We are celebrating day 3 of our effort to meet a cookbook author for each day of Chanukah with Orly Ziv of Israel. Orly offers a wonderful insight into Israel through her culinary tours and through her writing. And I really appreciate that she has agreed to join the 8 for 8 project: Eight cookbook authors for the 8 days of Chanukah! Orly is a pioneer in Israeli culinary tourism, which is all the rage these days. She is a trained dietitian who has been using her passion for the produce and dishes of Israel and the Mediterranean to introduce tourists to Israel. Via shopping trips to the local markets and cooking classes in her kitchen, Orly has helped many to fall in love with Israel and her food. After many of her visitors had said repeatedly “you ought to write a book”, she did and Cook in Israel was born.
What stands out for you about celebrating Chanukah as you grew up? What about when raising a family? Any special food memories?
Lighting the candles everyday was and still is our tradition every year. I have warm memories from the Levivot (latkes) my mother used to make which I also make for my children. Recipes for my different types of Levivot are included in my cookbook. The traditional ones I make with potatoes but I also like to diversify by using grated carrots as an option to enrich the nutritional value .
How has your Chanukah changed since you became a chef and author?
Practically speaking, not really. Although every year I try new recipes but at the end of the day my family ask for my originals 🙂
What do you do during Chanukah to create a memorable holiday atmosphere for your family?
We make time to get together every evening to light the candles and of course, to eat.
Are you eating different foods for Chanukah now than you did in the past? What are they?
I like to make the zucchini latkes recipe from my cookbook and serve them with yogurt.
What are the top questions people ask you about cooking for Chanukah? For other holidays?
My guests are often not Jewish and we talk about the significance of eating fried food as a symbol of the oil tin miracle of Chanukah. I am careful to explain that the Jewish holidays always involve special foods to symbolize the specific holiday. Non-Jewish people find it very interesting and different from their own culture.
What is one dish you must eat during Chanukah no matter what?
Finally: On the Latkes or sufganiot debate, your vote?
What recipes can you share with us for this Chanukah?
I want to share some of my favorites. Of course, Levivot (latkes). As people outside of Israel are increasingly aware, donuts (soufganiyot) are also a big part of Chanukah in Israel, so I am going to share a recipe for those as well. And something less traditional, Zucchini Pancakes. Enjoy and Chag Urim Sameach (Happy Festival of Lights)!
Often called latkes, these Eastern European Jewish potato pancakes are delicious no matter the name. Fried foods are served on Hanukkah since the oil represents the miracle of one night’s worth of oil lasting for eight days during the rededication of the Second Temple.
4-5 potatoes, peeled
2 Tbs. flour or potato flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. salt (less if you want to eat them with sugar)
Ground pepper (omit if you want to eat them with sugar)
Oil, for frying
- Grate the potatoes using the coarse side of a box grater. Put in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Put the shredded potato in a bowl and mix with the flour, eggs, salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan (it should fully coat the bottom of the pan).
- Add batter by the tablespoonful and fry on both sides until evenly browned and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack while you finish cooking the remaining pancakes.
- Serve immediately with sour cream or sugar.
Add 1 grated onion, 2 grated carrots, or 1 grated sweet potato to the mixture before frying.
TIP: Keeping the hot pancakes on a wire rack instead of paper towels keeps them nice and crispy.
Probably the most famous Israeli Hanukkah food, soufganiyot are fried donuts. While they are commonly filled with jelly or other fillings, this recipe makes easy drop donuts. The cheese in the dough gives them a particularly wonderful texture.
1¼ cup self-rising flour
250 g (1 cup) soft white cheese (like ricotta)
2 Tbs. canola oil
¼ cup sugar
Zest of ½ lemon (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Oil, for frying
Strawberry jam (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cheese, eggs, canola oil, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
- Pour oil into a small, deep pot so it comes up about 7 cm.
- Using a spoon, make small balls with the dough. Working in batches, drop them into the hot oil and fry until golden. Transfer to a wire rack or a paper-towel lined plate.
- Top with powdered sugar and serve with strawberry jam, if you like.
These zucchini pancakes are another variation on Hanukkah latkes. They taste wonderfully fresh, especially if you serve them with minted yogurt.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup flour
Salt & pepper
½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup finely chopped fresh mint
Canola oil, for frying
- Grate the zucchini using the coarse side of a box grater. Put in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
- Put the eggs, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine.
- Mix in the zucchini, parsley and mint.
- Heat the canola oil in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan (it should fully coat the bottom of the pan).
- Form the zucchini mixture into patties and carefully put in the hot oil. Fry on both sides until evenly browned and crispy.
- Serve with sour cream or yogurt mixed with chopped fresh mint.
TIP: Put a piece of carrot in the pan while frying to prevent the oil from burning.
Serves 4 to 6