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From a Montreal-style Jewish deli: Latke variations for Hanukkah

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
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Hanukkah may be a small star in the constellation of Jewish holidays, but its food traditions make it arguably one of the most popular.

“Hanukkah has the unique opportunity among Jewish holidays to be more of a celebration. You gather with family and friends, light the candles, sing some songs, eat refreshments, play with the dreidel,” Noah Bernamoff said in a telephone interview from New York. “Kids love it and it’s easy to gather for Hanukkah because it’s a holiday that really requires very little.”

Bernamoff and his wife, Rae, own Mile End, a Montreal-style Jewish deli in Brooklyn. Last year they published “The Mile End Cookbook” (Clarkston Potter, $27.50), a book they describe as dedicated to overturning the assumption that most deli specialties are things you can never make at home.

The book includes do-it-yourself recipes for everything from gefilte fish to sour cucumbers and a section called “To the Table” with recipes for finished dishes that incorporate those do-it-yourself items.

Special deal

To mark Hanukkah at the deli, there’s always a special latke dish. One year it was latkes served with chopped liver, lamb bacon and a fried egg. Yes, there’s a recipe for lamb bacon in the book.

Jelly doughnuts are traditional Hanukkah fare and at this time of year, the deli serves doughnuts filled with house-made Concord grape jelly.

“I love to make the connection between Hanukkah and the fall here in the Northeast and one of my favorite things to do with the fall harvest of Concord grapes is to make jam or jelly,” said Noah Bernamoff.

Since the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving this year, the Bernamoffs are hosting a “Thanksgivukkah” party with latkes, olive oil cake and jelly doughnuts, and a turkey served with cranberry tzimmes sauce and a challah stuffing.

The go-to dish for Hanukkah is definitely the latkes, but they pose two questions for Bernamoff. “How can you subsist on latkes for eight nights? And how can you make latkes into a complete meal?”

His answer is to turn them into vehicles for other flavors, as in the Mont Royal. For traditionalists, he agrees that latkes with sour cream and applesauce are de rigeur.

“The book includes my mother’s recipe for applesauce, which is really, really good. It’s completely unseasoned, so it’s the essence of apple more than anything else and it’s a bit chunky. And instead of going to the store for sour cream, make the horseradish cream. Just those two things make the standard potato latke a little more exciting,” he said.

POTATO LATKES AND VARIATIONS

Hands on: 25 minutes Total time: 25 minutes Makes: 25 latkes

Bernamoff suggests entertaining your guests this year with a latke bar. Make one variety of latkes or all three ahead of time and plan to reheat at 450 degrees for 5 minutes when ready to serve. Set out lox, horseradish cream, applesauce, pickled beets and maybe a whitefish salad, and let guests mix and match.

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated

1 medium onion, grated

1 1/4 cups matzo meal

3/4 cup chopped chives

5 eggs

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil, for frying

In a large bowl, cover grated potatoes with water and then drain. Repeat once or twice more until water runs clear. Drain potatoes and squeeze out as much water as possible.

In a large bowl, combine rinsed, drained potatoes with onion and stir together. Add matzo meal and stir together, then add chives. Stir in eggs, mixing until thoroughly incorporated. Mix in salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, add enough oil to come to 1/8-inch deep. Heat over medium heat. Using a 1/4-cup scoop, portion latke mixture into hot oil, slightly flattening in the skillet. Repeat until skillet is full. Do not crowd pan. Cook latkes until crisp and brown on the edges, about 3 minutes, then turn and cook until crisp and brown all over and still tender inside, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet and keep warm if not serving immediately. Continue with remaining potato mixture, adding more oil between batches if needed.

VARIATIONS:

Celery Root-Parsnip Latkes: Substitute 1 pound peeled and grated celery root and 1 pound grated parsnips for the potatoes, and skip the rinsing step at the beginning. Substitute 3/4 cup chopped parsley for the chives.

Butternut Squash Latkes: Substitute 2 pounds grated butternut squash for the potatoes, and skip the rinsing step at the beginning. Substitute 1/3 cup chopped fresh sage for the chives. Cook latkes slightly longer, about 4 minutes for the first side and 3 minutes for the second side, over medium-low heat.

Adapted from a recipe in “The Mile End Cookbook” by Noah and Rae Bernamoff (Clarkston Potter, $27.50).

Per potato latke: 114 calories (percent of calories from fat, 450, 3 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 42 milligrams cholesterol, 242 milligrams sodium.

HORSERADISH CREAM

Hands on: 5 minutes; Total time: 5 minutes; Makes: 1 cup

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

3/4 cup sour cream

Juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Drain horseradish in a sieve to remove excess liquid.

In a small bowl, combine horseradish with sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

Stir together and taste for seasoning. Cream can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days.

Adapted from a recipe in “The Mile End Cookbook” by Noah and Rae Bernamoff (Clarkston Potter, $27.50).

Per 1-tablespoon serving: 41 calories (percent of calories from fat, 86), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 4 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 70 milligrams sodium.

THE MONT ROYAL

Hands on: 5 minutes; Total time 5 minutes; Serves: 1

2 latkes (see recipe)

2 ounces lox

1 tablespoon Horseradish Cream (see recipe)

Finely chopped chives, for garnish

Unless latkes are freshly made, preheat oven to 450 degrees and warm prepared latkes until hot, about 5 minutes. Top with lox and garnish with horseradish cream and chives. Serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe in “The Mile End Cookbook” by Noah and Rae Bernamoff (Clarkston Potter, $27.50).

Per serving, with potato latkes, entire recipe: 324 calories (percent of calories from fat, 47), 17 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 122 milligrams cholesterol, 575 milligrams sodium.

 

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