It’s the second day of 8 for 8 where we are meeting one cookbook author each day of Chanukah. We are talking with Aviva Kanoff who just published her second cookbook Gluten Free Around the World. Aviva has been described as the “Indiana Jones” of cooking and there are a few reasons behind this nickname. The first is that Aviva regularly travels all over the globe. I have worked with Aviva for a few years now and she often responds to my emails with a brief “I will be in Vietnam soon” or a request to reschedule an interview since she is planning some time in Spain. Aviva is also fearlessly creative with food and art. Her cookbooks are gluten free and kosher but they are far from the usual fare one might initially expect to see in such books. So while Aviva has formal training as a chef and was a personal chef, she hasn’t placed herself into one food style. Whether it is Indian, Jamaican or French food, Aviva is passionate about sharing her food discoveries with the rest of us. In addition, Aviva is an inspired photographer and her books serve up gorgeous photos from the lands where her recipes originate. Her first cookbook The No Potato Passover was a hit because of the recipes but her photography was mentioned by most critics as well.
Aviva just launched Gluten Free Around the World in San Francisco on a ship built in the 1860’s and I’m excited that she is participating in 8 for 8.
Aviva, what stands out for you about celebrating Chanukah as you grew up? Any special food memories?
My parents are both very musical and creative. My childhood memories of Chanukah are not as much food related as they are crafty and musically influenced. One of my fathers great joys in life is plumbing. One Chanukah he built a beautiful large Menorah out of copper pipes that we still light every year. My father also composed his own tune for Maoz Tzur that my family sings and dances to after candle lighting.
You are a world traveler – where are some of the places you have celebrated Chanukah? Can you share any wild or unexpected Chanukah experiences abroad?
Not to sound too cheesy, but my favorite place to be for Chanukah is at home with my family. I haven’t yet been anywhere too exotic for Chanukah because if I am traveling then, it would be home to Miami. I do have some exciting stories about shabbat experiences around the world, though :). (You can check out Aviva’s blog for more on her travels, SS).
What do you do during Chanukah to create a memorable holiday atmosphere for yourself, friends or family?
I enjoy the cozy lighting that the menorah brings and singing around the candles. The smell of latkes cooking doesn’t hurt either, to add to the whole homey vibe.
How has your Chanukah changed since you became a chef and author?
Because of my love of experimenting with food, my latkes have become a lot more creative over the years. I love to have the traditional potato latkes at least once during Chanukah, but for me, variety is the spice of life.
Are you eating different foods for Chanukah now than you did in the past? What are they?
Definitely! Traveling has really broadened my horizons, especially as far as food is concerned. Just like meatballs or dumplings, every country has its own version of latkes. Last year, I made spinach quinoa latkes with cheddar cheese for a friends Chanukah party which were a big hit!
What is one dish you must eat during Chanukah no matter what?
I always need to have a classic potato latke at least once.
Latkes or sufganiot?
What recipes are you bringing us for Chanukah?
Every culture has its beloved fried foods. Since Chanukah foods are so connected to the oil of the Chanukah miracle, I want to share some dishes from around the world which use oil. They may be unfamiliar to many, but well worth trying for a holiday menu!
Churros (from Gluten Free Around the World)
Yield: 10 churros
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- ⅟₃ cup unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
- canola oil for frying
- confectioners’ sugar
- In a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Set aside for topping.
- In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, brown sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Cook and stir until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Line a baking sheet with greased parchment paper. After the dough has cooled for 10 minutes, add egg and vanilla to the saucepan, and beat ingredients well with a wooden spoon to blend them completely. Transfer the mixture to a decorating bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe 4-inch lengths onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Heat 3-inches oil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Fry a few strips at a time in hot oil (at least 375°), turning once, until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Roll warm churros in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat. Serve warm
Nutty Corn Pancakes (from Gluten Free Around the World)
Yield: 4 fritters
- 2 large ears of corn
- 1 cup roasted, shelled peanuts
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 2 tsp. peeled, grated fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup rice flour
- ½ cup peanut oil
- Remove kernels from corncobs with a sharp knife, then place kernels in a food processor along with peanuts, scallions, ginger, garlic, and cumin and process until finely chopped and slightly mushy; transfer to a bowl.
- Add egg and rice flour; mix well.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Spoon tablespoons of the mixture into the skillet and flatten with the back of the spoon. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and repeat with remaining mixture. Serve hot.
Spinach & Quinoa Fritters (from Gluten Free Around the World)
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil,
plus more for frying
- 2 cups diced fresh mushrooms
- 2 cups chopped spinach
- salt, freshly ground black pepper, and garlic powder to taste
- 3 large eggs
- ¼ cup gluten free panko
or bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- Prepare quinoa according to the directions on the package.
- In a large frying pan, sauté onion in 2 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and spinach and sauté for 3 minutes or until fully cooked.
- Remove pan from heat. Add quinoa to spinach, mushrooms, and onion mixture and mix ingredients.
- Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Transfer to a large mixing bowl and combine with eggs, panko or bread crumbs, and cheese, if using.
- Heat oil in a frying pan. Once oil is sizzling, cooking four pieces at a time, spoon 1 tbsp. of mixture into the frying pan. Cook until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Bocaditos de Papa (Potato-Cheese Fritters) (from Gluten Free Around the World)
Yield: 12 fritters
- 1 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 cup shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- canola oil for deep frying
- salsa (optional)
- In a large saucepan, place potatoes in enough salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, then drain.
- In a large bowl, mash potatoes with a potato masher until smooth. Fold in cheeses, eggs, cilantro, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Shape mixture into twelve, 3-inch diameter patties. If desired, cover and chill for up to 24 hours before cooking.
- In a large skillet, heat 1-inch of oil to 375˚. Add potato patties, three or four at a time and fry, about 2 minutes or until golden brown, turning once halfway through cooking time. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot and top with salsa if desired.