Friday of the Third Week of Advent


Advent Eating…

We unite with our Jewish brothers and sisters in anticipation of this weekend’s start of Hanukkah.

A great Jewish tradition is to make latkes (potato pancakes fried in oil) to commemorate that a small jar of oil, discovered at the cleansing of the Temple, miraculously kept the Temple light burning for eight days until additional oil was found.

From Arthur Schwartz, The Food Maven,

Traditional Potato Latkes
There are two basic schools of thought on potato pancakes. Either the potatoes are grated very fine on a box grater (or chopped fine with the metal blade of the food processor) and result in pancakes that are thin and crisp-edged. Or, the potatoes are grated on the coarsest side of a box grater (or with the grating blade of the processor) and turn out a thicker pancake that is crisp all over. My family goes for the former style. I can make those without any starch filler, or with either flour or matzoh meal. I find a little matzoh meal also makes a pancake that reheats better. I used to be against reheating latkes, but I know many people would gladly compromise slightly on the quality of their latkes for the sake of being able to sit down with the family. As I get older, I understand these things better. To reheat, put the pancakes on a rack in pan in a 425-degree oven for about 3 minutes.

1 5- to 6-ounce onion (that’s a medium onion)
1 pound russet (baking- type) potatoes
2 eggs
1/4 to 1/3 cup matzoh meal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly and finely ground black pepper
Oil for frying

Peel the onion and cut it in eighths.

Peel the potatoes and keep them in a bowl of cold water.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs together to mix well.

In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, pulse the onions, scraping them down a few times, until very finely chopped, almost a puree. Pour the onions into the beaten eggs and stir.

Chunk up the potatoes and, in the same processor bowl (no need to clean it), pulse the potatoes until very fine, but still with some texture. Pour the potatoes into a strainer placed over a bowl and press out excess water with a spatula. Put the potatoes into the egg-onion mixture. Add the matzoh meal, salt and pepper. Stir well and let stand while the oil is heating.

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat about 1/8 inch of vegetable oil. Spoon out the batter, using a half a utility spoonful for each. The batter should sizzle, but not wildly, as soon as it hits the oil. If the edges of the batter separate, the oil is too hot. If there are just slight bubbles when the batter touches the oil, the oil is not yet hot enough. The first round of latkes is inevitably less good than later batches. Consider the first tries a “chef’s share.”

Fry the latkes for about 4 minutes on the first side, slightly less time on the second. They should be well-browned before turning them. Drain on absorbent paper or on a rack. Serve immediately.

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Return to the Advent calendar.