Sizzling Hanukka specialties

Creative partners for latkes.

By FAYE LEVY, YAKIR LEVY
December 13, 2017 18:28
Honey sriracha chicken

Honey sriracha chicken. (photo credit: ANDREA GIBSON)

"You really can’t go wrong with classic potato latkes,” wrote Daniella Silver in her cookbook The Silver Platter – Simple Elegance.

Certainly potato pancakes, or levivot as they are called in Hebrew, are highly popular during the holiday, especially when topped with sour cream and applesauce. (See recipe.)

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As the Hanukka week progresses, it’s a good idea to change the accompaniments. “Make a different topping every night and delight your guests!” suggested Silver.

Dill-flavored sour cream crowned with smoked salmon is one of Silver’s favorite garnishes for latkes. She also makes an avocado-tomato topping and, for meat meals, a tempting topping of deli meat mixed with pickles, mustard and honey. (See recipe.)

Cookbook author Norene Gilletz, who contributed tips to Silver’s book, points out that you can make potato latkes in advance, freeze them and reheat them. This makes serving latkes at Hanukka parties so much easier.

To vary your Hanukka menus, you might like to make latkes from other ingredients besides potatoes. Silver’s sweet potato quinoa patties flavored with spinach could certainly play the role of latkes at a Hanukka party. With protein-rich quinoa, the patties are satisfying enough to be served as a main course. If you’re preparing a vegetarian menu, you could serve the patties with roasted sweet and savory mushrooms flavored with rosemary and soy sauce. (See recipes.)

For Shabbat Hanukka, you might want to serve an entrée that’s different from the usual – honey Sriracha chicken, named for the East Asian Sriracha hot pepper sauce. Silver uses it in the sauce for her easy-to-prepare roast chicken, which also has honey, garlic and lime juice. She garnishes the chicken with toasted sesame seeds. (See recipe.)

Serving this sweet and spicy chicken would have been considered heretical on an old-fashioned Hanukka menu, but for today’s tastes, this boldly flavored entrée would be a welcome partner for traditional potato latkes.

Faye Levy is the author of 1,000 Jewish Recipes.

CLASSIC POTATO LATKES

Danielle Silver uses potato starch rather than flour in her latkes, and thus they are gluten-free.

Here are Norene Gilletz’s tips for making latkes ahead: “Arrange latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet; freeze until firm. Transfer to resealable plastic bags, press out all air, and freeze. To reheat, place frozen latkes onto a large baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, at 205° for 12 to 15 minutes, until hot and crisp.”

Makes about 24 latkes

6 large potatoes (preferably baking potatoes), peeled and cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
2 eggs
¼ cup potato starch
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher or coarse salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Grapeseed oil or other vegetable oil, for frying

Preheat oven to 120°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred potatoes and onion, using medium pressure.

Transfer vegetables to a large colander set in the sink or over a large bowl; press firmly to drain excess liquid.

Place drained veggies into a large bowl. Add eggs, potato starch, baking powder, salt and pepper. Mix well.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of batter into hot oil to form pancakes, flattening them slightly with the back of the spoon. Do not crowd the skillet.

Fry for 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning them carefully, or until crisp and golden.

Drain well on paper towels. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; place into oven to keep warm.

FOUR TOPPINGS FOR POTATO LATKES

SOUR CREAM TOPPING 2 WAYS

Serves 4 to 6
1 cup sour cream (regular or low fat) or Tofutti (parve) sour cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley or dill
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup pomegranate seeds, or 125 gr. fresh smoked salmon, thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, mix sour cream with lemon juice, and pepper. Add parsley (if using pomegranate seeds) or dill (if using smoked salmon). Mix well. At serving time, after topping latkes with sour cream mixture, top with pomegranate seeds or smoked salmon.

DELI TOPPING

Serves 4 to 6
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
3 Israeli pickles, diced
250 gr. deli meat, diced

Mix topping ingredients in a medium bowl.

AVOCADO TOPPING

Serves 4 to 6
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
¼ cup minced red onion
1 tomato, diced
1 Tbsp. lime juice, preferably fresh
1 tsp. kosher or coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix topping ingredients in a medium bowl. Place plastic wrap directly onto mixture to prevent darkening.

SWEET POTATO QUINOA PATTIES

These parve, gluten-free patties are “great as an appetizer or a main dish, or even as breakfast the next morning,” wrote Silver. You can make the patties with butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes.

Gilletz recommends serving the patties with spicy mayonnaise made by mixing together ¼ cup mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons ketchup and 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste.

Makes 18 to 20 patties

2 cups salted water
1 cup uncooked white or red quinoa
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil, plus more for frying
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1-cm. dice
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
1 cup chopped baby spinach
¹⁄3 cup panko crumbs or other bread crumbs (gluten-free or regular)
1 tsp. kosher or coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; let stand for 10 minutes, covered. Fluff quinoa with a fork. Let cool.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large frying pan or wok. Sauté sweet potatoes, onion and garlic for about 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender-crisp. Let cool slightly.

Add sweet potato mixture, spinach, panko crumbs, salt, pepper, and eggs to quinoa. Mix well. Form into patties, using a large cookie scoop.

Heat additional oil on medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Fry patties in batches for 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning them carefully until golden.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

ROASTED SWEET & SAVORY MUSHROOMS

This simple dish of mushrooms in a sweet and savory sauce flavored with fresh rosemary “puts mushrooms on a pedestal to showcase their meaty flavor and texture,” wrote Silver.

Serves 4 to 6
750 gr. (about 9 cups) assorted mushrooms, sliced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
3 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary or ¼ tsp. dried (see note below)
Kosher or coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 205°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine mushrooms with oil, soy sauce and honey. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Spread mushrooms on prepared baking sheet. Roast, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, or until nicely browned, stirring occasionally.

Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs, if desired.

Note: To mince rosemary, strip the leaves from the woody stem and chop them finely, as they are quite tough. An easy way to remove the leaves is to pinch the stem near the top with the fingers of one hand, then run the fingers of your other hand down the stem from top to bottom.

HONEY SRIRACHA CHICKEN

This entrée of succulent chicken “is a winning dish for those who like a spicy kick to their food,” wrote Silver, adding that it freezes well.

Sriracha, wrote Gilletz, is a hot sauce or chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. It’s often in the Asian aisle of the supermarket. If you can’t find it, substitute another hot pepper sauce.

Serves 4 to 6

1 chicken (about 1.4 kg.), cut into eighths
Kosher or coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
¹⁄3 cup honey
1-2 Tbsp. Sriracha or hot sauce (add more if you like it super spicy)
2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Coat a 23- by 33-cm. baking dish with nonstick spray. Trim and discard excess fat from chicken pieces. Arrange chicken in a single layer, skin-side up, in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle on all sides with salt, pepper and garlic.

In a medium bowl, combine oil, honey, Sriracha, soy sauce, and lime juice. Mix well. Drizzle evenly over chicken, coating it on all sides. If you have time, marinate for 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 190°. Roast chicken uncovered, basting occasionally, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through, golden, and juices run clear when you prick the thickest part of the thigh.

Transfer chicken to a serving platter; garnish with sesame seeds.


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