Noah Bernamoff is the chef/owner of Mile End delicatessen in Brooklyn, New York and the co-author of the recently release Mile End Cookbook.
“In my opinion, Hanukkah isn’t complete without latkes and applesauce. I remember growing up how our house would reek of oil and my mom would be running around the kitchen with the windows open — this was December in Montreal! — and fanning her dishtowel to get the smoke out. When I got older she started making us sweet potato latkes because she thought they were healthier, though I don’t know if there is such a thing as a healthy latke! Now I make them sometimes with parsnips or butternut squash or celery root, and use olive oil instead of vegetable oil for frying. You can also grate some horseradish into the latke if you really into that flavor.”
Serve with: If you want something on the sweet side, doughnuts are another traditional Hannukah treat. We love making little jelly doughnuts with homemade Concord grape jelly, but store-bought jellies are a fine substitute. If you want to be more traditional, you could use strawberry or raspberry jelly, or if you want to be super seasonal, a quince or a pear or an apple jelly. And don’t be intimidated by the frying. You don’t need to rig up a fry-o-later or a big vat of oil — you need only 2 inches of oil in a sturdy cast iron pan. Fry the dough in that shallow pool of oil and they will puff right up and float. Everybody loves doughnuts — so it’s a festive way to bring some fun into the celebration.
Pro tip: When you’re making latkes, whether you use grated potatoes or parsnips or any other root vegetable, remember to really squeeze them and get every bit of water and moisture out. That moisture can be deadly — and if they’re too wet, they’ll never crisp up during frying.