jew food for shtetl cubs



Twenty some odd years ago I got this book and have been making, celebrating, and teaching from it since. Beni’s Family Cookbook by Jane Breskin Zalben. I highly recommend if you’re starting a family and don’t have a Jewish grandmother lying around orrrr, even if you do have a Jewish grandmother around. Inside Beni’s is the latke recipe I’ve been using since my children, now grown, were very young. In our house, as there were Jewish grandmothers around Los Angeles that we had to split our time between we always had a tradition, celebrating on the first night. I would decorate the house, crack open the plastic see-through storage box, take out the menorah and dreidels and start grating. The kids loved this tradition; it made them feel strongly identified with their Russian, shtetl heritage.

Mama’s and Papa’s Latkes 

2 large eggs, beaten

4 to 5 large potatoes, peeled and grated 

1 medium onion, peeled and grated. (secret is to grate a potato the grate part of the onion, grate a potato then grate part of the onion) it keeps the potato from going brown this way. 

1/4 cup matzoh meal

Salt and pepper to taste 

Vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine eggs, potatoes and onion.

Blend in matzoh meal, salt and pepper.

Heat a one-inch layer of vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Drop in one heaping tablespoon of mixture for each latke. Turn over when crisp and golden.

Drain on paper towels. 

Serve with sour cream and applesauce. 

Yields 6, depending on appetites. 

Now obviously, when you have a house full, you’ll need to make a lot more. That’s when you’ll find yourself running to the nearest store to purchase a food processor because hand grating is for the birds when you’re making them for ten, twenty, etc. This year as often the case, not all of my children will be home at the same time, so I’ll be making them on the seventh day of Hanukkah.




Happy Hanukkah!

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