Tag Archives: sweet potato

Are we ready for a Thanksgiving Seder plate?

SederPlate_Thanksgiving1_blog

As I continue to work on my Passover cookbook, I am struck by certain parallels between Passover and Thanksgiving. Just as Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday enjoyed in the United States by Americans of all backgrounds (a billion-dollar industry with thousands of cookbooks around one food holiday alone!), Passover is the most loved of all holidays in the Jewish calendar celebrated by Jews from all streams of Judaism. Like Thanksgiving, Passover takes place with family and friends of all generations sitting around a big table (or two) at home, outside of any house of worship. For Thanksgiving, turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and sweet potatoes have become the symbols of the holiday, while matzah, charoset, gefilte fish, chicken soup (with matzah balls), eggs, and either brisket or lamb have become synonymous with Passover here in the United States.

The message behind each occasion also has some striking resemblances. While there may be a bit of a debate these days about the true story behind how Thanksgiving came to be, the overall mood or feeling around this festivity has become one of inclusiveness, sharing, giving, and last but not least: gratefulness. As immigrants from all backgrounds we reflect (if only for a tiny moment between bites of sweet potato pie and savory stuffing) about being lucky to live in “America,” and for having those who are special to us around to share the meal and essentially “break bread.” It also has become a time to pause and think more locally about those of us who are poor, sick, or struggling in other ways, and as a result many volunteer their time to soup kitchens providing free Thanksgiving meals to those in need. While retelling the story of the Exodus from the Bible, we express gratefulness for our ancestors being released from slavery in Egypt, making their journey through the desert to Jerusalem, and for us surviving as a people time and time again. In my interviews of individuals from all over the world for my Passover cookbook, many have shared with me their stories of making a concerted effort to invite any Jews into their home for the Passover Seders so that they would not be alone and would have a place to eat and “break matzah” with others. (And we can’t forget about the custom of setting out a glass of wine and opening up the door for Elijah, the prophet and eternal guest.)

Some individuals and Jewish organizations have even taken up this opportunity to take aspects of the Passover Seder and weave them into their Thanksgiving meals. During these meals, mini Haggadot or prayer booklets are distributed at the table to discuss the topics of “Struggle, Freedom, and Gratitude” as a universal concept.

Maybe this is the time to create a new Seder plate for Thanksgiving,
one that would include various foods to represent the following principles:

STRUGGLE: leeks, scallions (slavery, abuse, poverty, sadness)
LUCK: head of garlic (protection against evil)
FREEDOM & SHARING: pumpkin bread (sweetness/”breaking bread” with others)
GRATEFULNESS: cranberries/cranberry sauce (sweet & sour taste representing balance)
INDIVIDUALITY & STRENGTH: multi-colored carrots (various cultures/building roots)
HOPE: pumpkin (growth)

QUESTION: What would you put on your Thanksgiving Seder plate?

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What about PASSGIVUKKAH?

SweetPotatoesThe last time that Thanksgiving and Chanukah collided it was about 125 years ago, and next week Jews from all over the United States will have a chance to celebrate what has been officially coined ThanksgivUkkah.My friends Lori and Joshua Plaut have written extensively on their blog, “A Kosher Christmas” about this phenomenon, and have even become experts on the topic. Perhaps you are all thinking: “Chanukah on Thanksgiving? I’ve heard of Chanukah being early, but this is ridiculous!” This got me to thinking. What if in another century or more Passover somehow “passed over” Thanksgiving AND Chanukah? How would we cope with this holy trinity, and more importantly, what would we serve? Well I have found the perfect recipe that embodies a little bit from each holiday:
A sweet & spicy sweet potato latke with cumin, curry, and cayenne, that is served with cranberry sauce and/or apple butter! Yes! Here is how it works for all you skeptics out there:

• Fried pancake (oil and therefore fried foods, symbolic of Chanukah)
• Sweet potatoes (traditional food for Thanksgiving)

• Cranberry sauce or relish (traditional food for Thanksgiving, while sweet-and-sour flavor also
represents bitterness of slavery with sweetness of freedom in Passover)

• Apple sauce or apple butter (resembles sweetness/mortar of Charoset for Passover)
• Cayenne, curry, and cumin (the spiciness or bitterness of slavery in Passover)

SWEET POTATO CUMIN-CURRY-CAYENNE LATKES WITH CRANBERRY RELISH
(Yield: Serves 8 to 10 / Makes About 3 ½ Dozen Three-inch Latkes)

INGREDIENTS:
For Latkes:
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated
½ cup all-purpose flour or matzah cake flour
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Dash cayenne pepper
2½ teaspoons curry powder
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water

For Frying:
½ to ¾ cup canola, coconut, or grape seed oil (for frying)

For Serving:
Cranberry sauce or relish
Apple sauce or apple butter
Greek yogurt, Middle Eastern labne, or all-American sour cream (optional)
Ground cinnamon

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour (or matzah cake flour), sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, salt and black pepper.

2. Add three eggs and water to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Add the potatoes and mix
(the batter should be moist but not runny; if too stiff, add a little more water and an extra egg.)

3. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet for about 1 to 2 minutes. Drop 1 tablespoon of the batter into the hot skillet (if the mixture does not sizzle immediately then allow the oil to get a little hotter before adding more). Continue in this manner so that you are frying 4 to 6 latkes at a time (depending upon the size of your skillet). Continue to cook over medium-high heat for several minutes until all of the latkes are a dark brown on each side. Place fried latke onto a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

4. Serve hot sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon and your choice(s) of topping on the side.

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

HAPPY PASS-GIV-UKKAH!

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