‘Tis the season to chill with friends and family to commemorate the miracle of the little crucible of oil that lasted for eight nights in the Holy Temple.
A Jewish holiday that only requires lighting some candles, eating fried foods, singing some songs and playing dreidel?
We’ll take it!
Who doesn’t love Hanukkah?
We celebrate with brightly lit menorahs, fried latkes, Krispy Kreme donuts and lots of gold and silver foil-covered chocolate coins.
‘Tis the season to chill with friends and family to commemorate the miracle of the little crucible of oil that lasted for eight nights in the Holy Temple. We remember the victory of the brave Maccabees who defeated the Assyrian-Greeks. We celebrate with brightly lit menorahs, fried latkes, Krispy Kreme donuts (decorated with the requisite blue and white combo of frosting and sprinkles) and lots of gold and silver foil-covered chocolate coins.
This week, I was on a Starbucks run with my nine year old niece Aliza. She said “Doda Sharon, I love your Hanukkah parties! You decorate the house. You have pizza and sushi and Krispy Kreme donuts and lots of candy. You give us gelt. And Nana Sue makes the best latkes!”
One of my greatest pleasures is hosting an annual Hanukkah bash with my nieces and nephews, my family and dear friends. I love that it’s not a typical sit down meal and that the menu is very casual. Salads, pasta, smoked salmon, a cheese board. There’s even apple sauce and sour cream to go with Nana Sue’s amazing latkes.
My mum is in charge of the monumental task of grating enough potatoes (and sweet potatoes) to feed an army. We have two frypans sizzling with oil and carrots (they prevent the oil turning black). Miraculously, the latkes always fry up golden and delicious.
Dear reader, imagine the disappointment on Aliza’s face when I told her that this year I won’t be able to host the Hanukkah party. (My sweet husband booked us on a non-refundable trip to visit our daughter on the East Coast without checking Hanukkah dates.) I told her I’d be deputizing my son and daughter-in-law but she didn’t look convinced.
(That reminds me, I’d better get some Hanukkah gelt ready before I leave). G-d willing, we’ll have the opportunity to make more Hanukkah memories next year.
For those of you who will be frying latkes in the kitchen, we share with you a wonderful recipe from local celebrity food blogger Lindsey Baruch of the amazing Instagram account @lindseyeats.
Lindsey Eats Latkes
3 medium sized russet potatoes, or 2 large grated, peeled or skin on
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 onion grated
1/4th cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Neutral oil for frying, vegetable or canola
Serve with Crème Fraîche or sour cream, salmon roe and chopped chives
- Prep your station. In a bowl, add water and ice with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Set a colander inside of the bowl. This will help the potatoes from discoloring and prevent oxidation as you’re grating.
- Prep your potatoes. Clean and scrub your potatoes. Peel if you prefer! We kept the skin on. Using a box grater or a chop attachment on a food processor, grate your potatoes. Set in your colander, over the bowl of water and ice. Repeat until all your potatoes are grated.
- Repeat the same by grating your onions, and adding in the same colander over the ice bath.
- Squeeze out moisture. When everything is grated, add the mixture in a cheese cloth or towel and squeeze out all the excess moisture until it’s pretty dry. This will help the latkes get crispy.
- Make your mixture. Once your potatoes and onions are dry, add your eggs, baking powder, matzo meal, salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands until fully combined Mix well with your hands until fully coasted.
- Heat your oil. Next, heat up a cast iron with oil until hot. This is a shallow fry, so you don’t need to add that much oil here.
- Fry your latkes. Fill a 1/4th cup measuring spoon with the mixture and add it in the hot oil. Then press down with a spatula/fish spatula/burger press until thin (or your desired thickness).
- Let your latkes fry on one side until crispy, about 4-5 minutes, then flip and repeat on the other side. Set aside on lined paper towels on a plate. Season with flakey salt when it’s out of the heat.
- Work in batches and repeat until all your latke mixture is done. Makes about 8-10 latkes.
- Top with a spread of Crème Fraîche, then salmon roe and chives (optional). You can also serve alongside sour cream and apple sauce, which is the traditional way to eat latkes. Serve and enjoy!
Rachel Sheff and Sharon Gomperts have been friends since high school. They love cooking and sharing recipes. They have collaborated on Sephardic Educational Center projects and community cooking classes. Follow them on Instagram @sephardicspicegirls and on Facebook at Sephardic Spice SEC Food.