The heroic tale that gave rise to a quiche and a Hanukkah tradition
The seventh night of Hanukkah is all about daughters and cheese. Here's why.
The seventh candle of Hanukkah is known in Tunisia and other Maghreb countries as Chag HaBanot, festival of the daughters. Daughters and cheese, really. And why? Daughters, to celebrate the bravery of Judith and her part in defeating the Assyrians, and cheese, for her sneaky use of the dairy product to disarm an enemy general.
An historical misunderstanding connects the book of Judith to the book of the Maccabees, although the former tale took place four centuries earlier. In the book of Judith, the brave, beautiful woman feeds the evil Assyrian general Holofernes cheese to make him thirsty. The general indeed drinks too much wine that night, and promptly falls asleep. Then, Judith quickly cuts his head off with a sword.
Appetizing? Yes. Wine and cheese, after six nights of latkes, sound both delicious and refreshing. The quiche recipe below combines both ingredients together to make life easier. Serve it with a glass of chilled white wine, if you wish.
Judith and Holofernes quiche (Gruyere, Bûcheron and white wine quiche)
Serve with a glass of white wine and a simple green salad on the side.
Yields 9” round quiche
For the crust:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons chilled butter
2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the fillings:
3 medium yellow onions
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, sliced
12 rosemary leaves, chopped
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch black pepper
2 egg yolks
4 oz (1½ cups) grated gruyere cheese (may substitute with pecorino Romano or sharp cheddar)
4 oz. aged goat cheese, such as Bûcheron (may substitute with regular goat cheese)
1. Make the pastry: In the food processor mix together the flour, salt and nutmeg. Add butter in cubes, and run the food processor for about 30 seconds. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, until it turns into dough. Pat the dough into a smooth, round flattened disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour and up to 2 days.
2. Peel onions and cut into quarters. Slice each quarter very thin. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and sauté onions until golden brown, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (reduce the heat if the onions brown too quickly). Add brown sugar, garlic and rosemary and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add wine and let it evaporate until no is liquid left in the skillet. Mix in flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg and remove from the heat.
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry dough into a 12-inch round. Drape the pastry over the rolling pin and carefully transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently ease the pastry into the pan. Trim the pastry even with the pan rim. Prick the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork and cover the dough with aluminum foil. Cover the foil with pie weights or dry beans. Bake the pastry for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the pastry looks dry but not brown, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let the crust chill for 10 minutes.
4. In a bowl, mix heavy cream, eggs, egg yolks and gruyere. Arrange the onions at the bottom of the crust. Crumble goat cheese on top. Gently pour heavy cream mixture on top and using a fork, lightly mix it with the onions.
5. Bake for 45 minutes, until the quiche top is golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Vered Guttman is a caterer and a food writer based in Washington DC. Growing up in Israel she took her first lessons in Jewish cooking sitting at the tables of her two grandmothers, one from Poland, the other from Iraq. In Modern Manna, Vered will share a mix of new Israeli trends and old Jewish traditions, sprinkled with a distinct Sephardic flavor. Follow Vered on Twitter @veredguttman