Thanksgiving? Check. A week’s worth of turkey leftovers gone? Check. Catch a quick breath: Hanukkah is here. Not to worry; I promise you perfect latkes EVERY time and much more! (This is how we always do it–three generations at the stove.)

I’ve been gifted with a bevy of early presents in the form of Hanukkah features and writing assignments, and and I figure the best way to say thank you and pay it forward is to share many of them with you here to help make your holiday celebrations the best ever.

Refresh and reframe what you know about Hanukkah: “Deep-Fried December” (Montreal Gazette) and “A Twist on the Classic Hanukkah Feast” (San Jose Mercury News). If you want to know how my very eclectic family traditions evolved (and see what I looked like at the age of four), read my Hanukkah story on Zester Daily. I hope my tale sparks thoughts of how your own delicious family customs came to be.

Now, let’s eat!

First, choose your latke:

If meat’s on your holiday menu, go to The Kitchn for my Braised Beef. This hearty stew yields lots of lovely juices to enrich your pancakes.

Add a refreshing, seasonal salad like this Hearty Winter Slaw or Pummelo, Fennel, and Radish Salad, and you are good to go!

hanukkah-zengoula-iraqi-funnel-cakesWell, not quite. This my friends, is the year of zengoula! Zen what? Find out on Food52 why sweets expert (and dear friend) Alice Medrich can’t stop thinking about my Iraqi grandma’s crisp funnel cakes (pictured right). This dish will turn your Hannukah fun upside down. I love when a very traditional food deserves and gets another moment in the spotlight. I did make a tiny tweak to the original—these pastries are dipped in lemon syrup instead of the classic honey or sugar syrup for a delicious tart contrast to the fried richness. Head over to Food52 to get the recipe.

There are eight nights of Hanukkah—enough for a variety of celebrations! If you’re in the LA area, join me and my family on Tuesday, December 8 at Akasha Richmond’s SAMBAR restaurant for a festive family-style Hanukkah dinner lush with dishes from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. I can’t think of a better holiday gift to a cookbook author than having one of the city’s great chefs fall in love with her recipes. Check out the menu here. If you’re wondering why a Hanukkah dinner at an Indian restaurant, the story goes that Baghdadi Jews brought zengoula with them to India, where the pastries became known as jalabi.

However you celebrate this December, I wish you warm, cozy feasts and abundant light against the dark nights.