Hanukkah 1-2-3

In 1999, Gourmet Magazine featured my "1-2-3 Hanukkah" as one of their cover stories.  The Miracles of Hanukkah (as the article was called), not only commemorated the Maccabees' victory in battle but the miracle that happened when the temple was rededicated.  Miraculously, barely a day's worth of oil for the menorah lasted for eight.  The story's author, Ann Hodgman, went on to say..."Here in Rozanne Gold's kitchen 2,200 years later, a whole series of smaller  miracles is taking place as she prepares a Hanukkah dinner for family and friends.  Miracle #1: Every offering on the menu has only three ingredients.  Miracle #2:  Each dish is as intensely flavored, exotic, and elegant as if it had a thousand.  Miracle #3: Our setting, a perfect jewel box of a Brooklyn brownstone, with treasures everywhere you look and a kitchen masterminded by James Beard."  I remember the chaos in the house at the time.  My mother had grated a bit of her knuckle along with the par-boiled potatoes, my father had trouble standing for a photo shoot which he claimed felt like eight days itself; the phone was ringing every three seconds, guests were coming in minutes (including food critic Arthur Schwartz) and I was doing my best to keep my composure. It worked.  At one point in the article, Ann wrote "For all her slender elegance, Gold is a woman who knows how to boss food around." This Hanukkah menu featured Seared Smoked Salmon with Cucumber Presse, Rib-eye Roast in the style of Gravlax, The Gold Family Latkes*, Apple-Cranberry Sauce*, Sweet-Garlic Frenched Green Beans and for dessert, Chocolate Mousse Sponge, Baked Sabra Oranges with Orange Sorbet, and Chocolate Sesame Cups.  And yes, every recipe was made with only three ingredients!

Since tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, let's focus on my nontraditional method for making latkes.  Instead of cooking them one-by-one in lots and lots of oil, I make two large shredded potato pancakes (roesti-style) and serve them in small wedges.  Parboiling the potatoes helps them stick together and results in a creamy interior texture.  B'tayavon (bon appetit in Hebrew.)

The Gold Family Latkes 2 pounds large boiling potatoes 3 tablespoons coarsely grated onion 1/4 cup olive oil

Cook potatoes in salted water to cover until barely tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Rinse under cold water and let cool.  Peel with a sharp knife.  Coarsely shred potatoes lengthwise (long strands help them hold together) into a bowl using the large holes of a box grater.  Stir in the onion, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and white pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet until hot, then add half of the potatoes, spreading with a spatula to form an even cake.  Cook until underside is golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.  Invert a large plate over skillet and invert latke onto plate.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and slide latke back in.  Cook until underside is golden and crispy, 10 to 12 minutes.  Slide onto serving plate and keep warm.  Repeat with remaining potatoes.  Cut into wedges and serve with apple-cranberry sauce. Serves 6

Apple-Cranberry Sauce 3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 1 cup cranberries 7 tablespoons sugar

Put ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan.  Add 1 cup water and a pinch of salt. Cook, covered, over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.  Mash until desired consistency.  Let cool to room temperature or serve chilled.  This keeps covered and chilled for 1 week.  Makes 3 cups

(Click here to watch me make these on The Today Show)

Happy Hanukkah!