Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My favorite Chanuka recipe

Happy Chanuka everyone!

Chanuka is a fun, yet peaceful holiday. I'm not ripping my kitchen apart to make it kosher-for-Passover, not cooking up a storm to feed 3-14 people for 6 festive meals in 3 days (most holidays, except Yom Kippur), not building a hut on my back porch (Sukkos), and not making 40-60 little gift package of food to deliver to friends and family and still cooking up a storm for a festive meal (Purim).

No, it's me and my husband, peacefully gazing at the Chanuka menora/chanukiya lights. I take a break while my husband serves supper, and I prepare for one slightly informal Chanuka party that I host anually for my family. We don't do the whole gift thing, but I sometimes buy a small gift for my nieces and nephew that do come to the party.

There are tons of regular potato latkes out there. I won't bother you with them. Just do a search for "latke" and be prepared to go through lots and lots of results.

What I would like to share with you is a recipe that I found shortly after I got married, which was featured in the local paper's Living section. I think it's originally from a famous Jewish author's cookbook, but I've seen it in many other websites as well.

My sisters, husband and I like food with a little kick. So to give my Chanuka menu a little variation, I usually add Curried Sweet Potato Latkes to the menu.

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (if you're not sure you want it that spicy, use less)
2 teaspoons curry powder (if you're not sure you want it that spicy, use 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk (approximately) (use soy milk if serving at a meat meal)
Peanut oil for frying (I use grapeseed oil - high burn point, not so oily tasting)

1. Grate the sweet potatoes coarsely, or just use your food processor. In a separate bowl mix the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, and salt and pepper.

2. Add the eggs and just enough milk to the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Add the potatoes and mix. The batter should be moist but not runny; if too stiff, add more milk.

3. Heat 1/4 inch of peanut oil in a frying pan until it is barely smoking. Drop in the batter by tablespoons and flatten. Fry over medium-high heat several minutes on each side until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Good with sour cream.

Feel free to double or triple the recipe as you want. I don't remember how much it makes - when I make them this weekend, I'll add the estimate.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Review: The World at Table JEWISH FOOD

I frequently preview cookbooks at the library before purchasing them. I only have so much space on my bookshelves and need to be selective. I picked up a great find at the library this week, and this one is a keeper! (Of course I'll return it to the library. Sheesh. But it will be on my Kaboodle wish list. )

Matthew Goodman's Jewish Food: The World at Table, published by HarperCollins provides one of the more comprehensive overviews of Jewish cooking throughout the world. Yeah, we all love Yemenite, Moroccan, American and Hungarian cooking. That's nothing new. But Matthew Goodman goes beyond the usual international Jewish cookbook and intersperses details about additional Jewish communities (many of which no longer exist). For example, he provides details about how Jews ended up in Bombay and Calcutta, India, and then provides select recipes from their community. As one of my sisters just married a young man from the community that formerly lived in Bombay and Calcutta (his father, aunt and other relatives were born there), it was a pleasure to see the Narla Chi Kadi (Bombay Coconut and Green Mango Soup) , Aloo Makala (Calcutta Deep-Fried Potatoes) and Kombdi Cha Kanji (Bombay Curried Chicken). I'll be making that last one for the Friday night Shabbos meal on this upcoming Sukkos holiday weekend. I just don't have any tamarind paste, so I guess I'll have to do without.

In addition to the usual countries (Spain, Yemen and Morocco for example), there are also essays about Alsace, Salonika, Ionnina (I'll bet you never heard of that one - it's in Greece), Bukhara, Rome, and Baghdad.

Matthew also wrote essays on various dishes and explained where they came from, and how there are prepared in different communities. For example, there is an essay about Borekas (did you know that they're originally from Turkey?), and details about Herring, Chicken Soup, Rice, Poultry, Cabbage and others. In the section about Chicken Soup, he explains how chicken soup, considered by many to be associated with Ashkenaz cooking, actually started in other Middle Eastern countries. Iraqi Jews eat chicken soup with rice, in Greece they blend their soup with Egg and lemon (it's called Avgolemeno), and is also popular in Turkey, Italy and Yemen. He then provides a European chicken soup recipe (Goldene Yoich), a recipe from Calcutta called Marag, and Shorba Bi Djaj (the aforementioned Iraqi soup), along with recipes for kreplach and Matzo Balls.

All in all, this is an excellent overview of international Jewish cooking, with a good balance of recipes and background materials. It is not a thorough overview of any particular community's cuisine, but it does provide a wide selection of recipes for every kosher food type. I look forward to referring to this cookbook during my upcoming cooking for the holiday.