The miracle of sharing the latkes
The Swidler family demonstrates how to make latkes
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.