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Hanukkah : Eight Days of Latkes

November 25, 1994|JUDY ZEIDLER

Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday celebrating religious freedom, begins this year at sundown Sunday--families will hardly have time to finish their Thanksgiving leftovers before they being making and eating latkes, the traditional Hanukkah pancakes.

When I was growing up, potato latkes were the only choice at our family Hanukkah celebration, although all sorts of latkes are served in Jewish communities around the world.

These days I never hesitate to improvise or add other ingredients, where they seem appropriate. With the following recipes you have a different latke for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah.

Texture in food is very important, and most of these latkes have a unique "crunch" all their own. If you like crisp latkes, you will especially enjoy the apple cornmeal latkes served with Bruna's candied pear slices.

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Many home cooks still grate potatoes or vegetables by hand. However, equipment like the food processor makes it much faster and easier to produce a batch of crisp latkes. Many of the mixtures keep well in the refrigerator, so keep some on hand when family or friends drop in. Non-stick griddles and pans make frying latkes easier and require much less oil.

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These latkes are family favorites. Frying the mixture on medium-low heat gives the sweet potatoes a chance to become almost caramelized. Finish frying on medium-high heat. They freeze well and can be crisped in the oven before serving.

SWEET POTATO-RAISIN LATKES

1 large sweet potato

2 eggs

Dash salt

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in apple juice

1/4 cup coarsely ground almonds

Oil for frying

Sour cream

Powdered sugar

Peel and rinse potatoes. Place in cold water until ready to grate to keep from discoloring.

Grate sweet potatoes to equal 2 cups. Then transfer to large bowl. Add eggs, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Fold in raisins and almonds.

In large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4-inch of oil over medium heat. Drop potato mixture by tablespoons into hot oil, flattening each spoonful with back of spoon to form thin latke. Fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes on each side.

Watch carefully because latkes brown quickly. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with sour cream and powdered sugar. Makes about 12 latkes.

Each serving contains about:

76 calories; 33 mg sodium; 35 mg cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.37 gram fiber.

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Jewish delis choose challah as their No. 1 choice for making French toast. I discovered challah also makes a delicious dessert latke, especially when topped with orange marmalade or ice cream.

CHALLAH LATKES

8 slices (3/4 to 1-inch thick) challah (egg bread)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

Powdered sugar

3/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Oil for frying

Orange marmalade

Using 2 1/2- to 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut each slice of bread into round.

In large bowl blend eggs, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, milk and orange zest. Place each slice of bread in egg mixture and let soak on both sides.

In large nonstick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Using metal spatula, carefully transfer prepared bread rounds into skillet and fry bread until golden brown on both sides and egg mixture is cooked, about 5 minutes. Arrange on heated serving plates, sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with spoonful of orange marmalade. Makes 8 latkes.

Each serving contains about:

52 calories; 35 mg sodium; 81 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 2 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0 fiber.

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These latkes are based on traditional ingredients from an old family favorite, noodle kugel. Noodles, eggs, apples and raisins are combined, resulting in a crisp latke that is dipped in cinnamon sugar .

ROMANIAN NOODLE LATKES

1 (8-ounce) package of fine egg noodles

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or margarine

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 small apple, pealed and finely diced

1/2 cup golden raisins, plumped in apple juice

Oil for frying

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cook noodles according to package directions. Then drain well. Transfer to large bowl, add butter and mix well. Cool, slightly. Blend in eggs, salt, apple and raisins.

In large, heavy skillet heat 1/4-inch oil over medium heat. Drop noodle mixture by tablespoon into hot oil, flattening each spoonful with back of spoon to form thin latke. Fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes on each side. Do not turn latkes until first side is golden and top is firmly set.

Drain on paper towels. Combine sugar and cinnamon in shallow bowl and dip latkes in sugar mixture on both sides. Makes about 30 latkes.

Each serving contains about:

74 calories; 25 mg sodium; 23 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 12 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.10 gram fiber.

CHEESE LATKES WITH CONCORD GRAPE WINE SAUCE

1 cup hoop cheese or farmer's cheese

3 eggs

1 cup flour

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in apple juice

Oil for frying

Concord Grape Wine Sauce

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