Saturday, December 12, 2009

Traditions of Hanukkah (latke recipe)

surrenderedsoul reflects on the meaning of Hanukkah, her own family's celebration, and a recipe for a traditional favorite: potato latkes. Thank you!!

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah lasts for 8 days and 8 nights. This year it starts at sundown on Friday December 11th and ends at sundown on Sunday December 19th. For each night of Hanukkah (can also be spelled Chanukah), we light one candle on the menorah to symbolize the miracle of the oil that lasted in the temple for 8 days when there was only enough oil to last for one day.

In the United States, Hanukkah has become a very large gift giving holiday. Through out most of the rest of the world, Hanukkah is not a gift giving holiday, but a smaller celebration of the remembrance of the miracle of the oil and the destruction and subsequent clean up of the temple many many years ago.

In the United States, many families enjoy Hanukkah gatherings that include traditional foods such as latkes and jelly donuts. Jelly donuts are one of the symbolic foods because they use the oil to fry the donut, and also symbolize a sweet holiday season. Also many families exchange gifts, usually one for each night of the holiday.

In my family growing up, we always had a very large Hanukkah party on the last night of Hanukkah. We would celebrate nightly with our immediate family and my mom would always make foods like latkes, kugels, jelly donuts, brisket, and other assorted yummy items. then on the last night we would gather with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends, and have a large feast and exchange even more presents.

But a favorite thing to do on Hanukkah was play the dreidel game and sing songs. It was just a festive time to be happy and enjoy the company of family & friends.

Below is a recipe for potato latkes. I hope you enjoy them.

  • 12 medium potatoes, peeled & washed.
  • 2 medium onions (I prefer Vidalia onions)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup matzah meal (you can use flour instead if you wish)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil (for frying)

Shred the potatoes and onion into a large bowl. Press out all excess liquid.(if using a food processor, use the chopping blade for 2 or 3 seconds after pressing out liquid to avoid stringy fly-aways). Add eggs and mix well. Add matzah meal gradually while mixing until the batter is doughy, not too dry. (you may not need the whole amount, depending on how well you drained the veggies). Add the baking powder, salt and pepper and mix well. (don't taste the batter -- it's really gross!). Don't worry if the batter turns a little orange; that will go away when it fries.

Heat about 1/2 inch of oil to medium-high heat. Form the batter into thin patties about the size of your palm. Fry batter in oil. Be patient: this takes time, and too much flipping will burn the outside without cooking the inside. Flip when the bottom is golden brown.

Place finished latkes on paper towels to drain. Eat hot with sour cream or applesauce.

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