5@5 - Tori Avey, "The Shiksa in the Kitchen"
December 6th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

We love you a latke, don't misunderstand - but seeing as it's the sixth night of Hanukkah, we think we need some space. It's not you, it's us.

Here to ease us into our potato-pancake separation is Tori Avey. She's the woman behind the popular blog, "The Shiksa in the Kitchen."

When Avey made collecting authentic Jewish recipes somewhat of a hobby, she earned the nickname "the shiksa in the kitchen” from her Israeli family and friends - and well, the rest is history. The word “shiksa” is a Yiddish word often used to describe a non-Jewish woman who is in a relationship with or attracted to a Jewish man. And although Avey formally converted to Judaism earlier this year, she'll tell you, "once a shiksa, always a shiksa!"

Five Hanukkah Dishes That Are Not Latkes: Tori Avey

1. Chremslach
"In the 2nd century BCE, the tyrannical Greek King of Syria outlawed Judaism and took over the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. A Jewish rebellion ensued, and against all odds the Jews reclaimed the Temple from the Greeks. The Jews had to repair and purify the Temple, but they only had one night’s supply of oil for light. Miraculously, that small amount of oil burned for eight consecutive nights. This is why we light the menorah candles during Hanukkah, and why we eat foods fried in oil.

Chremslach are a tasty way to commemorate the miracle of the menorah oil. These fried potato pancakes are somewhat similar to latkes, but they're made from mashed potatoes instead of shredded. My chremslach recipe combines mashed sweet potato, matzoh, coconut and spices to bring a touch of sweetness to the Hanukkah table."

2. Keftes
"Jews living in the Middle East and Mediterranean serve these fried vegetable fritters at the Hanukkah table. Spinach keftes are a lighter, healthier alternative to carb-heavy potato latkes. They suit Hanukkah because they're fried, but they contain heart-healthy oil, vitamins and iron. If you have a family member who is reluctant to eat green leafy vegetables, these keftes may just get them to reconsider! They'd make a tasty Hanukkah appetizer and can also be eaten as a vegetarian entrée when combined with your favorite legume."

3. Creamy noodle kugel
"Nothing says Jewish holiday like a thick slice of creamy noodle kugel. This slightly sweet dairy noodle casserole is quintessentially Jewish and well suited to Hanukkah. The custom of eating dairy foods for Hanukkah dates back to the Middle Ages, when the Book of Judith played an important role in the Hanukkah narrative.

Judith was a celebrated Jewish heroine who saved her village from an invading Assyrian army. Judith, a beautiful widow, plied the Assyrian army's general with wine and salty cheese (wine and cheese - that's my kind of heroine!). When the general passed out drunk, Judith beheaded him with his own sword. The Israelites launched a surprise attack on the leaderless Assyrian army and emerged victorious. In Judith's honor, we eat dairy foods during Hanukkah, like kugels made with cheese and sour cream."

4. Challah bread pudding
"Bread pudding is warm, cozy, and tastes like the holidays. My challah bread pudding with Kahlua cream sauce is so caloric it's sinful. But hey, it's December and holiday food temptations are everywhere. I say go with it. We can diet together in the New Year. I created this recipe to use up the extra challah bread from our Friday night Shabbat blessing. It would work equally well for Hanukkah because of the rich dairy sauce. It's a cinch to make and always a crowd pleaser."

5. Blintzes
"These thin crepe-like pancakes are stuffed with cheese and then fried to create a crispy delicacy that oozes with cheesy goodness. Blintzes are pretty easy to make, and they’re one of the most delicious things EVER (in my humble opinion). They became popular in the United States when Jewish immigrants brought them from Eastern Europe in the late 1800's. Because they are fried and contain cheese, blintzes compliment both Hanukkah narratives - the miracle of the menorah oil and Judith's dairy heroism. Two holiday stories wrapped up in one decadent dairy treat. Happy Hanukkah, indeed!"

And because we don't want latkes to feel left out:

Be sure to share your favorite tastes of Hanukkah in the comments below.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Hanukkah • Holidays • Think

soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. KEVIN

    These dishes sound like a heart attack waiting to happen. Still, I would love to try them.

    December 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  2. bribarian

    are we going to have an article on Kwanzaa?

    December 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  3. Maria

    I'm doing my best to avoid those darn Christmas cookies so I can stay skinny for the season; then I read your recipe for challah bread pudding with kahlua cream sauce and gained 20 pounds.

    December 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  4. Mohammad

    Love Kosher food all year long and buy products that has the lable. Happy Hanukkah!

    December 9, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Yahuda

      That's funny... I'm Jewish and avoid any Jewish food that is high in fat. I make my own hummus and Tehina (use it in salads). And I make uthapams (southern indian dishes) and sambar soup ;)

      December 9, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  5. imuneek

    I love how the first two recipes are for alternative types of... latkes! :D

    December 9, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  6. Marc

    Was hoping for more of a middle eastern traditional then european/eastern block traditional list.... There are so many good flavors from the middle eastern Jewish branch of the family tree.

    December 9, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  7. John

    Blintzes are for shevuot.

    December 9, 2012 at 2:40 am |
  8. A Saget

    I will pass on the fried food and take Tori home for the 8 days of Hanukkah.

    December 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  9. SWeinberg

    One can judge the quality and character of an ethnic group by its cuisine.

    December 8, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • imuneek

      So, how would you judge the character of an ethnic group that we insist on bread as a side dish to everything? :)

      December 9, 2012 at 8:22 am |
      • t3chsupport

        .... Jolly?

        December 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  10. southernwonder

    not sure how it would have made any difference whether the jews would have not fought back and be hellenized or otherwise. iin the end both these countries need the american aid to sustain themselves. the greeks don't get in our face.

    December 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Steve

      Todays greeks arent descendants of The ancient Greeks – u r dumb

      December 8, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  11. The Witty One@Truth

    Now I'm a loser at my own game :(

    December 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  12. Truth@TWO

    No, I think I will hit it as well...:)

    December 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  13. The Witty One

    I'd hit it!


    December 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  14. Persian Not Yiddish

    I prefer Persian foods over White European faire any day.

    December 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • Wastrel

      So what? This isn't about either kind of food.

      December 9, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  15. Homer J Simpson

    Its cheaper to drink at home before you go out! I have a great 401k! Heaven isnt real!

    December 7, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  16. Harriet

    Where are the recipes?

    December 7, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  17. Shante's mom

    Susie....Bravo!! I more than agree with you. I am one of those shiska's that gathered the recipes to enhance my Jewish husbands holidays. They were wonderful and we learned so much from sharing around the table. I miss him terribly and forgot the joy I felt in making Latkes, Kugle and others. I am going to make an effort to do it again. Passover was another time that was full of new food, books and good conversation. Cheers everyone! Enjoy happy and healthy holidays.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:43 am |
    • Susie

      Shante's mom, I'm so sorry for your loss, but how wonderful that you have such great memories and that the two of you spent time exploring your husband's Jewish roots and enjoying some of the traditional foods together. My husband, who also happens to be a wonderful cook, converted to Judiasm. Passover, Shabbot and Chanukah, amongst other holidays, give us a chance to talk more about the Jewish traditions and the Jewish culture-always over the traditional food that he so often lovingly prepares and with which he surprises me. It is a wonderful time and way to bond, and even if his Jewish education is still fairly basic, sharing the stories reminds me of the importance Judiasm plays in my life. I hope that one day we have the pleasure of preparing these dishes for our children and educating them about the wonderful stories and interpretations.

      By the way, have you tried looking into Jewish groups in your area? There are many great places that you can meet people also interested in sharing the holidays with someone new, and I'm sure no one would say no if you volunteered to brink some latkes or other dishes along!

      December 8, 2010 at 3:06 am |
  18. Susie

    I often think how sad it is that so many people in this country feel obliged to find a reason to complain about and criticize everything. Personally, I think it would be nice for us all to be appreciative that, in a country that is so significantly dominated by Christians and where it is rare to find any stories (in the mainstream press) about any holiday other than Christmas during the holiday season, CNN and Tori are bringing us this nice article about different ways in which one can expand their culinary celebration of Chanukah. For the average reader, Tori's story is sufficient. As far as the comments of those who consider themselves to be "informed" and "well informed", I suggest you check your facts before claiming superiority on this topic. You will find that the Hebrew School story of the oil burning is not quite what you think it is. But then again, one of the nice things about Judiasm, in my opinion, is that for every 3 Jews there are 5 opinions, and for every Jewish story or biblical excerpt there are countless interpretations, but that doesn't make the others necessarily "wrong". Just think how many of our beautiful traditions, not to mention how much of the Mishnah and Talmud and debates amongst learned Rabbis and rabbinical students over the years would have been lost if there were no room for some debate or tolerance. Instead of criticizing, let us all try to be grateful for this lovely article, and let us accept that the telling of any of the Chanukah stories, even an incomplete telling, is preferable to the usual lack of information that Chanukah is given in this country. May you all have a wonderful and miraculous celebration.

    December 7, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  19. Tanya

    If many Jews are gluten intolerant, it is because they have Blood Type O. Red meat is the best, easily digested food for this blood type.

    December 7, 2010 at 9:12 am |
    • Wastrel

      Nonsense. There is no genetic linkage between blood type and gluten intolerance.

      December 9, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  20. Tanya

    National cuisines are often unhealthy. The healthy food motto is "Toss away your frying-pan!"

    December 7, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  21. Allan

    I'll check out the recipes. But just for the record: Hanukkah is a holiday celebrating the defeat of the Greeks by the Maccabees and the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. The story of the oil lasting for eight days is a Medieval invention. It was concocted when talk about freedom and military victory was not a politically correct subject to be brought up by Jews living in the diaspora.

    December 7, 2010 at 8:36 am |
    • Informed

      @ Allen – I definitely agree with you that Hanukkah is a celebration of a military victory, and a re-dedication of the Temple, but the miracle of the Holy oil is important to the story (whether it actually happened or was later added in for whatever reason).... I was taught that the miracle occurring was a way for G-d to kind of give the Jews a pat on the back and say, "yes, standing up to the Greeks and not becoming Hellenized was the right thing to do, and I am here with you, bringing light (both literally and metaphorically) to your lives"

      December 7, 2010 at 9:05 am |
      • Sephardic Jew

        That's a nice way to think about the oil, I never thought about it that way before.

        December 8, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  22. thekoshercook

    sorry to burst your bubble.... those fried patties are called "edjeh" (edjehs for multiple)... not keftes. Traditionally speaking, keftes need to have some sort of component of meat.....

    The spinach ones are called "Spanech" or "Spinach Edjeh" ....

    Take a leaf out of this book... http://thekosherfoodies.com/

    December 7, 2010 at 8:21 am |
    • Sephardic Jew

      Sorry, thekoshercook, you are not correct about the keftes. I am Sepahrdic from Israel and we call these fried spinach pancakes keftes. Keftes do NOT usually have meat. My family makes keftes de espinaca almost the same way this article says. We don't serve them over lentils, but it's a nice idea that I might try.

      You should check your facts. If you don't believe me about the keftes, maybe wikipedia will convince you:


      December 8, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  23. Jackie


    December 7, 2010 at 5:49 am |
  24. 3rdMLNM

    The Son of David has already appeared,
    as David promised from YHWH
    with the most wonderful holy Dish of Hanukkah
    for eternal happiness and joy of the Sons and Daughters of Israel,
    herein now:


    December 7, 2010 at 4:15 am |
  25. NIta

    Don't they know many Jews are gluten intolerant? The only possible gluten free thing here are the Keftes.

    December 7, 2010 at 3:41 am |
  26. Victoria

    So glad to see that CNN decided to publish this article. I've been a big fan of the Shiksa In The Kitchen.
    She's awesome!

    December 7, 2010 at 1:57 am |
  27. Informed

    While it is nice to see someone bring attention to some other Hannukah traditions, it would also be nice if the author, who says she recently converted to Judaism, actually knew the Hannukah story. She says the miracle of Hannukah is that the oil needed for light lasted 8 nights when there was really only enough for the night... In reality, the oil was part of the sacred materials within the Temple, specifically for lighting the candelabra within the Temple. It was special oil, consecrated and holy, and that small supply was not desecrated by the Greeks like the other oil and the rest of the Holy objects in the Temple... and while the people at the Temple had to wait for new oil to be made according to the Holy Laws, that small amount of oil lasted way beyond would be expected for such a small amount... THATS the miracle...

    December 6, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • well informed

      Good point you bring out, however the author was not necessarily ignorant, but rather more focused on the article and mentioned the story as a "side note", and probably just didn't put much thought into the details of the story or at least not as much as she was putting her thoughts into the article itself. Overall I think it's a nice article, publicizing the miracle of Hanukah, and offering some nice recipes that I'm sure are really delicious.

      December 6, 2010 at 11:09 pm |
      • Informed

        I don't disagree with you, well informed. I do understand that the author is interested in the matter at hand – Hannukah recipes that aren't latkes – but I guess I just thought that a little double checking should be done when writing an article for the public. Most people, even some Jews, don't know the story of Hannukah fully, and just think its a story of a little oil burning a long time, and that we celebrate by spinning dreidel and giving gifts...when the author says the oil was for light it sort of diminishes the importance of the oil in the Holy Temple and why the miracle was so significant.... and yes, I too think the recipes sound delicious, some that I hadn't heard before and probably will try :)

        December 7, 2010 at 4:56 am |
  28. Davey

    That woman makes me sorry I broke ranks and intermarried. Where were you when I was single?
    Mmm Mmmm Good.
    I'd SO hit that.

    December 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm |
    • Snowbunny


      December 9, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  29. Isa

    There were no potatoes in Israel, or anywhere else besides the yet undiscovered New World, at the time of the Maccabees, so they certainly did not celebrate their victory with latkes. In the Sephardi tradition we make a paste of flour and water. the consistency of heavy cream, fry tablespoons of it in oil and serve the result with a honey syrup, cinnamon and crushed walnuts.
    Happy Hanukkah.

    December 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
    • Sephardic Jew

      My Ima used to make these!

      December 8, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  30. ben

    wheres the keiche, sufganiot, and bourekas?


    December 6, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  31. karen

    Cooking latke in my 6th grade classroom tomorrow. Wish I had read this first!

    December 6, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  32. jillmarie

    The keftes sound like something I'd love! I'm not a huge lentil fan, I'd probably pair it with a soup or salad.
    I tried to hunt down a recipe for latkes made with mashed potatoes instead of shredded to no avail last year- I'm thrilled to hear of chremlasch! I'd make them with regular intead of sweet potatoes.
    Both dishes I would have to bake intead of fry, though. It's interesting to learn the background behind why they fry them in oil! But I still can't bring myself to eat fried anything!

    December 6, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  33. Jim Bob

    None for diabetics.

    December 6, 2010 at 6:26 pm |
  34. Cole

    The Chremslach just made the "must make" list. They sound great and I'm always looking for an excuse to use coconut.

    The Kefte seems promising, but I don't know about serving them over lentils. The photo looks somewhat sad and I'm one of those people that need a lot going on with lentils to eat them.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  35. RichardHead@SirB

    Thank You Sir. Now let loose of Jane,get on the train and have a nice evening.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  36. Truth

    I would definitely hit that.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
    • RichardHead

      Thank you Sir. I have WD trained to remind me.

      December 6, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
    • RichardHead

      Wonder if SirB is still tied up with Jane?

      December 6, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
      • Sir Biddle via the mobile

        Signal on the train sucks you guys better time than me.

        Well played

        December 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
      • Truth@RichHead

        Literally perhaps...?
        Could be fun..x)

        December 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
      • Sir Biddle via the mobile

        Guess I missed a key comma in there. Talk to guys tomorrow.

        December 6, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  37. RichardHead

    I'd hit it/

    December 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
    • Truth@RichHead

      Nicely done bro!
      I was on the phone and did not hear my alarm remind me that it was three (mountain time)...

      December 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
      • Robyn


        December 7, 2010 at 12:33 am |
        • t3chsupport

          You've been spamming this crap for the last couple of years. Get over it! Your book is bad, and you should feel bad!

          December 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
      • Diane

        I'm offended, and terrible easy too. What kind of madman writes a cookbook about slavery? That's well, absolutely appalling. Does it have any good recommendations for orphan meat?

        December 7, 2010 at 5:00 am |
      • Carrie

        What the heck are you talking about Diane? how could you possibly interpreted that to be about slavery? You just sound like an idiot now. I thought it was funny and cute.. and not only that.. I just bought a couple copies for gifts..

        December 7, 2010 at 8:52 am |
      • katie

        Stop posting about that stupid cookbook.. like every article I go to has comments about that stupid book! Geeze I wish CNN as a 'report spam' button!

        December 7, 2010 at 10:08 am |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        Diane's easy? =D

        December 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
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