Hanukkah Treats and Treasures

Featured Article,Hanukkah,Holidays,Recipes
November 30, 2011

From a sumptuous cake made with olive oil to a gingery kugel, we've captured the spirit of Hanukkah in six perfect recipes.


As a kid, I never understood why latkes were traditional on Hanukkah.

Hanukkah honors Judah and his Maccabees who, back in 165 BC, revolted against the ruling Greeks, who had all but outlawed Judaism. The Maccabees won and took back their temple. To rededicate it, they needed to burn oil for eight days, but they had just one day’s worth. In the miracle of Hanukkah, it lasted eight. 

In no part of the story did the Maccabees eat potato pancakes. I must have been a teenager when I found out that the oil the latkes were fried in was symbolic of the oil that lasted eight days.

So, if anything with oil is fair game, why go with latkes? If I’m thinking oil and potatoes, I’m voting for French fries. Or ditch the potatoes altogether—they were unknown in the Middle East until after Columbus.

I think we need a new Hanukkah food, and I don’t see any reason to leave the region where the miracle happened, since it’s the region that gives us good things like oranges and figs, as well as the source of the best oil on the planet—olives. And it’s a small kind of miracle that, together, they make a wonderful cake. Here's the recipe, plus five more to make your Festival of Lights extras special this year.
—By Tamar Haspel

Honey Cake

Olive-Oil Orange Cake with Poached Figs

A perfect ending for your Hanukkah meal.


Brisket of Beef

Whether you smoke, baste, braise, sauce, boil or roast a brisket, low and slow cooking times are key for a tender and flavorful piece of meat.


Potato Latkes

Golden fried potato cakes—a simple thing to celebrate.


Chile and Cheese Fritters

Dip them in salsa, serve them with Mexican -- but make a lot, because they go fast.


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