The Swedes have lutefisk, the Scots have Haggis, and the Jews have Manischevitz. The seeds of Abraham have produced great scientists such as Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan and great writers such as Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, but great Jewish vintners, there are none. Instead, on Friday evening, when it is time to welcome the Sabbath and bless the wine, every Jewish household in America reaches deep into its cellar, dusts off a bottle of Manischevitz and unscrews the cap. And yet, despite its Welch's grape juice flavor, Manischevitz is a warm memory for many Jews, who fondly remember Friday nights dissipating into a soft and bleary haze as glass after glass disappeared behind our little lips.
This recipe softens the sickly sweet blow of this traditional wine and makes a cheery cocktail of it:
Put on some Klezmer music. Separate the eggs. Set aside 1/4 cup of the sugar and beat the yolks with remaining sugar until pale yellow. Beat in the 6 cups of milk.
Combine liquors in a large bowl, then slowly pour in the egg yolk/sugar/milk mixture, allowing the booze to "cook" the raw eggs. Add vanilla if desired and mix well.
In a separate bowls, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form and whip the cream with 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Fold in cream with egg whites in a large serving bowl.
Gently pour the yolk mixture into the egg whites
and cream. The cream should float on top.
Serve it up, enough for half of Brooklyn. Take car keys of anyone having more than 2 cups. Oy vey! Yer drunk on mashuganog!
(Thanks to Dan The Man)
Why is fondue eaten on this night and not all other nights? Rabbi Akiba suggests that the bread symbolizes the corporeal nature of humanity, while the cheese the gooey goodness of the soul. Rabbi Hillel, on the other hand, chooses to focus on the many fruits that can be dipped into the cheese sauce, and suggests that as Adam took the apple from Eve, so we are descending into sin when we consume the cheese fondue of Jewsmas. Given the inevitable conclusion of the dreidel drinking game, this is likely the most appropriate of interpretations.
Grate cheeses and toss with cornstarch; set aside. Rub the inside of fondue dish with garlic and add wine; do not bring to boil; heat until tiny bubbles form in fondue dish. Add grated cheeses and lemon juice; stir until smooth. Remove from heat and add kirsch or cooking sherry, white pepper and salt to taste. Serve with cubed crusty French bread, apples and pears.
On all other nights, we eat no fondue, but on this night, we eat not one fondue, but two fondue. Perhaps anticipating Hegel's Dialectic, the ancient Hebrews knew that for each rich, nutritious cheese fondue, there must be a corresponding rich, yummy chocolate fondue. For this reason, on Jewsmas, we finish our meal with this delicious dessert.
Gently melt chocolate over hot water in a double boiler or heat in microwave on medium power for 2-4 minutes; blend until smooth. Whisk in cream. Stir in liqueur. Transfer to serving dish or fondue pot. Serve warm with fresh fruit. Enjoy.