I know I am a bit late with this, and Hanukkah is half over, but I got sidelined with a killer cold for the past week. I was back on my feet just in time for Latke Ball on Thursday and Chinese food with friends tonight. A couple of week ago, some friends and I decided to kick off Hanukkah early and deep fried a turkey. Combined with niner’s football, latkes and beer, it made for a pretty awesome Sunday. While the tradition of deep frying turkey got started in the American South, and most people associate it with Thanksgiving, this culinary trend was ripe for a Hebraic takeover. Hanukkah is considered a minor Jewish holiday but there are three universal practices associated with it: Lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, and eating fried foods. Why settle for simple potatoes when you can fry an entire bird? Now when this idea was first proposed there was a lot of concern that this was a spectacularly dangerous thing to be doing on a small San Francisco balcony. There are a lot of people who have done incredibly stupid things combining a turkey and a deep-fryer and have started some crazy fires. You can even entertain yourself for hours on YouTube watching people do this very thing. I have been lucky enough to have watched the process a few time at my family’s Thanksgiving and got some great pointers from Derek B. Plus a few simple rules can greatly reduce the risk.
- This is not a one person job. You need at least two people or a mechanical pulley system (thanks Alton) to do this safely. Luckily, men really enjoy doing this and I had Ben, Shaun and Sivan on hand to assemble the fryer and do the heavy lifting.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy. (and as Ben helpful pointed out, have it accessible in a place that would not require you to go through any potential fires to retrieve it)
- Totally defrost your turkey. A still frozen turkey = massively splattering oil.
- Don’t over flow the oil. Most of the fires start when the oil overflows the pot and catches the flame which subsequently ignites the rest of the pot of oil. You can do a displacement test with water and your turkey before you unwrap it to determine the amount of oil you need. When you lower the turkey in after you have heated the oil – turn off the flame.
- Last but not least – Get drunk AFTER the turkey comes out.
With the appropriate safety precautions, you will have a fantastic bird and may never roast a turkey again. My crowd of about 15 people cleaned an 18lb turkey down to the bone. The only drawback to this is a lack of leftovers.
An appetizer of fried olives
It’s not kosher to boil a kid in its mother’s milk (Deuteronomy 14:21). So here’s my question, is it kosher to fry an olive in olive oil?
I was thinking of this a few weeks ago as I sat, tired and recovering from a cold and several days of travel at Palace Kitchen in Seattle where a friend had taken me and insisted that I have some olive poppers before indulging in a really remarkable hamburger. It reminded me of a different take on fried olives that I had loved at a place called Downtown in Berkeley. A week later I walked past and saw that they were gone so I decided that I would try to recreate their tasty feat for the oil drenched holiday of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah celebrates the fact that the oil on hand lasted 8 days, seven days longer than expected. As an aside it also celebrates the defeat of the Selucid Greeks at the hands of the Hasmoneon rebels (aka the Maccabees). But since their descendants had more than a few Rabbis killed our tradition concentrates on the oil.
Its the day after Thanksgiving and I am enjoying the satiety that come from too much food and drink, and in the miracle of miracles, I finally got a seat at the grown-ups’ table. I had thought it might happen, given the guest count and but I have been having Thanksgiving with the same crowd for about 25 years and had yet to graduate, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope. But happen it did and it was all that I’d hoped for, but I was promptly told it was a fluke occurrence and I would be headed back to the “young adult” table next year. While today I will bask in the glory of my newly recognized adulthood, Hanukkah is just around the corner (starting Wed night) so the frying and latke making has already begun for the Heathens. I figured in honor of Thanksgiving I would carry on the pumpkin theme and make pumpkin latkes. Obviously these have a slightly different texture than traditional potato latkes, and are more pancake like. They are also slightly sweet so I would include them with my apple latkes as a great Hanukkah breakfast or dessert option.
A New Orleans style chanukah doughnut.
straight from the source, c/o marc
My first encounter with the delicious beignet was with none else than the fabulous writers of this here blog. A week of gutting walls, removing roofing, bonding with katrina survivors and avoiding crocs in the bayou was highlight by some fabulous New Orleans food, including a trip to Cafe du Monde. Their famous square, sugar-covered doughnuts are heavenly so it’s no surprise that they are a tourist hotspot. Since chanukah begs us to embrace the oiliest of foods, I thought this would be a fun twist on the french treat–you can let me know what you think. Wikipedia shares lots of fun facts about the beignet (did you know they were originally made with chestnut flour?!) but I’ll leave the rest of the researching to you. Let’s get eating…
p.s. for a more detailed explanation of sufganiyot, check out Amiee’s post.
Because Marc is wonderful and brought me a pre-made mix, I don’t know exactly what went into my beignets. I DID however find a yummy sounding recipe for beignets on this new orleans cuisine blog.
method after the break
What could possible make the fried potato goodness that is a latke any better? Our friends the sweet potato and zucchini can answer that question (with flying colors!). Even better* are the locally grown, PURPLE organic taters I threw in from my CSA. You can even pretend that these are healthy and we’ll just ignore all that oil :) For more fun alternative and sustainable latke recipes, check out one of my favorite blogs The Jew and the Carrot.
*what would actually be better is losing the zucchini and adding in some carrots or parsnips for the sake of using seasonal produce…but i have a soft spot for the zuc.
Get ready for some delicious latkes, mid-eighties cartoon style ;) after the break
honey yummy sufganyiot
Fried doughnuts or fritters are common at Hanukkah in almost all Jewish communities. In fact, you can probably determine the geographic origin of many Jewish families simply by finding out what they call these treats. Israelis and Ashkenazim call them sufganyiot and typically they are filled with jelly. Others are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar or tossed in a sweet honey or citrus syrup. The European Sephardim call them bimuelos, in Egypt they are zalabia, Persians refer to them as zengoula, and my personal favorite are the Greek loukoumades, or as Greek Jews call them zvingous. I first encountered loukoumades at the fabulous Oakland Greek Festival, which is held every year in May. At this festival you can determine the best treats by the length of the line for it and in the case of the beer, gyros and loukoumades, the wait is totally worth it. (As an aside, we Jews could really take a cue from the Greeks on how to put on a super-fun ethnic festival, ours tend to lack beer, have a poor selection of food and are overwhelmed with organizational politics) So for this year’s Hanukkah I decided I would make my own loukoumades instead of having to wait all the way until May to get my next fix.
So my contribution to the various latke recipes for an interesting Channukah feast is cheese-infused latkes. These are a more savory dairy infused potato pancakes that turn out crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They come out with a classic latke texture with lots of flavor. I used mozzarella cheese but I definitely will try again with a cheddar. Put in a mild cheese like mozzarella or for extreme cheese lovers use a more distinct cheese like feta or even maybe brie…. but choose wisely because there’s only 8 days of chanukkah!
Some latke making notes… I used the Israeli version of Russet potatoes. I highly recommend these as they have a pretty high starch content which will cut down on the need for flour and keep your pancakes together. Shred the potatoes only when you’re ready to fry them up and immediately squeeze out the water. Or if you wanna ditch the dairy just omit the cheese and they’ll still come out delicious.
Some frying tips: I added garlic to the oil to give it some extra flavor, but you can omit this if you’re not a fan garlic, but I like this because it adds a lot of flavor and lets you know when the oil’s ready. Test the heat of the oil by adding a little of the latke mixture, if it starts to sizzle immediately the oil’s ready. Don’t overcrowd the pan! 3-4 at a time is enough. Let the oil come back to room temperature in between batches. I highly recommend heeding this last tip as it ensures perfect latkes every batch.
Click on to get the recipe…
Apple latkes with powdered sugar and greek yogurt
and just for Ari… latkes: DESSERT STYLE!
I love latkes, really I just love fried potatoes and latkes give me the excuse, at least once a year, to eat massive quantities of fried potatoes. It got me thinking though, why stop at dinner with the latkes? Much like French (pomme de terre), the Hebrew word for potato (tapuach adama) translates as “apple of the earth”. This led me to the the brilliant idea to use apples to make a sweet dessert latke. Turns out it was such a brilliant idea that many, many, people have had this idea in the past and I even found a couple recipes for them. Claudia Rodan has a recipe in her cookbook, but they are really just battered and deep-fried pieces of apples. They sound delicious but not really what I was after. Joan Nathan has a good base recipe and all of the internet recipes seem to be based on hers. As usual, she screws around to have both parvre and dairy options. It also has so much added flour that it calls for additional liquid in the form of milk or orange juice. The only reason for flour is to compensate for the lack of starch that potatoes would normally supply to the mix. This got me thinking on other starches to bring to the table and I remembered that Cooks Illustrated recommends tapioca starch for fruit pies because it has no flavor and a very smooth consistency. I ventured on over to 99 Ranch and found a bag tapioca starch for 89 cents. Right next to it was a small bag of rice flour for 79 cents. I picked that up as well because rice flour often has a nice light crunchy texture when fried. I used a combo of granny smith for tartness and braeburn apples for sweetness. With all of these components I came up with the following recipe and it is delicious. This makes about a dozen latkes.