Recipes for Chanukah
Our partners at OneTable shared these awesome recipes for Chanukah and we wanted to make sure you saw them too! The folks at Jewish Food Society are providing delicious recipes with fascinating stories behind them. Here are a few choice recipes to make your Chanukah extra tasty!
- Classic latkes
When it came to latkes, “my mother, my aunts, everybody made latkes in the family,” said Adam Zolot. And everyone made them differently. The exposure to different latkes helped form Adam’s own very strong opinions on the Hanukkah classic. “I could probably recreate my grandfather’s latkes or aunt Esther’s, but these (see the recipe below) are uniquely mine.” They are intentionally petite in stature, small enough to be picked up and eaten with one’s fingers at his annual Vodka::Latke party, where he estimates he serves 500 latkes of different varieties, with these as the anchor.
- Russian Latkes
Russian cooking “gets a little bit of a bad rap in contemporary culinary circles,” says chef Sasha Shor. But, for Sasha, it is anything but. It’s filled with rich flavors and open to adaptation. “When people taste modern versions of [Russian] food, they understand that it has relevance,” she says. Hanukkah is a holiday Sasha only started to observe when she moved to the United States when she was seven-years-old. In the Soviet Union, her family prepared Jewish recipes but they weren’t connected with holidays. “They never spoke about [Jewish customs],” she says about her grandparents. “Especially when my mom was growing up (in Stalin’s time), for fear that the kids would talk about it outside the house and put them or the family in danger.”
- Healthy-ish Latkes
Bracha Luft remembers her mother cooking in their family kitchen, spending hours chopping, kneading dough, and washing spinach for ketzitzot tered, or fried spinach patties finished in a tart sauce. Everything in her kitchen was made from scratch — and much of it grown in their backyard. During Israel’s era of austerity in the 1950s, her family moved away from Tel Aviv to cultivate a small farm with fruit trees and chickens for eggs. For Bracha, the key to preserving the dishes and flavors is to make the recipes simpler, so they can be made often. Over the years, she has developed shortcuts for recipes like the spinach patties. She buys pre-washed greens and makes larger patties, so there’s less time spent standing over the stove frying them.
- Homemade Applesauce
Twenty years ago, Liz Neumark was a busy mother, balancing running a successful catering company and raising four children under 10. As the latkes were made, Liz reached into the fridge for a jar of her homemade applesauce, something she learned to love as a child when her grandmother Nelly, a Russian immigrant, would make it with crab apples. In her house, latkes and applesauce aren’t a once a year production. Every couple of months, the family would do a deep dive into latkes, as Liz explains. After her daughter Sylvia passed away, Liz founded the Sylvia Center in her honor, a non-profit aimed at improving the health of young people through teaching them how to cook. Eleven years ago, Liz started an annual fundraiser for the project: a Latke Festival in her catering company’s kitchen.
- Chanukah Cornish hens
“My mother had menus upon menus and varying versions of many specialties,” explains Sasha. “My father, on the other hand, had only a handful and they were all my favorites.” Chicken tabaka, which Sasha jokes was the fried chicken of Russia, was one of them. Her father Nyuma would stand over the stove, pressing down the lid of a mustard-colored dutch oven to cook the skin. Unlike when her mother occupied the kitchen and Sasha worked as part of the cooking brigade, when Nyuma was making dinner, “everybody cleared out,” she says. When it was ready, the small bird (chickens in her home growing up were smaller than what’s typical in the U.S., Sasha says) was placed on the table and everyone would dive in with their hands.
- Fresh herb salad
Ziona, like many Persian cooks, serves platters of raw and loose herbs to pair with many meals. In this recipe, Einat borrows from that idea and creates a fresh herb salad that pairs perfectly with any rich meal.
- Danish Chanukah Pancakes
Growing up in the small Jewish community of Denmark, Margit Sheftelowitz remembers that Christmas Eve was a special time in the city of Copenhagen. Christian families headed to Church before dinner in homes with Christmas trees. Margit’s family didn’t go to church, or have a Christmas tree, but her parents made the evening a celebration. Margit kept two of the Christmas traditions from Copenhagen, transferring them to Hanukkah in her home in Israel. She makes aebleskiver, small Danish doughnuts that are traditionally served around Christmas time — using a particular skillet she received from her mother. She borrows from the Christmas rice pudding recipe and tucks an almond into one doughnut for someone to discover. Just like when she was little, the person who finds the almond receives a special gift from her.
- Egyptian Zalabia with orange honey blossom syrup
On Hanukkah, pans of oil bubbled in both of his grandmothers’ kitchens. His Moroccan grandmother Mazal fried sfinge, a light doughnut, round with a hole in the center. Nearby, Rubi, Nir’s Egyptian grandmother would drop small bubble gum-sized balls of dough into the hot oil to make zalabia that were dressed with a syrup of honey and served after lighting the menorah. While zalabia is popular with many Jewish families from the Maghreb to India for Hanukkah, Nir explains that Rubi learned her recipe from her Muslim neighbors in Alexandria who would make the sweet during Ramadan. “Even for the Jews, it was a really exciting month,” Nir explains recalling stories his grandmother told him growing up of an era where relations between Jews and their Muslim neighbors in Egypt were easier.
- Chanukah Latkes
And this one is from our site – local mom Batya Stepelman shared her latke recipe and methods with us in 2016.