The mir­a­cle of shar­ing the latkes

The Swi­dler fam­ily demon­strates how to make latkes

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Fran­cie Swi­dler

Jewish hol­i­days are all about the cook­ing — the recipes, the smells, the food, the meals, the left­overs.

On Hanukkah, that means it’s all about latkes.

Latkes, pro­nounced “laat-kees” or “laat-kahs,” are thin potato pan­cakes made from potato, onions, eggs, salt, pep­per and matzo meal and fried in oil.

Our fam­ily serves them warm, with a pinch of sugar on top and sour cream or ap­ple­sauce on the side.

I have a faint mem­ory of a He­brew teacher long ago telling me some­thing about the sym­bol­ism of oil on the hol­i­day — a holy tem­ple had been de­stroyed, and the sur­viv­ing Jewish peo­ple in­side thought they only had enough oil to light one can­dle for one night. But then a mir­a­cle hap­pened. The oil didn’t just last for a sin­gle night — it burned for eight.

That’s what we cel­e­brate on Hanukkah: the fes­ti­val (or mir­a­cle) of lights.

While I don’t re­mem­ber ev­ery­thing I learned in He­brew school, I’ll never for­get what this hol­i­day means to me.

In 1939, in Poland, my grand­mother’s fam­ily was ripped apart by Nazis. My grand­mother, Gisa Spek­tor, lost ev­ery­one dur­ing World War II: three sis­ters, a brother, her par­ents, her new hus­band and their new­born girl.

But she never gave up her Jewish »den­ver­post.com/food Fran­cie Swi­dler and her mom, Pearl Swi­dler, make latkes as part of a Hanukkah tra­di­tion. tra­di­tions. She brought them all, along with her recipes, when she came to Amer­ica years later.

I’ll never know what Hanukkah was like when she was grow­ing up, but she’s the cen­ter of my child­hood hol­i­day mem­o­ries. And I now know how to make her latkes.

Be­fore she passed away, she taught my mom, Pearl, and my Aunt Linda pre­cisely how to make those finicky latkes — when to add an­other egg, if they need more salt, how to flip them. And they taught me. Shar­ing that recipe with other fam­ily and friends is what I con­sider to be the mir­a­cle of Hanukkah. Di­rec­tions

Peel each potato and cut into quar­ters. Peel and quar­ter each onion. Pat pota­toes very dry with a pa­per towel. Place pota­toes and onions in food pro­ces­sor and pulse a few sec­onds. (Tip: Don’t puree the in­gre­di­ents, but you don’t want large pieces of potato or onion ei­ther. We keep the bat­ter on the chunkier side.) Spoon the mix­ture into a large bowl.

Add a beaten egg to potato-onion mix­ture and mix well with spoon or spat­ula. Slowly add ¼ cup matzo meal to the mix­ture. Add one more beaten egg, and then an­other N cup of matzo meal. Mix.

Eval­u­ate the bat­ter and make sure it’s the con­sis­tency you want. Is it too lumpy? If so, put the large chunks back into the food pro­ces­sor. Too runny? Add ½ to 1 ta­ble­spoon of matzo meal and an­other well-beaten egg.

Add a tea­spoon of salt and a tea­spoon of pep­per. (This can be ad­justed later.)

Make a few latkes to test: Heat the pan on medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add about cup of oil. Once the oil is hot, care­fully scoop one large spoon­ful of bat­ter into in pan, flat­ten­ing gen­tly. The bat­ter should form a pan­cake, and float in oil.

When the edges be­gin to turn golden brown, care­fully flip the latke over.

The latke is done when both sides are golden and crispy. Re­move test latkes and place on a pa­per towel. When cool, trans­fer to a plate.

Taste the latkes and ad­just the bat­ter. (More salt? Pep­per? An­other egg? More matzo meal?)

(Tip: As you con­tinue to scoop out bat­ter, the re­main­ing may be­come a bit wa­tery. Re­move the ex­cess wa­ter with a spoon.)

Serve im­me­di­ately with sour cream or ap­ple­sauce on the side. Op­tional: Add a pinch of sugar on top.

Latkes will stay fresh, cov­ered, in the fridge for about a week.

K

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