Dec 11, 2012

Chanukah Party--Peppermill Style!

Chanukah parties are just great—don’t you agree? They gives you a chance to get really creative and even a bit unconventional. We can leave traditional conservative meals for Rosh Hashanah and Pesach but Chanukah affords us the opportunity to go a little trendy with menu and décor. In light of that I like to use an exciting color scheme and some pretty decorations to spruce up my party. I think it adds to the festive air and makes it a bit more exhilarating for the kids (and adults) who talk about the party for days.

This Chanukah I chose the color of the year—orange! Actually the color scheme came about when I found some orange cloth napkins in the clearance aisle of a home accessory store. I liked the color enough to play around with some ideas using the mercury glass platters, bowls and vases I had found awhile back at another home store. It always pays to keep your eyes open for pretty items like these that will match a variety of colors. Along the way I added off white runners (found in another clearance aisle) and some orange-edges glass bowls.

If you are like me, you keep other ideas in your head—maybe you’ve seen some pretty party décor in a magazine or at a friend’s party. I had seen tulle pompoms in a wedding publication and decided they just had to be part of my Chanukah décor. So, off to the fabric store I went and brought home some orange and ivory tulle. If you can buy tulle on a roll it will be easier to use than buying tulle by the yard and cutting strips as I did.  You can find instructions on how to make the pompoms at They are fairly simple but really make a statement.

Next I purchased some art paper in a shiny orange and glued two sheets together so they were shiny on both sides. I cut dreidels in a variety of sizes and punched holes at the top and bottom. I strung them together with clear thread (available at any sewing supply store).  You can hang your décor from the ceiling or from your light fixture as I did.

My hot buffet--the blintzes came from my daughter-in-law. If anyone offers to help,
take them up on the offer--you don't have to prove you a supermom!
Here I am glittering the menorah--gotta love it!

The Menorah on the buffet began as most Chanukah decorations—blue. I just spread glue over the blue glitter and covered it with orange glitter—everything’s gotta coordinate—right? I found it at a local discount store where I purchased my ivory dishes and flatware.

Now we get to the menu.

I baked parmesan bread sticks and whole wheat rolls a week before Chanukah and tucked them away in my freezer.

Here are the recipes:

Parmesan Breadsticks

2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 cups warm water, divided
1 ½ tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons olive oil
5 ¾ cups flour
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 teaspoons kosher salt

In a medium bowl, combine yeast and ¼ cup warm water.  Let proof for 5 minutes.  If using instant yeast, you can omit the waiting time.  In another bowl, combine the remaining water, honey and olive oil.  Stir into the yeast.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, Parmesan cheese and salt.  Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour is completely incorporated.  The mixture will be sticky. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Knead by hand for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic.  Place dough in a large bowl brushed with olive oil.  Brush top of dough with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Divide dough into 4 parts.  Cover 3 batches with plastic and set aside.  Cut each part into 16 pieces.  Roll each piece, on a floured surface, into a 8-10” stick.  Transfer sticks to Silpat lined 2 sheet pans.  Cover with plastic wrap and let proof for an additional 30 minutes.  Repeat with remaining batches.

Brush each stick with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

The whole wheat rolls are in the left corner--these are something new I
just had to try--Jalapeno Poppers!  We'll get to the recipe shortly. Also, a salad from a helpful daughter-in-law.
Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

2 tablespoons instant dry yeast                                                        
1 1/2  cups water 
 ½ cup sugar                                                                       
1 cup orange juice                                                                          
1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
2 eggs
8 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
10 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
½ cup oil for smearing
 1 egg mixed with 3 tablespoons water for egg wash

In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve yeast in water and add sugar; stir briefly.   Add orange juice, margarine and eggs.  Add flour and salt.  Knead well.

Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic or a damp dish towel. Allow to rise ½ hour. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Divide dough into 4 and roll out one piece to a 15 inch circle.  Smear dough with some oil and spread 1 quarter of fried onions or crushed garlic as desired.  Cut each round into 16 wedges.  Roll up each wedge croissant-style, and place on baking sheet.  Bake at for 20 minutes.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Serve warm or at room temperature.   

You may also tie knots or simply form little round buns if you prefer that to croissant-style rolls.  Brush rolls with egg wash

This dough is very versatile and may be frozen raw for later fresh preparation or baked, frozen and reheated.

Spinach Feta Phyllo Triangles

Mini Wonton Quiches and Potato Empanadas. You can also see the starter plate which held
 Israeli Salad in a small boat-shaped bowl and a Parmesan Breadstick.
Next I prepared some appetizers that could be frozen raw. I had phyllo triangles filled with spinach and feta cheese, some mini quiches baked in wonton wrappers and a potato knish mixture in empanada dough circles. All were frozen raw then thawed about 2 hours before the party. I baked them after thawing for one hour and placed them on the platters. They were perfect at room temperature. The key to being a good hostess is being a relaxed hostess. Choose dishes for the menu that do not all have to be served piping hot out of the oven all at the same time.

Vidalia Onion Dip, Smoked Salmon Dip and a second salad from another daughter-in-law
(you can never have enough of those)
I also prepared the dips that you will find in my previous post. The Smoked Salmon Dip and Vidalia Onion Dip can also be done a few days in advance so you’re not left with lots of last minute preparation.

My hot dishes were also assembled a day in advance and refrigerated so they just had to go into the oven to heat through. I offered Pasta with Eggplant, Mushroom Lasagna and a simple Baked Ziti for the kids and anyone else who has childish taste buds.

The only dish that actually required last minute cooking were the latkes—we could not give up on those.
You can see even the kids matched the party...

 Dessert was left to my daughter. Can't do it all myself.... She prepared an absolutely heavenly treat from our latest newsletter. The Chocolate Peanut Caramel Tart was the perfect way to end this delicious meal.
Happy Chanukah!

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