Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Hanukkah favourites celebrate the miracle

Hanukkah, miracle of the oil, latkes, jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot), the menorah

While Christians have been celebrating the birth of Christ, people of the Jewish faith have been celebrating the eight-day festival of Hanukkah or The Festival of Light, which started Dec. 20 this year, the eve of the Jewish month of Kisle.

Hanukkah celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality, and today marks the last day of this year’s Hanukkah which started some 21 centuries ago with a miracle of oil, when one day’s supply burned for eight days.

It is celebrated with many traditions including special prayers, foods fried in oil, games of dreidel (a spinning top inscribed with spiritual words) and probably most common to non-Jews is the lighting of the menorah. The eight candles on the menorah are lit one candle a day, always starting with the newest candle, until all are lit by the last day. Today I offer two recipes that are favourites at Hanukkah. The first is for jelly doughnuts, the second for latkes.


(potato pancakes)

4 lbs. potatoes, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 small onion, cut into wedges

3 eggs

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup oil, divided

1 cup sour cream

1 jar (680 g) applesauce

Add potatoes and onions, in small batches, to blender or food processor; cover. Process, using pulsing action, until potatoes are coarsely chopped. Spoon into large colander; drain 15 min., stirring occasionally.

Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in bread crumbs and salt. Add potato mixture; mix well.

Heat 2 tsp. of the oil in large skillet. Spoon scant 1/4 cup of potato mixture into skillet; press lightly with back of spoon to flatten. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, cooking 4 or 5 latkes at a time. Cook 2 to 3 min.  on each side or until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Place on foil-covered ovenproof platter; cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding remaining oil to skillet as needed.

Serve with the sour cream and applesauce.


(Jelly Doughnuts)

25 grams (1 ounce) yeast

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. flour

3 cups flour

1/4 cup margarine, melted

Dash of salt

3 Tbsp. sugar

2 egg yolks

1-1/4 cups water (room temperature)

Jelly (strawberry is recommended)

Oil for frying (canola is recommended)

Powdered sugar

To make the dough: Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, cover, and wait until it rises.

In another bowl, mix 3 cups of flour with the melted margarine, salt, sugar and egg yolks. Combine the yeast mixture with the flour mixture. Slowly add water while stirring. When batter is smooth, cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit and rise.

To make the doughnuts: After the batter has risen, pour it onto a floured surface and roll it out. Use a glass with a small opening to cut out circles of the dough. Place a drop of jelly in the middle of each circle, and then cover with another circle of dough. Make sure that 2 circles attach well to form a closed ball with jelly in the middle. Cover doughnuts with towel and let rise.

To fry the doughnuts: Heat oil in a deep pot until very hot. Drop the doughnuts into the oil and fry on both sides until brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

TIP: These sufganiyot are only good fresh. After you make dough, only fry a few at a time. Store rest of the dough in the refrigerator.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist.