Sweet with Pomegranate Arils
Savory with Fresh Herbs
A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated. So we eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate that ancient miracle. As far as symbolic foods go, potatoes fried in oil are pretty much everyone’s favorite.
This year I’m serving my latkes two ways, sweet and savory, both topped with farmer cheese. My favorite, Lifeway Farmer Cheese, is a cultured soft cheese made from an old world recipe with a distinctive tangy flavor, and it’s packed with probiotics to boot. You might say farmer cheese and latkes are a match made in heaven…
Celebrating Hanukkah, The Festival of Lights
Short Rib Kreplach and Nana’s Meat Soup
Back in 2008 I had asked my Mother about recipes from the past. She said that my Nana (my paternal grandmother) made excellent soups. I remembered her chicken soup which I still make to this day, and her delicious borscht. Mom said that she always liked Nana’s meat soup. Meat Soup, I asked? Mom said that it was just like chicken soup but with meat. She still had the recipe.
These are the ingredients my Mother had listed on the old recipe index card from notes she took while watching her mother-in-law make meat soup: short ribs, carrots, onions, parsnips, celery stalks, parsley root, dried large lima beans, and egg noodles.
In honor of Hanukkah and in remembrance of my dear mother Joyce (1933- 2013) and dear grandmother Fanny (1894-1972), I’m making Nana’s Meat Soup and adding those comforting Jewish dumplings known as kreplach, filled with tasty shredded short ribs of beef.
A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated.
We eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate that ancient miracle from the second century BCE and potato pancakes are almost everyone’s favorite symbolic food. This year my latkes have a daring twist. 5779 is the year of the Kimchi Potato Latke!
Adults who adore kimchi’s complex spicy, salty, sweet, sour, bitter, umami, fermented flavors will fall hard for this pancake. Kids, unfortunately, not so much…the younger set should probably stick to traditional style potato latkes with that wonderful combination of sweet apples and sour cream, like this one.
The recipe is a marriage between my kimchi jeon (mind-blowing kimchi pancake batter) and my standard recipe for potato latkes. The combination is amazing pancake synergy.
The dish never fails to bring back sweet memories of my Nana and Aunt Edythe. My 2017 version of Kasha Varnishkes includes mushrooms and walnuts. It has more pasta and vegetables in relation to the buckwheat, and uses plenty of heart-healthy olive oil.
I remember that Auntie Edythe would prepare hers with lots of kasha in proportion to the bows and no doubt used plenty of schmaltz. It was more of a buckwheat dish than a pasta dish. She was such a terrific cook. It has been decades since her passing, but none of us will ever forget her cooking, especially her banana cake…and that she served real whipped cream made from scratch in the 60s when everyone else’s whipped cream came out of a can.
Feeling nostalgic with Hanukkah approaching, I was looking through boxes of my mom’s old photographs and came across the one below. Sadly, everyone in the photo except my cousin Robert has passed away. This image, taken at the iconic Palmer House in Chicago c. 1956, is a true treasure. I believe that we bless them and they, in turn, bless us each and every time we think of them. Our memories keep the people who have passed on forever close to us.
My Nana (paternal grandmother) was born in Kiev, Russia 1894. The family fled to Canada to escape the pogroms when she was a young girl. Her birth name was Vitte but she took her sister’s name, Fanny, after Fanny was killed in some sort of machine accident that was never explained to us as children. And now that there is no one left to ask, it will remain a mystery.
She met my Papa (paternal grandfather) when they were teenagers. Their families were living in the same apartment complex in Montreal. His name was Yitzcok when he was born in Romania in 1891 but changed it to Isadore upon arrival in Canada when he was 13 years old. They said he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah on the boat.
Fanny and Isadore married then made their way to the United States and settled in Chicago where Papa took the more American name of Irving, and they raised their children, (my aunt) Edythe and (my dad) Leonard.
I remember one day when we were kids, my Dad asked us if we knew Papa’s real name. I thought about it and said “Is” because that’s what Nana called him. Then I fell into a fit of giggles, “What kind of name is Is, Dad? That’s a verb!”
Our extended family always called Papa by the name Izzy (from Isadore) and Izzy is now my nephew Jett’s middle name. Jett celebrated his Bar Mitzvah in Chicago this past summer. Jett’s older brother Stone has Leonard as his middle name. Leonard sadly passed away in 1971 when he was just 49 years old. Stone, his would-be first grandson, was born in 2001. By keeping their names alive, we bless them.
Spiralized Potato Latkes, Sautéed Apples with Wildflower Honey, Sour Cream
We eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate the ancient miracle that occurred in the second century BCE. A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated.
Hanukkah doesn’t start ’til sundown tonight and we’ve already cooked two batches of latkes – our beloved potato pancakes fried in olive oil.
In the first recipe we used a food processor to grate potato and shallot. Ingredients include earthy parsnip, sweet fruity red bell pepper, and fresh bright herbaceous parsley. I joke about the curious red and green color combination in these latkes. But the flavor profile really is spot-on. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!
The second latke recipe employs the new-fangled “spiralizer” to cut long skinny strands of potato, making for a lovely light and lacy pancake. Originally, I thought of the spiralizer as a gimmicky kitchen gadget, but I now find it to be quite useful. And fun. These spiralized latkes are for the purist – simply delicious fried potato served with sour cream. And for a sweet textural counterbalance, my sautéed fresh apples with wildflower honey stand in for the traditional applesauce.