Happy Hanukkah! 2 Reasons It's Better Than Christmas

latkesMy good friends refer to me as "The Christmas Jew." I was bat-mitzvahed at 13 and went on Birthright to Israel in 2007. I've gone to temple on every high holiday (well, most of them) since I can remember. My favorite word ever is shtick.

But man, do I love everything about Christmas.

The closer it gets to the holiday, the happier I am. I savor it all. The songs, lighting and decorating the tree, Christmas Cookie Yankee Candles, how many presents fit in a Christmas stocking and common -- how GOOD is Christmas Eve?!

But there's one thing even this "Christmas Jew" will admit: Christmas foods don't even compare to how good the Hanukkah ones are. I'm talking potato latkes, matzo ball soup, kasha varnishkes, and sufganiyot. Oy! I want!

Whether you're celebrating Hanukkah tonight or putting up your Christmas tree this weekend, check out these two great traditional Jewish recipes sure to satisfy every taste.


Potato latkes

A Hanukkah classic. Latkes means "pancakes" for all you gentiles.

What you'll need:

  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/8 cup melted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup oil

1. Start by grating your taters and onions into a bowl, and then set them aside.

2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, egg, milk, and baking powder. Add the potatoes and melted butter.

3. Heat up the oil in a large skillet. Take handfuls of the potato latke mixture and drop them (carefully!) into the skillet. These don't need to be perfectly shaped, just flat enough to turn over once golden on both sides.

4. Once browned, remove latke from pan and allow excess oil to drain. Serve alongside your favorite dipping sides.

Personally, I love apple sauce! Other favorites are ketchup, sour cream, and for the expensive taste -- watercress and caviar.



These deep-fried jelly-filled dough balls are a sweet way to remember the Hanukkah miracle of the burning oil lamps in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flower
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup jam of your choice

1. Start by combining the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl. Let this mixture sit until foam forms, for about 10 minutes.

2. Combine the flour, eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, nutmeg, butter, salt and yeast mixture into a dough. On a floured surface, work the dough until it is smooth for about 8 minutes. Place this dough into an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until it is doubled in size (this will take roughly one to two hours).

3. After the dough has risen, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness. Then, cut the dough into 20, 2 1/2 inch rounds (I suggest using a wine glass). cover these rounds with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for 15 more minutes.

4. Over medium heat, fry rounds (up to six at a time) until golden, each side about 40 seconds. Remove rounds from the oil and place them onto a paper towel.

5. After excess oil drains, roll them into sugar. Repeat this until all of your dough is fried and rolled.

Now it's your turn to get creative. I'm partial to raspberry jam myself, but pick whatever flavor you want! Using a toothpick, make a hole in every donut. Then, fill a pastry bag with your jam of choice and squeeze about 2 teaspoons of jam into each one.

Do you have a favorite Hanukkah recipe? What will you be making this holiday?

Image via slgckgc/Flickr
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