The various cultural and religious traditions of the holidays are one of the reasons I look forward to December and especially Hanukkah. Growing up where I did, there wasn’t a lot of ethnic, let alone religious diversity, so moving to a place where there are different groups and traditions on each turn has been a fantastic experience for me. This year I was inspired enough to try it myself and hopefully not do such a poor job as to offend anyone, or burn down my house.
I have an irrational fear of frying things; making latkes gave me a nice and easy introduction. I didn’t start a grease fire! Your house is going to smell like oil for at least a day and it’s well worth it. I have so many memories of my grandmother’s house smelling like oil and the wonderful meals she made– you would think I’d have a solid grasp of my fried foods. And while we’re on it, fried foods have a terrible reputation because of improper use of the technique. No, it’s not the absolute healthiest option in the world (that would be a salad) but it can be much better than what it often is served. Frying is all about temperatures, the food, the oil, the pan. Pay attention to these three and you’ll see much better success with your fried foods!
Many Hanukkah foods are cooked in oil to remind observers of the miracle of the holiday; the oil lasting eight days and nights. I love learning new things through food and cooking. There are so many details and nuances one can learn just from a meal!
My first attempt at frying latkes was a big success for someone who has never had a jewish grandmother to make traditional ones. I followed a combination of instructions and I am quite proud of how crispy they came, though I think keeping them in the oven helped them from getting soggy. They were a little like hash brown patties as compared to some of the other recipes out there so I might try ricing some of the potato mixture next time. You can serve with a whole host of options: apple sauce, smoked salmon, or as I did, greek yogurt since I haven’t kept sour cream in the house in years. (Is that taboo? Oops.) Next year I can’t wait to add brisket!