In celebration of Hanukkah.
I became friends with Wendy through participation in a Facebook group called NEO Foodies and an affiliated group, NEO Foodies Cookbook Club.
When I cooked my first dish with the Cookbook Club a few years ago, the meal was hosted by Wendy in her lovely home. Wendy is a gracious and generous hostess who makes every guest feel welcomed and well fed! No one leaves the table hungry (and she always sends yummy leftovers home with you).
The Cookbook Club has been one of the best experiences I've had as a newcomer to Cleveland.
I asked Wendy to share her special Hanukkah memory. Here it is.
“Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday which celebrates the victory of the Maccabees over the larger Syrian army. It also celebrates a miracle that happened during this time, where just a day's supply of oil allowed the menorah in the rededicated Temple in Jerusalem to remain lit for eight days. Therefore, Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah for eight days.
We celebrate the miracle of the oil by serving fried foods like potato latkes, (pancakes), with sour cream and applesauce, sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and simple roast chicken or brisket.
I learned to cook these fried treats at a young age in my Grandmother Gert’s kitchen! Her Hanukkah parties were big family events with15-20 people at her table ready for her delicious Latkes. We would make up to 100 of them, which meant peeling and grating by hand 30 pounds of potatoes! No food processors in those days! We then would cook them in four big skillets at a time and keep the finished latkes warm in the oven. It took several hours, and the house would then smell like oil for the next week or so!
I continued to use her recipe for many years to make my own latkes, until I happened upon an incredible recipe from Serious Eats that uses the potato starch left in the bowl after squeezing the moisture out of the potatoes! Usually that potato starch went down the drain with the potato “water”.
WOW… What a game changer!
This recipe creates the crispiest and most delicious latkes I have ever eaten! Grandma Gert would be proud!
Susan and I first tasted potato pancakes at the home of elementary school friends who lived in the community of Pomonok/Kissena in Flushing, New York. Liked them immediately, especially when served with sour cream and applesauce, which is the way I serve them today.
And, like Grandma Gert, I don’t use a food processor to grate the potatoes, but an old fashioned box grater! ❤️
I make these frequently, and not just at Hanukkah.
Wishing you and your family a blessed holiday season.
Pat Bennett is the founder and President of Pat's Granola, a Cleveland based food and lifestyle company.
Pat's October 29, 2021 appearance on New Day Cleveland
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