This is the time of year that food turns personal. Many families have favorite recipes they prepare each year that define the holidays by tying us to our pasts, reminding us of our youths and linking us to family members who came before. Without them, the season just wouldn’t be the same.
We asked a few local cooks to share their special holiday treats.

Amy and Beth Arogeti

Sisters-in-law Beth and Amy Arogeti associate fried treats known as burmuelos with Hanukkah. “We never had them any other time,” Beth said. Now they share the honey-dipped goodies with their families and at Congregation Or VeShalom’s Hanukkah Bazaar. “We remember our grandmothers making them and want to pass the recipe on,” Amy said.

Hanukkah Burmuelos (Fritters)
1 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar
pinch salt
2 c. warm water
3 c. plain
White Lily flour
1 egg, beaten

1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water

Soften yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Place dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add yeast mixture, egg and the rest of the warm water; mix well. Allow to rise in covered bowl in warm place for 2 hours. Fill a 2-quart pot with 3 inches of cooking oil. Allow to get very hot.

Take a teaspoonful of soft dough and drop into hot oil. Remove with slotted spoon when golden brown.
For syrup: mix all ingredients together in pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly sticky. Pour over Burmuelos while hot.

From “The Sephardic Cooks Comé Con Gana,” compiled and published by Congregation Or VeShalom.
Or Vashalom Hanukkah Bazaar | Sunday, December 11, 11am-5pm

1681 N. Druid Hills Rd, 30319 |

Donna Lorenz

“When my parents married, my mother couldn’t cook. Dad loved to tell a story from early in their marriage that involved dinner guests and stuffed peppers and ended with dinner in a restaurant. But Mom practiced and was good enough by her 50s that she was teaching cooking classes in her kitchen.

“Christmas cookies were a specialty. She would bake large quantities, in a dozen or more varieties, and give them to friends and neighbors. These very pretty shortbread cookies were a favorite with her family and everyone lucky enough to get one of her trays of cookies. My copy of the recipe has this note on it: Aristocrats (without which it isn’t Christmas.)”

1-3/4 sticks butter (14 tablespoons) at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
coarse or pearl sugar (sometimes sold as “parl socker”)

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar, add one egg and beat. Add flour and mix just until well combined. Divide the dough in half. Wrap one half in waxed paper and refrigerate it. Divide remaining dough in half again. Knead the chopped chocolate into one half and nuts into the other half. Roll each half into a 10-inch cylinder, wrap in waxed paper and chill.

Remove the reserved, chilled dough from the refrigerator and roll into a 9 x 11 inch rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, to make two 11 inch by 4-1/2 inch rectangles. In a small bowl, beat the other egg lightly and brush one half of rectangle with the beaten egg.

Place the chilled chocolate dough cylinder along the long edge of the rectangle and roll the dough tightly around the cylinder, so that it’s totally encased. Smooth the seam and press the dough firmly around the cylinder. Trim the ends.

Repeat with the walnut cylinder and the other half rectangle of dough. Brush each roll with egg and roll in coarse sugar crystals. Rewrap the cylinders and chill 4 hours or more.

When ready to bake, heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove one chilled cylinder from refrigerator and slice it into 1/3 inch disks. Repeat with the other cylinder. Bake about 10 minutes, until cookies just begin to brown around the edges. Remove to a rack to cool.

Note: If coarse sugar crystals aren’t available, the cookies will be very good without them, just not as pretty.

Feature photo: 
Volunteers (left to right) Tillie Tennenbaum, Corrine Rousso, Beth Arogeti and Grace Benator prepare food for Congregation Or VeShalom’s Hanukkah Bazaar last year.  Photo by Joe Earle

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.