Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Favorite Holiday Recipes

It's that time of year when we are all cleaning and cooking and baking and preparing our holiday meals for friends and family.

I host Hanukkah each year and every other year New Year's. This year is my year for New Year's too, so, I am not out of the woods yet. Since we are all pretty much in the same boat, I thought we could do a Holiday Recipe Game of Open Tag.

Here are my rules:
  1. Please no tagging! Everyone is very busy now, so this is purely optional.
  2. If you WANT to play, leave a comment here on my blog that you intend on joining in and then just post a recipe on your blog by December 31st.
  3. Once you've posted your recipe and the rules for the readers of your blog, then send some linky love, but only to other bloggers who have already posted their favorite recipe. (remember, because it is such a busy time for everyone, no tagging, please. OK?)

Latkes (AKA Potato Pancakes)

Latkes are a traditional food to eat on Hanukkah. Why??? Because they are so darn oily (and yummy) and they remind us of the oil that burned for eight nights. But you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this tasty treat.


  • six medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 medium or large onion
  • 1/2 cup matzo meal (if you can't find matzo meal, you can substitute with flour, but it won't have that je ne sais quoi)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • vegetable oil
  • cheese cloth
  • brown paper bags, ripped open so they can lay flat


  • First, fill a large bowl with cold water.
  • Peel the potatoes and place in bowl of water immediately after peeled. (Potatoes will turn a reddish brown when exposed to the air. Keeping them submerged in cold water, will keep them white.
  • Grate each potato (there is debate about grating by hand or using a food processor. I say if your food processor has a grating setting, use it!)
  • Oh, you'll need another bowl for the grated potatoes. No water this time.
  • Grate or finely chop your onions. (Try this... chop while running the water in your tap, or burn a candle to reduce the tears that onion fumes can bring...)
  • Next, cut your cheese cloth into large sections.
  • Have another large bowl at your ready or re-use the one that once had the cold water in it...
  • Put a handful of the grated potato into the center of one of your cheese cloth pieces. Make sure it is well wrapped and then squeeze all the water from the grated potato. Potatoes naturally contain a large amount of water. This water will get in the way of your mixture, making it too wet when it fries. Squeezing out the natural water with the cheese cloth is the secret to perfect latkes. If you do not have cheese cloth, you can just squeeze it out in your hands. But cheese cloth works best.
  • Once you've squeezed out all the excess water, out the grated potatoes into a bowl, (you use a lot of bowls when making latkes. Sorry...)
  • Add all the other ingredients and mix well. You can use a spoon, or your hands.
  • You want the potato mixture to be able to stick together, like meatballs. So, if it is still too wet, you can add a dash more matzo meal or flour. But you don't want it to be too dry either. So, be careful.
  • In a large, flat pan, heat up the vegetable oil. You want to fry, so you will need a lot of oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, take about about a palmful of potato mixture and place it in the hot oil. Use a spatula to flatten it out.
  • Once the latke is a deep brown on one side, flip it until it is the same deep brown on the other side.
  • Latkes are greasy. One tried and true way to rid some of that unwanted oil, is to take the fried latkes and place them on brown paper. Paper towels work well too, but not as well.

Latkes are eaten with apple sauce or sour cream (think baked potato and sour cream...) This is a another long-lived debate... Is it better with apple sauce or sour cream? I prefer sour cream... but my kids prefer apple sauce. My DH is an equal opportunist, eating some with apple sauce, and some with sour cream. Both are delicious.

Latkes are best eaten right away! But if you have to make them ahead of time then keep them in a warm oven until ready to eat, but they often loose their crispiness when sitting in an oven. Also, if you want to make them well in advance... you can flash freeze them. Let them cool a bit and then lay them on cookie sheets lined with brown paper and cover with tin foil and then freeze them right away. When ready to use, broil them until hot and crispy. The heat will release all the oil, so no need to add more.


Oh, just one more tip... make mini versions of these and serve as an appetizer with a tiny dollop of apple sauce or sour cream. These are perfect when made and frozen ahead of time and then just broiled to heat up. Your guests will love the pop of flavor each little mini morsel will provide!

Teriyak Salmon

This is perfect for any holiday meal or a regular family meal. I am making it
for New Year's this year. Don't like salmon? That's OK. This marinade is terrific on any meat - steak, chicken, pork, shrimp... You name it. Just substitute with your favorite meat and enjoy!


  • a half a pound of salmon per adult, less for children (unless they're my children! They love salmon!)
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 2 tsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (optional)


  • If possible, marinade over night. Make sure you coat the top and bottom of the salmon.
  • Cover and put in the fridge over night, or at least for a few hours.
  • In a preheated oven, bake at 350* until center of salmon is no longer translucent. Depending upon the thickness, that's usually about 30 - 40 minutes.
  • I baste about every 15 minutes and then when I think it's done, I cut into the center with a butter knife to separate the meat to check that the color has become opaque.
  • Another way to tell when salmon is done, is if it's flaky to a fork or knife. It should pull apart easily.

This meal is great with rice and fresh veggies. I also love to make a green salad with apples or pears and some kind of nuts... walnuts, almonds, pecans... those flavors compliment the teriyaki perfectly.

So, what about it? Have any great recipes you'd like to share? Anyone have excellent dessert recipes?

Have a happy holiday everyone! Stay warm. Stay dry. Love and be loved!

See you in 2009!


The Anti-Wife said...

Merry Christmas!

Sarah Hina said...

Have a great holiday season, Sheri!! I hope you and your family enjoy this wonderful time together. :)

(Sorry...I'm such a rotten cook. But your recipes look great!)

Sheri said...

Happy holidays to the both of you too, Anti and Sarah!

cindy said...

mmm. yummy! i had some latkes at a cafe called the russian tea room in london. =D

Sheri said...

Well then Cindy, you sampled probably the best latkes in the world! (second to mine of course!)

Barrie said...

Hi Sheri! Those are great recipes. Hope your holidays and hostessing went well. Happy New Year!

Sheri said...

Hey Barrie! Thanks and hope you had a great holiday too. Mine was so relaxing, I am sad to see it's over. Back to the old grind!

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous