Hanukkah Food Hacks

What can be more festive than delicious holiday specialties made from scratch? For many of us, that is a voyeuristic pleasure, to be enjoyed in a magazine. Real life does not play out that way. Lack of time or attention span is no reason not to enjoy preparing your own Hanukkah treats. Here are some easy shortcuts that will help you fill your home with the aromas and flavors of homemade delicacies.

Latkes (Potato Pancakes) Photo: Jacob Kaplan-Moss https://www.flickr.com/photos/jacobian/

Photo: Jacob Kaplan-Moss.


An easy shortcut to fresh homemade latkes is purchasing frozen shredded potatoes, or hash browns, and frozen diced onions. [Read more…]

Healthy Hanukkah Pancakes

— by Challah Maidel

Latkes, potato pancakes, are a quintessential traditional Hanukkah food made of shredded potatoes, eggs and bread crumbs or matzo meal.

2013-11-29-12-33-01 Like most people I know, I like my latkes ultra-crunchy, perfectly salty, savory from the onion, lacy at the edges and soft in the middle. Traditionally, latkes are fried in oil, which symbolizes the miraculous Hanukkah story and gives them a crispy exterior texture.

I do not particularly fancy anything fried, though. I will indulge myself from time to time, but am not too enthusiastic about the mess and hassle that comes with frying, not to mention the emotional heartache that comes along with it. Oven-baked potato pancakes are a safer, healthier and less hassle alternative for me.

If you are looking for a traditional potato pancake recipe, you are out of luck: All I have for you is a multi-vegetable pancake recipe, which seems more exciting to me. Plus, people seldom complain about eating too many vegetables, and a couple extra never hurt anyone. Carrots and zucchini balance out the starchiness from the potatoes, which is why I included them. A dollop of low-fat sour cream, applesauce and smoked salmon adds a nice finishing touch.

Ingredients for about 24 medium-sized pancakes:

  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 zucchinis, grated
  • 1 onion, peeled and grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of matzo meal or bread crumbs (use gluten-free bread crumbs for a gluten-free version)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Salt and pepper for taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. After grating the vegetables, drain excess water using paper towels.
  3. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  5. Drop mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. (For mini-latkes, use a teaspoon.)
  6. Flatten with back of spoon, slightly, so that latkes will be cooked through.
  7. Brush each patty with oil or spray with cooking spray.
  8. Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes. Bottoms should be browned and crisp.
  9. Turn latkes over and bake for 8-10 more minutes. If you are worried about browning on the second side, give pan another “brushing” with a thin coat of oil, and then lay latkes back down. Keep an eye on the latkes as they bake to avoid overcooking.
  10. Serve right away, or store covered to reheat the next day at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.

Challah Maidel blogs about healthy kosher eating.

Hanukkah-Thanksgiving Fusion Menu

— by Ronit Treatman

This year, the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars have aligned in a very special way: Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are celebrated on the same night. This will not happen again until 2070.

In honor of this tandem celebration, I invite you to combine the essential ingredient of Hanukkah, olive oil, with foods that are native to North America. This is the perfect marriage of the two holidays.

3 Thanksgiving-Hanukkah recipes after the jump.
Baharat Fried Turkey Drumsticks

Turkeys are native to North America. This recipe flavors the American food with Middle-Eastern spices, and tenderizes it with fresh lemon juice. Frying the whole turkey is too daunting for me: I prefer to prepare a platter of fried turkey drumsticks.

Fried turkey, corn latkes and carnberry-apple sauce.
  • 6 fresh turkey drumsticks
  • Olive oil
  • Baharat – Middle Eastern Spice Rub:
    • 12 lemons
    • 1 tablespoon ground garlic
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon fenugreek
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Measure all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  
  2. Squeeze the lemons, and mix the fresh juice with the spices.  
  3. Place the turkey drumsticks in the bowl and coat them with the spice rub.  
  4. Seal the seasoned drumsticks in a plastic zipper bag, and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.
  5. Heat the olive oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a heavy Dutch oven. Pour in enough oil to completely immerse the turkey drumsticks. Do not cover the pot, as this would create a fire hazard.  
  6. Carefully place the turkey drumsticks in the hot oil. Do not crowd them.  
  7. Cook the drumsticks for at least 20 minutes over medium heat in the uncovered pot.  
  8. Check the temperature of the drumsticks by sticking a meat thermometer into the drumstick.  It is cooked through when the meat’s internal temperature reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Corn Latkes (Pancakes)

Potatoes, which originated in the Andes mountains, are customarily served with the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, and are the essential ingredient of traditional latkes (pancakes). This year, we can pay homage to the corn, a plant that originated in North America. Corn, a staple of the Native Americans, can be transformed into an ancient Israelite fry bread. This is a superb accompaniment to the Middle Eastern fried turkey legs.

  • 4 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached flour
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  1. Cook the corn in boiling water.  
  2. Drain, and allow to cool to room temperature.  
  3. Mix in the eggs, flour, salt, and black pepper.  
  4. Heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet.  
  5. Spoon the corn batter into the frying pan. Flip the fritters over when they turn golden-brown.  

Cranberry-Apple Sauce

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without cranberries, and no latke is complete without applesauce. Cranberries originated in North America, while apples came from Central Asia. For this special dinner, I combine cranberries and apples into a special sauce for the corn latkes.

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups fresh, diced apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup maple sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

I prepared a practice Thanksgivenukkah dinner for my family. The deep-fried turkey drumsticks were moist, delicately spiced, and had a delicious crackly, crunchy skin. The golden corn latkes were soft, chewy, and slightly sweet. The cranberry-apple sauce was a magnificent vermillion color, and had a perfectly balanced sweet-tart flavor.  

I loved the sauce with the latkes, while others at the table preferred it with their turkey. Either way you choose, have a happy Thanksgivukkah!

Onion Goggles And Homemade Levivot (Israeli Latkes)

— by Ronit Treatman

It is time for my yearly Hanukkah conundrum.  Should I prepare levivot (Israeli latkes) from scratch, or succumb to the convenience of store bought frozen latkes?  I could also go with a box of powdered latke mix, which produces a hot, crispy, freshly fried latke.  I love preparing my own levivot from scratch.  It is part of the Hanukkah celebration for me.  Spending time together in the kitchen while peeling, grating, mixing, and frying is family bonding time.  The only thing I hate about making my own levivot is getting onion juice in my eyes.  Can this be avoided?

More after the jump.

Levivot are generally prepared with grated potatoes and onions.  As I pull out my potatoes, onions, graters, and peelers,  I’m not sure I want to prepare this from scratch.  

Onions always really burn my eyes.  That is because there is sulfuric acid in onions.  When it reaches the fluids in my eyes, this acid causes a burning feeling.  

I’ve wondered for years how to avoid getting the sulfuric acid into my eyes.  Several strategies have been suggested to me:

  • One is to immerse the onion in ice water before chopping it.  This will cool down the sulfuric acid, and delay the speed at which it is released into the air once the onion is grated.  
  • Another strategy is to chop the onion in the food processor where I won’t have to touch or smell it.  However, I enjoy the tactile feeling of peeling and grating the onions and potatoes by hand.  I love the smell of onion!

Now there is a wonderful new invention.  Onion Goggles to the rescue!  These plastic goggles have foam seals that surround my eye area and lock out onion fumes.  They have antifog lenses, so I can see what I am doing.  The only downside is that you can’t wear them over perscription glasses.  What a surreal experience it is to have a kitchen full of relatives in Onion Goggles cooking together!  It’s like cooking in 3D.  So strap on your Onion Goggles and get to work cooking these mouth watering levivot!

Latke ingredientsIsraeli Hanukkah Levivot


  • 5 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • between 1/4 to 3/4 cup matzah meal
  • olive oil for frying


  1. Peel the potatoes and onions.
  2. Grate the potatoes and onions, and place in a large bowl.  
  3. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and matzah meal.  Mix well.
  4. Heat one inch of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high flame.
  5. Drop the levivot batter in by the tablespoon.  
  6. When the edges brown, flip the levivot over and flatten them with the spatula.  
  7. Cook the levivot until they are crispy, with a golden-brown color.
  8. Place them on paper towels to blot some of the olive oil.

Potato latkes, or levivot, are our Eastern European legacy.  Those Jewish communities used what was plentiful and inexpensive: potatoes.  In the United States latkes are traditionally served with apple sauce and sour cream.  In Israel, sugar is sprinkled over them.  Either way, be sure to serve them hot!