It’s been more than twenty years since we celebrated a night of Hanukkah with our Jewish neighbors. Yet that wonderful night has stayed with me as I carry it in my heart. The prayers, the lighting of the candles, the joy we all felt will not fade. As a Catholic, I could so clearly see the roots of my faith in Jewish Traditions.
Today is Christmas for some of us. It is also the third night of Hanukkah. To my Jewish Friends everywhere, Chan urim sameach – wishing you a Happy Festival of Lights. (Gosh, I hope I said that right).
God is indeed good. He speaks to each of us in our own language, for He knows the language our hearts will hear.
Potato Latkes with Sour Cream and Spiced Apple-Pear Sauce
Spiced Apple-Pear Sauce
3 McIntosh Apples
3 ripe Bartlett Pears,
1 tablespoon fresh Lemon Juice
6 Cinnamon Sticks
1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Water
Peel, core and chop the apples into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside. Peel, core and chop the pears into 1/2-inch pieces.
Combine the apples, pears, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the apples and pears are very soft but still a bit chunky, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste the mixture and add the remaining tablespoon of sugar if desired.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir a few times until the sauce is well combined with small chunks. Cool to room temperature. Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve.
Note: For a smoother sauce, remove from heat, remove the cinnamon sticks and then whisk the mixture until smooth before cooling.
2 lbs Russet Potatoes
1 small Yellow Onion
3 tablespoons Matzo meal
1 large Egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 tablespoon Chives or Parsley, for garnish
Sour cream, as needed for serving
Peel the potatoes and shred them in a food processor fitted with the shredding blade; transfer the potatoes to a large bowl as the food processor fills up. Repeat with the onion. Transfer the onion to the bowl with the potatoes and stir in the matzo meal, egg, baking powder and salt.
Fill a large skillet with 1/2 inch oil. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil is very hot but not smoking. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a small piece of potato into the oil; if the potato sizzles steadily, the oil is ready.
Working in batches, scoop the potato mixture by 1/4-cupfuls and add them carefully to the skillet, flattening each latke slightly with a spatula. Fry, turning the latkes once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Remove any loose bits of potato mixture between batches with a slotted spoon.
Serve the latkes immediately, or keep them warm in a 200 degree oven. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with sour cream and Spiced Apple-Pear Sauce.
Note: If you need to fry a lot of latkes, it’s best to make multiple batches rather than one double batch. The longer the mixture sits, the wetter it becomes which makes the latkes fall apart more easily as they cook.