Hanukkah begins this Friday at sundown, and to celebrate, I recommend hosting an informal yet elegant dinner. When guests arrive, offer them a drink and a buckwheat blini with smoked salmon, crème fraîche, and salmon roe. It's the perfect bite to kick-start a party. For the main course, skip the traditional brisket in favor of Dijon lamb lollipops with red currant-mint dipping sauce.
Potato latkes are crispy and flavorful, and a simple mixed-green salad with kumquats rounds out the menu. To get these recipes, Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl.
Place milk and butter in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until butter melts and thermometer registers 110°F (if mixture gets too warm, cool until temperature returns to 110°F). Pour warm milk mixture into flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Whisk buckwheat batter to deflate; then whisk in eggs. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.) Transfer to large bowl. Cover; chill (may increase in volume; rewhisk before using).
Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Brush lightly with melted butter. Working in batches, pour 2 tablespoons batter for each blini onto griddle, spacing apart. Cook until bubbles form on top and begin to pop, about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn blinis; cook until golden brown on bottom, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer to baking sheet. Tent with foil and place in oven to keep warm while cooking remaining blinis. (Blinis can be made 1 day ahead.) Cool, cover, and chill. Brush blinis lightly with melted butter and rewarm on baking sheet in 350°F oven 5 minutes.
Arrange warm blinis on platter. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoon crème fraîche atop each. Top with smoked salmon. Garnish with salmon roe and dill sprigs and serve. Prepare the lamb: Stir together mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Brush mixture all over lamb. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag, and refrigerate at least 6 hours (or up to overnight).
Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce: Whisk together jelly, vinegar, and the water in a medium bowl until smooth. Fold in mint. (Sauce can be refrigerated, covered, up to 6 hours before serving.)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring lamb to room temperature. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part (avoiding bone) registers 125 to 130 degrees for medium-rare, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and tent with foil. Let rest 10 minutes.
Just before serving, cut lamb racks into individual chops. Garnish with mint sprigs. Serve with dipping sauce. In a large bowl, mix the egg with the flour, salt and white pepper. In a colander, toss the shredded potatoes with the onion and apple and squeeze dry. Add to the bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat 1/2 cup of canola oil with 2 tablespoons of the schmaltz until shimmering. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the latke mixture into the oil about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with a fork. Fry the latkes over moderately high heat until golden on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes.
Lower the heat to moderate, turn the latkes and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes longer. Drain the latkes on paper towels set on a rack and transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining latke mixture, adding more oil and schmaltz to the skillet as needed. Serve hot with applesauce and sour cream. For vinaigrette : With machine running, drop garlic through feed tube of processor and chop finely. Add anchovies, fresh lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and Dijon mustard; blend well.
Gradually add extra-virgin olive oil, blending until vinaigrette is smooth. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk before using.
For salad : Combine romaine pieces, Belgian endive strips, baby arugula, and kumquats in large bowl. Toss salad with enough vinaigrette to coat and serve.