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Top Hanukkah Recipes - Ashkenazic Jewish Recipes for the Festival of Lights

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Among Ashkenazi Jews (those of Eastern European descent), potato latkes and other foods fried in oil are a favorite for Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the miracle of the oil central to the story of the menorah's lighting. Hanukkah lasts eight days beginning on the 25th of Kislev. It is a time for great celebration and enjoyment. Friends and relatives gather to light the menorah, exchange gifts, sing songs, play dreidel games and enjoy great food. In fact, the Shulhkan Arukh -- the code of law -- forbids mourning and fasting during this time. These recipes should help you uphold the tradition of merrymaking during this joyous holiday. Read more about Hanukkah here.

1. Beef Brisket Recipe

Jewish Baked Brisket
© bakedbree on Flickr
This Jewish beef brisket recipe produces a fork-tender piece of meat surrounded by braised vegetables. In the old days, women cleaned their houses all day Friday in preparation for the Sabbath, which is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. They needed to cook something that didn't require a lot of watching and would reheat well the next day when no work, not even cooking, was allowed. Enter beef brisket -- a cut of meat suitable for a long, slow cook. Here's How I Learned to Cook Jewish Food.

2. Traditional Potato Pancakes Recipe

Crispy Potatoa Pancakes
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
When I was little, my mother made placki kartoflane, or placki ziemniaczane, on meatless days. They were thin and crispy and sprinkled with granulated sugar. Since then, I've come to love Jewish latkes infused with onion or garlic and served with sour cream and applesauce, and the puffy Czech and Bohemian varieties.

3. Potato Pancakes with Fresh Cod Recipe

Brandade Potato Latkes
© Alfred A. Knopf, used with permission.
This recipe for Brandade Potato Latkes is from Joan Nathan's "Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France" (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011). It combines cooked fresh cod with potatoes in a spin on the French salt code dish known as brandade.

4. Matzoh Meal Potato Latkes Recipe

Potato Latkes
© Taminsea on Flickr
This potato latke recipe is suitable for anytime of year, including Passover, because it is made with matzoh meal, not flour, and it comes together quickly because it's made in a food processor. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

5. Junior's of New York Potato Pancakes with Chunky Applesauce Recipe

juniors-potato-pancakes.jpg
© Mark Ferri
This recipe is from the iconic New York deli known as Junior's.

 

6. Fat-Free Potato Latkes Recipe

Latkes
© CincinCanfield on Flickr
I know, I know. It's all about the oil for Hanukkah, but for those who would otherwise abstain from eating potato pancakes, this recipe is a boon. Potato pancakes, also known as placki kartoflane or latkes are usually fried, but in this favorite Hanukkah food, the pancakes are made with egg whites and baked. That means a guilt-free indulgence -- 0 grams fat and only 65 calories per pancake.

7. Homemade Applesauce Recipe

Homemade Applesauce
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Applesauce is common throughout Eastern Europe. With only three ingredients in the recipe -- apples, water and sugar -- it was an easy project for an overabundance of fruit. And busy farmwives could enlist the aid of their children in the peeling and stirring. Applesauce and sour cream are the perfect accompaniments for latkes.

8. Kasha with Mandarin Oranges and Raisins Recipe

Kasha with Mandarin Oranges and Raisins
© Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
This recipe for kasha with mandarin oranges and raisins is so versatile. It can be a side dish, stuffing for roasted meats like veal, chicken, duck, pork or turkey, and as a cold salad with vinaigrette.

9. Noodle Kugel Recipe

Kugel
© Flickr
Jewish noodle kugel recipes can be sweet or savory. Here, in this easy recipe, sugar and raisins are combined with cooked noodles, eggs, sour cream and cottage cheese to create a puffy side dish or dessert. Jewish noodle kugel is similar to Lithuanian kugelis, except the latter is made with potatoes, not noodles, and it's not a dessert.

10. Cheese Blintzes Recipe

Cheese Blintzes with Mixed Berry Sauce
© Lebhard-Friedman Books, used with permission.
Jewish blintzes are the same as French crepes, Polish nalesniki, Hungarian palacsinta and Serbian palachinke -- thin pancakes that are rolled around various sweet or savory fillings. They can be made ahead becaue they freeze well. Just skip the frying step. Do that from the frozen state when you're ready to enjoy them. If you can't find dry curd cheese, you might want to make your own farmers cheese from scratch.
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