A modern spin on Yehudit’s Goat Cheese and Wine for Hanukkah

As a new convert. I don’t know all of the history and symbolism behind every holiday and tradition. I decided to google Hanukkah, in order to  learn some new things to teach my kids. During my search, I learned the story of Yehudit (Judith).

Yehudit lived long ago in the ancient town of Bethulia in the land of Judea. It was all fine and good until the dreaded Syrian-Greek general, Holofernes laid siege to the town. When he failed to take the town by force, he decided to starve the inhabitants. When all of the other residents fell into utter despair, Yehudit hatched a plan to fool the general into thinking that she was on his side and would help him overthrow her town. Once Yehudit had gained Holoferness’s trust, he asked her to celebrate. She fed him goat cheese & wine and rendered him incapacitated. She then,

decapitated him with his own sword and told her town to prepare for a surprise attack. Once the enemy discovered their leader had fallen, they fled in confusion and terror. Hanukkah is so full of stories of bravery about men, it’s great to find one that celebrates female courage and resistance. So, this is my tribute to Yehudit: a tasty goat cheese  appetizer with a strawberry wine reduction. It’s tangy and sweet, with a little kick of heat, just like Yehudit, herself.


  • 8-oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 16-oz Goat Cheese, softened
  • 2 Eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh, cracked, black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 cups sliced Strawberries
  • 1/8 cup basil, chiffonade
    Basil Chiffonade

    Basil Chiffonade

    Reduction test

    Reduction test


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine water, sugar, red wine, strawberries, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, add the cream cheese and goat cheese to a bowl and mix until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
  4. Remove strawberries from the saucepan and continue to simmer until sauce is reduced to half of the amount. The sauce should stick to the back of a spoon when scooped.
  5. Add the reduction to the cheese mixture and swirl. Pour the cheese mixture into an 8-inch pan ( I used two 4-inch pans so I had enough to take to two parties.) Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, until just the center is wiggly. Remove from oven and let cool. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
  6. Top with remaining strawberries and garnish with a few strands of basil. Enjoy!
    The final product. Enjoy!

    The final product. Enjoy!