With the first snow of the season comes the thoughts of Christmas. With Christmas comes eggnog, gingerbread cookies and yule logs. This year, we don’t just get one holiday on December 25th, but we get Hanukkah, too: the Jewish Festival of Lights.
In addition to Christmas trees and string lights illuminating the windows of households all around the world, there will be hanukiot, the traditional lamps lit on every night of Hanukkah in the window sills as well. Christmas may have monopolized the flavor game with peppermint and gingerbread, but add something new to your holiday palate: a Hanukkah latke.
A latke is traditionally a potato pancake fried in oil and eaten all year round, but especially on Hanukkah.
A traditional potato pancake is just eggs, potatoes, salt, black pepper and onions. Peel and grate about four medium sized potatoes. Mix them with two eggs, one chopped medium onion and salt and pepper to taste. Put a lot of oil in the pan, and wait until it’s hot. Put a ball of the mixture in your hand, and wring out the potato starch. Plop and flatten the ball in the pan and fry on both sides (about five minutes per side) until golden brown. Sandwich the pancakes between layers of paper towels to soak up the extra fat.
The Latke Bar
What makes traditional potato pancakes so exciting is the multitude of toppings you can add. Head on over to the Cornell Orchards and pick up some apples to make your very own applesauce. Then, head on over to the Dairy Bar to pick up plain yogurt to make your own sour cream or to just use on its own as a dip. Chop up some scallions, saute some peppers or even add a fried egg on top. The world is your oyster!
Super simple applesauce: Cut six medium apples into wedges and throw them into a saucepan with half a cup of sugar, half a cup of water and a splash of lemon juice. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat, cover it and let it simmer for about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Sour cream: Just add one tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice to one cup of yogurt, let it sit for a few seconds and mix it all together.
The Breakfast Latkes
Sticking with the same theme of homegrown Cornell apples, these potato and apple latkes are perfect for breakfast. Following the same basic recipe as before, add in two large grated apples and ground cinnamon, and remove the black pepper and half the onion. After those are done, top with more of your homemade applesauce, or some of the Cornell Dairy plain yogurt and cinnamon.
The Waffle Latke
Follow the traditional latke recipe, but instead of frying, put in a waffle iron. Add some fried chicken and maple syrup at the end, and you’ve got yourself chicken and waffles: Hanukkah style.
Again we’re following the same basic recipe, but this time have a wedge of your favorite Cornell Dairy cheese on hand. When you’re dropping in the latke mixture, only add half, flatten and then add a thin slice of cheese in the middle before topping off with more of the latke mixture. Don’t tell your friends before they bite into it, and watch their delight when they encounter a cheese-y surprise inside!
Since it is the Christmas season, it would be remiss to not adapt these Jewish favorites for the holiday season. Again, you’re going to follow the same base recipe, but this time, add one large, shredded beet. The beet will impart its red color to make these proper Christmas latkes. (Is that an oxymoron?) To top it off, add a dollop of your homemade, Cornell Dairy yogurt-inspired sour cream, and sprinkle with chives. Red and green … Merry Chrismukkah!
Would a blue and white latke be called a Hanutke? Try these blue and white latkes made from potatoes released by the fine potato breeders at Cornell University. Following the same basic recipe that you’ve been following this entire time, substitute your four medium-sized regular potatoes for Adirondack Blue ones! Continue the recipe as normal, and top with a dollop of homemade sour cream. Chag sameach (happy holidays)!