Judy Bart Kancigor’s Hanukkah favorites

Hanukkah starts early this year, but Judy Bart Kancigor, author of Cooking Jewish, is always ready with a creative and delicious recipes! She’s back again with her menu for this year’s Hanukkah party.

We’re still nibbling on leftover turkey, and here comes Hanukkah already! This year our Chavurah (a group of friends that meets monthly for dining and dishing) is having a Hanukkah tapas party. What a great idea!

Ever notice that the hors d’oevres are more fun than the meal? A meal of hors d’oevres – what a concept! I am in charge of the latkes, so I’m making minis: my Crispy, Crunchy Potato Latkes with Aunt Hilda’s Cherry Chili Dipping Sauce (below) and, for something really different, Malaysian Latkes accompanied by Cucumber Dip with Minty Yogurt Sauce.

I’ll do a few the low-fat way too for the die-hards and…okay, okay, I’ll bring some applesauce and sour cream for the traditionalists. Happy Hanukkah!

Judy Bart Kancigor


From Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family (Workman) by Judy Bart Kancigor

2 pounds baking potatoes
2 large eggs
1/2 medium-size onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium-size firm apple, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher (coarse) salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or matzah meal
Peanut or canola oil, for frying
Aunt Hilda’s Cherry Chili Dipping Sauce, for serving

1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. To keep them white and release some of the starch, submerge them in a bowl of water while you’re preparing the remaining ingredients.

2. Place the eggs in a blender. Add the onion, apple, salt, white pepper and baking powder. Drain the potatoes and squeeze them dry in paper towels. Add enough of the potatoes to fill the blender (all 2 pounds may not fit). Turn on the blender, and pushing down on the sides with a rubber spatula (careful you don’t blend the spatula — there is no rubber in this recipe), blend until the potatoes just move around. Add the remaining potatoes as you’re blending, but do not over-process or make it too smooth. The texture should resemble applesauce. (This takes about 6 seconds in my Osterizer.)

3. Transfer the batter to a large bowl and add the flour. The batter should be flowing, but not too thin.

4. Now for the real secret of my very crisp latkes: Pour enough oil into a large skillet to coat the bottom. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is quite hot but not smoking. Use a serving spoon to scoop up the batter (about 2 tablespoons per scoop), hold the spoon about 8 inches above the pan, and spill it all at once. Splat! Remove your hand quickly so you don’t burn yourself. (Like tennis, it’s all in the wrist.) The batter will splatter, forming holes … the better to hold the dipping sauce. Repeat with as many as will fit in the skillet without crowding. Cook until browned, about 1 minute. Then flip them over and cook the other side for 1 minute.

5. Drain the latkes well on paper towels, and keep them warm while you cook the remainder, adding more oil as needed.

6. Serve immediately, with Aunt Hilda’s Cherry Chili Dipping Sauce.

Note: If you want to make the batter ahead, to cook later or the next day, prepare it through Step 2 (do not add the flour), and pour the mixture into a tight-fitting glass jar (do not use plastic ware). Tap the jar on the counter to release any air bubbles, cover the batter well with a thick layer of flour, and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to use it, remove and discard the flour with the black layer that has formed beneath it. Transfer the batter to a large bowl, stir in the flour, and proceed with Step 4 using fresh flour.

Makes about 3 dozen latkes.

Aunt Hilda’s Cherry Chili Dipping Sauce (without the chicken!)

1 can (16 1/2 ounces) pitted black cherries, undrained
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup dry sherry or white wine
2 bottles (12 ounces each) chili sauce, such as Heinz
1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

Slice the cherries and combine them with their liquid, the raisins, sherry, chili sauce, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Reduce this mixture over medium-high heat until it’s as thick as you like it, about 20 minutes.

For more Hanukkah recipes, visit or read Judy’s blog post from last year.

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