Cultural Kid-Friendly Food: Top 5 Jewish Recipes for Hanukkah

For many Jewish families, Hanukkah is synonymous with home-cooking. It’s a time where our mothers toil in the kitchen to embrace their love of feeding us, and our fathers pause from work for a moment to enjoy connection with the family around the table. Food is a language of love, so it makes perfect sense to share your love of culture, cooking, and family with your children. What follows are some of our favorite recipes for a Hanukkah feast that are easy enough for kids to share in the making and tasty enough for the plates to hit the sink empty.    

1. Latkes

(Recipe From Chef Eli Sussman of Mile End, Courtesy of AM New York)

Potato pancakes known as latkes are the most well-known Hanukkah food – and a symbolic one at that. The oil these crispy flats are fried in reminds us of the rededication of the Holy Temple, where one day’s worth of oil miraculously lasted for eight days. If you’re not planning on visiting one of New York City’s best latke hotspots this month, try this recipe (from Chef Eli Sussman of the famous Mile End restaurant) with your kids at home. For a basic latke, you’ll need Idaho potatoes, white onions, eggs, Matzo Meal, vegetable oil, and a slotted fish spatula for flipping. Fancier recipes may throw in scallions, butter, and baking powder or corn starch. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, but the Chicago Tribune has an interesting take – with eight latke recipes for the eight days of Hanukkah. Different toppings include sour cream, applesauce, or smoked salmon. Freeze leftovers and reheat for 2-3 minutes at 350 in the oven. 

Get a traditional NYC latke recipe.

2. Matzo Ball Soup 

(Recipe From Joan Nathan, courtesy of NY Times Cooking)

Soup is something most kids look forward to as much as a warm scarf and hot cocoa in the winter. This recipe comes from “the Queen of American Jewish Cooking” Joan Nathan, a James Beard Foundation award-winning cookbook author and NYC culinary class instructor. You get the basic idea of eggs, schmaltz, Matzo Meal, ginger, and nutmeg, but you can exercise creativity in choosing chicken or vegetable stock, and either dill, cilantro, or parsley as a garnish. If you’re not serving the soup immediately, you can freeze the Matzo balls on a baking sheet, transfer to a freezer bag, and thaw a few hours before heating in broth to serve. 

Get a soul-warming Matzo Ball soup recipe.

3. Challah

(Recipe From Upper East Side Pastry Chef Adam Levin, courtesy of Haaretz)

Challah is a staple of the holiday table, whether it’s braided for Shabbat, served round for Jewish New Year, or however you prefer it for Hanukkah. This braided egg-washed bread is supple like brioche and full of flavor. You can eat it as a side with chopped liver pate or bake it into French Toast come morning. Check out the many variations here. We like this recipe because it gets into the nitty-gritty of technique and answers crucial questions that arise while baking – like: What kind of yeast should I use? What if I don’t have a standing mixer? Is the dough too wet? Should I add more flour? How long should the braid be? And how much honey should I add to the wash? Recipe author Adam Levin found his love of baking with his grandmother whose recipe he’s immortalized here — with a few helpful tweaks he picked up before graduating from the Culinary Institute of America at the top of his class. 

Get a detailed recipe that shares the secrets of great Challah.

4. Herb-and-Lemon Roasted Chicken

(Recipe From NYC based food writer Gail Simmons, Courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine)

Brisket is the most popular meat main course, as it’s a hearty, welcoming winter dish capable of feeding a crowd. However, many families enjoy roasted, spiced chicken as an alternate choice. This foolproof roasted chicken recipe uses a whole chicken seasoned with garlic, rosemary, thyme, and lemon zest, but you can also opt to roast chicken pieces if you prefer. More than 2,500 five-star reviewers can’t be wrong, can they? A few tricks you may find helpful: brown the chicken in a skillet for a crispy golden crust, and roast the thighs and breasts in separate dishes, so each cooks to perfect readiness. Serve the chicken over top roasted potatoes, fennel, carrots, or another root vegetable of your choice.  

Get a versatile roasted chicken recipe beloved by all.

5. Sufganiyot

(Recipe From Breads Bakery’s Uri Scheft, courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine)

Uri Scheft of Breads Bakery in Chelsea knows a thing or two about sufganiyot (pronounced soof-gone-YOT). In just one day of Hanukkah, they sell three months’ worth of the warm, ball-sized, golden, jam-filled, sugar-dusted donuts. You can use any kind of neutral oil, be it vegetable or safflower, but don’t skimp on the whole milk. You can whisk chunky jam in a food processor for pro piping. If you don’t have a piping bag, a toothpick and plastic bag with a hole cut in it will suffice. Adding orange zest and juice will ensure your recipe is bursting with fresh fruit flavor. The options for sufganiyot preserves, pastry creams, and sugar coatings are endless once you’ve gotten the basics down. Chocolate cream and cinnamon sugar is a recommended variation. 

Get your sweet, kid-favorite sufganiyot dessert recipe.

About Shine

Founded by Aaron Goldschmidt in 2004, Shine is a creative, modern child enrichment program that accepts children of all faiths and cultures. If your child loves helping in the kitchen, you’ll find more Jewish recipes for the New Year here, or you can try one of Shine’s cooking classes.  We also offer “Vitamin J,” a Jewish art and culture classes geared toward ages 5-10. We hope to see you in 2020! 

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