Appetite for Perfection: MasterChef-ing the art of Hanukka cooking

Happy Hanukka everyone! – First one as an official Israeli citizen and as a married man, and I’m loving it!
Our first Hannuka together as a married coupleOur first Hannuka together as a married couple
Last night I conducted a doughnut baking workshop and contest in Jerusalem for some 70 new olim (new immigrants to Israel) for Bnei Akiva. Once again I had to eat an enormous amount of doughnuts and felt pretty sick by the end. Some were actually better than the ones I ate on channel 20 from the 'top' bakeries in Israel. Thankfully. all the participants listened to me and washed their hands before they started cooking, something I was very grateful for. It's so much fun to use what has happened to me in my life for the positive. One of my favorite things in my restaurant is when a couple is dining and one of them tastes their own dish and feeds the other from it and you know you have just contributed, in a small way, to a moment in their please God beautiful relationship.
Doughnut baking workshopDoughnut baking workshop
I was also recently on Channel 20 making doughnuts (you will see the recipe later in this blog), apple latkes with sour cream and an apple caramel sauce. Thankfully they enjoyed my food again. The producers and floor crew were especially happy with the leftovers as I always try and bring five times the amount I need to ensure everyone has eaten properly. It was hard for me though to hide my cringing as they taste my food when on live TV. I wonder if I'll ever get used to people, who are veritable strangers, tasting my food. I think though I am always more worried about my Hebrew, which is about at the level of a four-year-old child's, if that. There’s no time to do ulpan though when you make aliyah and start running a business at the same time. Any tips are welcome on how to learn Hebrew in Jerusalem without having to commit to a daily ulpan spanning six-month.
Hanukka on Channel 20 Hanukka on Channel 20
Some of my family and friends have asked me recently quite an interesting question. They asked why, as I have a degree in war studies and am a rabbi. I do not use this blog to give my opinions on topical issues, specifically my views on the diabolical terrorist attacks occurring in Israel and all around the world at the moment. Even Seth Rogan and James Franco's new film has met with terrorist threats. To answer this 'on one leg', as the saying goes, I really have to introduce you to my philosophy of food in a slightly deeper level than we have discussed up until now. Don't worry, I won't do it all in one go but work it in as we continue our e-lationship.
We can start with a worldwide philosophy. It is an obvious fact that all members of humanity have to eat to survive. Therefore, however huge our differences are, we share a commonality that without which we would die. With the multicultural societies we live in, it is impossible to not share in the cultures of others. We also have to cook in order to eat. All these are obvious. But people just know these facts and live their lives. Why not take it a step further? We should have religious and secular, traditional and 'out there', people of all religions share in this most basic of needs and passions. Through my experience on MasterChef I became very close friends with Jews from all walks of life, the Palestinian winner of the show and an Indian princess (she has a palace in India). None of our differences came between us because we shared a common passion. It made me think about whether I could take that further in my life now that I have decided to go the culinary route. I am in talks at the moment with Jewish and Palestinian schools in Jerusalem to teach the kids how to cook and teach them recipes from the others' cultures. If more people just tried to focus on commonalities, in all forms of relationships, instead only on the differences, I truly believe all societies would be better.
Anyway, I hope that starts to answer the question. In short, food can impact the world, and already does, more than any man or woman sprouting his or her opinions. It's our international currency. So on that note, may I introduce you to my newly-created recipe for this blog - red velvet baked doughnuts with a cream cheese frosting.
Why did I choose these? First off, my wife loves anything sweet and cakey, but specifically misses red velvet from America. These are also a lot quicker to prepare than 'normal' doughnuts as the dough doesn't have to prove (rise) three times as these are made from more of a cake batter. It is also pretty simple - compared to the past recipes I've shared - and hopefully introduces those outside of the US to one of America’s best products. Also, without frying, these doughnuts are a lot healthier and better for your skin. They are also suited to serve in my restaurant as we don't like to fry anything there. Take a break from the norm and try them out.
130g of cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp cocoa powder
100g sugar
Add 1 tbsp white wine vinegar to 80ml milk or soy milk and then add this to the mix with an egg.
Stir in 2 tbsp of melted and cooled butter.
Mix separately:
1/2 tsp baking soda,
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla essence.
Add to the mix with 1 tsp of red food coloring or however much you need to get your desired color. Place in doughnut rings and bake at 220°C for 10 minutes. Makes about six nice sized doughnuts.
Doughnuts bakingDoughnuts baking
For the frosting:
Beat 100g cream cheese, 50g butter and 30g icing sugar until combined.
Add a further 60g icing sugar a little at a time and then 1 tsp vanilla essence and mix until fluffy. Drizzle on doughnuts or dip them in. After this you can add any sprinkles, nuts, crushed cookies etc you choose.
The final productThe final product
Tune in next time for some more fun reinventions. Remember your creativity is only limited by your imagination. Wish me luck - got the in-laws coming in from the States next week so the next blog will be something for them! My first time cooking for them!!!
Happy Hanukka!Happy Hanukka!
Print a copy of this blog post and bring it to my restaurant Soyo for a 10% discount on your next visit - 51 Emek Refa'im St, Jerusalem.