This holiday season brings a rare coincidence: Hanukkah starts on Thanksgiving, and pundits have been chortling about Thanksgivukkah, menurkeys and whether it’s kosher to cry “Gobble tov!”
Even Manischewitz has set up a website dubbed Thanksgivukah.com (with one “K,” not two) with recipes for Pilgrims’ Potato Kugel and dishes that call for “the official broth of Thanksgivukah.”
The two holidays have not coincided like this since 1888, and they may not do it again for another 70,000 years, so Jewish chefs and home cooks are mulling the options. Stuff the turkey with challah? Make latkes with sweet potatoes? And what about dessert?
So we turned to pastry chef and food writer Paula Shoyer, author of the new “Holiday Kosher Baker” (Sterling, $35, 288 pages), for ideas. Shoyer has riffed on holiday sweets for years, making hamantaschen in every flavor, from green tea to red velvet, for Purim, and playing with flavors for jelly-filled sufganiyot or doughnuts for Hanukkah. Her first batch of cinnamon-kissed pumpkin doughnuts emerged from the fryer several years ago, long before it had dawned on anyone that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah might ever coincide.
“It never crossed my mind that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah would be on the same day,” she said. “For culinary people, it’s very exciting.”
Shoyer gets creative with her weekly Shabbat menus, but when it comes to the big holidays, she has always been a traditionalist. Thanksgiving means roast turkey. Hanukkah is brisket, with latkes and doughnuts, the fried food an homage to the oil that burned so brightly and so long. Now she’s sharing five ways to combine the two traditional menus – without losing the pumpkin pie.• Roast the turkey. “Hanukkah is eight days. Thanksgiving is one night, and it’s the holiday that everyone in America celebrates with the same ingredients. It has this really special menu that’s deeply American. You can have brisket the next night – the next seven nights.”
• But start with latkes. “I’ve served latkes before as an hors d’oeuvre. It’s such a great appetizer, and you can put salmon on it.”
• Then make more latkes. The thing about latkes, Shoyer says, is that “there’s no such thing as leftovers,” and you can play with flavors to your heart’s content. Make them with sweet potatoes for a Thanksgiving side dish. Or try apple latkes, which work as an appetizer, side dish or dessert.
“Pull the flavors of Thanksgiving into the Jewish stuff,” she says, “or the Jewish flavors into the Thanksgiving stuff.”• Riff on the cranberry theme. Shoyer will be serving a cranberry babka this Thanksgiving and offering both her family’s favorite cranberry sauce – made with fresh and dried cranberries as well as cranberry juice – and applesauce to complement the turkey and latkes.
• Do a doughnut and do a pie. Doughnuts are a classic Hanukkah treat, and Shoyer likes to flavor hers with pumpkin, or add an apple or pecan pie-inspired filling. But, she adds, “I will still make my pumpkin pies and a chocolate-pecan pie. Otherwise everyone would rebel.”
Below is an Associated Press recipe combining the traditions of both holidays: pumpkin latkes. They are topped with cranberry-spiked sour cream, but applesauce would be just as delicious. At far right is a mashup of holiday fruits: apple-cranberry sauce.