I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Friday, January 5, 2007

A Hint of Hanukkah

I have truly been blessed with a rich heritage. My Mother who is Russian and Polish was raised Jewish but converted to Catholicism when she married my Father who is Italian. Luckily I was still able to experience some of the Jewish traditions not to mention their glorious food. One of my favorites; Potato Pancakes (Latkas)
Traditionally served during Hanukkah but are good at any time throughout the year.
Fried foods during Hanukkah reminds us of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees (the Judean's army) purified and rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem. Some rabbis have taken the explanation of why fried food is eaten on Hanukkah one step further. They say that oil is like studying Torah in two ways:

1) Oil is not a food we eat by ourselves and not necessary for our daily existence.
It simply adds pleasure to our food and life, as does the study of Torah.
2) Oil has the potential to illuminate. If you stand in a dark room you can light oil to see the room around you. Study of the Torah can also illuminate our world for us.

Potato Pancakes (Latkas)


4 large potatoes
1 medium onion
1 large egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
vegetable oil (for frying)

Grate potatoes and onion. Transfer to colander and squeeze mixture to press out as much liquid as possible.2. In a large bowl, mix egg, salt, pepper, flour and baking powder. Add potato and onions, and mix well.3. Heat oil in a deep, heavy skillet. 4. Drop about 2 tablespoons of potato mixture into the pan for each pancake. Flatten with back of spoon so each pancake is about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.5. Fry over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Turn carefully with 2 spatulas so oil does not splatter. 6. Drain on paper towels.7. Before frying each new batch, stir potato mixture. If all the oil is absorbed, add a little more to the pan. 8. Serve hot with applesauce, or sour cream, or sugar. (or as I’ve been known to do use all of those plus butter)! Leave it to me to figure out how to tack on some extra calories.

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