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Latkes–The Light of the Hanukkah Kitchen, Recipes Included

Hanukkah is once again upon us and I am dusting off the giant frying pan I use just once a year. shari and jane2 I know many people prefer to buy already cooked latkes to avoid the mess and lingering smell, but once or twice a year, I find it very gratifying to make them and it makes Hanukkah a bit more special. (For those of you who prefer to buy, Challah Connection latkes are as close to homemade as you can get and we deliver them all over the country.)

If you are like me–a homemade latke person–then listen up as I have some terrific recipes to share with you. I picked the brains of some fellow kosher food bloggers and got some impressive spins (not related to the dreidel spinning) on the classic latke. Of course the classic latke is still terrific and you can click here for our recipe.

Amy Kritzer writes the blog “What Jew Wanna Eat” which features Jewish food recipes, each with a dash of her own creative flair. In that vein, Amy has created Latke Nachos with Homemade Queso for those of us who want some Mexican flavor with our latkes. Latkes Nachos from "What Jew Wanna Eat" I love the idea of cheese and black beans and will definitely be trying these.

AMY’S RECIPE
Latkes Nachos with Homemade Queso

Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
20 mins
Total time
40 mins

“Nacho” average latkes! These are Latkes Nachos!
Author: Amy Kritzer
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Hanukkah
Serves: 2
Ingredients

For queso:
1 tablespoon butter or oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup plain yogurt (such as Noosa), at room temperature
¼ cup cream cheese (full-fat), at room temperature
¾ cup Monterey Jack cheese, finely shredded, at room temperature (this helps melting)
¾ cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded, at room temperature
1 diced chipotle in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
Salt to taste
For latkes:
1½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and shredded (about 4 cups) into a bowl of water.
2 tablespoons onion, small diced
3 eggs, whisked
2 cloves garlic, minced
CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE RECIPE

SPINACH AND ZUCCHINI LATKES via Kosher Like Me

Fellow Kosher Foodie Liz Rueven also fills her blog Kosher Like Me, with mouthwatering kosher recipes. Her premise is an interesting one and not-so-uncommon: Keeping kosher at home is easy but when venturing out in the world, finding high quality and interesting kosher food becomes a challenge. So Liz, like many, eats vegetarian when she is out and her blog features restaurants she likes along with recipes from the many chefs she meets.

Marcia Selden's Spinach & Zucchini Latkes--Kosher Like MeLiz features a few latke recipes but my favorite are the Spinach and Zucchini, by Marcia Selden Catering.

These veggie packed latkes are more green than potato and are deliciously savory. Enjoy them with sour cream topping, below, if you want to go dairy.

These latkes are NON-DAIRY (pareve)

Ingredients

2 C. blanched and chopped fresh baby spinach
2 C. zucchini
1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes peeled
1 large onion
2 large eggs
½ C. matzo meal
2 Tbs. thinly sliced garlic
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ Tbs. Kosher salt
Canola oil

Instructions

Grate the potatoes, zucchini and onion in food processor.
Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place the grated mixture in a bowl and add the spinach, egg, matzo meal, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well.
In large, non-stick skillet, heat enough oil to cover bottom of the pan on medium high heat.
Spoon the batter (about 2 Tbs. per latke) into pan, being careful not to crowd the latkes.
Cook until crisp and brown on one side, then turn and fry on other side. Keep finished pancakes warm in oven until all pancakes are fried.
Drain on paper towels and keep warm on a wire rack in the oven on low heat. Serve with herbed sour cream.

Herbed Sour Cream

Ingredients

1 C. sour cream
2 Tbs. each-chopped flat-leaf parsley, chives, fresh dill
1 Tbs. lemon juice, plus 1 tsp. finely grated lemon peel
Kosher salt and pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Now that you are inspired to cook the best latkes ever, you will want to present them to family and guests on a platter worthy of your effort. We love our Lights of Hanukkah platter , which of course, you can buy at Challah Connection.

Happy Hanukkah!

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Check out the GobbleTov Video and Learn Why Thanksgiving is a Jewish Holiday

Click on GobbleTov to see the video!

Challah Connection's GobbleTov Video--Don't Miss It!

Challah Connection’s GobbleTov Video–Don’t Miss It!

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Corporate Gift Giving for Jewish Colleagues: Do’s and Don’ts

When you are sending corporate holiday gifts to Jewish clients, customers, employees, coworkers or even your Jewish boss, there are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

DON’T

Personal items are not appropriate for corporate gift giving, Challah Connection-Send anything that is too personal. A kosher food gift basket is the optimal gift for holidays including Hanukkah.

-Don’t send alcohol unless you know for a fact that the recipient drinks alcohol and there is no company rule against alcohol gifts.

-Review your company gift giving policy as well as the company policy of the recipient. There are often dollar and content restrictions on both sides.

-Don’t send different gifts to different people within the same office. You do not want to create tensions or questions as to why one person got “X” while another got “Y.”

 

DO

Sweet Sentiments Holiday Basket, Challah Connection-Send a kosher basket that is large enough to feed the entire office.

-Send a kosher gift basket that every can eat. There are many food allergies that need to be considered—gluten free, nut free, sugar free. Do your research before selecting a gift to determine whether you need to address these.

-If you are sending to someone that is Muslim, a kosher gift basket will often be acceptable.

-If you have determined that alcohol is appropriate, wine from Israel is a special gesture (do not send alcohol to anyone who is Muslim—this is strictly forbidden).

California Dried Fruit and Nut Crate, Challah Connection-Send your gifts from a company that has a deep understanding of kosher food rules. You can determine if they do by asking a few questions such as: “What is your kosher certification?” or “What is the certification of Product XYZ?” If they need to ask many other people (and put you on hold for a long time), the company is not well versed in kosher/Jewish gift giving. The right company should also have a wide array of kosher gifts, not just 2 or 3. It is preferable to select a company where their entire shop is kosher (challahconnection and koshergiftbox are 100% certified kosher). Finally, the selected company should have experience with corporate orders and is willing to resolve any product or delivery issues that may arise.

-Be sure to include a gift message with your gift. Common corporate messages are “Happy Holidays, Wishing you a happy and prosperous 201X” or Happy Holidays, We appreciate your business and look forward to our continued relationship in 201X.” NOTE: Happy Holidays encompasses all December holidays without offending anyone. However, if you know that your recipients celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, you can alter the introduction accordingly ie Happy Hanukkah or Merry Christmas.Rugelach Gift Tin, Challah Connection

Above are some of Challah Connection’s most popular kosher corporate holiday gifts.

 

Jane Moritz is Owner and Chief Maven Officer of Challah Connection and Kosher Gift Box, the premiere online purveyors of traditional kosher gifts for Jewish holidays, shiva, Jewish birthday celebrations and all Jewish gift giving occasions. Her companies have been “Creating Kvells Since 2002.” www.challahconnection.com

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Challah Connection—A Challah-va Story

I’m often asked how Challah Connection got started. Let me begin with some personal history.

I grew up in a Jewish home where all the holidays were celebrated and my mom cooked delicious Jewish foods. I was surrounded by the flavors of tradition, from tender brisket to fluffy matzo balls to luscious homemade challah. Shortly after my first son was born, I decided to bring the tradition of challah baking into my own home and quickly became hooked on baking challah every Friday. As my kids got older, they would bring their friends to our house on Friday afternoons to watch me bake and to enjoy the aromas and tastes of fresh challah. This was when I really began to experience the power of challah—a flavorful, traditional treat that touches the soul and brings people together no matter what their backgrounds. I saw how challah really does make a connection.

Jane Moritz, Challah Connection owner, with her homemade challah

About this time, I realized that my advertising and direct marketing career wasn’t as exciting for me as it had once been. I was looking for something new and, with my passion for challah baking in mind, I explored baking-related projects and even took a production baking class which was great fun. This class showed me that I LOVED the food business and wanted to make feeding people my next career. Serendipitously, I heard about a company called Challah Connection, a local challah delivery service in Fairfield County, CT. The owner was looking to sell and I was hungry for a new opportunity.

In 2002, I purchased this little golden nugget (shall I say crumb?) of a business intending to stick to its original model of local, weekly challah delivery. But a feature on our company in The New York Times changed all that. We were happily inundated with inquiries that were mostly requests for gift baskets. I had never thought of expanding in that direction but we listened to our customers and the rest, as they say, is history.

Starting with kosher baskets to send as shiva and sympathy gifts, and then expanding into theme baskets for Jewish holidays—Purim, Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashana, Sukkot and Hanukkah, and more—we have learned that our customers rely on us as their primary source for Jewish gift giving and kosher gift baskets. They appreciate our explanations of the meanings and symbols behind the foods and our deep knowledge of Jewish traditions.

Now, almost 13 years later, we own the niche of kosher gift giving, offering the largest assortment of kosher gift baskets anywhere and competing with the major gift basket companies. We are proud to be the leading source for Jewish gifts and to share cherished—and delicious—Jewish traditions. And who knows…maybe one day, one of my three sons will leading our mission and I’ll be home baking challah for my grandchildren.

 
Jane Moritz is Owner and Chief Maven Officer of Challah Connection and Kosher Gift Box, the premiere online purveyors of traditional kosher gifts for Jewish holidays, shiva, Jewish birthday celebrations and all Jewish gift giving occasions. Her companies have been “Creating Kvells Since 2002.” www.challahconnection.com

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My Gluten Free Saga

I don’t have to tell you that Gluten Free eating has become extremely common—it’s everywhere! Much to my own surprise, I switched to a gluten free diet last year after I was diagnosed with an illness for which I had no symptoms. Rather then go on medication as my doctor prescribed, I met with a naturopath who put me on a gluten free diet. Since I’ve been eating gluten free, along with dairy free and (mostly) sugar free, I feel great and I have definitely noticed improvements in a few areas.

gluten free challah, challah connectionHowever, as a baker and lover of baked goods, this transition has been a test in fortitude! I bake challah every Friday and since I have yet to find a gluten free challah recipe that looks remotely appealing, I bake full-flour challah for my family and watch them enjoy it. It’s the same for cookies, cakes, rugelach—I love them all but haven’t had any in over a year! When I tell you that the biggest treat I have had over the last year is a Larabar (peanut butter chocolate chip my favorite), I am not exaggerating. I have one just about every day. But recently, my GF “treat” situation changed for the better.

Recently, I was shopping at a farmers market on the Upper West Side of New York when much to my excitement, I found a vendor with gorgeous Gluten free rugelach, Challah Connectionchallah and rugelach (shown above and right)—gluten free and kosher! I bought a bag of the rugelach, gave my business card to the shopkeeper and went home to “taste” the rugelach. I thought I would have 1 piece but then I had another and soon I had convinced myself that 5 was really fine since I had been deprived for a year and a half.

Long story short, we are now carrying this line of gluten free baked goods. They are from Las Delicias of the Bronx, and we are thrilled. The challah is outstanding as well as the rugelach, cookies and brownies. Recently, the owner of the bakery Debbie Brenner, visited us with armloads of samples and to tell her “gluten free story,” which of course was fascinating.

If you or someone you know eats a gluten free diet and enjoys Jewish baked goods including challah (pictured above)—truly braided and not using a mold—please send to challahconnection. You will be doing a mitzvah! With all of these samples here, I could use some help.

Debbie Brenner, Owner, Las Delicias and Ann Delaurentis, Director, Customer Service, Challah Connection

Debbie Brenner, Owner, Las Delicias and Ann Delaurentis, Director, Customer Service, Challah Connection

Written by Jane Moritz (jane@challahconnection.com), Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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Shabbas Project and Challah Baking Pictures

This past weekend was the worldwide event, Shabbos Project. People all over the world celebrated Shabbat as one gigantic Jewish community. One of my favorite Shabbos Project activities was the Challah Bake I attended, along with my husband Josh and sister, Steph, at the Chabad of Stamford, CT. Both Josh and Steph were first time challah bakers.

I love group activities and baking challah as a group is such a warm and delightful pleasure. Our large group (50-75? people) was led by the Leah Shemtov who was so enthusastic, helpful and patient. I was so pleased how our challah turned out and even more happy that my husband really enjoyed the event and proud of his challah! My sister Steph, was equally encouraged and says that she looks forward to more challah baking. Great to have more family challah bakers! If they can bake challah, so can you. Here is a my favorite recipe. Enjoy the photos!

challah connection challah baking

Leah and the tables all set for the challah bakers


Jane Moritz of Challah Connection and Leah Shemtov of Chabad baking challah for Shabbos Project, 2014

Jane Moritz of Challah Connection and Leah Shemtov of Chabad baking challah for Shabbos Project, 2014


Josh Moritz braiding his challah dough. Why don't more men bake challah?

Josh Moritz braiding his challah dough. Why don’t more men bake challah?


Jane’s sister, Steph Mark, showing off her skills

Jane’s sister, Steph Mark, showing off her skills


Jane Moritz, Josh Moritz, Challah

Jane and Josh’s challahs–they were delicious!

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Please Don’t Send Flowers for a Jewish Death or Shiva

I was saddened to hear of the passing of a friend’s mother. My friend is Jewish and since my company Challah Connection is a leader in Jewish gift giving, I am highly attuned to the specifics included in obituaries and emails regarding death and shiva. So, I was reminded again, that so many Jewish people are not aware of shiva traditions. Let me please remind you–Jewish and non-Jewish friends of perhaps the most important Jewish shiva tradition.

The leading tradition is that it is not appropriate to send or give flowers for a Jewish death.

I made the mistake myself when I was trying to “do the right thing” in my mid-twenties. Who knows about such things at that age? I still feel embarrassed that I sent flowers to a religious relative who lost his mother.

Why don’t we give flowers for shiva or a Jewish death? In Judaism, we grieve for 7 days with the company of family and friends (shiva means 7 in Hebrew). There are specific traditions regarding appropriate dress, behavior and more during shiva, which you can read here. However, during shiva, we are meant to truly grieve and not to be distracted by pleasure or beauty that is found in objects such as flowers. But don’t despair, if you want to send a gift, a shiva gift is completely appropriate and appreciated. Shiva gifts are Sympathy Comfort Basket, Challah Connectionkosher gift baskets filled with baked goods such as babka, rugelach, cookies and other treats such as nuts, fruit and candy. The purpose of a shiva gift is to provide food and nourishment for the grievers as well as to provide food for the guests so that the family doesn’t need to worry about providing food.

There is a lot more I can teach you about shiva and am happy to help if you have any questions. Please email me at jane@challahconnection.com. You can also find other helpful information here, on our SHIVA FAQ page. My hope for today is that you won’t send any more flowers for shiva but rather, a shiva basket. Of course, the very best place to order your shiva gift is Challah Connection. Without bias, we have the largest array of shiva gifts available and have a deep knowledge of this important Jewish tradition.

Written by Jane Moritz (jane@challahconnection.com), Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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Did You Know: Thanksgiving is a Jewish Holiday?

challah collection, challah connection

There is one common theme that runs through every Jewish holiday and that is family (mishpacha) gathering together to share home cooked holiday foods. By that definition, Thanksgiving is hands down a Jewish holiday. We exchange brisket, roasted chicken and potato kugel for turkey, stuffing (best made with challah—see recipe) and mashed potatoes (or
sweet potato latkes!). Thanksgiving also has a key aspect in common with Passover—the need to recline after the “festive meal.” One might actually say that the Thanksgiving meal and a Passover Seder or Rosh Hashana meal have a lot in common: holiday food, Jewish ritual, family and lots of kosher desserts.

However, unique to Thanksgiving is that the holiday weekend lasts 4-5 days. What to serve your weekend guests? For the weekend mornings, there is nothing better than challah Thanksgiving Orange and Black Cookies, Challah ConnectionFrench toast or bagels and lox for your houseguests. Or, if you are going to friends or family for Thanksgiving, don’t forget to bring a hostess gift such as our pomegranate trivet from Israel or a kosher gift basket filled with challah, babka, rugelach and Thanksgiving orange and white cookies!

Thanksgiving is November 27 and if you are sending our kosher gifts and challah to friends and family far away, don’t forget to place your order soon!

Written by Jane Moritz (jane@challahconnection.com), Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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Hanukkah 2014 Facts and Traditions

When is Chanukah? Hanukkah starts at sunset on December 16 and lasts until December 24. First candle is lit on December 16 and the last candle on December 23. (See below about candelighting.)

What is Hanukkah? Also called the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication by the Jewish Maccabees of the holy Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E. During the rededication, they lit the menorah with the oil that was left. When the oil lasted for 8 nights rather than the one that was presumed, it was considered a miracle and is why we now call Hanukkah the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah Pure Essentials, Challah Connection
How is Hanukkah celebrated? Hanukkah is not a religious holiday and is considered to be a rather minor one in religious spheres. However, in America, where the bulk of the world’s Jews live, Chanukah has become a significant event with celebratory traditions and gift giving.

Hanukkah Traditions:

Eating Fried Foods: Like all other Jewish holidays, there are important food traditions and for Hanukkah the tradition is to eat foods fried in oil. Potato latkes are the most popular Hanukkah food while donuts (usually jelly), called Sufganiyot in Hebrew, are also popular.

Holiday Potato Latkes, Challah Connection

Lighting the Menorah: The menorah is a 9-branched candelabra. There is a branch and holder for each of the eight candles and one for the Shamash—the candle used to light the others. The menorah is also called a Hanukiyah.

Colorful Aluminum Menorah, Challah Connection

Playing Dreidel at Hanukkah Parties: The dreidel is a 4-sided top with Hebrew letters on each side. There is a special dreidel game that is played and the winners eat Hanukkah gelt—foil wrapped chocolate coins. Dreidel is played at Hanukkah parties or at the nightly Menorah-lighting.

Sharing Gifts: Hanukkah is the largest Jewish gift giving holiday of the year. Typically, families have their own traditions of sharing Hanukkah gifts typically either every night for eight nights or just one.

In America, corporate gift giving at holiday time is standard practice. Giving gift baskets and other food gifts to colleagues and clients for
Jeweled Dreidel, Challah Connection
Christmas or December holidays is well accepted as is gift giving to Jewish colleagues and clients. For Jewish clients, kosher gift baskets are recommended to ensure that everyone in the office can enjoy it. Challah Connection has an impressive assortment of kosher Hanukkah baskets and Hanukkah food specialties that are appropriate for family, friends and business colleagues.

How to spell Hanukkah? There are several acceptable spellings: Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanukah, Chanuka

Happy Hanukkah!!

 

 

Written by Jane Moritz (jane@challahconnection.com), Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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It’s Jewish Birthday Time!

A Jewish friend or family member is celebrating a birthday, a Jewish birthday. What to give them? Judaism is chock-full of beautiful and delicious traditions that translate into truly meaningful Jewish birthday gifts. In addition to the religious aspects of Judaism, there are many cultural traditions that are reflected in Jewish food, Jewish books, Jewish music, Jewish art, Jewish jewelry and more. These make cherished gifts for a Jewish person celebrating a birthday—a Jewish birthday!

At Challah Connection, we have many customers who shop with us for Jewish birthday gifts. Some Jewish birthday gifts are for “big” birthdays; 40, 50, 60, 70 80, 90 or even 100! But some are for “regular” birthdays. Regardless, a Jewish birthday gift is always one that is full of meaning.

Kosher Bakery Classics Care Package

Kosher Bakery Classics Care Package

Generally speaking, our Jewish food gifts are our most popular Jewish birthday gifts and are often combined with a book, Jewish art piece or other. For example, a great gift is our Kosher Bakery Classics Care Package—challah, babka, rugelach and black and whites– and the book Great Jewish Men or Great Jewish Women. Kosher deli baskets such as a basket filled with lox and bagels or kosher salami are also very popular. Bagels of course being associated as “Jewish” (although who DOESN’T love a good bagel?”) Jewish books such as “Great Jewish Men” or “Great Jewish Women,” “How to Raise a Jewish Dog” also make terrific gifts. These books are particularly appreciated for those with a strong sense of Jewish pride. Jewish Jewelry is also a popular gift, including necklaces and bracelets adorned with Jewish symbols such as Star of David, hamsa, menorah and more. Jewish art such as beautiful “Shalom” wall hanging or wall hamsa (protective hand said to ward off evil) make meaningful gifts for one’s home or office. The game of Mah Jongg is very popular among women and we have some terrific Maj Jongg gifts that are very popular.

Kosher Deli Deluxe Basket

Kosher Deli Deluxe Basket

When you give a Jewish friend or family member a Jewish birthday gift you are honoring their heritage and showing your support of who they are. Whether for a “big” birthday or not, a Jewish birthday gift is always appreciated.

Written by Jane Moritz, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

 

 

 

Written by Jane Moritz (jane@challahconnection.com), Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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