Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah!

The latkes served at our house growing up came from a mix and tasted more like cardboard and paper than potatoes and onion. 

Now that I am in charge of making Hanukkah dinner, I'm kinda militant about hand grating the potatoes and onions instead of using a food processor because it makes for a crunchier consistency. 

Even though I really like the traditional fried potato pancake with sour cream and applesauce, the food that everyone raves about at our Hanukkah dinners are the much less labor intensive ricotta cheese latkes. They taste a little more like dessert than dinner, but I usually serve them along side traditional latkes with some applesauce or blueberry jam. 

Eating cheese for Hanukkah is some ancient tradition that pays tribute to the heroine Judith. Legend has it she fed wine and cheese to a Syrian general until he passed out. From what I understand his fate wasn't very pleasant after that.

No matter what the reason, these latkes are my favorite and will definitely be on the dinner table when I have family over this weekend.

Ricotta Latkes

Adapted from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Gloria Kaufer Greene

1 15 oz container part skim ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup all purpose flour

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade put the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Process until combined. Add the melted butter an process briefly. Add the flour and process until very smooth, like a thick cream. Scrape down the sides of the container a few times during processing. The batter will be thinner than most pancake batters.

Pre-heat a griddle or shallow skillet over medium heat. Lightly grease with butter. For each latke spoon 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons batter onto the griddle for a 3'' diameter pancake. Keep latkes about 1/2 inch apart from each other.

Cook for about 3 minutes or until a few bubbles have risen to the surface and the tops are beginning to look dry. The latkes will not rise at all. Turn latkes once and cook briefly until golden brown. Grease the griddle between batches.

Serve with jam, applesauce, plain or vanilla yogurt or chopped fresh fruit.

Makes about 30 pancakes.

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