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9 Facts About Hanukkah Food

9 Facts About Hanukkah Food

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Learn all about the food behind the Festival of Lights

Like many other holidays across the globe, Hanukkah is a family affair. It’s a time to come together, share food, and celebrate blessings, while passing on and creating new traditions. Communal meals during the eight days of Hanukkah are an important custom and friends who quarreled during the year are meant to reconcile at these meals. Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, a testament to the long-lasting light that came from that small amount of oil. Foods fit for the holiday are cooked in oil to celebrate the miracle that took place during the rededication of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. Bring on the apple fritters, vegetable pancakes, and sweet doughnuts.

What’s a holiday without delicious food? And it’s definitely a plus when that holiday calls for fried food and cheese. Really, who could resist cheese-filled doughnuts?

The History of Hanukkah Foods

Like many other holidays across the globe, Hanukkah is a family affair. Really, who could resist cheese-filled doughnuts?


According to legend, Judith, a pious widow, played an integral role in the liberation of the Jews. In pretending to surrender to her captors, she met Holofernes, the governor of Syrians. Attracted by her beauty, he invited her to his tent. There, she offered him cheese to make him thirsty and wine to appease his thirst. But the wine induced drowsiness, and while he slept, Judith beheaded him, which weakened the enemy and led to the historic victory of the Jews. Essentially, it was cheese that led to the downfall of the Syrian-Greeks. Cheesecake, blintzes, and other cheese-centric dishes have made their way to many Hanukkah celebrations as a result.

Hanukkah Gelt

You can play dreidel for them, or eat them straight out of the bag; those gold foil-wrapped chocolate coins are yet another delicious Hanukkah treat. The roots of gelt, Yiddish for “money,” are in the first coins minted by the Jews after the Maccabees gained independence. These first coins were stamped with an image of a menorah, perhaps to signify the miracle at the rededication. In the eighteenth century, it was customary to show religious teachers appreciation with a monetary token around Hanukkah. However, by the nineteenth century, the traditional recipients had shifted from teachers to children. Now savings bonds, checks, and chocolate coins are manifestations of Hanukkah gelt.


Kugel has a long history, beginning as something like a bready dumpling stemming from the German tradition of steaming puddings. The dish was transformed when noodles became the ingredient of choice for Jewish housewives in the sixteenth century. It morphed again with the advent of technology in the nineteenth century, and kugel became a baked item. For Hanukkah, sweet, dairy-based kugel incorporating sour cream and cream cheese become a reminder of Judith’s courageous actions.


For many, latkes are synonymous with Hanukkah, but in reality these potato pancakes descend from Italian pancakes made with ricotta cheese. It was a rabbi in Italy in the late thirteenth century who first made the connection between the pancakes and the holiday. The cheese pancakes became a quintessential Hanukkah dish because they combined dairy and fried foods. However, potato latkes are a more recent Ashkenazi invention that gained popularity in Eastern Europe during the mid-1800s after crop failures that led to mass planting of potatoes.


Tasty, filled cookies are fitting all year round, but the cream cheese in the dough of rugelach make them ideal for Hanukkah. Using cream cheese in cooking is a Central European tradition with ancient Middle Eastern roots. The word "rugelach," meaning “royal,” descends from Yiddish and may even have Polish roots. Whipping up some rugelach cookies is a sweet way to celebrate.


Doughnut-like sweets, known as sufganiyot, are a popular Hanukkah treat, especially in Israel. They may actually derive from a yeast dough pastry mentioned in the Talmud, which were called sufganin (absorbent) because they absorbed a lot of oil in cooking. In Spain, cheese was added to these doughnuts, inspiring many fried cheese pastries popular among Sephardim. The jelly-filled version evolved among German Jews, who brought it to Israel in the 1930s.


We know that fried food is essential at any Hanukkah celebration. Olive oil is said to be the preferred oil, but schmaltz or schmalz, rendered poultry fat, can also be used for frying or cooking. It plays a large role in Jewish cuisine.


The batter for the fried treats called zalabia is poured into extremely hot oil in a thin, swirl-like form resembling Amish funnel cakes. Once cooked, these scrumptious fritters are coated with syrup or honey


Zvingoi, deep-fried dough puffs, are another traditional food at Hanukkah festivities. The puffs are dipped in sugar or honey to symbolize the cakes eaten by the Maccabees, yet another connection to the history of the holiday.

Easy Hanukkah Recipes

Here are some fabulously fun and delicious recipes that you can make for Chanukah. You can even make some of them in advance so that you can miraculously relax and enjoy your Chanukah meal with your family! Happy Chanukah!!

Puff Pastry & Potato Dreidels
with Double Caramelized Onions

We love Idaho potatoes &ndash they taste great and are grown in the Midwest! Here&rsquos a unique way to use our flavorful potatoes and your favorite Chanukah cookie cutters. I&rsquom sure your family and friends will be wowed by these tasty Chankuah dreidels!

  • 2 pounds Idaho Potatoes (around 6 medium)
  • 1 large Vidalia or Sweet onion, finely diced (around 2 ½ cups)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (or one frozen garlic cube)
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large Vidalia or Sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, defrosted before using
  • flour for rolling puff pastry
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons warm water

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Cover pot and reduce burner temperature to low. Cook the potatoes covered for 45 minutes until tender when pricked with a fork. Remove the potatoes from the water and allow them to cool completely. This step can be done a day in advance, just keep the potatoes in the refrigerator until ready to use. Peel the cooled potatoes and place them in a large bowl. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large (preferably non-stick) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and sugar and sauté until the onion is golden brown and caramelized, stirring occasionally, around 20 minutes. You may need to reduce the temperature of the flame if the onion starts to burn rather than caramelize.

Using a fork or potato masher, mash the potatoes until there are no large lumps. Add the caramelized onions. Reserve the skillet from the onions &ndash you will use it to caramelize the sliced onions. Mix the onions and potatoes until thoroughly combined. Add the salt and eggs. Stir until smooth with a fork, removing any remaining lumps.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Lightly flour a pastry board or mat. Roll out each sheet of the defrosted puff pastry dough to 9 ½ inches x 12 inches. Spread the prepared potatoes on one of the pastry sheets. Carefully place the second sheet of dough on top of the potatoes, gently pressing to adhere. Using a dreidel cookie cutter, carefully cut out rows of dreidel shapes from the dough. Place each dreidel on the prepared baking sheet.

Whisk the eggs and water together in a small bowl. Brush the dreidels with the egg. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in the reserved skillet. Add the thinly sliced onion and sugar. Sauté for approximately 20 minutes until the onions are caramelized.

Serve the Puff Pastry and Potato Dreidels on a bed of sliced caramelized onions for a beautiful Chanukah appetizer or side dish.

Note: To make these extra special &ndash roll out an additional sheet of puff pastry dough. Using small Hebrew letter cookie cutters, cut out &ldquonun&rdquo, &ldquogimel&rdquo, &ldquohey&rdquo (or &ldquopey&rdquo if in Israel!), and &ldquoshin&rdquo shapes. Place on top of the unbaked dreidels. Brush with egg, then bake as directed above.

When making potato latkes one of the most time consuming tasks is peeling all the potatoes! Here&rsquos a super speedy way to make &ldquoalmost-from-scratch&rdquo latkes, with a &ldquomade-from-scratch&rdquo taste. No one will ever know that you didn&rsquot slave in the kitchen for hours making these delicious latkes &ndash and you&rsquoll have time to enjoy them with your family! Now that&rsquos one of the real miracles of Chanukah!

  • 1 lb Hash Browns (defrosted if frozen)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • Canola Oil for frying

In a large bowl mix all ingredients until thoroughly combined. In a large skillet, heat oil. Drop large spoonfuls of potato mixture into the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Serve warm with apple sauce or sour cream.

For more information and more variations of this recipe please go here or check out my Hash Brown Potato Latkes article in the Chicago Tribune Newspaper Syndication this month.

Tangy Glazed Corned Beef
(Great for the GFE &ndash Gluten Free Eater)

This recipe is great for when life is crazy and you&rsquore busily trying to get ready for Shabbat or a Holiday. Preparing it requires very little effort! To get melt-in-your mouth-tender, juicy, flavorful beef you boil the meat in a large pot of water for several hours, then make a simple glaze and bake it for a short time. It couldn&rsquot be easier. I once made the mistake of trying to roast a corned beef. UGH, it was one of the worst things I have ever made &ndash it was Dead Sea salty. Boiling the Corned Beef helps to remove a significant amount of the salt &ndash so simple&hellipand so delicious!

  • 4 pound corned beef brisket
  • 15 ounces mandarin orange preserves
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • non-stick vegetable spray

Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick vegetable spray. Set aside.

In a large stock pot, cover the corned beef with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and drain the water completely. Recover the beef with fresh water. Return to heat and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook corned beef for an additional 2 ½ to 3 hours &ndash until beef is tender. Drain water from the pot. Place the beef on the prepared baking pan.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl combine the orange preserves, mustard, ketchup, and brown sugar. Stir until smooth. Spoon the sauce over the corned beef. After 15 minutes, remove the beef from the oven and spoon the sauce in the pan over the beef. Return the beef to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Slice the beef when completely cooled.

  • You can also use apricot preserves or duck sauce as a substitution for the mandarin orange preserves.
  • This roast slices best after being refrigerated for several hours &ndash use a very sharp knife for best results.
  • You can freeze this roast. I recommend slicing the roast before freezing.

Here&rsquos a fun way for you to include kids of all ages in the Chanukah food preparations. This painted cookie recipe was given to me by my dear friend Hindy who used to make these cookies every Chanukah with her now-grown kids. These cookies really let the budding artist in everyone shine. You just paint the cookies with an egg yolk based &ldquopaint&rdquo which dries into a shiny glaze while baking. They&rsquore beautiful and simple to make &ndash a great addition to your Chanukah celebrations!!

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • additional flour for rolling dough

Preheat oven to 375° F. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar and the shortening. Add eggs one at a time, then add the orange juice and vanilla and mix until completely blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined and dough is formed.

Divide into dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until dough is chilled and easier to handle.

Roll out dough with floured rolling pin on floured board. Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets. Paint with Cookie Glaze.

Bake 8-10 minutes on prepared cookie sheets. Makes a little over 1 pound of dough.

Use new or thoroughly washed paint brushes. You can divide the glaze or make a separate batch for each &ldquopaint&rdquo color. Use one paintbrush for each different color.

Mix yolk, water and food coloring together in a small bowl. Paint the cookies!

Notes: I have four paint brushes so I let my girls pick four &ldquopaint&rdquo colors. We found that lighter/brighter colors work a little better than darker ones. We also found that if you would like to layer the colors, start with a lighter color on the bottom. Let it &ldquodry&rdquo for a few minutes and then paint over it with your accent colors. Have fun!!


Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

Latkes, also known as potato pancakes, are, as you can imagine, pancake-shaped and shallow-fried, and are traditionally made with ground potatoes. They are typically mixed with onion, egg, flour, and seasonings.

Nowadays, there are different creative recipes out there that call for zucchini and sweet potatoes as the base rather than white potatoes, if you want to go a bit out of the box. These fried treats are scrumptious when dipped in sour cream and/or served alongside some applesauce.

Want to try making them yourself? Check out this recipe for The Best-Ever Potato Latkes.

Symbolic Foods

According to Jewish law, Hanukkah is one of the less important Jewish holidays. However, Hanukkah has become much more popular in modern practice because of its proximity to Christmas. The traditional foods consumed during the Hanukkah holiday are symbolic of the events being celebrated. Most of these traditional foods are fried in oil, symbolic of the oil that lasted eight days. Others contain cheese to celebrate Judith's victory.

Three popular foods eaten on the Jewish holidays include loukoumades, pancakes, and latkes. Loukoumades are deep-fried puffs dipped in honey or sugar to represent the cakes the Maccabees ate, along with sufganiyot and zelebi. Pancakes are a traditional dish, serving as a reminder of the food hurriedly prepared for the Maccabees as they went into battle, along with the oil they are fried in as a reminder of the miraculous oil. Latkes were originally symbolic of the cheesecakes served by the widow Judith and later evolved to the potato/vegetable fried most known today. Many kinds of cheese and dairy dishes are consumed in memory of brave Judith.

Hanukkah Latkes, 12 Ways

It wouldn’t be a Hanukkah celebration without a plate of golden-fried latkes. From traditional takes to twists on the classic, these are some of our favorite ways to make this beloved, holiday dish.

Related To:

Photo By: Chantell Quernemoen

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Marshall Troy ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012,Television Food Network,G.P.

Potato Latkes

Beet and Carrot Latkes

These crispy potato latkes get a gorgeous jewel tone from shredded beets and carrots. Perfect for any special, holiday celebration.

Nigella's Apple Latkes

Potato Latkes with Caramelized Onion Sour Cream

Molly gives her latkes a new twist by serving them with a savory, onion dip. She incorporates a subtle of sweetness with caramelized onions (instead of applesauce).

Brussels Sprout Latkes

For a less-traditional take on potato latkes, Molly adds shredded Brussels sprouts along with the potatoes. The latkes not only taste great, they look beautiful too. The perfect accompaniment? Her simple Balsamic-Dijon dipping sauce.

Oven-Fried Latkes

Rachael Ray's Quick Potato and Carrot Latkes

Crispy Two-Potato Cake

Crispy Potato Cake

Sweet Potato Latkes

Root Vegetable Latkes

We've spruced up traditional latkes by incorporating a few readily available root vegetables to lend dimension&mdashand color&mdashto the classic recipe. The vegetables can be shredded in a food processor or by hand using a box grater.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Latkes with Spiced Apple-Cranberry Relish

While the flavor profile of these latkes is a complete departure from a classic potato latke recipe, they fry up just as crispy and lacey as ever. The spiced relish starts with a base of caramelized onions for depth and dimension. We found that the addition of one russet potato in the batter lends just enough potato starch to keep the latkes creamy on the inside without detracting from the sweet flavor of the carrots and sweet potatoes.

Hanukkah 2020

Hanukkah begins on Thursday, December 10, at sundown. Learn about Hanukkah history, customs, and a few traditional recipes!

What Is Hanukkah?

Hanukkah (also spelled “Chanukah”) is an eight-day winter “festival of lights,” which begins each year on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev.

Because the Hebrew calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the dates of Jewish holidays according to the Gregorian calendar change from year to year. For this reason, the beginning of Hanukkah can range from late November to late December.

In short, Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a group of Jewish warriors defeated the occupying Greek armies. The festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and of spirituality over materiality. Read on to learn more about the history of Hanukkah.

When Is Hanukkah?

In 2020, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Thursday, December 10, and continues through Friday, December 18. The first candle is lit on the Chanukiah (menorah) on this date.

Note: Hanukkah begins and ends at sundown on the dates listed below. See Sunrise and Sunset Times for your area.

Hanukkah Dates

A Short History of Hanukkah

This festival commemorates events that took place in Judea more than 2,000 years ago, when the Syrian king Antiochus ordered the Jews to abandon the Torah and publicly worship the Greek gods.

This act provoked a rebellion led by Judas Maccabeus, climaxed by the retaking of the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been desecrated by the Syrians. The army of Jews won, despite their small numbers.

In an eight-day celebration, the “Maccabees” (as the rebels came to be known) cleansed and rededicated the Temple.

According to the Talmud, there was only enough consecrated oil to re-light the candelabra for one day, yet, miraculously, it remained lit for eight days.

What Does the Word “Chanukah” (or “Hanukkah”) Mean?

The word chanukah means “inauguration” or “dedication.” After the rebellion, the Temple was in ruin, including the alter. The Maccabees buried the stones of the altar and built a new one. Thus, Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple and the altar.

How do you pronounce “Hanukkah”? The Hebrew word is actually pronounced with a guttural, “kh” sound, kha-nu-kah, not tcha-new-kah.

How Hanukkah is Celebrated

The central feature of the observance of is the nightly lighting of the Chanukiah or menorah, an eight-branched candelabra with a place for a ninth candle, the shammes, used to light the others.

One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, and an additional candle is lit on each successive night, until, on the eighth night, the Chanukiah is fully illuminated.

Hanukkah is also called the Feast of Lights or Festival of Lights due to the importance of the candle-lighting.

Potato latkes with sour cream and chives. Photo Credit: GreenArt/Shutterstock

Hanukkah Recipes to Try

Traditional Hanukkah recipes include foods fried in oil, to commemorate the original miracle of the oil. Dairy products are also popular during Hanukkah.

Some of the most popular foods include latkes (fried potato pancakes), applesauce, sufganiyot (deep-fried or jelly doughnuts), and rugelach pastries. See more Hanukkah recipes!

Many Hanukkah meals are eaten communally to bring together friends and family, especially if they need to reconcile.

Colorful dreidels. Photo by Adiel lo/Wikimedia Commons.

Hanukkah Customs

Consumer gifts are not a custom the menorah’s candles are meant to recall the miracle—and focus on this religious purpose. Traditionally, money was given to charity, with more given each day as the candles were lit. This originated with the need for even the poor to have money for the candles, so they could go door-to-door without any shame.

It is also customary on Hanukkah to give money (called Hanukkah gelt) to children, and to play games with the dreidel—a four-sided spinning top. The Hebrew letters printed on the sides of a dreidel are an acronym that stands for the phrase Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, “a great miracle happened there”—a reference to the miracle of the oil.

Do you celebrate Hanukkah? If you do, please share your family’s traditions below!

Learn More

Learn about other significant Jewish holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover.

Exotic Hanukkah Foods

Svinge is the Sephardic answer to latkes, light and crunchy eaten sprinkled with confectioners&rsquo sugar.

Rabbi Maimon the son of Yosef, the father of the Rambam (Maimonides) says that eating svinge is integral to the Hanukkah celebration. For a small batch &ndash enough for six people combine

Let the batter sit for three hours until it has doubled or tripled in size. Then heat oil in a frying pan &ndash this is another deep fry dish. Wet your hands. Tear off plum-sized pieces of the dough. Stretch them a bit and form a hole in the middle and fry on both sides. Drain on paper towels, Sprinkle with confectioners&rsquo sugar and eat right away.

Fried foods to recall the miracle of the flask of oil and fish is a traditional Shabbat food &ndash so it&rsquos a perfect Shabbat Hanukkah dish. In the UK, these fish balls are featured at all Jewish celebrations and for good reason &ndash they are absolutely delicious and easy to make.

Defrost one roll of gefilte fish.

Add matzah meal one handful at a time, just enough to form the fish into walnut-sized balls. Deep fry about six minutes until browned on all sides.

(optional: add 1/4 t black pepper to the fish mix for a spicier fish ball)

This is a Persian frittata traditionally eaten on Hanukkah. Very healthy and very yummy.

  • 2-3 eggs.
  • Half a bunch of fresh coriander
  • Half a bunch of fresh parsley
  • Quarter of a bunch of fresh dill
  • Half an onion or three scallions

Lightly grease a ceramic nonstick frying pan (2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or ghee).

Add spices, salt, pepper, turmeric to taste.

Chop the herbs and onions or scallions are finely as you can &ndash use fresh or frozen, never dried. You can also substitute fresh spinach leaves for the herbs.

Combine the herbs with eggs.

Pour the mixture into a heated greased frying pan. Fry until lightly browned, then flip over.

Cut the kuku into wedges and served with yogurt and rice or crusty bread and feta cheese too.

Serves three. You can freeze this!

We eat dairy foods on Hanukkah to remember the bravery of Judith, the valiant Maccabee woman who slew the wicked Syrian Greek general Holofernes by first feeding him cheese to stimulate thirst and then wine to get him drunk. After that she beheaded him. The sight of his skull rolling through his tent frightened the Syrian Greeks so much that they ran away and the Maccabees won the war.

I love this recipe. You don&rsquot precook the noodles or the sauce. You just layer everything and it all bakes together until a tinfoil blanket. Easy and delicious.

  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (800g or 19 oz)
  • 1 large can of tomato paste (not sauce) also 19 oz.
  • Combine and add 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 2 t oregano
  • 1 t basil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper

Thin the sauce with a little bit of water. Don&rsquot cook this, just mix ingredients in a separate bowl.

Combine 16 oz or 750 grams of cottage cheese, ricotta cheese or white cheese (or any combination of the three &ndash three Israeli cottage cheese packages are okay) with one egg.

Layer sauce, noodles, cottage cheese, two big handfuls of grated cheese (I use low fat mozzarella). REPEAT. Last layer is noodles and sauce.

Bake in a 9x12 inch pan covered well with tin foil for one hour at medium heat (350F or 180C).

For the last 10 minutes of baking, uncover and add two handfuls of grated cheese to the top so the cheese can melt and look pretty.

  • 4 cups of flour (approximate)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup tepid water
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • sesame and/or poppy seeds
  • egg yolk for brushing

Dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar and oil.

Gradually add in the flour one cup at a time. (Do not add all the flour at once unless you want to create an unkneadable blob, even if you are using a stand mixer.)

Knead together until the mixture forms a soft but firm dough.

Leave the dough in oiled bowl covered with damp cloth until it doubles in size. (Time for this varies on the weather and heat in your kitchen.) If it is cold, let the dough rise in a warm place - n top of the fridge or the drier or in an oven heated on very low. You can heat your oven for two minutes to 180C or 375F and then shut it off immediately.

Once the dough is risen, form it into menorah shape. Roll out eight 4-inch strands for arms of menorah and a longer strand for the base. Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle with sesame and poppy seeds, Bake in preheated oven at 375 for 45 minutes or until brown. Freezes well but be careful not to break it. Enjoy!

Here&rsquos a cooking lesson cast in rhyme
So your latkes can rock at Chanukah time.

Latkes are a part of our history
I&rsquom going to unlock the mystery

Of how to make them crisp and light
For your guests to eat on Chanukah night.

Rule #1 - don&rsquot skimp on oil
¼ inch in the pan, bring it close to boil

Rule #2 - make your latkes of equal dimension
Don&rsquot crowd them in the pan
They need personal attention

Rule #3 - when they&rsquore brown then flip
Fry other side, and then place on towel to drip

Rule #4 - eat right away
Your latkes will be soggy if you wait another day.

Rule #5 - don&rsquot forget to smile
Let the Chanukah light shine on you for a while.

Using the grating attachment on your food processor, grate together 1 small onion, 4 large potatoes, 2 eggs and 1/2 cup matzah meal.

Add 1/8 t black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet. Make sure the entire skillet is covered with oil 1/4 inch or more deep.

Drop in a tiny bit of batter. If it browns then you&rsquore ready to fry.

Spoon in latkes. Don&rsquot crowd.

Fry three minutes on each side. Remove, place on paper towel to drain excess oil and serve ASAP!!

You can reheat in a low oven and serve later ,or if you really have to freeze, but nothing tastes as good as fresh.

Safety note: turn frying pan handles inward and never leave a frying pan full of hot oil alone even for a minute. Also don&rsquot let the oil smoke because that will spoil your latkes.

9 Hanukkah-Thanksgiving Fusion Dishes

This Thursday will be the only time in your life that Hanukkah overlaps with Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fit together well, as they are both holidays centered around gratitude that involve eating a lot. What better way to celebrate this confluence than with fusion recipes for tasty things to eat for your “Thanksgivukkah” feast? Note: Some of these recipes are stated as kosher others are obviously not. I don't know enough about dietary laws to judge those that are not labeled, so you may want to inquire further before cooking.

1. Manischewitz-Brined Roast Turkey

Photograph by Macey J Foronda.

Brining your turkey a full day before roasting it is quite popular these days. It makes the turkey moist and infuses the outer edge with flavors from herbs and spices. You can get an extra flavor kick from wine. Manischewitz-Brined Roast Turkey calls for a brine with fruits and wine in addition to the standard brine ingredients. Your turkey will turn purple from the wine, but will brown as it roasts and appear normal. The instructions call for slathering the turkey with butter, which renders it non-kosher, but you can substitute schmaltz, olive oil, or margarine. There's also a recipe for gravy that calls for Manischewitz, so the flavors will enhance each other.

2. Challah Chestnut Stuffing

Tori Avey at Shiksa in the Kitchen doesn't see why traditional Jewish holiday recipes cannot be incorporated into every Thanksgiving feast. She posted a recipe for Challah Chestnut Stuffing three years ago! The challah is a perfectly absorbent bread, flavored with vegetables sautéed in schmaltz, and traditional roasted chestnuts. If you want to go vegetarian, cook the vegetables in margarine and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. No butter! This is a kosher recipe.

3. Cranberry Challah

Photograph by Carrie Vasios Mullins.

My Thanksgiving menu always contains challah because my sister-in-law makes it. To truly be a fusion recipe, it must contain something traditionally found at most Thanksgiving feasts. Cranberry Challah fills the bill, and provides a sweet alternative for those who can't handle regular cranberry sauce. If you want a challah that's sweeter, maybe for Thanksgiving-Hanukkah breakfast, try Honey Cranberry Challah.

4. Sweet Potato Bourbon Noodle Kugel

Photograph by Macey J. Foronda.

Kugel is a casserole made with potatoes or noodles, depending on your grandmother's preference, and can be sweet or savory. Sweet Potato Bourbon Noodle Kugel uses sweet potatoes, brown sugar, pecans, and bourbon to make it sweet, but like many traditional Thanksgiving foods, still appropriate for the main feast. This recipe contains cottage cheese, butter, and eggs.

5. Sweet Potato Latkes

Hanukkah food is all about the latkes, or potato cakes. If you celebrate Hanukkah, you'll probably have them on more than one day, so for Thanksgiving, try something different: American-style Sweet Potato Latkes. This recipe from Cooking with Sugar contains apples in the mix, but you can still put applesauce on them if you prefer that over sour cream.

6. Latke-Crusted Turkey Stuffing Fritters

Kenji at at Serious Eats' Food Lab took cranberry sauce and froze it into balls, then covered them in turkey sausage stuffing and then potato latke mixture, and deep fried the whole recipe to make Latke-Crusted Turkey Stuffing Fritters. The cranberries should stay inside as they liquify. Serve with turkey schmaltz gravy. The sausage stuffing recipe is not kosher as is.

7. Pumpkin Pie Filled Sufganiot

Sufganiot means jelly donut, traditional for Hanukkah. The fusion recipe for Pumpkin Pie Filled Sufganiot is for homemade fried donuts, with the addition of your favorite pumpkin pie filling, cooked, cooled, and injected into the fried donuts with a pastry bag.

8. Pumpkin Pie Rugelach

Photograph by Carrie Vasios Mullins.

Rugelach looks enough like a crescent roll to fit into the common Thanksgiving feast visually, but it is a sweet dessert. Serious Eats offers a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Rugelach that combines the flaky cream cheese pastry with spicy pumpkin pie flavorings: cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg. There is pumpkin in there, too, in the form of pumpkin butter, which is a little like apple butter but spicier.

9. Turkey Matzo Ball Soup

Then there's the many things you can do with Thanksgiving leftovers as you continue to celebrate Hanukkah. How about a delicious Turkey Matzo Ball Soup? Save whatever turkey fat and broth you don't use for gravy, and make more broth by simmering the turkey bones and scraps. Embellish the recipe with bits of leftover turkey as you please.

Surprisingly Fascinating Hanukkah Facts to Teach Kids the Real Story

Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is soon upon us, and while kids who celebrate are well aware this means lots of gifts, they may not be familiar with the fascinating story behind how the holiday came to be &mdash and the symbolism that dates back thousands of years.

Check out these crazy facts about Hanukkah that kids may not already know, plus some new and old traditions to fold into your festivities. But fair warning for the littles: It’s a beautiful holiday that sprung from some pretty gruesome origins.

1. It was all started by rebels with a cause

The story of Hanukkah dates back to the second century BC. That’s when Jews rebelled against the Greek-Syrians &mdash who had denied them the right to freely practice Judaism and had demanded that the Jews instead pray to Greek gods. The king’s son, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, descended upon then-Judea, aka today’s Israel, and killed the Jews, destroying their temple and rubbing pigs’ blood, a most offensive symbol, on its walls.

2. Our Hanukkah hero was the son of a preacher man

Judah Maccabee, the son of a Jewish priest, took up the cause &mdash and in two years&rsquo time, he led an army that defeated the Greeks and took back their temple and city. His army was known as the Maccabees.

3. There were some magic lamps &mdash but sadly, no genies &mdash involved

When it came time to rededicate the temple after winning it back from the Greeks, the Maccabees found only enough oil to light their lamps for one night. In what is widely known as “the miracle of Hanukkah,” the oil somehow lasted long enough for the lamp to burn for eight days and eight nights. That&rsquos why we light the menorah with nine candles for eight nights (the ninth is known as a shamash, or “head candle,” and you use it to light the others).

4. It’s on a different day every year &mdash and you can blame the moon

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th in the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar. Since the Hebrew calendar is lunar rather than solar, Hanukkah falls on a different day each year, anywhere from November to early January on the Roman calendar that most of us are familiar with. Sometimes Hanukkah falls closer to Thanksgiving than Christmas, and sometimes it overlaps with Christmas.

5. Today, we eat our “magic oil” instead of lighting it

While not at all a part of the original Hanukkah story or even a very old tradition, somewhere along the way, someone with a penchant for fried foods decided that making yummy stuff steeped in oil was a great way to honor the miraculous oil from the temple of olden days. And why not? The two foods most commonly associated with Hanukkah are latkes, or potato pancakes, and jelly doughnuts. So go ahead and enjoy some carb-on-carb action.

5. Hanukkah is a time for putting your money where your mouth is &mdash literally.

The most common traditional Hanukkah gift can be easily found at your local drugstore: gold-colored foil-wrapped chocolate gelt, or money. It’s often given along with or in place of real money. It’s said that after the Maccabees were victorious against the Greeks, they started producing their own money for the first time. The tradition of actually giving kids coins on Hanukkah, though, started many centuries later: in Poland in the 1600s, when it was customary for schoolchildren to give their teachers money around Hanukkah. Those capitalistic kids, naturally, started to demand a handout for themselves as well, which led to the beginning of what is now a major tradition of gifting kids gelt (the kind that melts as well as the real stuff).

6. You basically play poker, only without the cards

In addition to the admittedly more dull part of Hanukkah, when you say the Hebrew prayer for the lighting of the candle, there are several traditions that are a lot of fun for the whole family. The dreidel game is one of these, and you can easily play it with as many (or as few) people as you like. All you need is the dreidel, which is a spinning toy similar to a top, and a pile of pennies or candy &mdash or whatever you&rsquod like to put in the pot. The dreidel has four sides, each with one Hebrew letter on it that symbolizes an action. Spin the dreidel, and if it lands on the “nun,” you do nothing on “shin” means you put one in if you land on “he” you get half of what’s in the middle and the “gimel” facing up means you get the whole pot. Whoever has the most loot when the pot runs dry wins.

There are also easy songs the whole family can sing, including &ldquoDreidel,&rdquo &ldquoOh Hanukkah&rdquo or everyone&rsquos favorite nontraditional ditty, &ldquoThe Chanukah Song&rdquo by Adam Sandler.

All said, there are plenty of fascinating references and quirky traditions that have emerged from thousands of years of honoring and celebrating Hanukkah &mdash and you can pass them all down to your little ones if you like. So take a cue from the above facts and feel free to mix up contemporary customs with legendary historical drama for a Hanukkah kids will be talking about until, well, the next one.

A version of this article was originally published in December 2008.

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DIY Stacked Candles

With a simple process and kid-friendly steps, you can transform a bag of wax and colorful crayons into pretty candles. These instructions make about three or four.

What You'll Need: Soy wax flakes (available on Amazon or in craft stores), wide-mouth half-pint Mason jar, crayon, fine microplane grater, wooden skewers, silicone mold (we like this oval eight-cavity one), tabbed candlewicks.

1. Add ¼ cup wax flakes to Mason jar. Microwave for about 60 seconds, or until wax is liquefied. Remove the paper from one crayon and grate into the wax. Stir well with a skewer. Pour into one cup of the mold, filling about ½ inch.

2. Add 2 Tbs. more wax to jar and melt for 30 to 45 seconds in microwave, or until it&rsquos liquid. Let cool for about a minute. Pour into another cup of the mold, filling about ½ inch. Repeat diluting, melting wax, and filling cups until the mold is filled.

3. When wax begins to solidify and turn opaque, poke the flat side of a skewer through the center and remove. (This will happen at different speeds for each cup you poured, so keep an eye on them as they&rsquore hardening. Set a timer for about ten minutes so you don&rsquot miss the window.) Let cool completely, popping the mold into the fridge for faster results.

4. Carefully remove wax squares from mold. Use the pointy end of a skewer, twisting carefully, to open up any holes if needed. Repeat steps 1 to 4 to make eight lighter layers.

5. For each candle, thread 4 to 5 layers onto a wick. Trim wick to ½ inch.


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