Hanukkah officially ended yesterday. Eight days of blissful fried food eating and staring at the blurry burning candles as you sink into a food coma. I enjoyed it. I ate a heck of a lot of fried food. I'll admit I'm not a big fan of Hanukkah menus and the ways they try to create a table of exotic flavors, that frankly I have never once seen at a Hanukkah party. They seem phony. Maybe I need to know more Jews from Morocco. I didn't even think of trying to create one. As for what I did fry up this year -
I finally got around to trying a Potato Nik, in place of a million little potato latkes (pancakes) from the New York Times. It was easy and delicious. I'm going to make this more in the future, even if it's not Hanukkah. It's addictive the way a Spanish tortilla is. It's very similar to a Swiss Rösti. Yum. I had some flipping problems and it wasn't a beauty, but it still tasted good. I made some quick homemade apple sauce to serve with it. If you weren't aware that homemade applesauce is a million times better than the stuff in the jars, I'm posting the recipe below.
The other dish was more ambitious and was intended to be a post here. It started when I picked up a gorgeous orange-skinned kabocha squash (seriously I used it instead of flowers for a few days on the kitchen table) at the Farmer's Market. I intended to try a Japanese recipe for Pumpkin Croquettes, basically kabocha squash cooked and mashed and breaded in panko. It seemed festive thanks to the color and it was fried for the holiday, and it incorporated one of my favorite cuisines. Success, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Either Harry Hanukkah hates me this year, or I don't have any idea how one would take mashed kabocha and attempt to roll it into croquettes for breading. It was watery, which is strange cause I had read that kabocha squash was known to be just the opposite. It was a mushy mess in my hands as I added more, and more, flour hoping to get it to hold its shape. I considered photographing it for anyone reading this to get a good laugh, but my fingers were so covered with orange goo that picking up the camera to shoot this bowl of watery mash seemed even more ridiculous.
I tell you all this cause I had almost forgot about this kind of epic kitchen failure. It thankfully had been that long. But, in the end it was not salvageable, and neither was my enthusiasm for frying anything again. At least for a little bit. Please send me words of wisdom if you know what I did wrong. Looking ahead, the end of the festival of lights means I'm on to other holiday desserts and other festive foods that do not involve squash. If you celebrated Hanukkah, I hope you had a happy, healthy and kitchen mishap-free one.
Potato Nik Reprinted from NY Times. Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.
Applesauce Take 3-4 apples, tart are preferred, but sweet ones are fine too, the sauce will just be sweeter. Peel them, and core them and cut into big chunks. Place in a pot or a microwaveable bowl. Add sprinkling of sugar if they are sweet apples and up to a teaspoon or two if they're tart. Cook until they appear soft (or microwave for 5 minutes) and can be mashed to your desired consistency. At this point add a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg if you'd like, and cook another 2 minutes. Easy, peasy.