(credit: Ildi Papp/Shutterstock)
(credit: Ildi Papp/Shutterstock)

Chanukah is here and so are the delicious meals. While it’s important to follow tradition it’s also important to eat healthy. Chef Tomas Perez is a personal chef in Los Angeles who promises you can do both. With a culinary background based on his childhood upbringing “from farm to table,” Perez is a big advocate of organic ingredients and will always opt for no-GMO certified foods that are locally sourced whenever possible.
 
Chef Tomas Perez
818-855-0634
chefinlosangeles@gmail.com
www.chefinlosangeles.org

Perez is more than happy to provide traditional Chanukah appetizers, entrees and desserts for you this holiday season so you don’t have to cook. Perez can pre-cook your meals for you so all you have to do is reheat and serve throughout the holiday. He’s also happy to come to your home and dazzle your family with a spectacular presentation. His services also include personal shopper and hiring servers and additional staff for catered events.
While Perez would be more than happy to cook for you, he’s willing to share two of his favorite Chanukah recipes to help you prepare and serve a delicious meal. Enjoy!

Tomas Perez

Tomas Perez


Eggplant Parmigiana

This recipe is easy to prepare. You can also do it with different cheese or different vegetables.

Ingredients:
-2 cups tomato sauce
-1 large eggplant, sliced into ½ inch thick round pieces
-2 eggs 1 cup matzoh meal or ground walnut (or half & half)
-8 oz. mozzarella cheese
-3 ounces goat cheese (if unavailable, substitute with additional mozzarella)
-salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Salt eggplant on both sides and leave for 30 minutes until liquid is released.
  3. Crack and mix eggs in one bowl, and pour matzoh meal and/or ground walnuts and seasoning into a second bowl.
  4. Dip eggplant slices of eggplant first in eggs, then in matzoh meal and/or ground walnuts.
  5. Fry each slice for 2 minutes on each side until soft.
  6. In a 9×12 inch pan, create layers with eggplant, goat cheese, and tomato sauce (creates about 3 layers).
  7. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  8. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until mozzarella cheese is melted.
(credit: Tomas Perez)

(credit: Tomas Perez)


Potato Kugel

You can make this recipe in smaller individual sizes or as one large dish.

Ingredients:

-1 cup vegetable oil
-1 large onion thinly sliced
-5 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded
-1 large yellow onion, coarsely grated
-1/3 cup potato starch
-1 tablespoon kosher salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
-5 large eggs, beaten
-2 large egg yolks, beaten
-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-1 cup boiling water
-2 tbsp rosemary

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering.
  3. Add the onion and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 6 minutes.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onion to a plate.
  5. Reserve the shallot oil.
  6. Working in batches, squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible from the potatoes and transfer them to a large bowl as you go.
  7. Add the grated onion, potato starch, salt, black pepper and grated nutmeg and stir well.
  8. Stir in the whole eggs, egg yolks, olive oil and boiling water, then stir in the fried onion
  9. Heat two 8-by-11 1/2-inch flameproof or enameled cast-iron baking dishes over high heat until they are very hot to the touch.
  10. Add 2 tablespoons of the onion oil to each baking dish and heat until smoking.
  11. Carefully spread the potato mixture in the sizzling baking dishes.
  12. Transfer the potato kugels to the oven and bake them for 20 minutes.
  13. Lower the temperature to 375° and bake the kugels for 40 minutes longer, until golden and crisp on the sides.
  14. Preheat the broiler.
  15. Broil the potato kugels as close to the heat as possible for about 2 minutes, until they are browned and crisp on top.
  16. Let the potato kugels stand for 20 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.
(credit: Tomas Perez)

(credit: Tomas Perez)


Vegan Cabbage Rolls

While vegan is a healthier choice you can also make this with traditional or turkey sausage

Ingredients:

-1 large savoy cabbage
-1¼ cup of cooked brown rice
-2 tbsp bread crumbs
-4 Field Roast Italian Sausages, casings removed (vegan sausage)
-2 small sprigs of sage, finely chopped (or powdered – approximately ½ tsp)
-1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped (or dried – approximately ½ tsp)
-Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
-1 28-ounce can organic crushed tomatoes
-2 tsp dried basil
-2 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
-½ small onion, chopped
-1 tbsp olive oil

Prepare cabbage:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
  2. Carefully peel 12 nice large leaves from the cabbage discarding any messy or broken ones. Work carefully but no big deal if a leaf tears.
  3. Blanch leaves for about 1 minutes until wilted, remove immediately and spread out on towels so that they dry and cool.

Filling

  1. Crumble the sausage in a bowl.
  2. Add 1¼ cups of brown rice, bread crumbs, rosemary, sage and a pinch or two of salt and black pepper.
  3. Mix together with your hands. Make the cabbage rolls:
  4. Lay your first cabbage leaf on the counter.
  5. Form some of the filling mixture onto the leaf.
  6. Wrap the cabbage leave around it making a little package and pin at the top with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining leaves and mixture. You may have to use a few extra toothpicks to hold it together.

Sauce:

  1. In a heavy dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. I used the same pan that I blanched the cabbage leaves. Just wiped it dry.
  2. Add the onions and saute until limp.
  3. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Carefully add cabbage packages, arranging them in the pan so they all fit, cover the pot and gently simmer them for 25 minutes.
  6. Carefully turn the rolls over, cooking them for another 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes to cook off some of the wetness.
  8. It will be hard but if you can rest them for 5 minutes before eating them, the flavors settle and they become even better.

Related: Best Ways To Celebrate Hanukkah In Los Angeles

Kristine G. Bottone is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at Examiner.org

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