Chanukah Feature: the Gourmet Touch; Fried Latkes Recall Miracle of Temple Oil Lamp
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Chanukah Feature: the Gourmet Touch; Fried Latkes Recall Miracle of Temple Oil Lamp

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Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, celebrates the miracle of the one day’s supply of oil that burned for eight days in the rededicated ancient Temple.

Jews around the world remember the miracle and the historic fight for religious freedom by lighting one candle of the menorah each night for eight nights and by preparing some of their favorite holiday foods.

The best known – and most popular – of these foods is the latke. Now, the laborious hand grating of the potatoes can be speeded up by using a food processor. Miniature Potato Latkes, A Delightful Appetizer 4 large potatoes 2 eggs, beaten 1 tsp. salt 1 Tbsp. flour 2 Tbsp. onion, grated 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. lemon juice

Cut potatoes in small pieces. Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend. Let sit for 15 minutes. Spoon liquid off top.

Drop mixture by teaspoonfuls onto hot, oiled skillet. Brown, well on both sides.

To freeze: Place between sheets of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet. To serve, heat one layer of latkes at a time – on the aluminum foil sheet – in a 450- degree oven for 5 minutes.

Keep warm on a hot tray and serve with sour cream for dipping with a dab of caviar. Makes about 5 dozen. Basic Potato Latkes (pancakes) 4 large potatoes, peeled 1 medium onion 1 large egg 1 tsp. salt, white pepper to taste 2 Tbsp. flour 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying

Grate potatoes and onion using the grating disc of the processor of large holes of a hand grater. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Transfer to bowl. Mix in all ingredients except oil.

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet. For each latke, drop about 2 tablespoons of mixture into pan. Flatten with back of spoon so each latke is 2 1/2-3 inches in diameter.

Fry over medium heat until golden brown and crisp – about 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Stir batter before frying each new batch. Add more oil to pan as necessary. Makes about 15. Light Latkes 3 large potatoes, peeled and grated into ice water 1/4 cup grated onion 1/4 cup egg substitute 1/2 tsp. salt; pepper to taste 1/4 tsp. baking powder 3 Tbsp. matzah meal

In a tea towel, squeeze out excess moisture from potato. Place in a mixing bowl with onion and egg substitute and mix well. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients. Slowly add to potato mixture, beating very well. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto hot, lightly oiled or vegetable oil-sprayed skillet.

Cook on one side until well-browned; turn over and brown other side. Serve with nonfat sour cream or yogurt, apple sauce or pear chutney. Pear Chutney 2 cups sugar 1 1/4 cups white vinegar 1/4 cup white wine or apple cider 2 oranges, diced with rind 1 lemon, diced with rind 1 lime, diced with rind 1 medium onion, diced 1 clove garlic, minced 1 cup white raisins 2 3/4 ozs. crystallized ginger, diced 2 1/2 lbs. pears, unpeeled and diced

Bring sugar, vinegar and wine to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 40 minutes. Cool and then refrigerate in covered jars for as long as 6-8 weeks. Makes more than 1 quart. Family Latke 1 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil (peanut) 6 Tbsp. butter 1 tsp. salt, divided; pepper to taste

Grate potatoes coarsely in a food processor and turn into ice water. Press out liquid well. In a 12-inch, nonstick skillet, heat oil and 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the potatoes. Press potatoes into a neat and even layer with a wooden spoon or metal spatula to completely fill bottom of skillet.

Brown over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes, then season with a bit of pepper and 1/2 tsp. salt. Slip latke onto large plate; add remaining butter to pan and invert latke back into skillet to finish browning on other side – about 10-15 minutes more. Season with remaining salt and pepper.

Slip latke onto cutting board and slice into wedges. Using 2 large spatulas, transfer wedges to warm serving platter and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Makes about 6-8 servings. Crisp Potato Kugel 1/2 cup flour 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. salt pepper to taste (1/4 tsp.) 6 potatoes, peeled 2 eggs 1 large onion, chopped 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Stir together dry ingredients and set aside. Grate potatoes into ice water to prevent discoloring. Squeeze out all liquid; add eggs and mix well. Add dry ingredients. Saute onion in oil until golden; add to batter and mix well.

Pour into an oiled 15″ x 10″ x 1″ jelly roll pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into squares. Return to oven and bake 30 minutes longer.

Serve hot with accompaniment of choice: apple sauce, yogurt, sour cream. Another Kugel 5 potatoes (2 1/2 lbs.) 2 medium onions 4 eggs 1 tsp. salt pepper to taste 1/4 cup matzah meal 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Coarsely grate the potatoes using the large-holed grater blade of a food processor or the largest side of a hand grater. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Grate the onions on the finer side of a hand grater or use the steel blade of the processor. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add all ingredients except the oil; mix well.

Pour the oil into a 9″ x 13″ baking pan and heat in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes. Pour the hot oil into the batter, stirring slightly, and then quickly pour the butter into the pan. Bake for 1 hour or until lightly browned. Served 4-6.

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