Hanukkah Party

Last evening we hosted a Hanukkah/Holiday party for our closest friends. I like to have parties to which I invite all my friends, but our house is too small to accommodate more than a small number of people – specially now that most of our friends have kids.
I wanted to make a very simple menu for the party, ’cause I didn’t want to spend all my day in the kitchen as I’m prone to do. So I figured I’d cater it ‘a la costco. But then I talked to someone who had thrown a party the week before and told me they’d spent the whole day putting appetizers in and out of the oven – and that didn’t sound so appealing either. Finally, someone told me that brisket and donuts were traditional Hanukkah dishes, and suddenly my whole menu appeared before my eyes. I served
-pita bread (supermarket – 1 package eaten, mostly by the babies who loved it)
-artisan bread (costco, quite yummy)
-baby carrots (a kid favorite)
-creme herbed cheese
-roasted pepper dip (I loved it, but it wasn’t as popular with others)
-hummus (from Costco, very good)
-ranch dressing
-latkes with sour cream and apple sauce
I used this recipe for latkes as a base, but I didn’t want to bother washing and drying the potatoes, so I just mixed them with the egg and onion as I shredded them. That was really a mistake, because onions have a LOT of liquid. So I’d recommend drying them, even if you don’t wash them, before mixing them in. It wasn’t an unfixable mistake, however. I just added a bit of flour and squeezed out the liquid from the latkes as I put them in. I also added considerably more salt than the recipe asked for. They turned out very, very, very yummy. They were definitely a favorite with the kids, but also with the adults. They disappeared quickly. Fortunately my friend Arthur brought more (to make at my house) – so everyone got to have as many latkes as they wanted.
BTW, I didn’t find making latkes to be as much of a pain as other people say. I was surprised at how easy it was to shred the potatoes – it took me just as long as it took Mike to peel them. I hate peeling potatoes myself, but Mike doesn’t care so he always does it for me.
Anyway, I’m glad we had latkes for Hanukkah.
-Brisket, made from this recipe. I don’t know how Jewish this particular recipe is, but it was amazingly delicious. The braising liquid, in particular, was out of this world. The meat turned out a little bit dry, I think I overcooked it, and next time I make it, I may try a different cut – but lord is the sauce yummy. And it’s also VERY easy to make, and all you need is a cutting board, a plate and ONE wide pot. A 4 1/2 lb brisket was enough for everybody (of course, I’d warned them that this wasn’t dinner, just hors d’ouvres) and now we have leftovers for lunch!!!!
-Vegetable eggrolls from Costco. They seem popular enough, the kids liked them too. Mike thought they were just OK, though he’d eaten more of them if there weren’t other things to eat.
-Quiche from Costco. This proved the least popular thing, I’m not sure if because my guests don’t like quiche, or the quiche wasn’t that good. Anyway, I’m taking the other one (the package has two) to a potluck next week. And I may bring the already cut one (pre-sliced) to a cookie exchange today. Perhaps with all those cookies people will like something salty.
-Sushi from Costco. People thought it wasn’t exciting but good.
And for dessert: doughnuts. I got 2 bakers dozens ($6 each at Safeway, not a bad deal), but we only went through 14 donuts or so.
The party itself was very nice, the kids had a lot of fun playing together, the babies behaved quite well, and the adults could chat comfortably. It was great!
Now it’s time to prepare for Xmas Eve dinner next week, I hope to have the energy to do it.

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