Visit us At 5th and Market Streets on Independence Mall

Museum Musings

A Whole Lotta Latkes

 Permanent link
No Thanksgiving table would be complete without sweet potatoes. And latkes (potato pancakes) are key to a successful Hanukkah dinner in our home. So this year, in honor of Thanksgivukkah, I am making Sweet Potato Latkes!

Why are sweet potatoes so important to Thanksgiving? It is probably because they are at their prime this time of year. The beta-carotene rich tubers are full of sugars that haven’t converted to starches yet. And sweet potatoes match the fall leaves perfectly, bringing some of the amazing color from changing of seasons onto your table. They are one symbol of a successful harvest, and something for which to be thankful.

You may already know the symbolism of latkes, but for those of you who don’t know, I encourage you to read this wonderful explanation from the New York Times circa 1982.
The miracle symbolized by the oil in which they are fried, as well as their delicious taste, are two more things for which to be thankful.

There are many recipes for Sweet Potato Latkes out there, but this one finishes with time in the oven, which allows the carbohydrates in the sweet potato to caramelize, adding a nice crunch to the edges and softening the centers into yummy goodness.

Sweet Potato Latkas

Peel and grate about 3 cups of sweet potato. Latkas in bowl
Add ¼ cup matzo meal, two eggs, and 1 tsp kosher salt. Mix well.
Preheat oven to 350.
Form into circles about ½ inch thick and 3 inches wide.
Drop into oil ( ¼ to ½ inch deep) that has been heated to around 375 degrees (hot enough to make a single shred of the mix dance around). I can usually fit 3-5 into the oil at a time.
Cook 2 min on each side, to a nice golden brown.
Place on cookie sheet and put into oven.
Continue frying the rest of the mixture in batches, adding to your cookie sheet.
When the last bunch goes onto the cookie sheet, I usually bake for 5 more minutes.

latkas cooking
Enjoy with applesauce or sour cream as you wish! Do you have any wonderful latke recipes, sweet potato or not, that you’d like to share? If so, please do so here!


By Ebony Goldsmith, Marketing and Communications Assistant 

The oil lasted 8 days. The donuts, not so much.

 Permanent link
As I was writing my first ever Thanksgivukkah menu, I realized that I was sorely lacking in the dessert category. In years past, our family has always picked up fresh sufganiyot* from our local kosher bakery in New York City. The tender yeast based puffs of dough were best eaten while still hot, the warm jelly (though cream filled was always my favorite) running down our forearms as we walked home with a box that would be empty by morning. But since we’ve moved to Philly 18 months ago I haven’t yet found any bakeries that will let you buy hot sufganiyot after 7 pm, which is prime donut eating time in our home.

I decided the tradition of eating hot donuts after dark was one that my family would continue on our own, late-night bakery or not. So last year I used my favorite sweet dough recipe with a few tweaks and filled the centers with strawberry jam. I quickly realized why I had been paying $4 per donut at that late-night bakery. Fresh donuts are a ton of work and you end up with a kitchen that looks like your kid is a local sheriff, with jelly in his squirt gun, using flour to dust for prints. But it was all worth it. Almost. Until I realized that I needed parve donuts to serve to friends after dinner.

This definitely threw a wrench in my planning. I thought I would take a look at the ingredients of my “instant” biscuits to get some ideas of how to make my usually dairy dough without all that dairy. Then it hit me: why not just use the biscuit dough?

The results for either recipe below are pretty darn good. I prefer the dairy version and will be serving them for breakfast Thanksgiving morning. The pumpkin addition seemed like an obvious one, but could be swapped for jelly after this once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Let us know which ones you end up making and how they turn out!


Parve Pumpkin Cream Sufganiyot
Makes about 20 donuts

For the donuts
2 cans parve ready to bake biscuits (in the dairy section)
Sugar for coating
2 qts Vegetable Oil

For the filling
1 12 oz. can pumpkin
1 12 oz. tub non-dairy whipped topping
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. each nutmeg and cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat oil in heavy pan over medium heat to 350°, or until a drop of dough floats when dropped in frying
Flatten biscuits to be approx.. 3 inches in diameter
Drop in 2-3 biscuits to hot oil and fry until golden brown on bottom, then flip, and fry until the other side is also golden. About 90 seconds per side.
Remove from oil and put into bowl of sugar, toss to coat. Set aside and allow to cool.
Repeat until all donuts are cooked.

In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, brown sugar and spices until thoroughly incorporated. Fold in whipped topping. Add vanilla and stir 10 more times.

To fill cooled donuts: Snip a corner from a zip-top bag and put in a piping tip. Fill bag with pumpkin cream. Using a small knife, stab each donut horizontally to make an opening just large enough for the piping tip to fit in. Hold the donut with one hand and place the tip into the opening and squeeze the bag with the other hand. Each donut should hold about 2 tablespoons of filling.

Dairy Pumpkin Cream Sufganiyot
Makes about 35 donuts

For the donuts
1 cup whole milk
1 package of yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 egg yolk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3 c flour
Another ¼ c sugar

Sugar for coating
2 qts Vegetable Oil

For the filling
1 12 oz. can pumpkin
1 12 oz container whipping cream
½ c powdered sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. each nutmeg and cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla

In a small bowl, heat the milk in the microwave 30 seconds. You want it to be just hot enough that you can feel the heat when you put your pinky in, but not too hot, about 105° to 110°. Add the teaspoon of sugar and stir. Sprinkle the yeast in and set aside. Do not stir. Wait about 5 minutes.

In a big bowl, sift in the flour and the rest of the sugar. Make a volcano shape (a mountain with a crater in the top).

Back to the small bowl, mix in the egg and melted butter to the yeast/milk.

Now pour the contents of the small bowl into the crater in your volcano. Use a wooden spoon and mix until there is no loose flour, about 3 minutes. The dough should be very sticky. Pour out onto a floured board and knead about 3 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the board. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Form into a ball.

Rinse and dry your large bowl, then coat the inside with butter. Coat your hands with butter and smooth over your ball of dough, then place it into the buttered bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place. Let rise 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.

Punch down the now enormous pillow of dough and knead again for 1 min. Roll dough to approx. ½ inch thick and cut our 3 inch circles. I use a drinking glass to do this. Place the circles onto a cookie sheet and cover again with plastic wrap (this keeps the dough from getting crusty) and allow to rise again, this time for 45 min.

While you wait, place a mixing bowl into the freezer to prep for whipping the cream.

Follow the same directions as above to cook and prep for filling.

punkincreamUsing the bowl from the freezer, whip the cream for 5 minutes, or until soft peaks form. Sift in powdered sugar and continue to whip just until you have stiff peaks, about 3 more minutes. (Be careful not to over whip, or you will end up with sweet butter.)

Mix remaining ingredients, then fold in whipped cream.

Use directions above to fill donuts.


By Ebony Goldsmith, Marketing and Communications Assistant

Which came first, the pomegranate or the cranberry?

 Permanent link
Cranberry sauce is a staple at most Thanksgiving dinners. And pomegranates are a very important symbol in Judaism. As I was developing this recipe, I couldn’t help but think about all the interesting parallels between cranberries and pomegranates, Thanksgiving and Judaism. Here are a few to mull over as your sauce is cooking.

1) The vibrant magenta color of the cranberry which was present at the first Thanksgiving, interestingly enough, is matched only by the arils of pomegranates, which have been part of the Jewish table for centuries. This color is not found anywhere else in nature.

2) Pomegranates are said to represent fertility, knowledge, learning, and wisdom. Cranberries inspire history, success, and hard-work. These are very similar themes.

3) Cranberries, like Thanksgiving, are native to North America. Pomegranates, like the Jewish people, came to America from across an ocean.

4) Pomegranates on average have 613 arils, which also happens to be the number of commandments in the Torah. There are approx. 27 different chemical compounds which promote good health in each cranberry, which also happens to be the number of amendments to the Constitution.

Do you have any others to add? If so, please share with us in the comments section.


Pomegranate Cranberry Sauce

Combine 2 cups pomegranate arils with 16 oz. POM juice and 16 oz. of cranberries in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. As the cranberries cook, you will hear them pop, releasing their pectin and one-of-a-kind flavor. cb one

This naturally high pectin concentration will help the sauce to thicken. Cook for about 20 minutes, then check the tartness/sweetness ratio. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, add sugar, ¼ c at a time, until the sauce is to your liking.

cb2Strain through a fine mesh to remove the pomegranate seeds, and return to the pan. If you like chunky sauce, you can add more cranberries at this point.

Cook over low heat until reduced by 25%, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Enjoy over pastrami turkey, and the rest of your Thanksgivukkuh dinner!


By Ebony Goldsmith, Marketing and Communications Assistant

Pastrami Turkey

 Permanent link
This year, 2013, will be the last time (for roughly 70,000 years) that the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincide. And coincidentally, this will also be the last time (for roughly 70,000 years) that I make Turkey Pastrami!

MMMM, Turkey Pastrami. Who wouldn’t love this combination of the quintessential Thanksgiving bird and the Romanian seasoning considered by many to be a stroke of meat marinating brilliance? No, turkey and juniper berries is not a common combination of flavors, but it is an under-used one! Pastrami was originally created as a way to preserve meat, a common need in the years before refrigeration, including 1621, when the first Thanksgiving was held. This leads me to believe there must have been some form of pastrami at that first Thanksgiving, 392 years ago.

Making Pastrami anything requires a lot of two things. Time and salt.

This recipe is for one boneless turkey breast, but would work just as well with a whole turkey breast, or even a whole turkey! Simply increase the brine and rub quantities proportionately.

First, we brine. Turkey brine
Brining is essential to both traditional Pastrami and traditional turkey, which is one reason this combination works so well together. The salt denatures the proteins, literally causing the muscle fibers to relax and absorb the liquid they are submerged in. Bam -- juicy goodness!

To make your brine:
Place your turkey breast into a container which has a lid.

Place about 2 quarts of cherry soda into a large pot and bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Add ½ cup kosher salt, 12 crushed garlic cloves, 3 inches grated ginger root, 2 tbls. Corriander seeds, 2 tsp. Fennel seeds, and ¼ cup Pickling Seasoning. Mix until sugar is dissolved.

Now chill this yummy goodness. You can also add ice to speed up the process, but not too much, as you don’t want to overdilute. You need this liquid to get as cool as possible. This is when you will use some of that time mentioned above. Submerge the turkey breast with the brine, close the container, and place into the refrigerator. We’re looking to keep this bird cold for 12 hours minimum, 24 hours optimally. This is where you use some more of that time.

While your bird is brining, you can make the rub. The rub is the most important part of Pastrami-ing the turkey. Adding an extra boost of flavor and a nice textural difference, there are many different options for ingredients and their ratios.

Here is the rub I like:
2 tbls. Dry Ground Mustard
2 tbls. Allspice
2 tbls. Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 tbls. Garlic Powder
2 tbls. Ground Corriander

Mix well and keep dry.

12 (or 24) hours later, prep your smoker. I use my charcoal grill, simply using twice as much charcoal as I usually do, and adding handfuls of soaked cherrywood chips. You can also use a traditional smoker, simply follow the directions which came with your unit.

Remove your breast from the brine and coat with your rub. I like to use a sifter to ensure even coating.
Place the turkey breast into the smoker and close tightly. You will need to cook like this for about 35 minutes per pound, adding more soaked wood chips as they disappear, approx. a handful every 25 minutes.

When your time is up, wrap the breast tightly in foil and allow to cool at least 2 hours.

Now your Pastrami Turkey is ready to be noshed! Either slice it cold for sandwiches, or steam the entire chunk for about 20 min over boiling water, then slice and serve at your festive meal!
Pastrami Turkey

 By Ebony Goldsmith, Marketing and Communications Assistant