates back to when Judah Maccabee's small flask of oil miraculously burned for eight days. This year, Temple Beth Tikvah of Fullerton is planning a Latkes and Vodkas Karaoke night on December 12th, along with other festivities such as a Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Mati on December 8th and a cookie exchange on December 13th.

For those of Eastern European Jewish heritage, including potato latkes in the holiday menu is a must. However, it's important to remember that Hanukkah is all about the oil, not just the potato. This year, why not add something new to your holiday repertoire? A recipe for Algerian Meatballs from the cookbook "Shabbat" by Adeena Sussman offers a unique twist. The meatballs are fried in olive oil, paying homage to the Hanukkah tradition, before being served in a rich, fragrantly spicy tomato sauce.

The recipe comes from Alex and Rebecca Mandel's French-Algerian mother, Roxane. Sussman shares that during a Zoom cooking session with Roxane, she was able to learn about her enchanted childhood in Algiers and hear some of her stories. However, conditions became less idyllic for Jews in Algiers by the late 1960s, and Roxane's family had to flee, leaving behind their assets in exchange for their safety.

"Shabbat" is filled with stories accompanying recipes from family, friends, local cooks, and chefs. The book offers do-ahead, approachable, and relaxed recipes that are perfect for holidays and special occasions. The author shares smart techniques and sound prep to make the cooking process as seamless as possible.

The recipe for the Algerian Meatballs involves first boiling chopped potatoes, then mashing them and combining them with turkey, onion, parsley, and a variety of spices. The sauce is made by cooking onions, adding tomato paste and tomatoes, and then simmering with cilantro, salt, cinnamon, sugar, bay leaves, and bouillon. The meatballs are then fried in oil and added to the sauce to simmer until the sauce thickens further.

As we prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, let's remember the traditions of the holiday while also embracing new and unique recipes that honor the spirit of the season.

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