I'm back with another Chanukah post, but this time it does not require power tools. I know you're disappointed, but I promise that the power tools will make another appearance sometime soon. So, in my Pomegranate Mascarpone Cream Puff post I talked about (and pointed you to) the story of Judith, the beheader, and the reason why my fellow Jews and I should be chowing on cheese during Chanukah. I know I also semi-eschewed the idea of eating oily latkes in favor of cheese, but that does not mean that I cannot appreciate a good latke. Especially when made of cheese.
Before I discuss my latkes and the specious logic underlying their creation, I think I need to provide a quick latke lesson. It has come to my attention, via Twitter (of course), that some people believe that latkes are not latkes if they do not contain potato. This is not so! Latke merely means pancake. This is why latke is often proceeded with potato or sweet potato or even zucchini. Latkes can be made of anything as long as the ingredients are bound together and cooked in a pancake-like form. I don't even think there's a frying requirement, but I may have to check on that. In conclusion, don't disparage potato-less latkes; they may be some of the best you'll ever have.
Now for a little bit of Barrister Logic (be afraid, very, very afraid). I found this recipe for cheese latkes over at King Arthur Flour and thought to myself, "Wow, fried cheese--how very Chanukah." But I didn't want to stop there. Later this month, on December 25th to be exact, this Jew will be partaking in another tradition: Chinese food. Like many Jews, my family normally eats Chinese food and takes in a movie on Christmas, cheering ourselves up from the resultant isolation that comes with being one of the Chosen People. In honor of this tradition, I decided that these latkes would not only be an ode to Chanukah, but also an ode to our other time-honored winter tradition. These latkes needed a little Chinese panache. Well, Chinese-American panache. A little Five Spice Powder worked wonders in the latkes, but I needed to bring the apple sauce to the party. And you know what goes well with apple and screams of Chinese food? Almonds. You know, like those delicious almond cookies they always bring you with your check? Or Almond Chicken? Yeah, I know I'm brilliant.
And yes, I made ghetto apple butter by cooking down unsweetened apple sauce. I was hungry. So sue me.
Five Spice Cheese Latkes
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes 21 Latkes
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup matzo meal
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice powder
canola or vegetable oil
Note: Matzo Meal is merely matzo that has been pulverized into a flour-like consistency. We make our own by grinding unsalted matzo in the food processor or blender. It does not have to be incredibly fine; just pulverize as much as you can.
Beat eggs and milk, and then add in the rest of the ingredients. Mixture will look soupy. Allow to sit for 15 minutes so matzo meal can absorb liquid. Batter will become lumpy and thick. Heat a large frying pan with a little bit of oil. When hot, drop two tablespoons of batter for each pancake into the oil and press down with back of spoon to flatten and even out. When edges are golden and batter is bubbling on top like normal pancakes do, flip and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
Almond Apple Butter
Makes approximately 1/2 cup
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 Tbsp. amaretto (or 1 tsp. almond extract)
1 Tbsp. almond flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
Heat on low in sauce pan for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened and sticking to spoon. Multiple quantities for larger amounts of apple butter, and adjust almond flavoring to preference