Dennis Wasko, a kosher chef from Chicago, grew up with the oil tradition of Hanukkah, but in recent years has added dairy to his family’s tradition. He likes to make a Sephardic-style cheese fritter called bunuelos de queso, which are made with eggs, flour and a salty dry cheese such as Greek mizithra, ricotta salata or even farmer’s cheese.
The mixture is formed into little balls or pancakes, then fried in oil (tying in the other popular Hanukkah tradition) and served drizzled with honey.
Wasko says that he has even commemorated the story of the widow and the general more literally by serving a dish of salty cheese along with some wine to quench the thirst it inevitably creates. Of course, he leaves the beheadings out of the celebration.
ROMAN CHEESECAKE WITH ORANGE-SCENTED HONEY
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes, including resting time
6 fresh bay leaves
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 2 oranges, divided
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup honey (orange blossom if possible)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Heat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bay leaves in the center of the parchment in an 8-inch circular pattern.
In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, vanilla and half of the orange zest.
Beat in the ricotta, then the flour. The mixture should form a thick batter. Scoop the batter onto the arranged bay leaves on the prepared baking sheet.
Use a silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the batter into an 8-inch circle over the bay leaves.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and puffy.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the honey and remaining orange zest. Heat for several minutes until thin and warmed.