Hanukkah begins this Friday at sundown, and to celebrate, I recommend hosting an informal yet elegant dinner. When guests arrive, offer them a drink and a buckwheat blini with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and salmon roe. It's the perfect bite to kick-start a party. For the main course, skip the traditional brisket in favor of Dijon lamb lollipops with red currant-mint dipping sauce.
Potato latkes are crispy and flavorful, and a simple mixed-green salad with kumquats rounds out the menu. To get these recipes, keep reading.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 (4-ounce) package thinly sliced smoked salmon
Fresh dill sprigs
- Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl.
- Place milk and butter in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until butter melts and thermometer registers 110°F (if mixture gets too warm, cool until temperature returns to 110°F). Pour warm milk mixture into flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Whisk buckwheat batter to deflate; then whisk in eggs. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.) Transfer to large bowl. Cover; chill (may increase in volume; rewhisk before using).
- Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Brush lightly with melted butter. Working in batches, pour 2 tablespoons batter for each blini onto griddle, spacing apart. Cook until bubbles form on top and begin to pop, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn blinis; cook until golden brown on bottom, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet. Tent with foil and place in oven to keep warm while cooking remaining blinis. (Blinis can be made 1 day ahead.) Cool, cover, and chill. Brush blinis lightly with melted butter and rewarm on baking sheet in 350°F oven 5 minutes.
- Arrange warm blinis on platter. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoon crème fraîche atop each. Top with smoked salmon. Garnish with salmon roe and dill sprigs and serve.
- Seafood, Appetizers
For the lamb:
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 racks baby lamb chops (8 ribs and about 1 1/4 pounds each), frenched
Mint sprigs, for garnish
For the red currant-mint dipping sauce
1 1/2 cups red-currant jelly
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
- Prepare the lamb: Stir together mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Brush mixture all over lamb. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag, and refrigerate at least 6 hours (or up to overnight).
- Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce: Whisk together jelly, vinegar, and the water in a medium bowl until smooth. Fold in mint. (Sauce can be refrigerated, covered, up to 6 hours before serving.)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring lamb to room temperature. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part (avoiding bone) registers 125 to 130 degrees for medium-rare, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and tent with foil. Let rest 10 minutes.
- Just before serving, cut lamb racks into individual chops. Garnish with mint sprigs. Serve with dipping sauce.
- Main Dishes, Lamb
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
4 baking potatoes (2 1/2 pounds), peeled and coarsely shredded
1 medium onion, coarsely grated
1 Granny Smith apple--peeled, cored and coarsely shredded
Canola oil, for frying
Schmaltz, for frying
Applesauce and sour cream, for serving
- In a large bowl, mix the egg with the flour, salt and white pepper. In a colander, toss the shredded potatoes with the onion and apple and squeeze dry. Add to the bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- In a large skillet, heat 1/2 cup of canola oil with 2 tablespoons of the schmaltz until shimmering. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the latke mixture into the oil about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with a fork. Fry the latkes over moderately high heat until golden on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Lower the heat to moderate, turn the latkes and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes longer. Drain the latkes on paper towels set on a rack and transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining latke mixture, adding more oil and schmaltz to the skillet as needed. Serve hot with applesauce and sour cream.
Makes about 40 two-inch latkes.
Make Ahead: The latkes can be fried early in the day and re-crisped on a baking sheet in a 350° oven.
- Side Dishes, Potato
1 small garlic clove, peeled
7 anchovy fillets
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 cups bite-size pieces hearts of romaine (2 to 3 hearts)
3 heads of Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips
3 cups (lightly packed) baby arugula
14 kumquats, thinly sliced into rounds, seeded
- For vinaigrette: With machine running, drop garlic through feed tube of processor and chop finely. Add anchovies, fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and Dijon mustard; blend well.
- Gradually add extra-virgin olive oil, blending until vinaigrette is smooth. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk before using.
- For salad: Combine romaine pieces, Belgian endive strips, baby arugula, and kumquats in large bowl. Toss salad with enough vinaigrette to coat and serve.
- Greens , Salads