It’s about time to get frying.
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By Melissa Clark
Hanukkah is less than a week away. Are you ready to fry?
For many years before the pandemic, I hosted an annual latke party. Guests were drafted into donning an apron and taking a turn at the stove flipping latkes (above) in a mix of duck fat and sunflower oil. Although latkes can be made in advance and reheated (just run them under the broiler), nothing compares to a freshly fried potato pancake still sizzling at the edges.
I like my latkes warm enough to melt a little of the sour cream on contact, but not so hot that it drips down my arm. Yes, everyone wakes up the next day smelling a little like a roadside diner after the breakfast rush. But, wow, what a blast.
Along with the requisite homemade applesauce, I like to top my latkes with smoked fish, salmon caviar, capers, shreds of brisket or pomegranate seeds. Mix and match as you like!
Hanukkah lasts eight nights, and we have so many other festive Hanukkah dishes, including a recipe for Claudia Roden’s sufganiyot, jelly doughnuts that are popular in Israel; Sarah DiGregorio’s pressure cooker pot roast with pearl onions and root veggies; and Joan Nathan’s hearty chicken matzo ball stew or her lighter vegan matzo ball soup.
Joan’s latest dispatch for The Times focuses on Charlotte Menora, a Warsaw bakery bistro serving a mix of French and Ashkenazi Jewish dishes. There’s a recipe for challah bread pudding with chocolate and poppy seeds that tastes like babka, but is easier to make.
And I have a new recipe for a sweet kugel that’s rich with sour cream and optional raisins. The interior stays soft and puddinglike, while the noodles get browned and crunchy on the surface. Just try not to nibble them all off the top before serving.
Before the holidays, though, there are many meals to consider. You could try Ali Slagle’s new recipe for roasted sweet potatoes with spinach and feta. Her clever secret is to add a little pickled jalapeño brine to the potatoes to season them. Also starring spinach and feta is Sarah DiGregorio’s terrific-looking slow-cooker chicken stew. And for breakfast (to use up leftover applesauce from the latkes), there are Yossy Arefi’s lovely applesauce muffins.
You’ll need a subscription for the recipes. Subscribing supports our work in producing myriad recipes, along with the photos and videos that go with them. Even without a subscription, you can watch our videos on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, where, for the last video of cookie week, I demonstrate how to make my easy, chic crunchy coconut twists. (They look like cheese straws, but taste like … cookies!) And I’m here at [email protected] Drop me a line: I’d love to hear about your latke traditions and toppings.
Now, have you contended with your Spotify Wrapped results? (I don’t have Spotify, but I listened to a lot of Víkingur Ólafsson this year.) The team at New York Times Cooking also looked back on 2022 to find the recipes you loved most for this brilliantly illustrated presentation.
So many of you sent responses to the poems of Emily Dickinson that I shared for Thanksgiving, and even more of you kindly emailed to extol the virtues of fruit cake after I mentioned I’d never had a traditional one. One reader managed to do both at once by sending me an engrossing article by Reina Gattuso in Atlas Obscura about Dickinson’s recipe for black cake, a Caribbean Christmas confection. Dickinson’s recipe, Gattuso writes, “reminds us of the brutal histories of colonization and enslavement that shaped her times, and the Black and immigrant domestic laborers who shaped her work and home.” The essay also goes deep on the significance of baking in Dickinson’s heretofore little-known love life. Give it a read and let me know what you think.
I’ll see you Wednesday.
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