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Hanukkah Recipes

We've got traditional and original recipes to make your Hanukkah meals fun, fabulous, and perhaps best of all, fried.

Follow these nine tips to make Katie Simmons’ gluten-free, vegan baked latkes.

Homemade Applesauce

Homemade applesauce doesn't mean standing over a hot stove. Simply core apples (peels on or off; your choice); microwave till soft; mash; and sweeten to taste. The combination of sweet applesauce and salty latkes simply can't be beat. 

1 3/4 to 2 pounds fresh apples
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar, to taste
2 tablespoons boiled cider, optional
  1. Core the apples; peel them if you want ultra-smooth applesauce, but it's not necessary.
  2. Slice the apples, or cut them in 3/4" chunks.
  3. Place the prepared apples in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.
  4. Microwave for about 10 minutes, till the apples are soft.
  5. Remove from the microwave, and place on the counter to cool for 15 minutes or so; the plastic wrap will shrink down onto the apples.
  6. Carefully remove the plastic wrap (the apples will still be warm), and mash them using a pastry blender or potato masher. If you've left the peels on the apples, use a hand (stick) blender to coarsely chop skins/sauce.
  7. Add sugar to taste, and boiled cider, if desired, for enhanced flavor.
  8. Serve warm, at room temperature,or cold alongside latkes.


Cooking Tips

  • Different types of apples make very different types of sauce. Fuji, Braeburn, and other hard red "eating apples" take longer to cook, and make a mahogany-colored sauce. Granny Smiths cook more quickly, and make a tart, brown-green sauce. We love to use windfall apples — apples that have fallen from the tree, and might be bruised, pockmarked, or otherwise disfigured. While not beautiful, their long stay on the tree — plus a touch of frost — make them beautifully sweet.
  • Apple peels on, or off? If you're fussy, peel the apples. If you're not, don't mind bits or chunks of peel, and like a more natural sauce, full of fiber, leave the peels on. A whirl through the food processor (or a few pulses with a hand blender) will take care of any too-large pieces of peel.

Oven Latkes

Latkes — potato pancakes — are generally made by standing over a hot stove, grease sputtering and popping, and frying the cakes 2 or 3 at a time. It's a long, labor-intensive process. Here's a better method: bake them in the oven, so you can serve a dozen hot latkes, all at once, with very little effort.

In addition, latkes are traditionally made with raw grated potatoes, squeezed dry in a towel or pressed in a colander to remove their liquid. Here's an easier method: cook the potatoes first, then put them through a potato ricer. Gently combine with the remaining ingredients, bake, and you'll make latkes that are crispy-crunchy outside, and soft within.

And homemade applesauce doesn't mean standing over a hot stove, either. Simply core apples (peels on or off; your choice); microwave till soft; mash; and sweeten to taste. The combination of sweet applesauce and salty latkes simply can't be beat. Enjoy!

1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds Russet baking potatoes or yellow boiling potatoes, about 3 medium potatoes
1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons salt
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced or shredded; about 3/4 cup shredded onion
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
about 1/2 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
  1. Peel the potatoes. Cut each potato into about 6 chunks.
  2. If you're using baking potatoes, place them on a microwave-safe plate. Sprinkle with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, to taste (more if you like a saltier latke). Cover the plate with plastic wrap, and microwave for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  3. If you're using yellow boiling potatoes, cut each of the chunks in half, and place them in a medium saucepan. Cover with about 4 cups of water; the water should cover the potatoes by about 1/2". Add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons salt to the water (yes, tablespoons; use the greater amount if you like saltier latkes). Boil the potatoes for about 8 minutes, or until they're fork tender. Drain in a colander.
  4. Allow the potatoes to cool a bit while you shred or dice the onion, and whisk the egg. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  5. Use a potato ricer to rice about 1/3 of the cooked potatoes into a bowl. Sprinkle with half the onions and 1 tablespoon of the flour, and drizzle with about half the beaten egg. Rice another third of the potatoes into the bowl, and sprinkle with the remaining onions and flour; drizzle with the remaining egg. Rice the remaining potatoes into the bowl.
  6. Gently combine all of the ingredients. Don't stir too much; you don't want thoroughly mashed potatoes.
  7. Line two rimmed baking sheets with easy-release aluminum foil (for easiest cleanup, and guaranteed no-stick latkes). Or simply get out two rimmed baking sheets. Pour 1/4 cup oil into each, tilting the pan to spread it around.
  8. Place one of the pans into the oven, and allow the oil to heat for 2 minutes. this step isn't necessary if you use easy-release aluminum foil, but helps avoid sticking if you're using a plain aluminum foil.
  9. If you've heated the pan, remove it from the oven. Scoop a heaping 1/4 cup of potatoes onto the pan; a muffin scoop works well here. Repeat till you've scooped 6 or 7 latkes onto the pan. Using the back of a spoon or your fingers (be careful!), gently flatten the latkes to about 3/8" thick.
  10. Repeat with the second pan and the remaining potatoes.
  11. Bake the latkes for 10 minutes. Reverse the pans in the oven — upper pan to the lower rack, lower pan to the upper rack — and bake for an additional 15 minutes, till the bottoms of the latkes are golden brown.
  12. Remove the pans from the oven, and carefully flip the latkes. If you're not using easy release foil, and they stick, try baking for a few more minutes; when they're thoroughly cooked on the bottom, they should flip over without sticking.
  13. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, until the bottoms are nicely browned.
  14. Remove the latkes from the oven, and serve warm.


Cooking Tips

  • What's the difference between baking vs. boiling potatoes in latkes? Not much, other than the preparation method. Some of our tasters discerned a slightly more "potato-y" taste in the baking potato version; but both types of potatoes made latkes that disappeared from our tasting area in a flash.

Baked Potato Latkes (Gluten-free)

Chef Katie Simmons

This baked potato latkes recipe is a healthy take on a classic Jewish recipe. I’ve swapped out the eggs and flour for a gluten-free, vegan alternative. Serve with applesauce for Hanukkah and enjoy as a tasty appetizer at any party. 

2 Russet potatoes
1 medium onion
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Yield: 16 latkes

  • Gather ingredients. Preheat oven to 425° F. 

To make the latkes

  • Peel and quarter the potatoes and onion. Set up the large hole opening on a food processor slicing blade. You can also use a hand grater. 
  • Feed the onions and potatoes through the food processor. 
  • Transfer the shredded onion and potato to a clean kitchen towel, set up over a colander. Squeeze the onion potato mixture to get out as much of the moisture as you can. Discard these juices. 
  • Transfer the squeezed onion potato mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the chickpea flour, garlic powder, baking powder, and salt. Use your hands to mix well.
  • Line a large sheet pan with a non-stick baking mat or spray lightly with oil. Portion about 1/4 cup of the potato onion mixture for each latke. Flatten with your hands. This should make about 15-16 latkes. 

To bake the latkes

  • Bake at 425° for 25 minutes (30 minutes if using a non-stick baking mat). Flip after the first 15 minutes (20 for a a non-stick baking mat). 
  • Serve immediately with applesauce.

Chef Katie Simmons' Tips

  • To keep these oil-free, use a nonstick baking mat. It will take 5 more minutes to bake, but it will cut the calories significantly.  
  • Make a double-batch of these. After baking them in the oven, store extra in an air-tight container (or wrap in foil) in your freezer. When you're hungry, pop right into a 425°F oven for 10-12 minutes, until warm in the center.​

Classically-trianed Chef Katie Simmons is a personal chef in Chicago. Her journey to cooking has been a winding path from Kentucky to backpacking in New Zealand through culinary school at Kendall College and working for Whole Foods Market.  Her own frustrations of being an overweight fitness professional finally led her to embrace a plant-based, vegan diet. 

Israeli Sweet Cheese 'Levivot'

Orly Ziv

While the term levivot technically refers to the potato pancakes so common at Hanukkah, this version with sweet cheese is a fun variation that's perfect for dessert. Serve it with sour cream or applesauce, depending on whether you feel like something more sweet or savory.

500 grams (16 ounces) quark or ricotta cheese
150 millileters (5 ounces) yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons brandy
2 eggs
5 tablespoons flour
50 grams (2 ounces) butter
1/4 cup canola oil
Powdered sugar
Sour cream or applesauce
  1. Put the cheese, yogurt, sugar, vanilla extract, raisins (if using), brandy, eggs, and flour in a large bowl and mix until smooth.
  2. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat the butter and oil in a wide pan.
  4. For each pancake, spoon about 1/4 cup of batter into the hot pan. Work in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Fry on both sides until golden and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with sour cream or applesauce.

    Reprinted with permission from Cook in Israel: Home Cooking Inspiration by Orly Ziv. 

The Latkatini - A Hanukkah Cocktail

Tina Wasserman

I originally created horseradish vodka to serve with gefilte fish at my Passover seder.  Thinking about what this flavor evokes in Jewish cuisine and thinking about the foods we customarily eat for Hanukkah, I created this Hanukkah cocktail.  The Latkatini mirrors the ingredients in latkes with applesauce, and the milk stands in for sour cream.  All that’s missing is the onion!

Chag urim sameach, Happy Festival of Lights!

½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon rosewater
3/4 cup unfiltered apple juice or cider
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2-3 tablespoons plain or horseradish potato vodka (recipe below)
1/3 cup milk or milk substitute
¼ cup Hungry Man mashed potato flakes
1 cup of ice
Baharat or cinnamon for garnish
4-inch piece of horseradish
2 cups potato vodka

Vodka Latkatinis

  1. To make the rosewater simple syrup, combine the sugar and water in a 1-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir once or twice until the liquid is clear. Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and stir in the rosewater. Pour into a clean jar and store in the refrigerator until needed.  
  2. Combine 1 tablespoon of the rosewater simple syrup with the next five ingredients in a blender. Blend until combined. Let mixture rest for a minute or two to allow the potato flakes to hydrate.
  3. Add the ice to the blender and blend on high until ice is totally incorporated. If necessary add a little more apple juice for desired consistency.Pour into martini glasses and sprinkle with some baharat or cinnamon as a garnish.

Horseradish Vodka

  1. Peel a 4-inch piece of horseradish. Rinse.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler or a julienne peeler/shredder, shred about ¼ cup.
  3. Place shredded horseradish in a quart jar and add at least 2 cups of potato vodka (I prefer Titos).
  4. Let the jar of infused vodka sit on your counter for at least two days but preferably four.
  5. Refrigerate with the horseradish until needed.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Rosewater simple syrup will last for months in the refrigerator.

The Bloody Maccabeet - A Hanukkah Cocktail

Tina Wasserman

I originally created horseradish vodka to serve with gefilte fish at my Passover seder. Thinking about what this flavor evokes in Jewish cuisine and thinking about the foods we customarily eat for Hanukkah, I created this colorful and delicious Hanukkah cocktail. 

Chag urim sameach, Happy Festival of Lights!

15 ounce can Julienne beets
1 ½ cups tomato juice
3-4 tablespoons honey (according to taste)
Juice from 2 medium limes
½-3/4 cup horseradish-flavored potato vodka (recipe below)
4-inch piece of horseradish
2 cups potato vodka

Bloody Maccabeet

  1. Place the contents of the can in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add the tomato juice, honey, lime juice, and vodka to the blender and blend well.
  3. Pour into 4-6 highball glasses over ice.
  4. Garnish with zatar and serve.

Horseradish Vodka

  1. Peel a 4-inch piece of horseradish. Rinse.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler or a julienne peeler/shredder, shred about ¼ cup.
  3. Place shredded horseradish in a quart jar and add at least 2 cups of potato vodka (I prefer Titos).
  4. Let the jar of infused vodka sit on your counter for at least two days but preferably four.
  5. Refrigerate with the horseradish until needed.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  •  I often serve a shot of this vodka at my Passover seder with the gefilte fish.  Mini “Maccabeet” shots could be served as well!

Peanut Butter Gelt Cookies

Deborah R. Prinz

This easy recipe incorporates and maintains the shape of the gelt on top of the cookie. Not only is the cookie delicious with the chocolate, it also highlights the gelt.

1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth; do not use old-fashioned or freshly ground)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
Approximately 35 chocolate Hanukkah gelt (preferably organic, fair trade)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets.
  2. Beat the peanut butter, sugar, and egg together.
  3. Shape the dough in rounds with flat tops the size of the gelt.
  4. Bake for about 12 minutes.
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven, cool slightly on the pan, then gently press one piece of gelt into the center of each cookie.
  6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Reprinted with permission from On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao (2nd Edition) by Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz.

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz speaks about chocolate and Jews around the world. The newly released 2nd Edition of her book, On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao, (Jewish Lights) contains 25 historical and contemporary recipes. She blogs at The Forward, The Huffington Post and The book is used in adult study, classroom settings, book clubs and chocolate tastings.

Latkes with Gravlax

Michael Solomonov

Chef Michael Solomonov was a featured speaker at the Union for Reform Judaism's 2017 Biennial in Boston, December 2017.

It seems weird to admit that I had to work at a northern Italian restaurant to learn how to make great latkes (sorry, Mom). The trick is to use pure potato. There is more than enough starch in the potatoes to bind the latkes without using egg or flour (which make them less crispy and more dense). Potatoes can handle much more salt than seems reasonable, so make sure to taste your mixture (or fry off a small test latke) before you cook up a bland batch. Starchy things like to stick to the pan, so let the latkes cook undisturbed for a few minutes and the crust will set up and release on its own. A cast iron pan is ideal; but if you’re scared, a nonstick skillet is foolproof. I make one big latke here, but you can make many small ones, too.

Pairing cured salmon with latkes is almost a cliché, but for good reason. Gravlax is elegant and super simple to make. The hardest part is actually slicing it into thin ribbons. I’ve found that freezing it for just 15 minutes makes the slicing much easier. Use a long sharp knife held at a very shallow angle to the surface of the gravlax and draw the knife through it from heel to tip. Placing the flat open palm of your other hand on the surface of the fish will ensure a thin, even slice.

¼ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed
2 russet potatoes, peeled and shredded (about 3½ cups)
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
Canola oil, for frying
Sour cream, for serving
Minced fresh chives, for serving

For the Gravlax

  1. Combine the salt, sugar, and dill in a small bowl.
  2. Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap in a baking dish and sprinkle half the salt-sugar mixture down the center.
  3. Put the salmon on top of the salt sugar mixture and cover with the rest of the salt-sugar mixture. Wrap the salmon tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 48 hours to cure, turning the fish over a few times.
  4. Rinse the excess salt-sugar mixture off the salmon and thinly slice to serve. Refrigerated, gravlax will keep for a week. 

For the Latke

  1. Toss the potatoes with the salt and wring them out in a clean towel to remove excess water.
  2. Put ¼ inch oil in a large skillet. Spoon the potatoes into the cold oil in the pan in a single layer and flatten with the back of a spatula. Turn the heat to medium and cook the latke undisturbed until a deep golden crust forms on the bottom, about 15 minutes, pressing occasionally with the spatula.
  3. Flip the latke onto a plate and add more oil to the skillet. Slide the latke back into the hot skillet, uncooked side down. Cook on the second side until deep golden brown, about 8 more minutes. 
  • Slice the latke into wedges, top with gravlax slices, sour cream, and chives, and serve.

    Excerpted with permission from ZAHAV by Michael Solomonov. Copyright © 2015 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Photography © 2015 by Mike Persico. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

    Chef Michael Solomonov was born in Israel and grew up in Pittsburgh. He and Steven Cook are the co-owners of CookNSolo Restaurants, home to some of Philadelphia's most distinctive culinary concepts, including Zahav, Federal Donuts, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Rooster Soup Co., and Goldie. They are a combined four-time James Beard Award Winners, including the 2016 "Best International Cookbook" and "Book of the Year" awards for their first cookbook, Zahav, and a 2011 "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic" win for Solomonov and who in May, was named the 2017 JBF's "Outstanding Chef".


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