Grandma’s Hanukkah Treats

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 14, 2005
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Hanukkah, the Jewish Feast of Lights, is coming later this month (the first candle will be lit on Sunday, Dec. 25). Jewish families in Hawaii will be assembling around the menorah for eight nights and undoubtedly will be making the traditional, mouthwatering foods associated with the holiday. Many of the traditional foods are cooked in oil in remembrance of the oil that burned in the temple over 2,000 years ago.

Back then, the Greek-Syrian ruler Antiochus IV tried to force Greek culture upon peoples in his territory. Jews in Judea were forbidden their most important religious practices as well as study of the Torah. Although vastly outnumbered, religious Jews in the region took up arms to protect their community and their religion. The rebel armies became known as the Maccabees. After three years of fighting, the temple was victoriously reclaimed, and had to be prepared for rededication (in Hebrew, Hanukkah means “dedication”). In the temple they found only enough purified oil to kindle the temple light for a single day. But miraculously, the light continued to burn for eight days.

The lighting of the menorah is the most important Hanukkah tradition. Each evening of Hanukkah one more candle is lit, with a special blessing.


The menorah symbolizes the burning light in the temple as well as marking the eight days of the Hanukkah festival. Some say it also celebrates the light of freedom won by the Maccabees for the Jewish people.

At Temple Emanu-El on the Pali Highway, the Jewish community now is led by Interim Rabbi Peter Schaktman, assisted by longtime cantorial soloist Ken Aronowitz. Rabbi Schaktman, here for only the current year, has served congregations in Staten Island and Livingston Manor, N.Y., as well as ones in Lake Charles, La., Houston and San Antonio. His outgoing manner and his warm personality have already made him a favorite among congregants of all ages. Praised for being creative, knowledgeable and resourceful, Rabbi Schaktman is a teacher in the broadest sense of the word.

Noted Jewish cook Dana Washofsky has agreed to share some of her mother’s recipes in hopes that when Rabbi Schaktman travels to his next congregation he will share them with others. Dana’s husband Craig and sons Ben and Jacob give them two thumbs up. And you can be sure that Ken and wife Hinda Diamond will take note of these family favorites as well to make for children Kelvin, age 4, and Krystal Jennie, 1.

GRANDMA MARILYN’S BLENDER RECIPE FOR LATKES (HANUKKAH POTATO PANCAKES)

* 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
* 1/2 small onion, peeled and quartered
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 2 eggs
* vegetable oil, for frying

Start with half of the potatoes, half of the onion and all the other ingredients. Blend/chop in the blender until a batter begins (it will be “gritty,” not lumpy but not smooth). Add the rest of the potatoes and onions a bit at a time to keep the blender from overworking.

Fry in about 1/4 inch of hot oil - about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Turn when the edges are golden and crispy - kind of a “lacy” edge.

These can be made ahead. Put pancakes on foil and reheat one layer of foil at a time, otherwise the under layers will steam and will be soggy instead of crispy.


These are traditionally served with sour cream and apple-sauce.

OVEN-ROASTED APPLESAUCE

* 1/4 cup brandy or cider
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* pinch ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus zest of 1 lemon
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
* 3 McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
* pinch salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a 12-by-14-inch roasting pan, or an 11-by-17-inch baking pan, combine the brandy, cinnamon, cloves, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar and butter. Add all the apples and toss. Roast until the apples are very soft and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer apples to the bowl of a food processor; pulse until smooth. Stir in the salt. Serve warm or chilled.

Makes 2 cups.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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Most Recent Comment(s):

grin Great recipe, easy to make and tasty. The applesauce was good too. Love the information on the holiday too!


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