Mimosas without menorahs: Brunch jazzes up ho-hum Hanukkah

By Shannon Sarna

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sufganiyot: Israeli-style doughnuts with the classic American pairing. (Shannon Sarna)

Peanut Butter & Jelly Sufganiyot: Israeli-style doughnuts with the classic American pairing. (Shannon Sarna)

NEW YORK (JTA) — One of my favorite ways to celebrate Hanukkah is over brunch. Yes, it’s nontraditional — and you can’t enjoy the experience of lighting the menorah together or singing.

But it’s a great way to change up the routine, especially if you have young kids and want to work around nap and bedtime schedules.

Serve Dill Potato Latkes with Caper and Lemon Creme Fraiche and a seasonal winter Blood Orange and Goat Cheese Salad, and add tradition with sufganiyot.

Sufganiyot are much more popular in Israel, where an array of flavors is featured at bakeries beginning as early as October. In the United States, the flavors are more limited to jam and perhaps chocolate. But these round, fried donuts aren’t so difficult to make and lend themselves to any combination of flavors that you fancy.

I love peanut butter and jelly with baked goods, and so I decided to combine an Israeli-style sufganiya with the classic American pairing of PB&J. Whether it’s Hanukkah or not, donuts really are a perfect brunch food. So are the latkes when they are topped with lox.

Serve these dishes with mimosas and a strong pot of coffee. You might miss the sparkling lights of the menorah, but you won’t think twice about that applesauce or sour cream.

3 blood oranges, peel removed and cut into sections
1 naval orange, peel removed and cut into sections
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
Salt and pepper to taste


Alternate the blood orange and naval orange slices decoratively on a platter. Sprinkle chopped pecans or walnuts and goat cheese on top.

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, honey, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad and serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Can’t find creme fraiche? Substitute sour cream or Greek yogurt for an easy fix.

6 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 small onions, or 1 medium-large onion, cut into large chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1/4 to  1/2  cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
8 to 10 ounces fresh smoked salmon
1 cup creme fraiche
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped capers
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
Pinch salt

Using the shredding attachment of a food processor or a hand grater, coarsely great potatoes, onions and garlic. Place in a large bowl.

Add flour, eggs, dill, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until completely combined. Allow to sit 5 to 10 minutes. Drain excess liquid.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using your hands, make a small latke patty and squeeze out excess liquid. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on wire cooling rack placed on a baking sheet, which you can place in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Mix together the creme fraiche, capers, lemon juice, lemon zest and a pinch of salt.
Place piece of smoked salmon on each latke. Add approximately 1 teaspoon of creme fraiche mixture on top of salmon. Garnish with more dill, if desired. Makes 2 dozen latkes.

Have a peanut allergy? Swap out the peanut butter in the glaze for cashew or almond butter. Substitute the peanuts for the corresponding nuts, or exclude them completely if you prefer.

For the sufganiyot:
1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
Vegetable oil for frying

For the glaze:
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped, salted peanuts

For the filling:
1 1/2 cups raspberry jam

Combine yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and water in a small bowl. Mix gently and allow to sit until top gets foamy, around 5 to 10 minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, add flour, sugar, eggs, butter, nutmeg and salt. Add yeast mixture and mix on low for 2 minutes. Increase speed and mix another 5 minutes. You can also do this by hand with a wooden spoon, which will take slightly longer.

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a round biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut rounds. Place on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 20 minutes.

While doughnuts are rising again, whisk the milk, peanut butter, powdered sugar and chopped peanuts together to make the glaze.

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat until a thermometer reads about 370 degrees. Fry each round for 30 to 40 seconds on each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Immediately spoon peanut butter glaze over the top.

Fill a pastry bag with jam and cut tip. Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Wiggle the toothpick around a bit to open up the inside of the doughnut. Fit the pastry bag into the hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Add an extra dot of jam on top if desired. Makes 10-12 sufganiyot.

(Shannon Sarna is editor of The Nosher blog on MyJewishLearning.com.)