With holidays, it is usually the must-have culinary stars that hold the ability to make memories. This holds true in Jewish households celebrating Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, which begins at sunset Dec. 20 this year.
The celebration commemorates the 165 BC Maccabean revolt and observes how a small flask of lamp oil, expected to last a single night, miraculously lasted for eight during a siege.
That is why the Hanukkah menorah candles are lit for eight nights and the celebratory foods are decidedly oil-centric. Whether baked in oil or fried, each treat commemorates the miracle of the oil keeping the flame alight.
Traditional foods at Hanukkah celebrations include potato pancakes or latkes, which are fried in fat then served with sour cream and apple sauce. There are the doughnuts, ranging from fritter-like bimuelos to jam-filled creations including the Israeli sufganiyot, traditionally filled with jam but now offering updated cream-filled versions. And, of course, all those versions of dougnhuts are deep-fried in oil.
Another Hanukah specialty, loukoumades, featuare deep-fried cream puffs dipped in honey.
Cholesterol counters beware, this holiday is not for the faint of heart. In addition to the oil, other Hanukkah delights focus on cheese. This honors the bravery of Judith, who saved her village from the occupying Babylonian army by plying a general with salty cheese and wine to quench his thirst. Once the general passed out, she took his sword and beheaded him. The army soon retreated and Judith was lauded by the villagers as a heroine.
Commorating Judith’s bravery, cheese is incorporated in the sweet version of kugel, a noodle pudding stuffed with a cottage cheese blend. Blintzes, crepe pancakes are chocked full of a sour m mixture, is another holiday delight.
Add in the main course of a nice brisket or a roasted chicken and bask in the glow of the menorah lights on a perfect Hanukkah celebration.
What’s your favorite Hanukkah treat, and where do you get it?
Latkes with applesauce.
Blintzes with fruit on top, latkes with applesauce and sour cream and most of all sweet kugel.
Sufganiyot…they are like jelly doughnuts…Martha Stewart has a great recipe:
Lots of latkes.
Cheesecake, from Junior’s in Brooklyn.