Hanukkah: Rosquillas fried in EVOO
Jewish cooking serves an important channel that connects families to ancestors, great grandparents, and living relatives. Often a tale is told through the food. For thousands of years families have taken delight in sharing the same foods around the dinner table. For those listening to the flavors, Andalusian cooking also serves a very important role in reminding us of our connection to each other, whether, Jewish, Muslim or Christian. The cuisine tells a long interconnected history and of three cultures that once lived together in coexistence in Al Andaluz, often sharing recipes, ways of thinking and music.
The recipe for rosquillas, a sweet of fried dough, was obviously shared since it can be found during the Jewish Hanukkah and Simchat Torah, Holy Week in Andalusia and in areas of Northern Morocco where they are called sfanes. In Israel jelly donuts are eaten called sufgania, named for being like sponges. Notice the similarity to the Arabic word sfanes.
The rosquilla is a circular shaped sweet that Jews would say, like a bagel, is symbolic of unity, equality and eternity. It is also fried in oil as all typical foods are at Hanukkah.
For those who don’t know the story, after the destruction of the Temple there was only a little olive oil left to light an eternal light they always kept burning, it lasted for 8 days instead of 1 and it was declared a miracle. So now in remembrance of the miracle, the famous candelabra (hanukea) is lit for 8 nights. Only the purist olive oil (EVOO) was used to light the lamp since it was the olive oil that was most prized and gave the most beautiful light. The holiday symbolizes miracles, the eternal light and the importance of being enlightened by learning.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is upon us and I can´t help but think of my ancestors that lived under Syrian rule and the similarity to what is now happening in the same region. In the end, it is evident that all of our stories and lives are interconnected whether it is through terror or sweets.
So it is with this recipe that I wish everyone sweetness of unity, equality, enlightenment and miracles.
RECIPE FOR ROSQUILLAS (Makes about 20)
About 2 ½ cups flour
½ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
+ About 4- 5 cups of low grade EVOO for frying (I used a generic store brand)
2 tbsp. of baking power
½ cup of orange juice
Zest of one lemon
Anisette (I used Anis del Mono, Ernest Hemmingway’s choice) or orange liquor
5 Tbsp sugar
+ At least a cup of sugar
- Wisk together in a large bowl the eggs, ½ cup of EVOO, orange juice, lemon zest, 5 tbsp. of sugar, and a drizzle of anisette.
- Mix the flour with the baking powder. Add the mixture slowly to the wet mixture stirring with a wooden spoon. The consistency should be doughy but slightly sticky.
- With lightly floured hands, make about one-inch balls. (If you have too much flour on your hands, it will fizzle in the hot oil and burn over time.) Then with a finger make a hole in the middle and form a ring. You want the hole to be a good size. This will ensure that the hot oil will enter in the middle and help the rosquilla to cook thoroughly without burning. Lay the raw formed dough on wax or parchment paper.
- Heat the 4 cups of oil in a deep pan. The oil should be deep enough so that each rosquilla will be completely
submerged when placed in the pan.
- While waiting for the oil to heat, prepare a small bowl of anisette (or sugar syrup) and another of sugar.
- A trick to know when the oil is hot enough is to put a piece of lemon or orange peel in the oil, when it starts to sizzle
it ready. Remove the peel.
- Carefully introduce the raw rosquillas into the hot oil and fry until they are golden. Flipping them gently to let them brown on both sides.
- Once removed let them drain on a paper towel.
- While they are still warm, dip in a bowl of anisette or or sugar syrup and then into a bowl of sugar.
- They will last for at least a few days if you keep them in an airtight container and if no one is in the house to eat them.