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Happy Chanukah Day 3: Food For Thought

Happy Chanukah Day 3: Food For Thought

A Chanukah menu includes potato pancakes, fried, of course, in lots of oil. Sweet cream cheese rugelach. Strawberry-jam-filled doughnuts (sufganiyot), covered in powdered sugar. Fried apple fritters. Cheese-filled doughnuts fried in oil and dipped in honey and Cheese blintzes. Chanukah food traditions have their origins in the first years that the holiday was celebrated, and are meant to remembrances of certain miracles associated with the reason for Chanukah. 

The first is the miracle of oil. One day’s supply of oil lasted for eight days. Mystically, both the menorah and the oil used to light it are associated with Chochmah, and the war between the Greeks and the Jews.

The word shemen, Hebrew for oil, contains the same letters as shemoneh, eight, the number of days that the miracle of the oil lasted. 

The dairy is to honor a young woman named Yehudis. During the war against the Greeks, she fed a Greek General salty cheeses so that he would become extremely thirsty and brought him wine to drink. He fell asleep, she killed him. The Greek army fell into disarray and fled. Thus the dairy in the meals.

Gluten Free Latkes

Be sure to use high-heat oil, which will help keep things from burning. Pay attention to the temperature of the oil—keep it between 325° and 350° F—

Makes 24 latkes

Frying time: 6 to 8 minutes

  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • ½ cup superfine brown rice flour
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 32 ounces safflower or other high-heat vegetable oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 170° F or your preferred keep-warm setting. Line a baking sheet with layers of paper towels.
  2. Peel the potatoes. Using a grater attachment, grate all the potatoes and onion together. Alternate, if grating by hand, coarsely grate half of the mixture and finely grate the other half, then combine the two mixtures in a large bowl.
  3. Line a colander with a clean dish towel. Place the potato mixture in the lined colander. Squeeze to get the liquid out. It will be messy, but keep going or the latkes will be greasy and not as light.
  4. Place the potato mixture in the bowl and add the flour, eggs, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  5. Fill a skillet with ¼ inch of oil. Heat the oil until a tiny bit of the mixture sizzles when dropped in. Maintain an oil level that is ¼ inch deep with a temperature of 325° to 350° F at all times.
  6. Scoop ¼ cup of batter for each pancake, flatten to 4 inches in diameter, and fry over medium heat until nicely browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more.
  7. Place the finished latkes on the paper towel–lined baking sheet. Place the sheet in the oven to keep warm while finishing up the other latkes.
  8. Serve the latkes warm, topped with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Events

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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