Chef Bernstein modernizes Hanukkah dishes

Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:20am EST
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Potato pancakes are still a staple but chef Michelle Bernstein also likes to reinterpret some of the Hanukkah dishes from her Latin-Jewish upbringing to celebrate the holiday.

In her book "The Macy's Culinary Council Thanksgiving & Holiday Cookbook," the classically-trained chef who has won praise for the Latin cuisines at her restaurants Michy's and Sra. Martinez in Miami, shares recipes from her childhood.

The Miami native spoke to Reuters about her food memories of the eight-day "festival of lights" which begins on Tuesday.

Q: What is the one stand-out Hanukkah food to you?

A: "It's the potato pancakes absolutely. They were always, always on the Hanukkah table."

Q: What other Hanukkah dishes did you grow up with?

A: "It's funny everyone thinks of fried food. A lot of time my mother makes empanadas for Hanukkah dinner, which is very untraditional. She makes some of the best fried empanadas in the world. Sometimes her fried food would be the fried empanadas. Sometimes we do the Italian fried artichokes that they do in a lot of the Jewish ghettos in Italy. Sometimes we would do a creamy polenta with a braised oxtail stew over it. Gnocchis were also another one she does for Hanukkah. "

Q: Does she make a different dish for each night of Hanukkah?   Continued...