Hanukkah is the eight-day Jewish festival of lights. It commemorates the Maccabees’ military victory over the Greek Syrians and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to the worship of God.
As Sharon explains in her book, “After defeating the Syrian-Greek army, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem and found the Holy Temple in total disarray. When it came to lighting the menorah, which had always burned continuously, there was only enough oil for one day, but miraculously it burnt for eight, giving the Maccabees time to make more oil.
“It is, therefore, customary to eat foods fried in oil on Hanukkah to symbolise this miracle.
“We commemorate Hanukkah by lighting a hanukkiah (menorah candelabra) for eight days, lighting one candle on the first night (this year, first night falls on December 8) and increasing it to two candles the next night and so on until we are lighting 8 candles on the last night of Hanukkah.
“Children (and adults too!) enjoy playing games with the dreidel (spinning top) and receiving gifts of Hanukkah gelt (money) on this holiday.”
Crunchy pasta salad
250g gnocchi pasta (cooked as per packet instructions)
oil for frying
5-6 spring onions, chopped into 1cm pieces
250g baby tomatoes
chopped basil or flat-leaf parsley for decoration
45ml pesto sauce
80-125ml Italian salad dressing
80ml tomato pasta sauce
Once the gnocchi has boiled, wash it in cold water and drain well.
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and fry the pasta in small batches until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels or brown paper.
The fried pasta can be made up to three days in advance and stored at room temperature in an airtight container. It shouldn’t go soft, but if it does, put it into a preheated oven at 180°C for 10-12 minutes to crisp up. Then you can make an even louder crunch!
When ready to assemble, place the pasta into a serving bowl, sprinkle with the spring onions and add the tomatoes.
DRESSING: Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Just before serving, pour the dressing over the pasta, toss and serve immediately, decorated with the chopped basil or flat-leaf parsley.
1 vegetable stock cube
250ml boiling water
780g bottle grated beetroot
375ml cold water
125ml cream or non-dairy creamer
1 cucumber, finely chopped
handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional)
Dissolve the vegetable stock cube in the boiling water and set aside to cool.
Place the beetroot, with its juice, into a blender or food processor with the cooled vegetable stock, cold water and sugar. Blend until smooth.
Refrigerate until really cold. I usually make it in the morning to have in the early evening. Before serving, stir and taste again as it may need a little more sweetness. Pour into individual glasses and, just before serving, drizzle with a little cream or non-dairy creamer and sprinkle with the cucumber and coriander.
Summertime steak salad
125ml olive oil
125ml soy sauce
5ml peanut butter
30ml lime juice
60ml orange juice
30ml finely grated fresh ginger
5ml crushed fresh garlic
1 small fresh hot chilli or 15ml hot peri-peri sauce
45ml brown treacle sugar
A bunch of coriander, finely chopped
1 x 2kg fillet or 2kg Scotch fillet eye cut in half lengthwise
Combine the marinade ingredients in a food processor and pulse it a few times.
Pour over the steaks and allow to marinate for a day or two.
When ready to cook, remove the steaks from the marinate. Don’t throw away the marinade as you will need to heat it up later.
Heating it up is very important from a health point of view, because you cannot pour marinade that has been sitting with raw meat onto cooked meat.
Either fry or braai the steaks whole. They only need 8-10 minutes each side, to be pink inside.
Once cooked, remove the steaks from the heat and place into a dish. Cover and allow them to stand for about 15 minutes.
You will see that they have given off their own juices. This is like gold!
Add these juices to the marinade and bring to the boil in a saucepan on the stove. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Pour the marinade over the cooked steaks, grind some black pepper over them and slice (across the grain) into thin slithers.
Serve at room temperature on a bed of mixed lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and pine nuts.
Fish and chips
500ml self-raising flour
340ml can of beer or water
1kg skinned and filleted hake, cut into fingers
Put the flour into a bowl and add the cornflour and salt.
Add the beer and mix to form a smooth medium batter.
Add water if necessary to achieve the right consistency.
Dip the fish into the batter and fry in hot oil until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel.
Serve with home- made potato chips.
340ml kosher cider
375-420ml self-raising flour
125g dried apple rings
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
Put the cider into a mixing bowl and add enough flour to make a smooth batter. Mix in the sugar. Add the apple rings.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan and fry the the apple rings until golden brown on both sides. Drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.