Savory Hanukkah Latkes

LATKES!
Potato Zucchini Latkes
Non-Fat Yogurt
Smoked Wild Sockeye Salmon
Whitefish Caviar

Today is the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, referring to the lights kindled on each of the holiday’s eight nights. We eat foods fried in olive oil to commemorate the ancient miracle that occurred in the second century BCE. A jug of olive oil, which held enough oil to last for one day, burned for eight when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated.
The word Hanukkah means rededication. Our latkes (potato pancakes) are fried in olive oil and served with yogurt. Dairy products are also a traditional Hanukkah food, in honor of our Jewish heroine, Judith.

2 peeled russet potatoes
1 zucchini
1/2 red onion
fresh dill

Grate the potato, zucchini, and onion in a food processor.
Add a handful of fresh dill.

Remove the potato mixture from the food processor, one handful at a time. Squeeze out as much moisture as possible by hand. Place each handful in a large bowl. Add enough flour to lightly coat the mixture. Add Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Mix well. Lastly add egg whites to bind the mixture.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan. When oil is hot, add mounds of the potato mixture. Turn the heat to medium. When the bottom of each latke is nicely browned, flip and brown the other side.

Cooking latkes over medium heat turns the outside a nice crispy golden brown and gives the interior a chance to cook through. Drain on paper towels.
Since the latkes are fried, non-fat yogurt is a balanced accompaniment while egg whites help keep the cholesterol content down as well. And with the salmon’s heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, could these latkes be considered a guilt-free holiday indulgence?

Smoked salmon rosettes are made by slicing the smoked salmon into strips with one end thicker than the other. Roll the thick end towards the thin end to make a rosette. Top each latke with a small dollop of non-fat yogurt, a salmon rosette, a small scoop of whitefish caviar, and fresh chive garnish. Serve with extra yogurt and fresh dill.
Enjoy the Festival!
Happy Hanukkah!

A Holiday Meal Extraordinaire

Our friend Susan hosted this event on the first night of winter. It kicked off our fabulous holiday season and it was also the first night of Hanukkah. Last week I wrote about how we spent the day preparing the food together and shared the recipe for the decadent tartiflette.

Susan’s Christmas decorations and Santa collection are amazing. And her dining table is jaw-dropping gorgeous! It was a pleasure to spend such a lovely evening amidst beautiful surroundings with my family and charming delightful friends, both old and new.

Susan presented Don and Kristy with an elegant Menorah. Here, they recite the blessing in Hebrew. The shamash candle (servant light) is lit, then it is used to light the other candle on this first night of Hanukkah.
The significance of Hanukkah and the Menorah:
The Jews had lost their religious freedom. In a rebellion led by the Maccabees, the Jews regained their freedoms and cleansed and rededicated the Temple around 165 BCE. The Jewish festival of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the Maccabees’ victory and the Temple’s rededication. The Hanukkah Menorah, with its eight candles plus the shamash, is lit to commemorate the one-days-worth of pure oil that miraculously lasted for eight days keeping the Temple lights burning until new oil could be obtained.

Let’s Eat!

Mussels with Pernod and Crème Fraîche

I sautéed sliced leeks and celery in butter, added white wine, thyme and bay then reduced. Later this mixture was transferred to a large pot with more wine, brought to a boil, then 5 lbs. PEI mussels were added. When the mussels open they were removed to the serving bowls and the sauce finished with a 1/2 c. Pernod, 8 oz. of crème fraîche and lots of chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the hot broth over the mussels. Serve with toasted French baguette.
The distinctive flavor of Pernod is created through a combination of star anise, fennel, parsley, chamomile, coriander and several aromatic herbs and plants. Pernod adds another dimension to this mussel broth. I look forward to cooking with it more often, specifically in vegetable and fish dishes. For interesting information on cooking with Pernod please visit here.

Chèvre Chaud, Green Salad, Dijon Vinaigrette

Filet Mignon Chausseur
Tarragon Horseradish Crème

Vol-au-Vent filled with Vanilla Yogurt 
Quince, Pear, and Orange in a Cinnamon Syrup
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Susan for her friendship, generous hospitality, delicious meals, the laughs and the good times. We look forward to spending more time together in 2009.
I hope you all had wonderful holidays. Wishing you an abundance of love, friendship, peace, health, prosperity and happiness at the New Year and always.