In these cold winter days of Hanukkah, we can warm ourselves by the heat of... the shimmering oil in our frying pans! Yes, Hanukkah is the holiday of the miracle of oil, but in my opinion - the true miracle is how frying makes ordinary food turn golden, crunchy and delicious! Potatoes become crispy, average dough becomes pillowy and even everyday vegetables gain an additional appeal! Too bad it's not good for us... We'll just have to keep these guilty pleasures for special occasions - like Hanukkah!
My childhood memories of Hanukkah are filled with the scent of Sufganiot, the Israeli jelly doughnuts, masterfully and lovingly made from scratch by mom. Again,let's face it, I was one lucky kid. Rainy, wintery Israeli evenings of the holiday were spent around a dinner table lit by the Hanukkah candles, graced with golden Levivot (Israeli Latkes) and warm, sufganiot.
Transferred to Minnesota, my taste buds begged for exploration of other cuisines and new interpretations of favorite traditions. Thus the Southwestern Latkes was born; sweet potatoes and spicy cayenne, fresh cilantro and smoky cumin, drizzled with a chipotle mayo. Now you have Jewish tradition merging with Southwestern flavors, creating new American tastes to savor!