Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Hanukkah

Last night, my doe-eyed, doll-faced, and free spirit of a daughter came in carrying a package. It was decorated with a Menorah and her standing next to it in a crown of lit candles. Inside was a paper candle on a Styrofoam base that had been stuffed with blue and silver fabric. It was a lovely Hanukkah gift, really, and quite a surprise, because, you see, we are not Jewish. She had decided that since everyone else in her class was making a Christmas candle with red and green fabric for their families, she would make one for Hanukkah. And she knew that she would be able to give her gift first, because the first night of Hanukkah comes a whole three days before Christmas this year.

Over the years, we have had many opportunities to enjoy Hanukkah dinners with our Jewish friends. We always appreciate an invitation, after all who wouldn't love celebrating a miracle, especially when fried potatoes are involved? So tonight, in honor of that miracle, and my lovely daughter, we will eat potato latkes and spin the dreidle (another favorite holiday game in our house). A friend's mother makes the absolute best latkes I have ever eaten. She swears that the secret is to run the potatoes through the food processor twice, creating a light and tender latke. But because this is the first time making them on my own, I tried them plain and simple.

They were delicious...the hit of our impromptu party with good friends. I "slaved" over the stove as our friends gathered in our kitchen, plates ready for the next batch to be finished (all the while shooing the children out of the room). We ate them with sour cream and some apple sauce as a first course to our soup dinner. They were crisp, light, and well flavored with chopped shallot and onion.

Potato Latkes

2 pounds of russet potatoes
1/2 yellow onion, chopped finely
1 large shallot, chopped finely
1 t salt
2 eggs

Peel potatoes and shred them in a food processor. Soak them in a bowl of cold water for a couple of minutes, then drain them well. Place them in a dish towel, squeezing out any excess liquid. Place grated potatoes, onions, eggs and salt in a large bowl and toss well to coat. Heat 1/2 C vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, but not smoking, add the shredded potato mixture in 1/4 C scoops into oil. Flatten with a spatula and cook for about 5 minutes a side, or until cooked through and browned nicely. Serve immediately with dollops of sour cream and applesauce (and caviar if you have it), or place on a paper towel lined cookie sheet and keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

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