Dec 012010


If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry again.

Tonight Hanukah starts – are you ready? Get out the recipes and arm yourself with spatula and crumpled paper for draining those potato latkehs – or butternut squash latkehs – or apple fritters.

I’m still faithful to potato latkehs of course, or my family would give me what for. The house is fragrant with cinnamon and apples from the applesauce I cooked today for topping  those crisp brown ovals. The sour cream is sitting comfortably in the fridge. I’m set… but I want something a little different.

So I fried these homely little cottage cheese fritters. They’re easy to make and seriously delicious to eat – light, sweet little dough bubbles. The Little One gave her approval, saying “Yum!”  It looks like I have a hit.

Try any of the fritters and latkehs with a dried fig jam and creme fraiche (recipes below). I did, and it was good. Really good.

Cottage Cheese Fritters


1 cup cottage cheese, drained for 20 minutes

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup milk

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

oil for deep frying

powdered sugar


1. Mix the cottage cheese and eggs.

2. Stir the milk in; mix well.

3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon.  Mix gently, stopping when everything is incorporated.

4. Heat oil to shimmering. Fill a tablespoon half-way with batter, and push each blob of batter off the spoon with your finger. Don’t be tempted to make the fritters bigger; they won’t cook in the middle.

Some of the fritters may first sink to the bottom of the pot and may need to be gently encouraged to break free, but most will rise up and bob around, expanding like little balloons full of hot air.

Fry till golden brown on all sides, drain on kitchen paper, and roll in powdered sugar.

They’re best eaten hot.

Creme Fraiche

Creme fraiche is hard to find and expensive here, so when I need it, I make my own. It has to be made two days before, but Hanukah is eight days long… you’ll have time.

Mix 2 cups of heavy cream and 2 teaspoons of buttermilk in a glass jar. Put the lid on tightly and shake it for one minute.

Let the cream mixture sit out at room temperature for 24 hours. Then stir it and put it in the fridge for another 24 hours.  It’ll keep for a week.

Dried Fig Jam


3 cups dried figs, soaked in hot water for 1/2 hour

2 tablespoons butter or margerine

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1- 1/4 cup orange juice,  more if needed

1. Drain the figs, cut the stems away, and chop them coarsely.

2. Heat the butter or marge and the cinnamon stick. Add the figs, the orange juice, and the vanilla.

3. Cook uncovered  for 20 minutes on a medium flame, stirring occasionally. If the jam starts looking dry, add more orange juice, by tablespoons.

4. Serve warm or at room temperature with latkehs or fritters. Store leftovers in the fridge.


Nov 242010

fritters in boat closeup

Looking for a side dish to go with the Thanksgiving turkey? These little apple fritters provide a lightly sweet note to offset savory dishes. The recipe below includes butter, but use margarine to keep the fritters pareve.

They came about because I was thinking of a latkeh alternative for Hannukah.  Have a look at my 5 Hannukah recipes, including one for Moroccan sfrenj fritters. While I was thinking of fried foods, apple fritters occurred to me. Then, naturally apple fritters occurred in my kitchen.

For a meat meal, drizzle just a little dark honey over them before serving. For  a dairy  or vegetarian meal, serve them with cream and honey sauce (recipe below) – delicious. Alternatively, drizzle a little dark honey over cubes of firm white cheese and eat the fritters with that – also very good.

Apple Fritters in Beer Batter

Recipe adapted from Al-HaShulchan magazine, Sept. 2010

about 20 2-inch fritters

Ingredients for beer batter:

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup white beer
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

oil for frying

Ingredients for apples:

  • 3 peeled apples, chopped into large dice
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Ingredients for Cream and Honey Sauce:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons honey


1. Make the batter:

Whip the egg yolks with the beer till light. Add the salt, flour, and melted margarine or butter. Mix well and set aside, covered, for 30 minutes. (In hot weather, let the batter rest in the fridge.) Later, you’ll add the whites, so don’t throw them away.

2. Prepare the apples:

Mix the chopped apples, raisins, vanilla and honey in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Prepare the cream and honey sauce:

Mix all the ingredients well and put it away in the fridge till time to serve the fritters.

4. Assemble and fry:

Mix the whites with the tablespoon of sugar until stiff. Mix this gently into the yolk batter. Add the fruit and mix again, gently.

Fry the fritters in hot, shallow oil, turning them over to brown each side.

Drain, turning them over to allow the oil to drain from the lumpier side.

These fritters can be made ahead, frozen, and popped into a hot oven straight out of the freezer. Let them heat through for about 10 minutes.
apple fritters

Dec 112009

Happy Chanukah!

Fried potato pancakes. Doughnuts!

It’s a yearly treat. Has to be, because it takes all year to work off the calories. Is it worth the work and the smell in the house and the rising numbers on the bathroom scale?

Well, it is, if you value tradition. I love to see my family and friends  seated at the table on a Hannukah night, and how they smile as the first sizzling batch of  latkehs is set down. I know that my grandchildren will always remember Grandma’s latkehs as the best, the only latkehs in the world. I know that as years pass, more and more family memories will emerge, and the smell of grated, fried potatoes and onions will bring back the room and its furniture, the way the light fell on our faces, things we said, how old each one was.  I’ll always cherish memory a picture of a very little boy struggling out of his mom’s arms to stick his fingers in the applesauce, and his mom, my daughter, laughing and holding him back.

How will they remember me? I kind of hope they’ll remember me smiling and handing out those delicious fried foods, and that the taste memory will get all mixed up with the picture of our Hannukah party.

5  Hannuka Recipes:

 Posted by at 10:40 AM
Dec 102009


Sfenj are light-not-too-sweet fritters eaten all over the Middle East and North Africa. They appear at celebrations and at family parties, or as Grandmother’s treat to the small fry. At Chanukah time, they make a nice change from the sufganiyot (jelly donuts) on sale all over Israel at this time of year and have much less oil.

Sfenj are easy to make and require few ingredients, but the cook has to take into consideration that the dough needs a long rising time. 3 hours is none too many, and it may need 4. So schedule the rising time into your day and plan to heat the oil up for frying only about half an hour before you mean to serve. Alternately, you can let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, take it out in the morning and let it warm to room temperature.

The last time I ate Sfenj, it was the day after a Moroccan wedding. I had stayed overnight at the house of Fortuna, the bride’s aunt.   When I made my bleary-eyed way into the kitchen at about 7:00 a.m., sfenj were already turning golden in hot oil. Fortuna had been up at dawn to give her dough enough time to rise. She fished them out of the pan and gently dropped them, still warm, into granulated sugar. Golden-brown, dusted with sugar, and piled onto a decorative platter, they looked tempting and smelled divine. I could hardly take my eyes off them, and left the kitchen in a hurry so I shouldn’t get my hands on them too.

As tradition demands, the new couple came for breakfast at their parent’s house. Both sets of parents and and all the  siblings gathered to drink coffee and tea with mint, and to eat these crisp, light fritters. It was a time for the families to bond – a quiet time after all the noise and high emotion of the previous night. We passed the big platter around and sipped our hot drinks. Gradually we started feeling a favorable start to a new day, and a new life for the bride and groom.


This recipe makes a lot of sfenj, enough breakfast for 12 people. It may be halved.


1 cup warm water

1 oz. fresh yeast

2 lbs. sifted white flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups more warm water

Oil for frying the sfenj

Granulated sugar


  1. Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of water.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast/water mixture. Add 1 1/4 more cups of water.
  4. Mix the ingredients with a long-handled spoon. If it becomes difficult, add a little more water. The texture should be loose and sticky, more like a thick batter than a dough.
  5. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise 3 to 4 hours. It should be light and bubbly, having doubled in size.
  6. Start heating the oil in a deep frying pan. Use a medium flame and give the oil at least 5 minutes to heat up.
  7. Don’t beat the dough down. You want to keep as much of the bubbles in it as you can, to keep the fritter light.
  8. When you judge the oil to be hot, wet your hands.
  9. To make the sfenj fritters, pull out a piece of dough about the size of a large plum. Pull the center of the dough lump out to the sides, making a hole in it and forming a ring. Drop it into the hot oil
  10. Keep your hands wet to prevent the dough from sticking. Drop the fritters into the oil one by one, but don’t crowd them in the pan. When you see that the bottoms are brown, turn them over.
  11. When both sides are golden brown, remove the sfenj from the oil. Drain them on paper towels.
  12. Let the fritters cool down slightly, then lower each one onto a plate that’s covered with a thick layer of sugar. It’s enough to sugar only one side. Remove them from the sugar and pile them onto a clean platter.
  13. Serve right away.

Nov 262008

Yesterday I saw these apples at a discount. They were big and awkward looking, with peels that bore tiny nicks and sunspots, even a few bruises. I looked at them and thought: Chanukah is coming up. I’m going to be needing plenty of applesauce for latkehs. So I brought them home and went to work. It’s risky buying class B fruit, but these apples were firm and sweet inside.


Yield: 4 3/4 -5 cups


1.5 kg. apples. Tart green apples are best, but any variety will do.

1/4 cup sugar. Use brown for a deeper taste, white for a lighter color

1 stick of cinnamon

1 slice of lemon if apples are sweet rather than tart.


Peel the apples, if you are so minded. As I blend them when done, I just pare away anything unslightly and leave the most of the peel on for a chunky texture.

Dribble a tablespoon or two of water into the cooking pot. This is just to keep the apple slices from scorching initially.

Put the apples in, and put the sugar, cinnamon and optional lemon slice on top.

Start cooking over a medium flame. About 5 minutes later, you’ll hear a dry, scorching sound. Just stir a few times to help release juices.

Cook, turning the apples over ever so often, for 15 minutes. It will start looking soupy in there, but the apple pulp will re-absorb the juice eventually.

Taste for sweetness, and if it’s not sweet enough for your taste, add sugar by tablespoons. Remember, it will taste sweeter when it cools down. Cook a further 30 minutes.

Remove the optional lemon slice, and allow the applesauce to cool. Hunt for any stray apple or lemon seeds; remove the cinnamon stick.

Blend or mash the applesauce. If the apples weren’t peeled, it’s best to blend in the appliance of your choice.

Serve as a topping for latkehs, or yoghurt, or rice pudding, or next to cake, or just alone in a bowl, with a sprinkling of powdered cinnamon.

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