Nathan is Jewish. But he’s not a very knowledgeable one. Whenever I ask him about Jewish traditions, he just shrugs his shoulders. When I ask him why he doesn’t know, he tells me he’s never really been a good Jew, reminds me he married a Goy, and that I should look it up online. When is Hannukah? He doesn’t know. How do you spell it? He’s not sure. What is it a celebration of? He mumbles something about the candles burning for 8 days. He once described the Maccabees as Macadamias.
But when being Jewish serves him, he’s devout. Like camping. He hates camping and when I press him about it and remind him how much the kids and I love it, he tells us emphatically that “Jews don’t camp.” When I go online and find no authority for this in either the Torah or Google, he tells me that as a Goy, I simply wouldn’t understand. Oy!
But at least when it comes to food, he’s a true Jewish scholar. Nathan speaks the language of potato knish, challah, matzo ball soup, and latkes. He can tell you the variations, where they originated, when you eat them, how you eat them, and what they signify. So enjoy, confident as you go forward to your old world relatives with a new vegan twist to ancient traditions that the following recipes (along with the matzo ball recipe in our cookbook and the delicious store-bough knishes we featured earlier) have been approved by Nathan. When it comes to Jewish food, he’s the next best thing to your friendly, neighborhood Rabbi.
- 2 ½ cups lukewarm water
- 1 Tbs. active dry yeast
- ½ cup vegan sugar
- 4 Tbs. vegetable oil
- Reconstituted Ener-G Egg Replacer equivalent to 2 eggs (3 tsp. powder mixed with 4 Tbs. water)
- 1 Tbs. salt
- 3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp. tumeric
- 8 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- vegetable oil for brushing
- Optional: 1 Tbs. poppy or sesame seeds
- In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, oil, and egg replacer.
- Add the salt, nutritional yeast and tumeric, stirring to combine.
- Add flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, until dough is no longer sticky and able to be kneaded.
- Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.
- Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky.
- Divide each half into thirds and roll into long, thin pieces that are aproximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three pieces together firmly and braid from middle, pinching together at end. Place each loaf on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Cover with damp cloth and let rise one hour.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Brush dough with vegetable oil and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds if desired.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Bread should have a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
- To encourage softness, cool bread inside an empty microwave (do not turn it on) and then store in a plastic bag when thoroughly cooled.
- Before serving, brush once again with vegetable oil so it will shine.
Makes 2 Braided Loaves.
- 4 cups peeled and shredded potatoes
- 2 Tbs. grated onion
- Ener-G Egg Egg Replacer equivalent to 6 eggs (9 tsp. powder plus 12 Tbs. water)
- 4 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- Peanut oil for frying
- Place shredded potatoes in cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible.
- In a large bowl, combine potatoes, onion, egg replacer, flour and salt. Stir well.
- In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat ¼ -½ inch oil until hot.
- Place large spoonfuls of latke mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form ¼ -½ inch thick patties. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. (Tip: To ensure easier flipping, remove any latke mixture that sticks to spatual between uses.)
- Remove done latkes to paper towels.
Serve hot with Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream or vegan applesauce.
Makes 1 dozen 3 inch latkes.
Spinning the dreidel on Hannukah? Order vegan chocolate Hannukah gelt by clicking here. But don’t bother asking Nathan what the rules are or how to play. I assure you since the dreidel itself isn’t edible, he has no idea.