Under the endless fried mountains of the Hanukkah holiday, the warm and sweet latkes has gotten lost: The one from Bialik's poem, which tells of his memories of the holiday as a child, about things that made his heart happy.
Like the word light, the word "leviva" (latkes) also symbolizes the central idea of celebrating Hanukkah. The idea of unity and the bringing together of hearts is represented by the "leviva" (which derives from the word "lev," or "heart," in Hebrew).
And if we put aside the fact that it is fried in oil and contains quite a few calories, then there is also quite a bit in it to make every child, young and old, feel, even for a few moments, that someone loves and spoils them with all their heart.
This time I go back in time to the earliest sources in the roots of my family tree (and my partner's) and share with you a recipe for hot and sweet cheese fritters that I concocted inspired by various recipes from Eastern European cuisines.
Of course, I included a local touch in the form of the Israeli orange - which they could've only dreamt of in those cold countries, otherwise, how would they have felt that a miracle happened here?
Tips before starting:
Let the batter rest for 15 minutes before starting the frying. This action allows liquids to be absorbed and contributes to the stabilization of the mixture. Also at this time, a reaction will form between the leavening agent (baking powder) and the orange juice which will contribute to an airy texture.
The frying is recommended to be done at medium heat and not excessively high for a result that is crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. Since the main ingredients are cheese and eggs, the caramelization (lactose) and the coagulation (protein) at too high a temperature may create latkes that are burnt on the outside and not properly cooked on the inside.
Sweet cheese latkes with strawberry syrup
500 grams of a baking cheese: Either twarog, tabor, Knaan or "Tov Ta'am" cheese4 large eggs3 tablespoons sugar1 teaspoon50 grams butter (melted)Orange juice from half an orangeZest from one orange4 tablespoons semolina4 tablespoons self-rising flour (or 4 tablespoons regular flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder)
1 cup vegetable oil1 tablespoon butter
200 grams fresh strawberries1 tablespoon sugar1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Prepare the batter: Put all the ingredients in a large bowl in the order they appear.
- Mix with your hands until you get a paste with a uniform texture. Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer. Cover and put in the fridge to rest for 15 minutes.
- Prepare the sauce: While the batter is resting, put the strawberries, sugar and lemon in a small saucepan and cook until boiling. Lower the heat and reduce for about 10 minutes. Grind with an immersion blender and put in the freezer for two minutes.
- Fry: In a wide, flat pan, heat half the amount of oil and butter on medium heat. Dip a spoon in a little oil (not hot) and scoop out a bit of the batter from the bowl. Transfer to the pan carefully and flatten a little with the back of the spoon. Fry 4-5 latkes in the pan at a time. When finished, place the latkes on paper towels.
- Serve: Arrange the latkes on a large serving plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar and place a spoonful of sour cream, a dash of strawberry sauce and half a fresh strawberry on top of each one. Sprinkle with mint leaves and serve alongside a bowl with the remaining strawberry sauce.
- Storage: The latkes can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days after frying. Heat a little in the oven or in a toaster oven for 5 minutes on low heat.