December isn't all about cookie swaps, tree trimmings, and Christmas dinners; at sundown tonight, Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights, begins. You may be familiar with menorahs and dreidels, but what do you know about the celebration's food traditions? Find out when you take our quiz.Take the Quiz
A little over a year ago, we had an East-meets-West, Chinese-meets-Jewish (Chewish) wedding. For us, wedding planning served as an excuse to think through how we wanted to incorporate our cultures and identities into our marriage. We loved the idea of kicking off our married lives together with a celebration that was as fusion and "Chewish" as our household was going to be, and we carried that mission across everything from our invitations to the decor to our ketubah (marriage contract), and vows. While it wasn't easy, the end result really meant a lot to our families and friends. And we had an outrageously fun time!
Photography by Leigh Miller. Check out more images of our wedding on Doubly Happy Too.
Despite my lifelong affinity for Jewish culture and food, I'm sad to say that I have never attended a Passover Seder. After all, even the Obamas attended one this year! Assuming that one day I'll be the recipient of an invite, I look forward to eating from the ke'ara, or Passover Seder plate. I already know what most of the items symbolize! How about you?
Source: Flickr User revenante
Although Passover lasts for only a few more days, its occurrence is always a reminder (for Jews and non-observers alike) of how much Jewish culture has shaped contemporary culture and cuisine. What's the origin of dill pickles, and how did cream cheese come to be paired with salmon? Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking ($24) tackles such questions, all while offering more than 100 traditional Yiddish recipes. Learn more about it after the jump
Schmaltz is rendered fat made by cutting chicken (or goose) fat into small pieces and melting it in a pan with aromatics such as onions or apples. Known for its fragrant aroma, schmaltz is used in the same applications as butter or lard, such as sautéing, frying, or as a spread on bread. It's popular in German and Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.
Source: Flickr User thebittenword.com
"I don't get matzo brei," I recently admitted to a co-worker. "Is it skillet eggs? When do you eat it?" She likened it to scrambled eggs with texture, and explained that it's ideal for breakfast, either sweet, with juicy fruit or jam, or salty, with fresh herbs and vegetables. Now that I have a better sense of the dish, this weekend, I'm going to use matzo crackers to make two versions of matzo brei: one sweet, with Granny Smith apples, cinnamon, and preserves, and one savory, that's scrambled with bell peppers, onions, and dill. Which appeals more? Decide when you keep reading.
Passover doesn't begin until the end of the month, but it's already impossible to walk into a grocery store and not find products such as matzo crackers, matzo meal, and other items that are kosher for the holiday. But, what exactly is matzo, and why does it play such a crucial role during the Jewish celebration?
Matzo is a bland, cracker-like flatbread made of white plain flour and water. It is the substitute for bread during Passover, a holiday in which Jews refrain from eating bread, leavened products, or the five grains known as barley, spelt, rye, oats, and wheat in any processed form except dry-roasting and as matzo.
There are several different types of matzo (not all of which are kosher for Passover), and a wide variety of applications for the food product. It can be eaten simply as a cracker, used as a pasta substitute in lasagna, or ground to produce coarse or fine matzo meal, which is used to make matzo balls for soup or as a breadcrumb-like binder for kugel and other casseroles. Have you ever had matzo?
Source: Flickr User ydhsu