It’s been a slow summer for me. I don’t do well in the humid heat of Ra’anana. I feel sluggish, ponderous, as sticky as thick honey. All that, and a bout of pneumonia last week, has left me full of ennui and it hasn’t helped the blogging much either. I haven’t been in much of a mood to cook, or to write about cooking. Pity this hasn’t extended to my appetite, that’s been as healthy as ever, in the most unhealthy of ways.
It took my friend Abby to get me out of my funk. Well, not totally out of it, just to nudge me a bit. She’s been asking me about Rosh Hashana menus. I haven’t really thought about the holiday yet, I mean, it’s not Rosh Hashana until next year…
Last week was my high school reunion, the first time we all formally got together as a school unit in 31 years. I was a bit cautious about seeing everyone again. In my mind we were all still 17 years old. Did I want to see my old friends as middle-aged women? It turns out not a single one of us has aged a day since we all graduated back in January 1980 and set out to conquer the world.
Once upon a time, in 1970, my family spent some time in Norway. There’s not much I remember, I was 7 at the time, but what I do remember was that I got to hang with some cool cousins, I got to say Jeg ikke gjør det oppfatte (I don’t understand) a lot, and I was cold, always cold. Even in the summer.
My family of four moved in with my uncle’s family of four. Eight people in one house, two women sharing one kitchen. My mother and aunt were in each other’s pots and pans and dinnertime was always a combination of my once Lithuanian now American mother, and my once Hungarian now Norwegian aunt. We had a few weird combinations. It was in Oslo that I learned to eat hot dogs with ketchup, which I still love to this day. It was in Oslo that I learned to eat chunks of bread mixed with sour cream and sprinkled with sugar. I’ve never seen that combo before, and quite frankly, am happy to never see it again. And it was in Oslo that I had the most amazing jams, made from the most amazing berries. They have berries up there that I’ve never seen in the States or in Israel. I put jam on everything back then, except for hot dogs.
My cousin Rebecca, that sweet little bald thing up there in the picture, the cutie on the right, left the frozen fjords of Norway and now lives in the frozen hustle bustle of Sweden. I haven’t seen her in a while, but we chat on Facebook. Just today I was complaining about how hot it is here in Israel. It’s Chanuka, it’s not supposed to be hot on Chanuka. We’re supposed to be wearing sweaters, eating hot latkes, drinking hot chocolate, and instead I’m trying to stay cool in the hot sunshine while walking to work. Rebecca said she would trade places with me, she’s drinking her mug of hot tea while staring out into the brisk Swedish weather, with the temps a cozy -15 degrees C. Yes, that’s minus 15.
So I’m trying to conjure up some memories of Norway to cool me off. They say foodie memories can be very strong, so I’m making the traditional Chanuka sufganiya, otherwise known as the jelly donut. Carine Goren, my favorite dessert diva, posted her recipe for sufganiyot on Facebook this morning, and the dough is rising now, ready for a bath of hot oil and then some yummy jam. The last time we were in Ikea I picked up some Swedish lingonberry jam, and some of that spread on a slice of Rykrisp took my straight back to those white Oslo nights. I think a little lingonberry jam on my Chanuka sufganiyot is the perfect remedy for a balmy Chanuka.
Jammy Donut Holes
I very rarely make full-blown jelly donuts for Chanuka, they’re a pain to fry, I never manage to get them just right on the outside, just right on the inside, and oy, all that oil! So I make donuts holes, and we all get to dip them in whatever we like, and the filling becomes a topping.
This is Carine Goren’s recipe for sufganiyot, but she uses a whole kilo of flour to make 30 huge donuts. I’ve halved the recipe, to make lots of little holes.
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon freeze-dried yeast
- 2/3 cups milk (I use soy milk), heated to lukewarm
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Grated rind of half a lemon
- canola oil, for deep frying
- jam for filling
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Place all the ingredients except for the oil, jam and powdered sugar in the mixer fitter with a dough hook. Mix until the dough is smooth, it should feel like your earlobe, go ahead, give it a pinch.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- When the dough has doubled its bulk punch it down, knead by hand for about two minutes, and then pull off pieces and roll into balls. The size of the piece should be based on the size of the sufganiya you want. Golfball sized pieces will give you a full-size sufganiya. We like to make bite-sized donuts, so our pieces are about a third of a golfball.
- Put the balls to rise again on pieces of parchment paper. Let rise again for about 20 minutes.
- In the meantime bring the oil to a low boil in a pan. I’m not going to tell you how big of a pot and how much oil, since that should be a cooking preference. Big pots, lots of oil, lots of room for many large donuts. I use a small saucepan with about 2-3 inches of oil, and fry about 4 or 5 holes at a time.
- Carefully lower the balls into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes on each side for the big boys, 1 minute or less for the babies. Remove with a slotted spoon and let rest on some paper towels to sop up any extra oil.
- Fill with the jam and dust with the powdered sugar. Or do it Miriyummy-style, serving up the plain donut holes with the jam on the side, and dip at will.
Happy Chanuka! May your holiday be filled with light, and yummy little holes!