How to Kosher Your Thanksgiving

Eat vegetarian, or keep your sides and desserts parve. Whichever option you choose, the Jewish Journal has you covered.
November 17, 2022
Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Scones

If you want to kosher your Thanksgiving, you have two choices. Eat vegetarian, or keep your sides and desserts parve. Whichever option you choose, the Jewish Journal has you covered.

Danny Corsun, founder of the Culinary Judaics Academy (CJA), loves Thanksgiving, because he feels it’s an inherently Jewish holiday. First, he explained, its birth comes from the Puritans borrowing from Sukkot, which is a harvest holiday.

”Secondly, Thanksgiving revolves around and celebrates family,” Corsun told the Journal. “And what’s more inherently Jewish than that?” 

Also important to us is giving thanks. 

“As Jews, we don’t only give thanks one day per year, we do so multiple times [every] day,” he said. “For us, it’s Thanksgiving every day of the year!” 

Celebrate the flavors of fall by adding CJA’s delicious dairy Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Scones to your vegetarian Thanksgiving menu.

Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Scones

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus 1-2 tsp for
flouring work surface
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into
1/4-inch cubes
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 cup dried cranberries
½ cup plain Greek Yogurt (or sour cream)
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup cold milk
1 tbsp white sugar (for sprinkling on top)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda.
  2. Add butter, and using hands or a fork, work until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add pumpkin, vanilla and yogurt (or sour cream) to the milk and mix. Gently stir into dry ingredients.
  4. Do not over mix. If the dough is too wet, you can add more flour.
  5. Turn dough onto a floured surface and with floured hands, knead 2 to 3 times, until the dough is smooth and shiny. Pat the dough into a circle that is about 8 inches round and about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut the circle in half, and then cut each half into 4 pie-shaped wedges (triangles).
  6. Arrange wedges on a parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle each wedge with a little white sugar.
  7. Bake until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the wire rack to cool. You can also use a griddle to cook these scones if you don’t have an oven – just cook until golden and then flip to do the same on the other side.
  8. Once cooled, serve with milk or tea.

Note: CJA is making this recipe at their complementary Cook & Learn Workshop on November 20th at 4:30pm PST. https://www.culinaryjudaicsacademy.com/communityhub

Cranberry Sauce
Jeff Frymer

Chef Jeff Frymer feels a bit conflicted about “celebrating” Thanksgiving, “given the nature of its origin, as compared to the story my naive, younger self was taught,” he told the Journal. “That said, Thanksgiving is a family tradition and an intensive familial cooking experience.”

For Frymer’s family, a kosher Thanksgiving means leaving out the dairy.

Staying on theme, he created a tale of two cranberry sauce recipes — one semi-sweet, the other with an aromatic bite.

Semi-Sweet Cranberry Sauce

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored,
finely diced
1 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
3 tbsp honey
1/2 cup red wine

Toss all ingredients into a sauce pan and cook on medium-low heat, uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cranberries will begin to burst as they cook. In the last couple minutes smash ‘em up, stir a final time … that’s it.

The Bite Cranberry Sauce

3/4 cup peeled and finely grated fresh
12 oz fresh cranberries
3 tbsp honey
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbsp prepared wasabi (or make from
1 tbsp white or apple-cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp salt

Part 1: Caveat up front: Preparing fresh horseradish may irritate your eyes in a similar way as chopping onions. Peel and roughly chop about a cup of horseradish chunks. Grate in a food processor or blender. Add water, vinegar, and salt during the process. You’ll have to start and stop a few times to scrape the sides back down. It should yield about 3/4 cup finely grated horseradish.

Part 2: Toss all ingredients into a sauce pan and cook on medium-low heat, uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The cranberries will begin to burst as they cook. In the last couple minutes smash ‘em up, stir a final time … that’s it.

“Now, I know what some of you are saying, ‘Horseradish? That’s for meat, not turkey,’” Frymer said. “In my house horseradish is for everything. At least give it a try.”

Apple Crisp @kitchngiggles

Culinary and nutrition educator Yael Friedman said dessert for a kosher Thanksgiving is hard, because, if you’re going to do turkey, you need to avoid using dairy in dessert.

“It’s really hard to find a good, non-dairy alternative to milk, butter and cream,” Friedman, founder of Kitch’N Giggles meal kits, told the Journal. 

When Friedman does non-dairy desserts, she likes to use canola oil, instead of margarine or other highly processed dairy substitutes. 

“This apple crisp is a great activity for families to make together,” she said. “Because holidays are a time for creating memories, baking a simple, fruit-based dessert is a wonderful way to come together as a family.”

Apple Crisp Recipe

4 apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup canola oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the apples, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Set aside to macerate for a few minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, spices and brown sugar together until combined. Slowly add the canola oil, mixing well until the topping clumps together.
  4. Pour the apples into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan and top with the crumble topping. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

Michael Tanenbaum’s Pumpkin Sweet Potato Pie is perfect for this season and the holiday. “It’s very rustic with a homemade crust of nuts and dates!” Tanenbaum, who is founder of the website Consciously Kosher, told the Journal.

“For many people, Thanksgiving is synonymous with carbohydrate and sugar overload,” he said. “I like this recipe because it provides a nutrient-dense, lower-sugar alternative to the typical heavily-processed holiday season desserts.”

This recipe takes about 25 minutes to prep and 1 hour to bake. Tanenbaum recommends chilling it 2 to 4 hours or overnight, prior to serving.

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Pie
Michael Tanenbaum

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Pie

The Rustic Crust:
1½ cups walnuts
1 cup pecans
1 cup dates, pitted
The Earthy Filling:
2 cups mashed cooked pumpkin
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
4½ tsp arrowroot
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tbsp ground turmeric
2 large eggs
½ cup raw honey
½ cup coconut oil (organic, cold-pressed
and unrefined)
¼ cup water
1 tbsp vanilla extract

What’s Needed:
Large stainless steel pot for cooking the
pumpkin and sweet potato
Two large mixing bowls: one for the wet
and one for the dry ingredients
Food processor for mixing the crust
Blender for the filling (optional)
Glass/borosilicate pie pan (8.5 to 9.5
inches diameter)

The Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Pit the dates.
  3. Pour the walnuts, pecans and dates into a food processor.
  4. Run the food processor for 40-45 seconds, stopping occasionally to stir the mixture so that it is evenly ground. Remove when the mixture is sticky enough between two fingers to hold together but not too finely ground.
  5. Pour the mixture into a glass pie pan, smoothing it out as uniformly as possible with a spoon or spatula so that the crust is about 1/8 inch thick.
  6. Cover the edges of the pie pan with aluminum foil: take a square piece of foil, fold into quarters and cut an arc from one of the sides with the folded edges to the other; then open and place around the edges of the crust.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, then remove foil and cool.

The Filling:

  1. Chop the pumpkin and sweet potato, then boil in a large pot for 15 minutes over a medium flame (using about 2 cups of water, or as needed). Let cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the arrowroot starch, cinnamon and turmeric.
  3. In another large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin and squash.
  4. Add the remaining wet ingredients (coconut oil, eggs, water and vanilla) to the pumpkin-sweet potato mixture.
  5. Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ones until smooth.
  6. OPTION 1: For an uneven, rustic texture, pour directly into the crust.
    OPTION 2: For a smoother, more refined texture, pour into a blender or food processor and run on high for 15 – 20 seconds. Then pour into the crust.
  7. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, checking around the 30-minute mark until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove, let cool and refrigerate until chilled.

Marion Haberman, Content Creator @MyJewishMommyLife, loves celebrating Thanksgiving.

“There are two types of people at the Thanksgiving meal,” Haberman told the Journal. “Those who enjoy every dish to be eaten separately, one after the other, and those who need every bite to incorporate every flavor. I’m firmly the latter.”

Haberman’s Challah Sausage Stuffing – there’s a recipe combination you don’t hear every day. It’s okay, it’s kosher – is adapted from an original Ina Garten recipe.

“I like to find recipes that incorporate multiple layers of Thanksgiving flavors the way this one does,” she said.

Challah Sausage Stuffing
Marion Haberman

Challah Sausage Stuffing

1 loaf of challah cut into cubes
4 kosher sausages (any flavor, preferably
sweeter not too spicy)
1/4 cup oil
1 diced onion
1 apple chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup kosher chicken stock
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Toast challah cubes at 300°F for 7 minutes. Saute onion, apple, salt, pepper and sausage until the vegetables are softened and the sausage is browned (about 10 minutes). Next add in the toasted challah cubes, the stock and finally the cranberries. Mix everything together then bake at 350°F until the top browns, about 30 minutes. If you don’t have an oven safe saute pan transfer to a 9×12 baking dish before baking.

“I appreciate how America is such a beautifully inclusive home for me and my family, and we’re thankful to be here,” Haberman said.

She believes participating in American holidays and traditions is a big part of being part of a community.

“What we focus on becomes our reality, and I pretty much exclusively focus on the good around us and celebrating it, and being thankful for it,” she said. “Football, family, a kosher turkey…that’s what a Jewish family’s Thanksgiving is all about.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

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