…from the Perspectives’ Kitchen
How you doin’? Leon Askin invited me over for a Hanukkah dinner. I had just designed a theatre production of Jacob’s Ladder that he directed. He promised me a good roasted brisket and the best potato latkes (potato pancakes) I ever would taste. Leon was an Austrian-Jewish actor best known in North America for portraying the character General Burkhalter on the TV situation comedy Hogan's Heroes.
I enjoy the flavor of potato latkes that are made with potatoes and both green and yellow onions—sweet, lightly pungent, and savory—that never fail. They also have a wonderful soft and crispy texture.
Potato latkes are traditionally served with applesauce, but the fully loaded version goes a little overboard with crème fraîche, lox, salmon caviar and chives. The toppings are usually set on the table to let the guests and family build their own latkes with promises that all will be delighted.
Just what is Hanukkah? It is a Jewish festival commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE. I hope I got that right.
The festival lasts for eight nights and days, and is observed by lighting the candles of a menorah. Each night, an additional candle is lit until all eight candles are lit together on the final night of the festival.
Hanukkah has attained major cultural significance in North America and elsewhere, especially among secular Jews, as it often occurs around the same time as Christmas during the holiday season giving license to celebrate with great food and gift giving.
So, let’s celebrate together with Leon’s ever popular potato latke recipe.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 5 to 7 minutes
Yield: 5 servings
1 cup coarsely shredded yellow onion
2-1/2 pounds russet baking potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded
2 large beaten eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions (tops and bottoms)
1/4 cup matzo meal (or all-purpose flour)
3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, cooled slightly
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Vegetable oil, for flat frying
Applesauce, crème fraîche, lox, salmon caviar, and chives, for garnish
Quip of the Day: Three high rise construction workers were sitting on top of a high rise eating lunch. The first builder opens up his lunch pail and says, "if I get a turkey sandwich one more time, I'm gonna jump off this building and kill myself". The second builder opens up his lunch box and says, “if I get a polish sausage again, I'll join you and jump off this building and kill myself." The third worker opens his lunch box and says, “if I get potato pancakes again, I'll join you two and kill myself as well.”
The next day at lunch the first worker opens his lunch box shows the other guys a turkey sandwich and jumps and kills himself. The second worker opens his lunchbox, shows the remaining worker his polish sausage and jumps off the building and kills himself. The third worker opens his lunch and sees that it’s potato pancakes again, he throws the lunchbox off the building and jumps off and kills himself.
About a week later at one of the funerals the wife of the first worker says, "God had I known he wanted something other than a turkey sandwich, I would have made him something else!" The wife of the second worker says, "Oh me too, had I known he had grown tired of polish sausage I could have made him anything else!" The third wife says, "Stupid jerk, he always made his own lunch."
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To you and everyone dear to you, be strong, be positive, stay well, stay safe and be kind. Take a breath and count your blessings, and if you have a little extra to share with others, please consider donating to Feeding America and/or American Red Cross.
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