The Festival of Light...in Food
Stuck on what to cook for the holiday? Wendy is here to help.
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins tonight at sundown, and all around the world Jews will be lighting the menorah (Hanukkah candelabra), saying blessings for the holiday and sharing traditional foods with family and friends.
While fried foods are customary, as they recall the oil used to relight the lamp in the temple, in our more health-conscious era we can still honor this tradition with recipes that incorporate canola and olive oils and put a modern twist on old favorites.
Wendyfully Easy Potato Latkes
Latkes, or potato pancakes, are traditionally served with applesauce. But many folks like them with a dollop of sour cream, particularly when they are savory and made with onions. Be aware that your oil may cool down between batches and that you may need to add more oil; repeat heat test as needed.
2 packages of Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns (see note for alternative)
½ tsp baking soda
2 medium onions, grated or finely chopped
2 tsp salt
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 large or extra-large eggs, beaten with a little cold water
canola oil for frying
1) In a large mixing bowl, toss baking soda with shredded potatoes.
2) Add onions, salt and flour and mix well.
3) Add beaten eggs and mix well.
4) Heat oil (should be approximately ¼ in. deep) in skillet. Test heat by dropping a single shard of potato mixture in oil; if it starts to sizzle immediately, oil is hot enough.
5) Drop mixture by tablespoons into the hot oil and flatten with the back of spoon or spatula.
6) When edges begin to brown, gently turn over and fry until other side is golden brown.
7) Drain on paper towels (or, if you're environmentally conscious, use clean brown paper grocery bags), repeating until all potato mixture is used.
8) Latkes may be kept warm on a cookie sheet in a 200° oven (or you can just eat them as you go along)
Note: If you are not like me and can relish the thought of grating your own potatoes (and can do so without grating your knuckles), substitute 6 medium baking potatoes for the Simply Potatoes pre-shredded ones and reduce the eggs to 2. Make sure to grate the potatoes on the larger-holed attachment of your food processor or grater, and squeeze out all moisture in a dishtowel or with your hands.
Middle Eastern Chicken
Chicken is often the centerpiece of festive Jewish meals, but for those who find the idea of a whole roasted chicken intimidating and like the ease and health benefits of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, this makes an impressive, tasty presentation.
1 cup low- or non-fat Greek-style yogurt
2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP za'atar spice (blend of dried oregano, basil, thyme, savory, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt and is available at specialty shops and some grocery stores)
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp lemon zest
2 good-sized garlic cloves, pressed
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (can use tenders; do not use thin cutlets)
1) Mix together first 6 ingredients in a non-reactive bowl or casserole dish (I like my 8x8 glass baking dish)
2) Add chicken breasts and turn to coat with marinade. Cover dish with plastic wrap.
3) Allow chicken to marinate in fridge for at least 2 hours and as much as overnight
4) Take chicken from marinade (make sure most of marinade is off chicken breasts so they do not burn) and DISCARD MARINADE (if you would like to turn these same ingredients into a dipping sauce of sorts, start over).
5) Either grill or broil chicken breasts for about 5 minutes per side or until no longer pink inside. Watch carefully to make sure chicken does not burn.
As my mom used to end her food columns, B'tayavon (the Hebrew version of "Bon Appétit!" )
Tune in tomorrow for recipes for the second half of this delicious meal!