The Cookstr 10: Ten Recipes for Hanukkah
Let’s hear it for latkes and fritters!
Whatever your religion, the words “potato pancakes” probably send a pleasurable little shiver up your spine. Crunchy and tender, still hot from the pan, maybe with a dollop of apple sauce or sour cream, or (look at you!) even a little scoop of caviar, potato pancakes are certainly one of the most symbolic foods of Hanukkah, but also one of the nicest items to serve at any holiday party. Also known as latkes, they can be served very small, as an hors d’oeuvre, as an appetizer, or alongside lots of different holidays roasts and main courses.
The story of Hanukkah tells us that 2,000 years ago an oil candle was lit in the Temple, and while the oil was supposed to last for only one day, it burned for eight days and nights. Foods cooked in oil are prepared over the holiday to symbolize the miracle of the oil lamp. Potato pancakes and fritters, or doughnuts, sometimes called sufganiyot, are all traditional holiday foods.
Now, the great news is that whether you’re Jewish or not you are still entitled to your fair share of latkes and doughnuts. All you need is a few cups of oil and a hungry crowd and you are well on your way to making December a little more delicious.
1. Judy Bart Kancigor’s Potato Latkes. If lacey, crunchy, almost see-through latkes are what you crave, you’re in the right place. These have practically no insides, so they’re all crunch.
2. Jesse’s Favorite Crispy-Baked Potato Pancakes. These latkes are attractively speckled with scallions instead of the usual onions. And instead of being fried, the pancakes are baked, but still crisp up nicely thanks to a liberal brushing of oil on the baking sheets.
3. Joan Nathan’s Aharoni’s Pan-Sephardic Leek Latkes. This is an updated version of a typical Sephardic leek patty: pine nuts, shallots and a handful of grated cheese are blended with the leeks for hey-now flavor and texture.
4. David Waltuck’s Paul’s Potato Latkes. A bit of carrot mixed into the potato adds a touch of sweetness and a nice shot of color. Keep in mind that the more water you’re able to squeeze from the shredded ingredients, the crispier the latkes will be.
5. Nigella Lawson’s Zucchini Fritters. These are so light and simple–just grated zucchini mixed with feta, herbs and scallions, stirred up with flour and eggs and dolloped into a frying pan. Another bonus is that these are perfect served at room temperature.
6. Anne Bramley’s Honey-Ginger Carrot and Parsnip Latkes with Creme Fraiche. These latkes trade in the traditional old New World tuber–the potato–for a parsnip-carrot combo that will have your family debating the merits of old versus new with their mouths full. Ground ginger is a surprising and winning touch, and dollops of crème fraîche on top are quite modern.
7. Dave DeWitt’s Wasabi Potato Pancakes. East meets latkes. If you’re looking for a real twist on the classic, these potato pancakes laced with green onions, cilantro, wasabi paste and garlic make for a bracing change.
8. Faye Levy’s Israeli Doughnuts. For many children (and hey, grown ups, too) soofganiyot, or doughnuts without holes, are the most anticipated Hanukkah treat. Some are filled with red jam; others are plain, and often served sprinkled with powdered sugar. This recipe starts with a traditional yeast dough, with a hit of lemon rind.
9. Sheila Lukins’ Orange Sour Cream Doughnuts. A bite of these cakey doughnuts reveal a hint of orange and the tang of sour cream. Wrap them loosely in a linen napkin so they’ll stay warm. These have no yeast, so the dough only needs to rest for 20 minutes before you cut and fry the doughnuts (save the holes!).
10. Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner’s Portuguese Apple Fritters. These light, batter-coated rings enclose tender apple slices, with the aromatic flavors of anise and cinnamon.