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Ancient olive tree in Israel, estimated to be 1,500 years old. Olive oil used in lighting the menorah in Jeruslame's Temple, plays a prominent part in the Chanukah story, which took place more than 2,100 years ago. 

Olive Oil Herbed Challah

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Bring the hostages home.

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Olive oil isn’t just for frying. Try making this delicious savory Olive Oil Herbed Challah filled with chopped olives, fresh rosemary and thyme, and topped with rosemary salt, perfect for the celebration of Chanukah. The taste is light, slightly chewy and delicious! Latkes are the usual Chanukah treat; you will see several latke recipes linked here, including Rainbow Latkes, made from vegetables with different colors. Also Included are Asian Fusion Latkes, Sephardic Leek Patties, and Sformato di Spinaci, an Italian Spinach recipe. One of my favorites, Almond Chocolate Olive Oil Biscotti, I make all year round! Enjoy all of them.

Happy Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. It’s an especially good time to bring light into your home and the world. 

Foodie Lit

“Courage. Resolve. Empathy.”  These are the words of author Irene Drago describing to me what she considered the ingredients necessary for success in one’s personal and professional life. Main character Lavinia Wren certainly can be described with all three, as she creates a successful life for herself despite being orphaned, despite the barriers again her gaining a college degree and despite her unpopular mission for judicial and prison reform. She was a wife, a mother and had a career. Quite a “success” story for a woman born in the middle of the 19th century!

Olive Oil Herbed Challah


Yield:  2 large challot 


1 packet of yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 whole eggs 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves chopped or 2 teaspoon rosemary dried

3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only or 1 teaspoon dried

2 cups bread flour

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup pitted and chopped mixed olives, green, kalamata, black, etc.

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

Coarse rosemary salt for garnish

Extra fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish



  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast on top of warm water (Water should feel warm to the inner side of your wrist). To make with a sour dough starter, as I did, see the end of the recipe for instructions. 

  2. Let yeast proof, that is bubble a little, which shows that the yeast is active. Mix in sugar. 

  3. In a large measuring cup, mix together olive oil, honey, 2 eggs, salt and rosemary. Pour into the yeast mixture.

  4. Gradually add flour, stirring until dough is stiff.

  5. Turn dough onto a clean and floured surface. Knead for about 8-10 minutes, adding more flour as the dough becomes sticky. Knead until you cannot add any more flour into the mixture and the dough becomes smooth and elastic. 

  6. In the empty bowl, add 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil, enough to cover the bottom. Place dough in the bowl and turn until the dough is covered with the oil. Cover with clean towel  or plastic wrap. Place bowl in a draft free spot. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 ½ hours.  The time will vary according to the temperature  and humidity in your kitchen. 

  7. Punch the dough down, and knead olives into dough. 

  8. Divide dough into 2 or 3 sections, depending on the size of the challah you desire. 

  9. Divide each section into 3 pieces to make your braid. With your hands roll each strand into strands of equal length, about 8-10 inches in length. Braid. You can also divide the dough into 4 or 5 strands, depending on how you would like to braid your challah. Place the braids on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush each challah with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and chopped rosemary. Let rise in a draft free spot for another 30 minutes.

  10. Place an oven proof pan of water on the bottom or lower shelf of the oven. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. 

  11. Bake challah for 30-35 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and loaves sound hollow when you tap the bottom. Cool before slicing. 

  12. Freezing: Cool challot to room temperature. Wrap in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. You can put these shallot into freezer proof plastic bags. I completely wrap several times to prevent freezer burns. 

    Note: You may also make this challah with a starter (as for a sour dough), as I did. In place of 1 cup water with yeast, add 1 1/2 cups starter, with      1 1/2 teaspoon of active yeast sprinkled in. 


How to make a Sour Dough Starter

1. Day  One. In a clean jar with a lid, mix 1/2 cup rye flour and 1/2 cup warm water. Mix and cover out of drafts. I use a Ball jar for ease but any lidded jar will work.

2. For each of the next 5-6 days, add equal amounts of all purpose flour and water (1/2 c or less water) maintaining the batter-like consistency. If there is too much  liquid, pour out a bit to maintain correct consistency.

​3. On day 5 or 6, bubbles should start to appear and there should be a yeasty smell. The starter is ready to use.  You will need 1 1/2 cups of starter for this recipe and you can save the rest for other recipes. Let sit out on counter if you are going to use it soon or refrigerate it if you want it to last a bit.

4. Continue to add ½ cup each water and flour as before every few days. Mix well by hand. Some people have maintained starters for years!

Expandthetable suggestions

Reduce the sugar: Use a sugar substitute such as Stevia in place of sugar and honey. Follow substitution measurements on package.

Feeling nutty? Add chopped unsalted almonds or pecan with the olives in the above recipe.

Add fiber: In place of all-purpose flour, use white whole wheat flour.

#Challah #Chanukah #Bread 

Adapted from Little Ferraro Kitchen. Samantha Ferraro. 

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Delicious organic Rosemary Salt made from salt mined from the Dead Sea in Israel. For more information or to purchase, check out 424 (meters) below sea level

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