Bling is a slang term popularized in hip hop culture, referring to flashy, ostentatious or elaborate jewelry and ornamented accessories that are carried, worn or installed. This time of year, during the holidays, we are inundated with bling.
From the holiday lights trimming buildings and trees, and all the shiny clothing and accessories that are de rigueur for holiday events to sparkly outfits for our 4-legged friends, indeed, the world is a twinkly, shiny holiday wonderland. Even the holiday foods and cocktails are glitzy and glamorous. In my kitchen at Spertus Kosher catering we are edible gold leafing and shpritzing up cocktails, cookies and anything else we can get our hands on. All that bling just makes everything so merry.
Hanukkah has its share of bling. Beautiful candelabras all lit up with the soft glow of candlelight, chocolates wrapped in silver, gold and blue foil and charming dreidels spinning can make even the most bling-resistant among us feel festive. And then there is the Latke. So much delicious promise, all golden brown with crackling onions and salty potatoes and then, disappointment when topped with boring, beige applesauce pulled out of a jar.
I love Latkes and invented a whole gala last year called LATKEPALOOZA where I adorned and embellished the latke. I had those latkes made with roasted garlic, wasabi, beets, Swiss chard and more. I reinvented the latke, but I guess I left out the bling. So, this year I am gilding the lily by creating easy, delicious and dazzling toppings.
The holiday season is festive and short. Bring out the bling by trying some of these latke toppers.
No boring applesauce here. This latke topper is brightly colored and slightly tart.
I have been making this garnet-colored applesauce for years. It is a perfect complement for the crispy latkes. When my kids were younger, I made large batches of this healthy sauce and served it for snacks.
Yields-1 ½-2 quarts applesauce
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1-cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
½ cup apple cider or juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1. Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook uncovered over medium heat until the cranberries pop. Continue cooking until the excess moisture evaporates. The applesauce may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to 2 months.
I love all things pomegranate and use my favorite pomegranate molasses to make vinaigrettes, marinades and glazes. The tart, faintly sweet flavor is the perfect foil for fresh out of the pan and slightly greasy latkes (I mean that in a good way). The addition of ginger adds a sharp citrusy, pepper note that just makes the apples burst with flavor. I top my latkes with pomegranate arils (seeds) for extra crunch and dash of bling!
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup apple juice or water
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Garnish: pomegranate arils, candied ginger
1. Cook the apples, sugar, ginger and apple juice or water, uncovered over medium heat until the apples are soft and the moisture has evaporated.
2. Stir in the pomegranate molasses, salt and lemon juice. Store the applesauce, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze up to 2 months.
Horseradish and Wasabi Salmon Schmear
When I want my latkes to be a little more dressed up, I whip up this quick topper. Smoked Salmon and crispy potatoes are a match made in culinary heaven. I kick up the schmear with horseradish and then bling out the whole thing with a wasabi pea. This latke is perfect anytime of the year and is perfect for brunch or as a hors d’oeuvre.
3 ounces Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon, chopped finely
1 medium shallot, minced finely
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (homemade or purchased)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Freshly cracked pepper
Garnish: wasabi peas, fresh dill, salmon roe, caviar, crème fraiche (for dairy preparations)
1. Combine all of the ingredients together in a food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture is combined, but still has some texture.
2. Dollop the schmear on latkes fresh out of frying pan and garnish as desired. Store the schmear, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Mixed Olive Tapenade
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
¼ cup pitted cracked green olives
1 tablespoon capers
1 clove garlic-chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
2 anchovy filets (optional)
Salt and Pepper
1. Place all of the above ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning.
This delicious Middle Eastern condiment makes a great dip, crust for fish or poultry and perfect topper for the latkes
2 red peppers-roasted
1 cup walnuts-toasted
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup pomegranate molasses
1 cup fresh bread crumbs-left over challah is perfect
1/3 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoons chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cumin seed
Salt and pepper
1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth. You may need to add more Extra Virgin olive oil to adjust the consistency.
2. Place in a container and cover the surface of the muhummarah with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. The muhummarah can be kept covered for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Corned Beef Hash
Well, why not? Corned Beef hash traditionally has potatoes in it, so why not gild the lily with a modern version of the classic deli item?
1 large red onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ounces lean corned beef, chopped
½ cup finely chopped dill pickle
1 tablespoon favorite hot sauce
1. Sauté the onion in a lightly greased pan over medium high heat until it is dark brown and caramelized. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes until the garlic has softened and is fragrant.
2. Pulse ¼ cup of the onion mixture in the food processor until it is completely chopped but with some texture remaining. Transfer the onion to a mixing bowl.
3. Add all of the remaining ingredients and fold together.