For Hanukkah, Japanese Yam Latkes with Nori and Chili

Latkes-Japanese yam1I found some delightfully magenta Japanese yams while foraging for seasonal goodies in the dark woods well-lit aisles of my local Whole Foods.

Vivid on the outside, they’re crisp-white inside, and a wonderful addition to a festive tray of roast vegetables. They were just the inspiration I needed for my Asian-twist latke tradition, an annual rite which enters its 17th year (er, I started very, very young). (more…)

December 16, 2014. Tags: , , , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Jewish. 2 comments.

Happy Year of the Horse! And a tale of two grandfathers

Happy Lunar New Year!

Where I grew up, in Malaysia and Singapore, this festival (along with Hari Raya Puasa (the Muslim Eidl), Diwali and Christmas) were open-door celebrations, with neighbors and friends dropping in and out of the celebrants’ homes to wish them well and to partake of the festive goodies. They would mostly be invited, although it would be perfectly normal also to drop in unannounced (to avoid horrified looks, this helps if you know the person 😉 ).

My late Granddad’s best friend, Uncle Guan (which was actually his first name), was Peranakan Chinese. He was a descendant of late 15th and 16th century immigrants to the Indonesian islands, who adopted some of the local customs and style of dress, and developed their own hybrid of Nyonya or Baba Chinese cuisine.

He also might have been a perfect character for an Asian version of the TV drama, Big Love (albeit a more genteel,  non-violent one) .

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January 30, 2014. Tags: , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Fish, Melting Pot, Musings. 4 comments.

For Hanukkah, Leek and Scallion Latkes with Chinese Five Spices

For the longest time (okay, the past 15 years), I have made the family’s favorite cilantro-ginger-chili latkes – a Diva original – for Hanukkah and also come up with a new one each year.

This year, I take inspiration from the Chinese.

(Photo-viewing tip: To see close-ups, click on the pic, and scroll right or left with arrows)

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December 6, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Hanukkah, Jewish, Sides. 1 comment.

Honey Cake with Ginger

Well, the honey cake, or lekach, is normally ready well before Rosh Hashana, which was a week ago. But it’s not possible to be Wonder Woman every minute of every day (getting into this costume alone is hard work). Luckily, it’s never too late for cake. (more…)

September 25, 2012. Tags: , , , , , . Baked Goods, Cakes, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Jewish, Rosh Hashana. 3 comments.

What to drink over Passover

It’s hard to not love a holiday that mandates that one drinks four cups of wine over dinner. But, just in case you had a hankering for a cocktail over Passover, here’s a list of grain-free alcohols to work with. (Warning: Do not drink all at once, or together with the four cups of wine)
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April 2, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Cultural Feasts, Festive, Jewish, Passover. 2 comments.

A Day for Hamantaschen (Gezundheit!) and Ester’s story

Once upon a time in Persia, there was a beautiful Jewish girl named Ester who was brought up by her stepdad (a cousin, Mordecai). One day, stepdad-cousin Mordecai, who purportedly loved Ester dearly, thought it would be a brilliant idea to have her join the harem of the King of Persia. The king, luckily, fancied Ester and made her queen, so she wasn’t just any old sex slave but the chief one.

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March 7, 2012. Tags: , , . Baked Goods, Cookies, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Jewish, Kids, Purim. Leave a comment.

A Happy Hanukkah, with Apple Fritters and Cilantro-Ginger Latkes

It’s time to reenact the Miracle of the Oil in the Temple again, by lighting the Hanukkah candles. And (the best part, surely), we get to eat fried food for eight days running, with impunity.

Well, thighs and hips may be impugned, but with the obligatory New Year diet round the corner, the sacrifice is small, necessary, and metabolism willing, easily reversed.

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December 20, 2011. Tags: , , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Hanukkah, Hors D'oeuvres, Jewish, Savories. 5 comments.

Mesiah’s Charoset-Inspired Toffee’s a Revelation

(Published on Baristanet April 15th, 2011)

What could be sweeter than having some charoset at your Seder table made by Mesiah? Not the Messiah, but Nicky Mesiah, Montclair’s own queen of the caramelized confections, who has come up with a charoset-inspired toffee.

I cornered Miss Nicky recently and persuaded her to divulge the secrets of the Delivery of the Enslaved Toffee-Fruit Confection (to your home). (more…)

April 15, 2011. Tags: , . American, Cultural Feasts, Desserts, Easter, Festive, Jewish, Passover, Stories. Leave a comment.

Sweets for my Sweet – Marshmallows

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Warning: Mushy content.

This year, like every year since the boys were 5, both sons (now 9 and 10) came home with full lists of their classmates’ names – basically a command from their teachers that they write out noncommittal, non-anonymous Valentine’s Day notes, attach the compulsory Hershey’s kisses to them, and dispatch to all in their classroom – boy, girl or the disinterested (that’d be my offspring). (more…)

February 14, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . American, Cultural Feasts, Desserts, Festive, Passover. 4 comments.

Spicy or Sweet, it’s Time for Latkes

Every year, my kids ask, “What do latkes have to do with Hanukkah?” And every year,  I relate the story of the Miracle of the Oil in the Temple.

But faced with the eating of latkes and donuts all week, they forget the Miracle all over again. (more…)

December 1, 2010. Tags: , , , . Cultural Feasts, Festive, Hanukkah, Jewish. 1 comment.

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