Chanie Apfelbaum, a Crown Heights food blogger, gourmet cook and devoted mother of four, was featured in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, America’s most-read newspaper, with whom she shared her new – and arguably healthier – take on the age-old traditional Chanukah Latke.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Chanie Apfelbaum has been busy preparing for Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights known for simple old-fashioned pleasures, including lighting a menorah, spinning a four-sided top called a dreidel, and eating lots of latkes, or crispy fried potato pancakes.
In her spacious kosher kitchen, Ms. Apfelbaum, a food blogger and gourmet cook, stays true to tradition. She grates onions and potatoes by hand, then cracks eggs and adds matzo meal to make batter that she doles out carefully into a pan filled with sizzling oil. The result: a tray of round golden brown latkes like her Bubbe, or grandmother, made.
But tradition ends there.
“I want to take latkes to the next level—I want a gourmet latke,” declares Ms. Apfelbaum, reaching for a pot of thick flavorful brown gravy that she proceeds to slather on top of the pancakes. She sprinkles ringlets of cheese that melt into the sauce and voilà: “poutine latkes”—a variation of the popular Quebecois french fries.
Hallowed Hanukkah traditions are spinning out of control faster than a whirring dreidel. Even the venerable menorah, shaped like a candelabra, has been reinvented with families buying some that resemble their favorite pet dogs, a moose, or in the case of car lovers, a pink Cadillac. Dreidels are showing up as decorations on “Hanukkah sweaters” that rival the “Ugly Christmas Sweater,” made by My Ugly Christmas Sweater Inc. and other purveyors
Then there is the most radical change of all: The extreme makeover of the latke.
The humble, centuries-old dish, popular among Eastern European Jews, is made with three basic ingredients: eggs, potatoes and flour, with maybe some onion thrown in. These days, Jewish gourmets are determined to give it a makeover.