Last week, I offered some homemade latkes to my upstairs neighbor, Caitrin Kiley. As she happily ate a few (with sour cream, for which she has a slight preference over apple sauce), she casually mentioned her family’s Christmas morning tradition.
The Kileys, a Catholic family from Connecticut, have a longstanding routine. Assorted relatives sleep over on Christmas Eve, everyone gathers around the Christmas tree to open presents and then they start making breakfast, filling the house with the smell of — what else? — latkes.
How long had this been going on? I asked.
As far as Caitrin knew, her entire life.
Jewish relatives? A few, by marriage, but they don’t come on Christmas.
Some obscure Quebecois custom? Caitrin wasn’t sure. All she knew was that latkes had always been an integral part of her family’s Christmas morning.
God bless America, I thought to myself, and resolved that this merited further investigation.
A happy Hanukkah mistake becomes a delicious breakfast. Photograph by Yishai Margulies
In preparation for Hanukkah, I had my heart set on creating the ultimate gluten-free and vegan sufganiyot — doughnut holes digestible to all. And, after a total of three fruitless hours waiting for my dough to rise, I should have given up. I didn’t. I formed dense little balls and tossed them into the frying pan, hoping the sizzling coconut oil and general deliciousness of the doughnuts might make up for their texture. Alas, even my teenage brother wouldn’t eat them.
I was out of time, and my brother was hungry. I had promised him a sweet, Hanukkah-themed breakfast! I make a mean latke, but Yishai had his sweet tooth set on some sugar. Then it hit me: Combine the jelly doughnut with the potato pancake. My brother and I love combining foods. We call one of our claims to fame the cawffle — part cookie, part waffle. It’s two chocolate waffles with a white, coconut cream in the middle, like an Oreo. And with that memory, the sufganiyatka was born.
The next decision I had to make was what kind of oil to use. It had to be a high-quality one. Hanukkah, after all, is a celebration of oil. I chose coconut oil, in the end, because it’s an extremely stable oil with a high smoke point. In other words, its chemistry doesn’t change when heated, like that of olive oil, making it a healthier choice. It also tastes amazing.
When it comes down to it, you may think the sufganiyatka is just another pancake — grain-free, vegan and ultra moist and fluffy one, that is. But it’s also a festive quick fix. They look great and are a heck of a lot healthier than traditional sufganiyot.
Before I let my brother taste, we had to photograph our creation. “Are these for Pancake Monthly or something?” he asked sarcastically, searching for the best angle. “Sort of,” I told him. “They’re so pretty, I don’t want to eat them,” he said. But he did — impressively quickly for an omnivore, too. Hanukkah breakfast success.
Growing up in a Venezuelan Jewish home opting out of nightly family dinners was never an option. But every once in a while, I wished it was. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that I wanted to watch the finale of American Idol which always happened to air during dinnertime or that I would have rather had dinner at a friend’s house. Instead my occasional and mostly failed attempts at avoiding the family table came from my deep-seeded aversion to eating zucchini.
Courtesy of Hersh’s
It must be a first for Baltimore: An Asian-Jewish culinary mashup, courtesy of an Italian joint and a hip local coffee shop.
Siblings Stephanie and Josh Hershkovitz, who own Hersh’s pizzeria in downtown Baltimore, are teaming with Phil Han, the Korean-American owner of sleek new cafe Dooby’s, on a June 19 Jew-sian Mashup pairing Han’s Korean barbecue with Hersh’s potato latkes. “It’s what happens when two Jews and a Japanese-influenced Korean walk into a bar,” enthuses Hersh’s web site.
“We started talking to Phil when he ate at our restaurant one night, and the idea was born,” said Stephanie Hershkovitz, a former lawyer who switched gears to food after decamping to her hometown from Brooklyn. “Phil’s place serves coffee, but with Asian influences. My brother and I are Jewish. And it just sounded like fun to put his Korean barbecue on our latkes,” which Hersh’s usually serves over Hanukkah.
Highlights of the evening’s menu will include pork-belly-stuffed Asian buns with house-made kimchi; corned beef sliders using Dooby’s brioche buns and Hersh’s meat, served with Japanese hot mustard; and noodle kugel topped with kimchi and spicy bean salad.
All of it will get washed down with brews from Union Craft Brewing, a Baltimore brand whose creators are Josh’s old Hebrew-school friends. Stephanie said she expects to sell all 40 seats for the event. “We have a fair amount of regular customers on the guest list, and I’d say most of them are not Jewish,” she said.
There’s a new cookbook about shmaltz! (More details to come soon on JCarrot.) In the meantime check out this first look. [Eater]
Eight desserts for eight nights of Hanukkah. Personally, we love the marshmallow dreidels. [Serious Eats
Some seriously wacky bagel flavors are coming out of The Bagel Store in Williamsburg. Sweet potato bagel? French toast bagel? What kind of schmear goes with that anyway? [Serious Eats]
As winter slides in and makes itself comfy in New York for the next couple of months, locals are — as ever — on the lookout for interesting new edibles in the Hanukkah spirit, even as they pick up boxes of staunchly reliable latkes from Zabars and Russ & Daughters.
Thank goodness for 606 R&D — quite possibly the only hip new Brooklyn restaurant to be serving up a split powdered sugar donut and raspberry jam ‘sandwich’ in honor of the holiday. Not to mention a special potato pancake appetizer served with a dollop of creme fraiche and a slaw of beet, apple and celery root. And while these are definitely special holiday items, stop by 606 R&D year-round for delicious classic cake donuts (inspired by Dreesen’s Famous Donuts in the Hamptons and made by a Kickstarter-funded donut robot) and some extremely tasty latke cousins (try the carrot parsnip pancakes or the cauliflower pakoras).
So what’s the story behind the marriage of such inventive culinary whimsy with such old world Brooklyn Jewish sensibilities?
If you’re going to take advice from someone on how to make a proper latke, that person should be Melissa Clark. [New York Times]
Everything you ever wanted to know about hosting a latke party. [Serious Eats]
Latkes goes modernist. [Saveur]
Try them with….brown butter and cinnamon applesauce. [Serious Eats]
Looking to celebrate the holiday of oil without covering your kitchen in it? Here’s a great list of events. [Serious Eats]
New York is hosting the most bad ass latke throwdown there is. Serious Eats has some free tickets to win! [Serious Eats
Eight oil-fried gourmet foods for Hanukkah including: Panko latkes, Sweet potato parsnip latkes with feta and leeks, not to mention zeppole. YUM! [Food52]
Kutsher’s is serving eight different latkes for eight nights of Hanukkah. Offerings include pastrami smoked duck, pear butter, and sour cherry latkes” as well as a Peking duck, cucumber, scallion, and sesame hoisin variety on the last night. [Grub Street]
This is how they’re doing matzo ball soup in San Francisco this year:
First, get an overnight delivery of wood pigeon flown in fresh from Scotland. Actually, first make sure the birds were shot in the wild. With tiny buckshot pellets. Then slow poach the breast meat in a sweet, salty brine. Give it a crust of black pepper and coriander.
For the broth, make it using the pigeon bones, then reduce it by half to make it oh-so rich. As for the matzo balls, construct them with homemade matzo, fresh local eggs, toasted caraway seeds and a touch of soda water.
And there you have it: “Wood pigeon pastrami with caraway dumplings in a double consommé” — or, as chef David Bazirgan calls it, “my take on matzo ball soup.”
Only in Brooklyn: Jami Attenberg, author of the critically-acclaimed and food-heavy novel “The Middlesteins,” makes pickles with Jeffrey Yoskowitz of the Gefilteria, a “boutique purveyor of Old World Jewish foods” [Vol. 1 Brooklyn]
A lively profile of “Tel Aviv’s favorite foodie” Gil Hovav, who makes his English cookbook debut writing as the devout (and imaginary!) orthodox woman Rebbetzin G. H. Halperin [Haaretz]
The humble bagel-and-schmear gets an explosive, dub-steppy twist in a homemade commercial for Brooklyn’s Bagelteria [Grub Street]
A beautiful and colorful vegetarian Thanksgiving table with golden beet salad, buckwheat-squash tart, and a fall greens sauté from the couple behind Sprouted Kitchen [NYTimes Well Blog]
If you’re stuck at home today, try making your own challah. Here’s a simple recipe. [The Daily Meal]
Are you a latke expert? Ready to throw down in a huge latke competition? Enter your recipe here. [Edible Manhattan]
Deb Perlman’s mushroom bourguinon, a perfect fall, vegetarian, Shabbat dish. [Food 52]
Try an Egyptian twist on falafel — made with fava beans. [Saveur]
A taste of the American South comes to Tel Aviv. [Tablet]
The New York Daily News broke the sad news yesterday: the last H & H Bagel shop (on West 46th St.) is now closed. Legal troubles and economic woes are to blame. Oy. [New York Daily News]
College Prowler ranks the best Kosher campuses. Brandeis is not (quite) first. [College Prowler]
Everything you would ever want to know about making the perfect classic latke. [Serious Eats]
If you’re looking for more innovative latke recipes, here are five. [The Kitchn]
And what to serve with those latkes? Here are some suggestions, including a delicious recipe for Orange Olive Oil Cake with Candied Walnuts. [Serious Eats]
A menorah made of chocolate that you can eat? Yeah, we’re pretty excited about it too. [New York Times]
Get that frier ready! Jewish fried treats from around the globe, one for each of the eight nights. [Philadelphia Jewish Voice]
Yotam Ottolenghi, the London-based Israeli chef and master of vegetarian cuisine isn’t a veggie himself, but his cookbook “Plenty”, “is among the most generous and luxurious nonmeat cookbooks ever produced,” says Mark Bittman. [New York Times]
Let the latke recipes start! Here’s one for apple and cheese-stuffed ones. [The Kitchn]
Matt Rees takes a very close look at Ariel Sharon’s eating habits and what they meant. [Salon]
Where can you get great shakshuka in New York City? Lauren Shockey dishes on the places. [Village Voice]
Josh Ozersky and Mark Bittman duke it out on the issue of industrial food. [Time]
The end is near for H&H. The bagel plant now faces eviction. [Eater]
Is your latke recipe the best? Put it to the test at the Edible Manhattan and Great Performances contest. [Edible Blog]
For many of us, Jewish holiday foods hold special meaning because we eat them only once a year. But some of these foods are worth taking a second look at beyond the holiday. They can provide wonderful opportunities for culinary invention at moments when we feel less bound by tradition. Simple, classic dishes that we have made countless times are often the best dishes for variation, particularly for beginning cooks. They provide the basic recipe structure many cooks crave, but leave room for innovation as well. Latkes fall cleanly into this category: classic, simple, delicious — and easy to reinterpret.
During Hanukkah latkes are almost always eaten at dinner, or maybe left over with lunch, but recently they have been popping up on brunch menus in New York City. Often they appear under another name, but they are latkes nonetheless. The popular brunch spot Prune calls them “potatoes rosti,” while others refer to them as hash browns, or otherwise. The pan-fried potato pancakes provide depth of flavor and crunch (and let’s be honest, a curative to Saturday night’s festivities) to any brunch plate. They also add a delightful taste of Jewish tradition to an otherwise average Sunday.