I remember celebrating HanuKkah when growing up and being with my extended family of uncles, aunts and cousins. The highlights were lighting the Hanukkah menorah, eating lots of latkes, exchanging gifts and anticipating all the great desserts.
Potato latkes are the most popular of the Hanukkah foods. They are traditionally fried in olive oil to a delicious crispness and served with applesauce, sour cream, sugar and preserves.
This year, we are preparing recipes that include new, delicious Dessert Potato Latkes, a combination of apples and potatoes, as well as an Italian Olive Oil Cake, a recipe from chef/butcher Dario Cecchini (our adopted Italian son) that is served at his restaurant, Solo Ciccia, in Tuscany.
I also love to serve Sufganiyot, deep-fried doughnuts, usually eaten in Israel as a snack or at the conclusion of the Hanukkah dinner. The dough can be prepared in advance and fried in olive oil just before serving.
For our dessert buffet, and as an extra treat, we ask all the bakers in the family to bring their favorite, homemade Hanukkah cookies to share during our celebration.
DESSERT POTATO LATKES
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or nondairy
2 large Red Delicious apples, peeled,
seeded and diced
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled
4 to 5 tablespoons matzo meal
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for garnish
In a nonstick skillet, melt butter and add apples, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. Over medium-high heat, sauté until apples are glazed, about 4 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the apple mixture, potatoes, eggs, matzo meal and salt. Mix well.
In a nonstick skillet, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil. With a tablespoon, spoon the potato-apple mixture into the hot oil and flatten the latkes with the back of the spoon. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes a side, turning only once, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Makes about 24 latkes.
DARIO’S OLIVE OIL CAKE AT SOLO CICCIA (Solociccia Torta All’Olio)
Olive oil for baking pan
1/4 cup ground almonds for baking pan
2 cups sugar
2 oranges, finely chopped (pulp and peel)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup raisins, plumped in Vin Santo or
a sweet wine
1/2 cup (toasted) pine nuts for garnish
Sugar for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush a 10- or 12-inch springform pan with olive oil and dust with ground almonds.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add orange peel and pulp and blend well. Slowly add the olive oil alternately with the flour and baking powder, and mix until smooth. Fold in the raisins.
Let rest for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. The oil is light, but tends to separate from the batter; mix well.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, level it and dust it with sugar, a little oil and the pine nuts. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
Makes 1 large, round cake.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup buttermilk or nondairy creamer
Olive oil for frying
Powdered sugar for garnish
In a mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, sugar, eggs and egg yolk. Beat until fluffy. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Stir into egg mixture alternately with buttermilk.
Toss dough onto floured board and knead in additional flour if dough is sticky. Divide dough in half or quarters for easier handling. Pat and roll out 1/2-inch thick. Cut with doughnut cutter (round) dipped in flour.
In a heavy skillet, heat 1 to 2 inches of oil to 360 F. Drop Sufganiyot into hot oil and fry 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or dip in sugar.
Makes about 24 Sufganiyot.
Judy Zeidler is a food consultant, cooking teacher and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her website is judyzeidler.com.