Renee Chernin of Jerusalem, Israel, formerly of Atlanta, is a multi-talented friend of ours! She is an accomplished cook, foodie and writer. In conjunction with her work on an ongoing cookbook project, she shares ideas on her website, and contributes a monthly cooking column for OU.org.
Renee told us, “My days living in the Old City of Jerusalem are incredibly full. We are happy to host many American guests for Shabbat in our home, almost every week, giving me great opportunities to try out and refine my recipes.
The best tip I can give about Hanukah is that women should plan ahead, so they can enjoy the holiday. Hanukah is a special time for women. The Greeks forbade its observance and it was restored with the Maccabee victory—a victory that was due in great part to the heroine of the Hanukah story, Yehudis. In honor of our history of dignity and heroism, many Jewish women, the world over, have the custom to sit and enjoy the candles for at least a half hour after lighting the menorah. This can be a challenge since this comes at a time when we usually have to be “on.”
That’s why planning is crucial. Plan dinners that can be prepared well ahead and warmed, while we relax and enjoy the festive evenings. I identify on thekosherchannel.com many recipes that, with a bit of pre-planning, will help you enjoy cozy Hanukah nights with friends and family. This is a time for hearty, but simple, one course meals. Entrees of Brisket, Beef Bourguignon and Garden Vegetable Chili all taste better when they are made a day or two ahead and the flavors have time to meld. The chicken recipes can be made ahead, partially, and timed to come out of the oven when you want to eat. These need only one side dish and/or a salad to make a complete meal. Latkes, Dixie Corn Dollars and Fritters can be made ahead and frozen. Keep dessert simple. End a dairy meal with store bought doughnuts and your favorite ice cream; and after any meal, who can resist an edible Cupcake Menorah centerpiece.”