• Mayreni Sweis

(Healthy-ish) Hanukkah Latkes

Shalom! Today marks the first day of Hanukkah (Hebrew word for "dedication"), which is the eight day remembrance of the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Second century B.C. Jews took arms against the Greek-Syrians, known as the Maccabean Revolt, resulting in the reclamation of the holy temple.

Latkes served with apple sauce and chive-yogurt dip.

So how do latkes come into relation with a revolt? It's a bit of a journey, but the short version is that in a dedication ritual, like the ones the Jews had for the temple they reclaimed, they used holy oil. In subsequent years, the idea was to celebrate the rededication by eating foods cooked in oil. Most likely, early century Jews used kneaded dough to form dumplings and then fried them in, you guessed it, oil. Behold, the early form of latkes. Things changed in the Middle Ages, where cheese was the main ingredient for latkes, not dough. This was the common recipe well into the 19th century, until the potato made its grand debut into Europe. NOW, the potato latkes are born.


I hope this little religion and food history lesson was fun, I promise you're not getting graded. This was my first year making latkes, and though I am only a small percentage Jewish, I hope my ancient Jewish ancestor is proud of these yummy latkes I made. The "healthy" swaps I made to the original potato recipe include almond flour instead of regular flour and using avocado oil instead of canola or sunflower oil. Avocado oil is great for frying because it has a high smoke point and has all the health benefits found in avocados, like almighty omega 3s.


These latkes are super easy to make and if you decide you want to cook more, just double up on the ingredient amounts. You can also freeze them for future use. If you plan to make them all in one day, but find you still have some extras, you can reheat them in your oven or even in a toaster. Let's latke!


Ingredients:

2 russet potatoes

1/2 white onion

1 tbs of kosher salt

1 egg

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup almond flour

1 1/2 - 2 cups of avocado oil


Directions:

  1. Peel 2 russet potatoes, then grate using a box grater. Put grated potatoes in a large bowl lined with a clean kitchen towel.

  2. Grate onion and put in bowl with the grated potatoes.

  3. Take the clean dish towel that is holding the potato onion mixture and use your muscles to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Discard the excess liquid. You will see a white substance remaining in the bowl. This is potato starch that we will use.

  4. In a small bowl, add the starch. In the same bowl, beat one egg, add baking power, and salt. Mix.

  5. Add almond flour to the potato onion mixture and incorporate.

  6. (Optional) Refrigerate mixtures for 20 min.

  7. Add the egg mixture to the potato-onion mixture. Mix with hands or spatula until well incorporated.

  8. In medium deep pan, or wok style pan, add the avocado oil over high heat. Take a strand of potato and dip into the oil to test if oil is ready for frying. Once the potato sizzles, you're good to go.

  9. Use a scooper to portion out the latkes and use your hands to form little patties. Place the latkes in oil, then smoosh the tops down with a spatula. I fried them all in two rounds.

  10. Turn the latkes over (2-4 min) once the bottom sides are nice and golden.

  11. Place finished latkes on a wired rack so excess oil will drain off and to help them cool off. Immediately sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on each latke.

Serve with crème fraîche, or labneh + chive mixture (I did not have crème fraîche, so I sliced some chives, added it to labneh, and dashed a squeeze of lemon, it was YUM), applesauce, maybe some whole grain mustard, pickled onions, caviar, smoked salmon and cream cheese, avocado, jam, fruit preserves. . . it's up to you! Go traditional (applesauce) or go wild, it's a celebration!


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