Cooking Class: Latkes, Pancakes, and Fritters for Hanukkah with Jennifer Abadi

Cooking Class: Latkes, Pancakes, and Fritters for Hanukkah with Jennifer Abadi


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What makes a pancake a latke, and why is it prepared for Hanukkah? Join chef Jennifer Abadi to learn a bit of history around this popular Jewish treat, and how to fry up three different variations for the upcoming holiday!

Hanukkah (from the old Hebrew verb khanakh meaning “to dedicate”) is an annual Jewish celebration that commemorates the time when a group of Jewish resistance fighters, known as the Maccabees, miraculously won a final battle against their Hellenistic/Greek oppressors and regained control of the Second Temple in 165 BC.

The Second Temple in Jerusalem had been defiled by the Greeks who had set up an altar for their pagan rituals. When the Maccabees reentered the Temple they had to purify it before rededicating it. Pure olive oil was necessary for the seven-branched oil lamp (menorah) to illuminate the Temple each night, but only one sealed vessel containing enough oil to last one night was recovered after the battles. Instead, it miraculously lasted for eight nights. For this reason, we light a special eight-branched candelabra called a hanukkiah and refer to the eight-day holiday as the Festival of Lights.

As with so many of the Jewish holidays, food and rituals are used as a means to commemorate our history. During Hanukkah, preparing dishes made with oil recalls the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight nights instead of one.

Led by Sephardic and Middle Eastern food instructor, cookbook author, and recipe preserver Jennifer Abadi, this interactive hands-on seminar will teach you how to prepare three types of latkes, or pancakes, fried in oil: Kartofl Latke (Ashkenazi-style crispy potato fritters with celery leaves and onions), Cassola (Roman-style ricotta pancakes with lemon zest), and Apfelkrapfen (German-style apple ring fritters with vanilla, nutmeg, and brown sugar). Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the flavors and techniques of this comfort food and how it lives on in the Jewish diaspora today!

We're not giving away the secret recipe* just yet, but here are some things that you will need for the cooking class:

For Potato Latkes:

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1½ pounds white potato (russet preferred; about 2 large), rinsed, peeled, coarsely grated (about 3½ cups), excess liquid squeezed out and drained
  • ½ cup finely chopped or coarsely grated onions, excess liquid squeezed out and drained
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or celery leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup vegetable, canola, sunflower, or safflower oil
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Applesauce
  • Sour cream

For Ricotta Pancakes:

  • 1 cup whole milk or part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For Apple Fritters:

  • 1¾ to 2 pounds (about 3 large) mixed red and green apples, cored and peeled
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup whole milk or soy milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sunflower, safflower, or vegetable oil
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Cinnamon

*Participants will be provided with a full ingredient list prior to the class.

Jennifer Abadi is a native New Yorker, born, bred and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She is half Sephardic (Aleppo, Syria) and half Ashkenazic (Riga, Latvia). She is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Judeo-Arabic and Sephardic recipes and food customs, focusing on the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa. She is the author of two cookbooks: "Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe" and "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen." Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC), as well as privately. Jennifer has been providing Jewish Food & Culture tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for Context Travel since 2012."

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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