Monday, December 6, 2010

Peace and Love and Latkes.

Last Wednesday, I went online and wished our Jewish friends a very happy Chanukah. And then I followed that remark with this very witty (or so I thought) remark: "Now bring on the latkes!"

You see, being the ignoramus Muslim hippie gal that you know and love (or barely tolerate), I don't really know all that much about the history and traditions surrounding Chanukah - or any of the other Jewish holy days, other than the fact that lots of them involve really delicious food....just call me Ms.Sensitivity.

Well, one of my Facebook friends asked me if I was going to be making any latkes this year, and I was all, Why would I do that? Wouldn't it just be weird if a Muslim chick started frying up fritters for Chanukah? Wouldn't people get all offended?

But then I thought about the fried potatoes....and I immediately started drooling. Well why NOT? I thought. Why couldn't I make some latkes? Everybody deserves a little deep-fried happiness once in a while...right? I asked Yousuf if he'd be up for some oily potatoes later in the week, and being the good Irish lad that he is, he was immediately on board.

The only thing that kept niggling at the back of my mind was if we were going to seem as though we were being disrespectful of our Jewish friends and their celebration, but my mind was soon put at ease when many of those same friends showed their support and even sent me some of the most delicious recipes I have ever seen. I just had to try them...and bolstered by the support, all of a sudden we went from trying out one new recipe to a full-blown Latkefest.

I really love that I have such wonderful friends (I've dubbed them my own personal "Bubbe Squad", in the spirit of the season) who were as enthusiastic about this as I was. I love that a Muslim girl can grow up and make some amazing friends who happen to be Jewish, or Christian, or Hindu, or gay or straight or anything that they want to be. I love that my kids get to be exposed to all these wonderful traditions and that we get to talk about what unites us (like FOOD) instead of the longstanding hurts that do nothing but cause pain and sorrow.

It's not about Politics, people. It's just about Potatoes.

We've been sicker than sick for the past two weeks, so putting together Latkefest has been slow going at best...but we're doing it, and we're having fun. Every couple of nights, we all gather in the kitchen and decide which latke recipe we're going to try, and then the fun begins. We grate and squeeze and press and fry and everybody gets messy and we don't know what the hell we're doing but we're sure having a good time doing it. So far we've tried three latke recipes, and each time they get better and better. I'm going to share those three here today, and hopefully (if nobody gets too much sicker - fingers crossed!) I'll be able to share the other two later on this week.

So here we go!

Peace and Love and Latkefest 2010 - Recipe 1: Broccoli Latkes

I came across this recipe when I asked Professor Google about "Healthy Latkes". I was pleasantly surprised when Professor G didn't laugh in my face, but instead presented me with this little gem. I figured that if we were going to embark on a week of fried fatty food, we might as well start off with a little green to assuage our guilt a little bit.

So first of all, nowhere in this recipe does it call for grating potatoes. That was confusing. Is a latke still a latke if it's made out of mashed rather than grated potatoes? Even though I thought these latkes were having an existential crisis, I went ahead and followed the recipe and they turned out pretty good. Pretty good if you're looking for a potato and broccoli cake/patty, but definitely not Latkefest material. They were on the healthier side of life though, with no eggs (I guess the mashed potato binds them) and a good amount of greens. I did find that they fell apart a little bit when I went to flip them...and when that happened I tried to rescue my broken latke by STICKING MY HAND IN THE SEARING HOT PAN. Ooooops. I wasn't allowed to flip or fry after that. Thank goodness for Broccoli Boy (aka El Cheapitan, the man, the mystery, the legend himself). Here he is looking quite pleased with all his pretty latkes...

Whatever. Hand-eye coordination is so overrated.

Peace and Love and Latkefest 2010 - Recipe 2: Apple Latkes

Guys...these were SOOOOOOOO good. Really. A friend of mine linked me to these Smitten Kitchen Apple Latkes and they looked so gorgeous in the post that I just had to see if I could make them myself. I'm so glad that we did, because they were delicious! And really not that difficult at all (as long as I wasn't doing the frying). Even my Bubbe Squad thought that they turned out looking pretty good, which is saying something.

The recipe suggests saving the squeezed apple juice to make a caramel sauce that you can serve with these latkes, but I didn't have any heavy cream on hand so I just topped them with whipped cream and drizzled over with honey. They were so heavenly and definitely a do-again. I'm so glad we tried these! Hooray for Latkefest!

Peace and Love and Latkefest 2010 - Recipe 3: Sweet Potato Latkes

This was another recipe suggested by a friend, and we tried them last night. OH. EM.GEE. YUM. You can find the recipe for these Sweet Potato Latkes at The Food Network and they are so very very delectable. They weren't as sweet as I thought they would be (the recipe calls for equal parts sweet and white potato), and I'm wondering if I can add more sweet potato (and cut out some Yukon) the next time we make these. Oh and yes, there will be a next time. These were too good to only make once!

I didn't serve these with the suggested horseradish, but Yousuf did blend up a batch of homemade applesauce to go with these and I thought it was the perfect compliment. I'm such an authentic fake Jewish real Muslim hippie girl. I'm just keepin' it real, peeps.

And there you have it - three great new recipes for you to try and enjoy. I hope you have a wonderful time making some new memories in your kitchen. We certainly have in ours! To all of our very dear Jewish friends, we wish you a joyous festival and much love this season, and always. Thank you for sharing your traditions with us...and thanks for being a part of Latkefest 2010. Love and peace and Latkes, and family and friends to share it all with. Who could ask for anything more?
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