December 07, 2015


Last night our holiday of Chanukah began. It's about "this" important in terms of Jewish observance. Because it's a winter festival of lights and can fall very close to Christmas, the holiday observed by our government and so many people worldwide, Chanukah has come to take on increased importance in the USA and other Western countries.

That said, how can you not love a holiday whose main observance, after lighting candles (which we do on most Jewish holidays), is cooking and eating foods fried in oil? Me -- I never met a fried potato I didn't like.

Last night I did my usual, annual routine. I made my dad's recipe for latkes (potato pancakes) while listening to Debbie Friedman's album Not by Might, Not by Power, singing as loudly as possible and dancing around the kitchen.

While the latkes were cooking in batches, I made the Joy of Cooking's vegan orange cake, which comes together quickly, bakes in 30 minutes, and doesn't require more eggs or even much oil. I use half the sugar called for and cut the orange juice with half lemon juice, so that it's not as sweet as the original recipe.  I spread chocolate chips over half the top as the cake cooled so Rik and I would both enjoy part of it.

I pulled from the fridge the rest of the cranberry chutney I made for Thanksgiving, some salad, apple sauce and Greek yogurt (didn't have sour cream). After frying so many latkes that the house stank from oil, we ate latkes and salad for dinner until we were stuffed. Rik ate six and I ate four. Shouldn't have had that last one (urp). 

Now that's what I call a holiday!

The first three latkes!

Again I will post my adaptation of my father's latke recipe. As my mom and I recalled, Dad would stand at the stove frying while we three sat at the kitchen table. He'd serve up a plate of latkes, start frying another batch, and eat his while standing up. No wonder both his daughters became master latke-makers!

Jill's take on Shellie's Latkes

2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled
2 onions, grated
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup matzo meal or flour
Avocado, canola or other high heat oil, mixed with olive oil for frying
Applesauce and/or sour cream for garnish

1. Grate the potatoes by hand using the tiny holes in the grater. Or in a food processor use the thinnest grating blade, then whirl with the S blade to turn potatoes from grated strips into more of a mush. Grate the onions in the same way. Scoop up 1/4 cup of potatoes at a time with your hands and squeeze out and discard the excess liquid, then put in a colander and add the onions, eggs, matzo meal or flour, salt, and pepper, making sure that everything is very well blended. Let batter drain in the large colander over a mixing bowl while you fry.

2. Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a 10-inch pan over high heat. Scoop latkes using a tablespoon and add them to the hot oil. Don't crowd the pan -- four at a time is plenty. Be careful not to burn yourself! Cook latkes for about 5 minutes per side. Drain on a rack placed in a baking sheet with one inch sides (do not use paper towels), and keep warm in a 250 degree oven. Or eat standing up, while they're fresh from the oil.

3. Serve with applesauce at a meat meal or with sour cream or Greek style yogurt at a dairy meal.

PS You can freeze fried latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Transfer to a freezer bag or other container. When ready to eat latkes again, reheat in a low oven for about 20 minutes or until warm. If you make them in advance this way, your house doesn't smell like fried potatoes or stale oil when the guests arrive. Thanks to my sister for this great tip!

1 comment:

  1. Happy Chanukah! I am actually making latkes this week. I will have to try out this recipe! Yum!