Latkes are an eastern European potato pancake that have a long tradition. Today they have a privileged place in European and American Jewish Hanukkah celebrations but they were also were an important staple in Polish monasteries of the 17th century.
In Hanukkah celebrations, latkes have a symbolic importance as the oil that is used to cook them represents the miraculously long burning lamp oil for the eight days of celebration that occurred during the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem following the successful revolt against the Seleucid monarchy in 165 BC. As the story goes, the re-dedication of the temple required eight days of ritual purification, but there was only enough oil for the temple menorah (candelabra) for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted the entire eight days and nowadays a special menorah, Hanukiyah, is available that holds 9 candles as opposed to a traditional menorah that holds only 7. The Hanukiyah is only supposed to be used for the ritual of Hanukkah, and not for any other days of the year or purpose. Hanukkah is also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights and the name means "to dedicate".
Hanukkah is not considered to be a major Jewish holiday, but it's importance has increased since the 1970's when the lighting of menorahs in public celebrations grew more popular in America (although the practice is ancient). In 1974, Rabbi Abraham Shemtov of Philadelphia's traditional Chabad-Lubavitch Center lit a small menorah at the foot of the Liberty Bell at Independence Hall. The next year, rock prompter Bill Graham sponsored Chabad's menorah in San Francisco. In 1979 during the Carter administration a menorah was lit at the White House and subsequently, Ronald Reagan designated it as the National Menorah. The world's largest menorah, standing 32 ft tall, is lit and displayed each year on the Fifth Avenue. Like the Christian Cross, controversy has surrounded the placement of menorahs on public property.
While Latkes are a treasured part of the Hanukkah tradition in Europe and the US, they are not as popular in Israel. Due to economic peculiarities (the rise of Jewish trade unions that favored marketable vs. home cooked foods), cultural influxes of non Ashkenazi Jews and the rise of the microwave among other conditions has led to the predominance of the Hanukah doughnut over latkes in celebrations.
Many other fried dishes other than potato-based pancakes are considered to be latkes and there is, like many older traditional foods, lots of variations in ingredients and cooking styles. The recipe that follows is a standard recipe for potato latkes.
- 3 large Idaho potatoes
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1/2 cup of chopped green onions (scallions) (note, you will need more for later)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Light Olive Oil for frying
- Grate the potatoes and onions by hand, using the largest holes on a grater. Alternatively, you can use a food processor.
- Put the potatoes into a large bowl and fold in the beaten eggs, flour and salt.
- On medium high, heat ¼ inch of oil in a large heavy skillet, and gently spoon batter into the pan with a soup spoon or small ladle.
- Press down on the center of the latkes so the batter spreads out.*
- Fry until the bottom is golden brown and then flip over.
- Fry the other side until it is golden brown.
- Remove latkes from pan and pat with paper towels to remove some of the oil.
*The flatter you make the latkes, the crispier they will be.
Serve latkes with sour cream, apple sauce, chopped scallions or, heaven forbid, catsup!
Recipe by Tom Johnston-O'Neill
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This recipe is from Vietnam, but similar dishes are found in Cambodia and Thailand. The name means "sizzling cake" for the sound the batter makes when it is poured into the skillet. The finished Bánh Xèo looks a bit like an omelet or a crepe, but it has neither wheat flour nor egg. The crepe is made from rice flour mixed with coconut milk. The yellow color is from the turmeric (which has potent anti-oxidants). Bánh Xèo is served like many other Vietnamese dishes, wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped in a sauce. While the vegetable ingredients are common to most Bánh Xèo recipes, the meat or fish varies from place to place and recipe to recipe. Bánh Xèo can include thin slices of pork (often fatty pork belly), shrimp (often with shells on), squid or some combination there of. Fresh herbs such as cilantro, mint, Asian basil are wrapped with the Bánh Xèo in the lettuce leaves. The dipping sauce, or Nuoc Cham, is sweet, hot, sour with a hint of garlic and fish. You can buy Nuoc Cham in a bottle or make your own. If you buy it, you must dilute the Nuoc Cham with water. Unlike flour base crepes, Bánh Xèo does not really bind together, when it is folded in half it is likely to break, if this happens, don't worry you didn't do anything wrong. Indeed, we found it rather difficult to even get the crepe out of the pan without it breaking apart. My kingdom for a bigger spatula! Sometimes Bánh Xèo is prepared with dampened rice paper which holds everything together nicely. Despite the freshness of many of the ingredients, it is a dish more often eaten in the cooler rather than hotter months. The most common cooking oil in Vietnam is coconut oil which is fragrant and imparts its own distinctive flavor. The batter can be made from scratch (as described in this recipe) or by using store-bought packets that contains both the rice flour and turmeric.
Vietnamese cooking is influenced by the widespread Asian and Southeast Asian notion of 5 elements of taste; sour, bitter, sweet, spicy, and salty. These elements are symbolic of (respectively): wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The elements are also associated with specific organs of the human body, colors and senses. Vietnamese vegetables are often eaten fresh or only slightly cooked, giving Vietnamese food a very fresh taste. A full Vietnamese meal would include many different dishes including rice, a main dish, a stir fried side dish, vegetables (raw, steamed, pickled or fresh), soup, assorted relishes and dipping sauces. Desert most typically would be fresh fruit or a dessert such as Chè, a sweet drink filled with fruits, sweet beans, tapioca, jelly and a host of other ingredients.
- 1 cup rice flour
- 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 3 scallions (spring onions)
- 1 pound small white shrimp (either fully shelled or trimmed)
- 3/4 pound of very thinly slice pork belly
- 1 pound of bean sprouts
- Coconut Oil (heat a small amount so that it is liquid)
- Leaf lettuce or mustard greens (whole leaves)
- Thai Basil
Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham):
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce (Nam Pla)
- 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 or 2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded carrots (optional)
- 2 tablespoons peeled and finely shredded cucumber (optional)
- Cut off the roots of the scallions and remove any layers or ends that are discolored.
- Slice the scallions finely using both the green and white parts.
- In a large bowl combine rice flour, water, coconut milk, turmeric, scallions and salt until smooth.
- Let batter stand for 1/2 hour.
- Season pork belly and shrimp with salt and pepper.
- Brush coconut oil on a skillet or wok that has been heated to medium-high.
- Add two shrimp and some of the pork and cook until both have changed color completely.
- Arrange the shrimp so that they are at opposite end of each other on an imaginary line 1/4 of the way up the pan.
- Position the pork between the shrimp.
- Ladle 1/3 of a cup of the batter on the pan, while swirling and tilting the pan until the surface is coated with the batter.
- Cover the skillet and cook for one minute.
- Add a small handful of sprouts.
- Cover and cook for an additional minute.
- Fold the Bánh Xèo in half, remove it from the pan and onto a serving place.
- Repeat steps 1-10 until all the ingredients are used.
- Heat some water in a kettle or a pot.
- Combine boiling water and sugar into a heat proof bowl and mix until the sugar is dissolved.
- Let cool for several minutes and then add and mix in all of the remaining sauce ingredients.
- Serve in individual bowls
- Bánh Xèo are eaten with your hands
- Cut or break crepes in half
- Lay half of the crepe on a large lettuce or mustard leaf
- Add several sprigs of mint, cilantro and Thai basil to the top and sides.
- Wrap everything up in the leaf into a cylinder shape
- Dip into the Nuoc Cham and enjoy!
Recipe and photo by: T. Johnston-O'Neill
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Salmorejo is a dish from the south of Spain. From the simplest of ingredients comes a delicious soup that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Using Spanish ingredients (such as sherry vinegar, Iberian ham (similar to Italian prosciutto) and Spanish olive oil) brings out the very best in this delightful Andalusian repast.
Spain, together with Portugal, forms the Iberian Peninsula, or Iberia, which is separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees Mountains. As a gateway between Europe and Africa, as well as the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Spain has been much fought over throughout history. Various groups such as the Greeks, Celts, Romans and the Moors (Muslims from North Africa) have all occupied Spain. This long history of invasion is still evident in Spanish cuisine.
Due to this rich and varied history, food has become an integral part of Spanish culture, with each of Spain's regions home to a range of distinctive cuisines and flavors. Spain's culinary traditions rely on an abundance of locally grown vegetables and fruits, spices, nuts, as well as meats, poultry and fresh seafood.
In 2013, my junior year of college, I studied abroad with the CIEE Liberal Arts Program for a semester in the beautiful city of Seville, Spain in the Southern Andalucía region. In one of my classes, which focused on local culture, we were given an assignment to have our homestay families teach us about one of their favorite traditional Spanish recipes. Together, my host-mother and I went to the closest market to gather ingredients to make salmorejo.
Salmorejo is a cold tomato based soup, much like gazpacho, but with a richer, creamier texture. Originally from Cordoba, salmorejo is a typical Southern Spanish dish, and can be found in any home, restaurant or tapas bar in the region of Andalucía. The dish is typically served as a starter or first meal, and can be eaten simply as a soup, or mopped up with bread, or even spread onto a sandwich (bocadillo).
Recipes for salmorejo vary slightly depending on preference, but all contain the basic ingredients of tomatoes, bread, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. The dish is typically garnished with chopped hard-boiled egg and jamón Ibérico, a cured Spanish ham made from black Iberian pigs. It is worth noting that Spanish olive oil (aceite de oliva), as well as traditional Sherry vinegar (vinagre de Jerez) are incredibly delicious, and the dish will truly stand out if made with these traditional ingredients.
- 2 pounds or about 6-8 ripe tomatoes
- 1 clove of garlic
- ½ cup olive oil (Spanish is best!)
- 2 tsp. sherry vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 Small Baguette (slightly stale is best)
- Chopped hard-boiled egg
- Jamón Ibérico (Iberian Ham)
- Chopped onion
- Drizzle of olive oil
* Authentic Spanish ingredients can be purchased at the Patra Negra Market on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. Tell them we sent you!
- Chop tomatoes and garlic coarsely.
- Break bread into small pieces and soak in water.
- Squeeze excess water from the soaked bread.
- Blend tomatoes, garlic and bread in a blender (adding the bread piece by piece).
- Blend until smooth (3 minutes or so).
- Add in the olive oil and vinegar slowly and continue blending until the entire mixture reaches a smooth, creamy texture.
- Chill the Salmorejo, then garnish before serving.
Recipe and photo by Olivia Jelenik
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Haw Mok Pla comes from the central plains of Thailand. This dish has a unique taste because it is cooked in banana leaves. Haw Mok Pla is cooked in a steamer or it can be baked in an oven.
Thai cooking has changed quite a bit over the centuries and dishes vary from place to place but certain ingredients are employed widely and are considered essential. Fish sauce is used for saltiness. Palm sugar is used as a sweetener. Tamarind or lime is used to add sourness. It is highly desirable to use these ingredients rather than using salt, sugar or vinegar. Many Thai dishes use a variety of curry pastes (green, red, yellow, sour, Panang). These pastes can be made at home but some of the commercial versions are quite tasty. Similar dishes can be found in Cambodia and Laos. Some recipes call for the fish to be pureed with all the other ingredients, other recipes use small chunks for added texture. A very wide variety of fish can be used, this recipe uses Red Snapper fillets. Haw Mok can be eaten as an appetizer, as a meal (with rice) or at a food stall in Bangkok. In northern Thailand, the mouse is wrapped in the banana leaves like an eggroll and then grilled. Haw Mok Pla (ห่อหมก) is traditionally made in banana leaf cups that are held together by tooth-pick sized pieces or wood or bamboo; however, it is much easier (particularly with previously frozen leaves that are rather more brittle than fresh ones) and less messy to line a ramekin with the banana leaf. Ingredients that you might not find in a regular grocery store (like the fish sauce, red curry paste, banana leaves, palm sugar and Kaffir lime leaves) can be purchased at an Asian supermarket like 99 Ranch Market. If they don't have the Kaffir lime leaves, these can be obtained at Specialty Produce.
Haw Mok Pla is a layered dish. In cups made from banana leaves, herbs (or Napa cabbage) are placed at the bottom, the mousse mixture is spooned onto the herbs and then garnished with a bit more coconut cream, thinly sliced Thai chilies and very thinly sliced (chiffronaded) Kaffir lime leaves.
- 1 1/2 pounds of snapper fillet, diced
- 2 cups of coconut cream
- 3 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon Nam Pla fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons of powdered palm sugar (dark brown sugar may be substituted)
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
- 8 large Thai basil leaves
- several Thai chilies sliced lengthwise very thinly (see photo)
- several Kaffir lime leaves sliced very thinly
- 1 large cucumber
- 2 shallots
- 1 dozen cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
- 1 tablespoon of Nam Pla fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- Cut four 8" rounds from a banana leaf and rinse them in tap water.
- Line the interior of the 4 ramekins with the banana leaf rounds, pleating the edges.
- Reserve a quarter cup of the coconut cream in a small bowl.
- Add the remainder of the two cups of coconut cream to a mixing bowl.
- Add the curry paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, 2 eggs (without their shells!) and cornstarch to the coconut cream and mix until all of the curry paste is completely dissolved.
- Add the fish to the bowl and mix gently.
- Place 2 Thai basil leaves into the banana leaf lined ramekins.
- With a slotted spoon, add the fish, in equal amounts, to the four ramekins.
- Fill the ramekins with the remaining liquid from the mixing bowl.
- Place a dollop of coconut cream on top of the filled ramekins.
- Artistically arrange the chiffronded lime leaves and chilies on top.
- Fill a large pot (large enough to fit the 4 ramekin) 1 1/2" deep with water.
- Place the pot on the stove and arrange the ramekins in the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat.
- Steam the Haw Mok Pla for 20 minutes
- Remove the ramekins from the pot with tongs, dry the outside of the ramekins with a towel and serve with Jasmine rice.
Slice a cucumber lengthwise in quarters. Cut out the seed-filled center and then slice the remaining cucumber thinly. Slice the shallots thinly. Slice a dozen cherry tomatoes in half. Place all ingredients in a serving bowl. Make a dressing with fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Pour dressing over salad and toss.
Recipe and photo by: T. Johnston-O'Neill
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Yayla Çorbası is a savory yogurt and rice soup that is eaten throughout Turkey. It is very easy to prepare and the dried mint imparts a unique taste.
Soups are very popular in Turkey and come in many different varieties. This yogurt based soup, Yayla Çorbasi, which translates as "Meadow Soup", has its origins in the mountains in Turkey. It was mainly "drunk" (as you would say in Turkish) by the shepherds and their families. It is now regularly enjoyed throughout Turkey, both in small villages and large cities and is consumed for breakfast or as a complete meal. Although it is a winter favorite, it is offered throughout the year in homes and restaurants and is also a very popular street food. Like chicken soup in other cultures, Turkish folk beliefs contend that it has curative powers. Although it is often referred to as a soup because of the rice, it is more akin to a porridge.
The type of rice used in Yayla Çorbasi varies from recipe to recipe, with some calling for long-grain Basmati rice and others suggesting shorter grain rice. Whole grain rice will impart a slight nutty taste to the soup. Most recipes use rice, but barley, chickpeas or bulgur can also be used. When boiled, yogurt will separate and curdle and the soup will become thin. Therefore, you should add the yoghurt at the very end, heating it, but not to the point of a boil. The recipe below uses flour and egg which prevent the yogurt from curdling. Some versions use paprika while others use chili flakes for an extra kick. Turkish yogurt and dried mint can be purchased at the Balboa International Market.
- 5 cups water, or vegetable or chicken/beef stock
- 1 cup rice
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup dried mint
- 2 teaspoons of paprika
- 1/3 teaspoon chili flakes
- Bring the water or stock to boil in saucepan.
- Add rice, turn down to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
- Combine the yogurt, flour, egg yolk in a bowl and beat until smooth (the flour and egg yolks stabilize the yogurt and keep it from curdling).
- In a separate pan, saute the dried mint and paprika in the olive oil.
- Gently sauté the dried mint and paprika for a minute or so, but don't let the butter burn!
- Adding a quarter of a cup at a time, mix the remaining hot stock to the yoghurt.
- Mix the mixture into the rice and heat for another 5 minutes (avoid boiling!).
- Serve in bowls. Sprinkle top with chili flakes
Photo and recipe by T. Johnston-0'Neill
Recipe suggested by Henriette Ruhrmann
- Hits: 2480
The Joomla! content management system lets you create webpages of various types using extensions. There are 5 basic types of extensions: components, modules, templates, languages, and plugins. Your website includes the extensions you need to create a basic website in English, but thousands of additional extensions of all types are available. The Joomla! Extensions Directory is the largest directory of Joomla extensions.
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