Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Toledo Area Hanukkah

When there are three empty bottles of oil in the recycling bin of a nutritionist, you know it must be Hanukkah! Actually, I used the last drop from one bottle, a friend brought her own to fry her delicacy, and I then used one bottle for the latkes. Hanukkah is about oil. Back in 165, Judah Maccabee and his small army successfully defeated the large Syrian-Greek army who had refused to let the Jewish people pray in their manner. After their mission was accomplished, they wished to rededicate the Temple yet found only enough oil to last one day. It would take over a week to travel to the next village to get more oil. Yet this tiny amount of oil lasted eight days and nights which was enough time to keep the ever-lasting light until more supplies arrived. As in most Jewish holidays, our food is symbolic of our memories and rituals. During Hanukkah we eat fried foods to remind us of the miraculous oil.

This year in Toledo, one of the celebrations, Hanukkah Palooza included a latke (potato pancake) lunch at Temple B’Nai Israel
http://www.cbitoledo.org/index.asp. There were five varieties of latkes made by Simply Delicious Catering. We sampled regular, vegetable, sweet potato, Greek, and one with lox and scrambled egg in it. It was such an experience to have so many delicious latkes in one setting! When I attended Temple Shomer Emunim’s http://oh004.urj.net/ Hanukkah Dinner, their offerings included mushroom latkes. This is the first year I’ve had so many varieties. They were all wonderful!

I know Chabad House
www.chabadtoledo.com had a Chanukah at the Mall celebration but I was sadly unable to attend this year.

Most recipes for regular potato latkes include potatoes, eggs, flour, onion, salt and pepper. But I found a recipe the uses an apple instead of onion – this would be helpful for those who find onions disagreeable with their digestion and/or palette. Here is the way I make latkes. First I whisk together eggs and whole wheat flour – one egg for every pound of potatoes I plan to use and one tablespoon flour per egg. Then I add some kosher salt and cracked pepper. Next I wash the potatoes – about ¼ - ½ pound of potatoes per person. I find the Yukon Gold potatoes work well for latkes, and I never peel potatoes. In the food processor, I shred the potatoes and add them to the egg/flour mixture, and then add frozen, chopped onions (½ as much as the potatoes). This batter can be made up to one day ahead of time. When it is time to fry, pour enough oil (canola, peanut, or sunflower oil work best) into a fry pan or electric skillet and heat to about 350-375 degrees. When the oil is hot, gently place a scoop of batter (about ¼ cup) into the grease. Do this until the pan is filled without the latkes touching each other. I just read a recipe that talked about making the latkes crispy by using a “splat method.” This means you throw the batter as hard as you can into the grease – to me it sounds messy-er than usual and dangerous. When the latkes are brown on one side (about 2 minutes), turn to the other side until brown (about another minute). We use no-sugar-added applesauce and reduced fat sour cream as accompaniments.

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