Thursday, December 2, 2010

(C)hanuk(k)ah: Five Spice Cheese Latkes & Almond Apple Butter

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


Cookin' Canuck said...

Very entertaining post! I am a lover of latkes in all forms, but these cheese ones are really calling my name.

Torviewtoronto said...

cottage cheese and spices make this latkes wonderful lovely pictures

*kimmie* said...

You should know that my mom and my Christmas tradition is eating a late dinner on Christmas Day at a Jewish Deli in Austin. We eat Christmas "dinner" so early, that by 9pm we're starving and the Jewish deli is one of the few places open. We've been doing this for almost 10 years - is it weird that it wouldn't be Christmas in our house without the latkes?

islandeat said...

Hi, BB. I found this very entertaining as usual, and the recipe looks good n cheesy.

However, I kept looking for the SNL link, "Xmastime for the Jews" (to corroborate the reference to Chinese food and movies - it must be an LA/east coast thing, as I don't recall it from the Chicago Jewish-Xmas). Well, here it is in case you or your readers have never seen it:

Chappy Chanukah,


Carolyn said...

These sound amazing, and I just bought a big bag of five spice from Penzeys. I appreciate the latke lesson, too. I've been wondering from all your tweets what these were going to be made with!

Chef Dennis said...

sue a lawyer....I think not!! you are too funny, I love those latkes, the cheese just makes them even better than plain potato!
I do hope we get to see you work more with power tools sometime in the future!
Have a wonderful holiday my friend!

ravienomnoms said...

Yum Yum Yum! Looks really fantastic! I really love apple butter

Kristina @ spabettie said...

I love the ghetto apple butter!! <3 and everything else in this post - hee!

in all seriousness, these look fabulously delicious. I want to make them today..

danasfoodforthought said...

I love this twist on traditional potato latkes for chanukkah... these sound delicious!

Pacheco Patty said...

Happy Chanukah, your latkes look good and how you got from A to B is of no concern, only the eating part;)

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the lesson and a wonderful looking recipe!

Patty said...

LOL! Your post was excellent, indeed! I like your xmas evening tradition - chinese food and a movie? Sounds perfect! And these latkes look super delicious and incredibly creative! No doubt they are full of flavor. Thanks so muchf or sharing and making me laugh!

Sandra said...

I could see me overeating these.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lawyer Loves Lunch said...

Mmm latkes! I remember in elementary school when someone's mom would bring latkes for the class. I miss elementary school (and latkes :)

Camala - CC Recipe said...

I was wondering how you made the ghetto apple butter:) These latkes look great and I am very intrigued with the taste, they sound so good made with cottage cheese!

Mary said...

These sound pretty darned good. I'll have to call them something than latkes, however. You'd have to be sitting on the Supreme Court to convince my family they can be made with anything other than raw potatoes. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Anna's Table said...

Love your sense of humour and the innovative take on potato latkes. Hope you have a happy holiday.

Evan @swEEts said...

I keep seeing all these latkes pop up and they look so delicious! I think you had me with the cheese :) Even though I'm not jewish I think I'm going to have to show some love and make some anyways! Oh and we so see a movie on Christmas too and I'm Catholic!

myhealthiestlifestyle said...

omg those look so amazing!!!!

Chow and Chatter said...

fun latkes and i guess Christmas would be strange when you don't celebrate it I feel like that when its diwali my hubby is Indian

Magic of Spice said...

Funny :) These look scrumptious! And yes you are brilliant!

Jamie said...

Isn't it funny how we all end up eating Chinese food on Christmas? But I guess it makes sense since Chinese may be the only thing selling food on Christmas, right? Duh! And yes cheese latkes are fabulous and definitely tradition as you get both your cheese and your fried in one. Love 'em! And this addition of a dash of Chinese is genius!

Monet said...

These sound delicious. And I'm glad that you provided some education in regards to what a latke is composed of...I was one of the ignorant few who thought they required potatoes. This looks delicious. Do you think you could use low-fat cottage cheese? Thank you so much for sharing, my dear. Have a great Sunday afternoon!


I love this post and recipe! It's always fun to hear about different holiday traditions. All I know is cheese and apple butter--YUM!

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