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Check Your Oil!

November 27, 2012 By:
Chavie Lieber, JTA
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Gone are the days when the Chanukah holiday meant an eight-day binge fest of all things fried.

The Festival of Lights, which commemorates the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks, has a longstanding tradition of oily foods such as latkes and donuts in remembrance of the miracle of the temple oil, which lasted eight days instead of the expected one. But for some, the holiday has become an excuse to inhale fried potato pancakes and custard-filled pastry.

“People have a misconception of the tradition to fry on Chanu­kah,” said Yosef Silver, the author of the popular blog This American Bite. “The concept is to remember the oil, but that doesn’t necessarily mean frying. We’ve gotten so wrapped up with frying, but there are ways to make Chanu­kah food, like latkes, just using oil.”

Silver was raised on the old way — frying everything. But now he prefers to bake latkes rather than fry them.

“If you want to incorporate oil,” Silver said, “add only a tablespoon and lightly pan-fry.”

For those who prefer a fried taste, Silver suggests swapping potatoes for healthier vegetables that provide vitamins and nutrition as opposed to starch.

These days, with everyone from the first lady on down drawing attention to our widening waistlines, Jewish foodies have plenty of options for consuming traditional holiday fare without packing on the pounds.

Below are a couple of healthier latkes recipes.

Roasted Gingered Carrot Latkes
From Personal Chef Shaya Klechevsky

    6 cups coarsely grated peeled carrots
    3 Tbsps. all-purpose flour
    3 Tbsps. whole wheat flour
    1 and 1⁄2 tsps. salt
    3⁄4 tsp. baking powder
    1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    7 tsps. finely grated peeled fresh ginger
    3 large eggs, beaten to blend
        blended olive oil (for frying)

Preheat oven to 425˚. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with olive oil, or take a pastry brush dipped in olive oil and lightly coat the foil.

Place grated carrots in a large bowl; press with paper towels to absorb any moisture.

In another bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder and pepper, and blend together. Add carrots, ginger and eggs to the flour mixture and combine. Mixture shouldn’t be too wet or too dry.

When forming patties, the mixture should stick to itself and not come apart. If it’s too wet, add a little bit more flour; if it’s too dry, add more beaten egg. Allow to stand for 10 to 12 minutes for ingredients to absorb into each other. Place patties, about 3 and 1⁄2-inch rounds, onto the greased baking sheet. Leave a little room around each one.

Place tray into middle rack of oven and roast for 10 to 12 min­utes per side, or until golden brown.

Makes about 15 latkes.

Rutabaga and Turnip Latkes
From Yosef Silver

    2 rutabaga, shredded
    2 turnips, shredded
    1 large onion, shredded
    1 egg, plus one egg white
    1⁄2 tsp. of garlic powder
    1⁄4 tsp. salt
    1⁄2 tsp.freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375˚.

Mix all the ingredients, then shape the latkes so they are approximately the size of your palm and about 1⁄4-inch thick.

Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil if you want to keep with tradition, or substitute coconut oil for a lighter alternative. Place the latkes on the cookie sheet with space between them. Once the oven has heated, bake the latkes until golden brown.

Makes about 15 latkes.

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