Wednesday night for dinner Hubby and I ordered Chinese food. That’s something Jews are supposed to do on Christmas, not Chanukah and therefore I felt a tremendous amount of guilt. (An emotion Jews are encouraged to feel all year round.) Last year at this time I was elbow deep in latke grease, creating different versions of my Nanny’s famous recipe, mashing my own dried cherry apple sauce and stirring up a fire roasted red pepper sour cream.
After I prepared the traditional dish on my TV debut, I was then requested to make it at least 5 different times that week. I put together a feast for my parents, both sets of grandparents, my brother and his now fiancée. I made a batch for my in-laws and my grandparents-in laws. I even traveled with the ingredients to multiple holiday parties for friends asking to taste what the hype was all about. I felt like a band on tour whose audience only wanted to hear their most-played radio hit.
That being said, you’ll have to forgive me if this Chanukah just didn’t have me feeling as gung-ho about smelling like a giant fried potato for eight days straight. But the fact that I couldn’t quite get into the spirit saddened me a bit. I refused to let this occasion come and go without making some kind of symbolic creation. So after we finished dinner I decided to trade in our fortune cookies for homemade jelly donuts, also known as sufganiyot. (soove-gone-e-ote)
Every culture has their own version of fried dough (churros, zeppoles etc.) and this is ours. Just like everything we’re supposed to eat this week, these donuts are typically doused in vegetable oil. This not only makes them taste delicious, but also represents the miracle of the oil burning…aka why we light a menorah.
My cousin swore by a recipe she tried the evening before, which would’ve been fantastic if I had looked at it before 10pm to realize the dough needed an hour to proof. Not happening. Instead, I promised myself to make them the next evening–no ifs, ands or buts.
Yesterday when I returned home from a day of business meetings, I traded my heels for slippers and got to work. I decided to put my handy dandy donut maker to use, a gift from my in-laws for my birthday last year. (You know I love my kitchen gadgets!) I prepared the dry ingredients and opened the fridge to grab the butter and the…oh crap. I was out of eggs. What good foodie runs out of eggs and forgets to replace them?! (Oh that’s right…I’ve been going out to eat so much that I didn’t even take inventory of my own supplies!)
I put my shoes back on (this time I opted for a more casual flat winter boot–what a fashion show, I tell ya!) and headed for the grocery store. As I was gathering the essentials, I felt a twinge of Chanukah spirit sweep over me (the feeling was getting there!) so I called Hubby at work to see if he would be interested in latkes for dinner. What the heck, right?
With a resounding “yes” on the other end of the line, I smiled and filled my cart with necessities for making potato latkes with fried onions and creme fraiche.
I returned home to finish my dessert, imagining Fred the Baker cheering me on with a singsongy, “Time to make the donuts!” They weren’t exactly souvganyot, but I wouldn’t mind if this mini chocolate chip version became part our new annual ritual. Delish. (And would also be fantastic served with my chocolate balsamic raspberry compote or salty-sweet hot chocolate! Just sayin’.)
Next, I fried the onions and prepared my latkes using no recipe at all– My Nanny would be so proud! I just felt it from my heart as I mixed in egg, matzah meal, salt, pepper and chopped yellow onion until it felt right.
Then came a call from Hubby. He was letting me know he was stuck on a project and would be at the office until late. By the time he wrapped up and left NY, his train wouldn’t get in until 12:41 am! So much for my perfect Chanukah dinner!
I insisted he find something to eat and promised to do the same. At that point it was already 10:30 pm and we had both been considerately waiting to sit down together to share this meal. He grabbed a hot dog at the station and I finished off some leftover lo mein from the night before.
Finally, it was time to pick him up so there went on a pair of my warm knitted boots to greet him at the station. When we returned home, both exhausted after a very long day, he asked if we could still have latkes. After all, Chanukah continued even after midnight.
I flooded the pan with vegetable oil and fried up a plate for us to share. At 1:09 am, we stood together over the counter indulging in latkes drizzled with creme fraiche and topped with globs of fried onions.
And that’s when I realized, we had found the Chanukah spirit after all.
Ingredients for Donut Maker Chocolate Chip Donuts:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
9 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Nonstick cooking spray
Cocoa powder or powdered sugar for dusting, if desired
Jam for dipping, if desired
Plug in donut maker and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix together flour, sugar and baking powder and form a well in the center.
Whisk in egg, butter, milk and chocolate chips until well blended.
Transfer batter to a pitcher and fill each donut ring, saving half the mixture for another batch.
Close the cover and allow to bake for about 6 minutes, until golden brown.
Carefully remove donuts (I used tongs) and set on a cooling rack.
Repeat the process until you’ve made 10 mini donuts. Dust with cocoa powder or powdered sugar if desired. For more traditional sufganiyot, serve with jam.
Eat and enjoy on Chanukah and all year round!
Have a delicious weekend everybody!