Why candles and oil are central to celebrating Hanukkah
About the only time islander Janet Hassinger makes latkes is during Hanukkah.
“To me, the fried potato pancakes are the symbol of Hanukkah,” she said. “I think that food is the thing that really emphasizes holidays.”
Latkes are ubiquitous during the eight-day Hanukkah commemoration of the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Syrians.
The deep frying of food represents the miracle of the oil. When Jewish fighters beat back the Syrians, they came across an oil lamp in the recaptured Temple. They had only enough oil for one night. But when they lit the lamp, it stayed lit for eight straight days.
There’s a lot of freewheeling with latke recipes today. Sure, there’s the familiar latke made with potatoes and onion. But there also are recipes for fish, apple or spinach latkes. The best sides are apple sauce or sour cream, Hassinger said.
The first day of Hanukkah is Dec. 12. We asked Hassinger and islander Sara Salzman to give us their favorite latke and other Hanukkah recipes.
5 potatoes, peeled
1 small onion, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons matzah meal
Oil for frying
Peel potatoes and onion. Grate them in a food processor or with hand grater.
Put mixture into a bowl and add salt, pepper and matzah meal.
In a second bowl, beat eggs together. Add eggs to potato mixture and stir together.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Gently drop spoonfuls of batter into the pan.
Fry on each side until golden brown. Use a spatula to turn them. (Don’t forget to regrease pan with every batch.) Dry on paper towel.
Serve with sour cream or apple sauce.
4- or 5-pound brisket
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1⁄2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup apricot jam
Water, to cover
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Place brisket, onion and garlic in casserole dish. Add water to cover. Cover and simmer 11⁄2 to 2 hours.
Remove brisket. Save 1⁄2 cup broth. Mix with brown sugar and jam
Put the brisket back in casserole. Pour mixture over brisket. Cook uncovered 1 hour. Drizzle remaining juices over the meat.
Recipes provided by Sara Salzman/originally from Columbus Dispatch
Yields: About 10 pancakes
2 pounds of fresh spinach
¼ cup water
4 large eggs
1 bunch scallions, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup bread crumbs or matzah meal (Hassinger used non-gluten p anko)
Cook the fresh spinach in a saucepan with a little water to cover over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. Then drain well.
Beat the eggs and mix with the spinach and the scallions. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper and enough bread crumbs or matzah meal to hold it all together.
Heat a griddle or skillet. Spread thinly with vegetable shortening. Form spinach patties with about ¼ cup of the mixture and fry a few minutes on each side. Dry on paper towel.
Recipe provided by Janet Hassinger/originally published in “Jewish Cooking in America”