Last night, we lit eight candles on our menorah ushering in the final day of Chanukah. Our holiday dinner took place last Saturday, the first night. Instead of doing it in our Manhattan apartment as has been the case for quite a few years, I decided that we should do it at home in New Jersey. Jen and Louis took the train out, arriving in mid-afternoon. It was just the four of us because my brother and sister-in-law couldn’t make it. Jen and Louis had previously only come to the house together during the summer for barbecues when we eat on the patio or, when it gets too chilly, in the kitchen. So, Jen and I decided that we should be fancy-schmancy and eat in the dining room, especially since Louis had never done so before. I must admit that I actually can’t remember the last time the dining room was used. Probably more than ten years ago for a seder. So, it really made this Chanukah dinner feel very festive.
Right after Jen and Louis arrived at the house, the three of us popped over to Wegmans to pick up some gluten-free rolls for Louis. With several types to choose from, Louis opted for the ciabattas. For Michael, Jen, and myself, I had previously bought some Pepperidge Farms French Rolls.
Back at the house, while I finished dinner preparations, Jen and Louis played Scrabble. In addition to being a puzzle genius, Louis is a killer Scrabble player who regularly manages to form words using all his tiles thereby getting 50 extra points – and in the case of this game, twice!
Following the lighting of the first candle, the meal began, as our holiday meals always do, with my “famous” chopped salad. For the main course, instead of the traditional pot roast, I served short ribs. I did stay with tradition for the accompaniments: potato latkes with homemade applesauce and red cabbage.
Since we don’t have a traditional Chanukah dessert as we do for Passover, I decided to try a new recipe. With Louis’s gluten-free needs in mind, I searched through my copy of Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts and found a recipe for a Chocolate Mousse Torte. Although this book was published long before the current ubiquitous gluten-free wave, this torte was perfect because it not include any flour. It’s actually a three-layer affair. Some of the mousse is baked to form a cake-like “crust,” the rest of the mousse is spooned into it and is then topped with a layer of whipped cream.
We all agreed that the torte was kind of lacking in eye appeal because I had spooned on the whipped cream and smoothed it over as best I could. Piping on the whipped cream decoratively would definitely have enhanced things but, unfortunately, I’ve never learned to use a piping bag. The good news, though, is that the torte was delicious!
Jen brought some gluten-free almond cookies which she’d baked. So good that you’d never know they were gluten-free.
The 44 Chanukah candles have been used up and our menorah is now back on the shelf until next year.
You can see the entire set of photos from this dinner on my Flickr here.