So Fraiche, So Clean
All the ways I used creme fraiche this week plus a conversation about virtual Hanukkah celebrations with the Jewish Food Society
Hanukkah starts this Thursday and I’m a mixture of excited and sad. Excited to light candles, celebrate with latkes and give and receive presents. Check out my gift guide if you’re still shopping. I’m sad to celebrate apart from family and friends (For paid subscribers, I wrote about my family’s annual Latkes & Vodkas party, which will be bigger and better than ever next year).
Celebrating holidays in difficult circumstances is old hat for Jewish people and I’m honored to partner with the Jewish Food Society this year to dive in further. On Thursday, you’ll get a Q&A with Amanda Dell, who hosts Schmaltzy, JFS’s podcast about Jewish food and identity, in your inbox. That night (December 10th), we’re going live on Instagram at 6 pm EST to talk favorite holiday dishes, celebrating the holidays remotely, and lots more. I hope you can make it and I’ll also save it as an IGTV.
Now, let’s dive in.
Something to cook:
Teal passed on a container of creme fraiche and I was stumped on how to use it. You all had great ideas on Instagram. I used it as a topping for a bowl of canned chili and most deliciously, in mashed potatoes, an idea from Hitha. I bought two potatoes, chopped them (skin on, I like the texture, but you do you) and put them in a pot with cold water. Once the water came to a boil, they were done in about 10 minutes. I drained them and returned to a hot pot before mashing with a fork while adding butter, creme fraiche, salt, and pepper. I would have added milk but we only had vanilla almond milk. They were a hit and I served them with broccoli roasted with sazón. I also bought carrots to make this recipe, which I used to make all the time in Guatemala, and accidentally ate all the carrots as a snack instead.
I thought I had nothing in the fridge on Thursday but I was wrong. I made fried rice with some wilting cabbage, a carrot, 1/2 an onion, a broccoli stalk, some kimchi, and eggs. It was so good and really stretched those ingredients.
On Friday, I made challah again (I tried to make it over Thanksgiving weekend and it was a flop). I used this recipe, with a 6 strand braid and no filling, and it was mostly a hit. The braid was pretty complicated and I’ll watch more videos before attempting it again. I also slightly burned the bottom which didn’t stop us from devouring it. There are few better breakfasts than challah with peanut butter on a Saturday morning.
Last night, I wanted to make something comforting with chickpeas and I decided to try Cookie and Kate’s chana masala (I know this is not authentic and chose it because I had the ingredients on hand). It was really good and I served it with some flatbread I had in the freezer. Simmer for longer than 10 minutes to let everything come together. Finish with a squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of chili flakes, and dollop of yogurt or creme fraiche.
Something to order:
Julia and I took a Wegman’s trip yesterday and I recommend their cheese selection. I got paneer (any favorite recipes?), manchego, and their excellent parmesan. The feta in brine is also so good. They also have good fresh stuffed pastas, like mushroom ravioli, which are super quick.
At this point in the pandemic, I still endorse ordering a pizza. Williamsburg Pizza never fails and you can order over the phone so they get all the $.
I saw an Instagram post about how many restaurants are close to closing. It’s true and now is a great time to support your favorites, particularly if you are feeling overwhelmed by cooking day after day. I’m planning to order from Lighthouse soon (their sourdough is incredible and just $8 a loaf and I love their burrata) and continue to get breakfast from 19 Cafe at least once a week. Order directly.
If you’re in Brooklyn, check out this bake sale organized by Nikita Richardson to flip the senate. Orders open on December 10th and pick up is next weekend at the Fly.
Something to read:
I love this Tiktok about the history of latkes, which I’m excited to make this week and next.
The best holiday cookie packages from various food publications (I really liked the Kitchn’s)
Japan has so many companies that have been around for over 100 years.
I hate Christmas but I love these cookies
How Navneet Alang and his Sikh family celebrate Christmas
Telephone style cookbook recommendations
As the pandemic reveals gaps in our safety net, you can’t look away
How Ina Garten celebrated Thanksgiving in quarantine
‘Inedible’ and ‘Inadequate’ Food Is Being Served to People Incarcerated in Massachusetts Prisons
I’m really enjoying the new publication Currant (check out their newsletter and an interview with Mayukh Sen)
I think I need these hot sauce earrings (thanks Zoe for finding them)
Learning to cook pasta with Rachel Roddy
Junk food was our love language
This package saying goodbye to over 500 New York businesses that closed this year is an emotional wallop. It’s going to take us so long to process the loss and trauma of this pandemic.
Now let’s talk about indoor activities. If you are also watching Gossip Girl, it’s leaving Netflix at the end of the month, so adjust your schedule accordingly.
Hitha knows how to make the most of indoor time: My favorite indoor activities are needlepointing while listening to an audiobook, reading a brain candy novel cover-to-cover, working on a jigsaw puzzle with terrible reality television in the background, and making all the cozy foods like pot pie, queso, and pasta bakes. And SLEEP.
Madison has some great activities that don’t involve scrolling Instagram: My current ones include: puzzles (learning about puzzle mats during the pandemic has been a GAME CHANGER for someone who lives in a tiny apartment), books (just finished Transcendent Kingdom and love both of Yaa Gyasi's books!), and more recently, the Procreate app on my Ipad ($9.99 for endlessly entertaining doodling potential)
Julianne is so close the end of finals! You’ve got this babe: My current indoor activities (during a quarantine) include, in no particular order: studying for finals...and that's it these days
Here’s a preview of the rest of year! I’m taking the last week of the year off and will publish our annual best meals of 2020 list on December 21st (here’s last year’s). You can submit your favorite meals of the year anytime before then by replying to this email (feel free to include pictures). They can be home cooked or from a restaurant, though this year will be mostly home cooked, I suspect.
And I hope to see you on Thursday on Instagram live at 6 pm for our Hanukkah conversation with Amanda Dell from the Jewish Food Society. I’m really looking forward to it.