Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CHANUKAH OH CHANUKAH Let's light the Menorah!

December 2, 2010 at sunset begins Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. Every night candles are lit on the Menorah.  The first night only one is lit along with the center candle, then the next night two are lit and so on until all eight are lit along with the center candle. Children receive a little gift each night.

There are also foods that go along with Chanukah and one is the LATKE, delicious potato pancakes.  For me, no-one made them like my mom but there are so many recipes out there.

Four keys to successful pancakes:
  • Speed Things Up
Once you peel and grate the potatoes, work as quickly as possible to prevent discoloration — after a few minutes, they'll start to oxidize and turn brown.
  • Dry It Out
Squeeze all the liquid you can from the potatoes and onions—lingering water will keep the pancakes from holding together and cooking properly.
  • Mix Your Fats
You can cook latkes in either oil or butter, but a mixture of the two will combine the flavor of butter with oil's high smoking point (which helps protect against scorching or burning). We like a one-to-one ratio.
  • Keep the Crunch
Potato pancakes are best served as soon as possible, before they lose their crunch. Of course, if you're frying them in batches (as in these recipes), you'll need to keep the first batches warm in the oven while you cook the rest. But as long as you work somewhat quickly, they'll retain most of their texture and flavor. Using two pans can lessen the holding time, but be sure you're comfortable with the frying process—you'll need to watch both pans closely to prevent burning. Or, if your kitchen is close to your guests, offer the latkes as they come out of the pan, after a brief drain on paper towels.

This is the classic latke, made with little more than grated potatoes and onions, with egg and matzomeal for binding.
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 4 large russet or Idaho potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds), peeled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons matzomeal
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Applesauce and/or sour cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 200°F. Place 2 nonstick baking sheets in oven.
Using box grater or food processor fitted with grating disc, coarsely grate onion and place in colander set in sink. Coarsely grate potatoes, add to colander, and set aside to drain.
In large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs, then stir in matzomeal.
Press potatoes and onion to extract as much liquid as possible, then add to egg/matzomeal mixture.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using wooden spoon or hands, mix well, but do not overwork.
In heavy-bottomed, 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter until hot but not smoking. Drop 4 scant 1/4-cup portions of potato mixture into pan and flatten with spatula to form four 3-inch pancakes.
Fry until bottoms are golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and fry until golden-brown and crisp, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season immediately with salt and pepper. Keep warm on baking sheets in oven while making remaining pancakes.
Using paper towels, carefully wipe out pan. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter and fry 4 more pancakes. Repeat with remaining batter, wiping out pan and adding 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter before each batch.
Serve pancakes hot with applesauce and/or sour cream.
This is the more authentic recipe.

This is another recipe that I got from Mario Batali, chef extraordinaire - just a little different.

2 large russet potatoes
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons matzoh meal
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Wash the potatoes but do not peel them. Grate the 2 russet potatoes on the large holes of a grater and grat the yukon gold on the medium holes. Add the milk, egg, baking powder, and matzoh meal. Season with salt and pepper and stir to blend well and toss into a colander for about one minute to drain just a bit of the juices. Replace in the mixing bowl.

Heat a scant 1/2 inch of oil in a large skillet until it is very hot but not smoking. Drop the potato mixture by large spoonfuls, then flatten slightly with a spatula to create a lacey edge. Turn them once.

When they are golden brown on the bottom side, cook them several minutes longer and drain them on paper towels (the latkes will have crisp edges).

Serve hot with marscarpone and /or applesauce

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

My memories of my mom's latkas are very sweet especially that we were lucky if most of them even made it to the table!!  What fun!


myeuropeantouch said...

Sue, so odd you posted this.
I grew up thinking I was jewish.
Of course after world war two no one was talking about religion, everybody was pretty much afraid to do so.
Mom cooked all the jewish food including latkas, kept all the jewish traditions and the cristmas tradtions. Until one day, when I turned 12 years old - was sent to Confirmation Class! So for the longest time I thought I was jewish - only to find out that my Mom was a housekeeper, cook, governess in a jewish family in her early 20's and that's were she learned to keep house and cook.
I love all jewish food, grew up around peeps who spook german and jiddish. What a rich heritage.
Thanks for sharing.

Christie Cottage said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE latkas! Ok, so add a little cheese on the top of your sour cream and sit far away from people who will want a bite!


SHEILA said...

Are you sure they can't be mailed?

Anonymous said...

Those look so yummy! A few years ago a Jewish family lived next door and they invited us to their celebration. So good!

Sue Runyon said...

Those look so good!

Tricia said...

Ohhh cool!! I now know what I've been doing wrong when I try to make these. Now I've got to go and get some potatoes and cook em right! Thank you for this wonderful post and fabulous recipes!

watercolors said...

Sue, what a great stroll through your rich traditions. You gave very easy directions and oh YUM, I'm hungry for one.


Art and Sew Forth said...

What a wonderful memory. I worked in a predominately Jewish gymnastics club until recently and it was always fun to listen to the kids talk about Chanukah, the gifts, and he ceremonies. Thank God for your salvation and your outreach to your Jewish friends!

Critters and Crafts said...

Mom made great potato pancakes. I tried making them, but not as good as Mom's. We would eat them topped with applesauce :)

Brenda said...

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