It’s Thanksgiving and Hanukkah! Why didn’t these two holidays get married sooner? Seriously, their signature foods blend together so well. At our house a traditional Thanksgiving meal includes mashed sweet potatoes with a touch of brown sugar, and white potatoes mashed with milk, salt, and pepper. We leave the skins on both.
Tonight we’re having latkes too. They enhance the potato party, and Thanksgiving dinner in general. There’s a lot of debate about how to make them. If you don’t dry the shredded potato before frying, the extra moisture interferes and causes the latkes to turn out soggy. On the other hand, some people feel drying the excess potato moisture removes precious starch, and therefore flavor. Don’t even get me started on matzoh meal versus no matzoh meal. I will choose the matzoh meal every time.
At our table tonight, we served my favorite latkes of all. The frozen kind. I know, this is surprising, but Golden makes the best latkes, frozen or otherwise. The outside is crisp, and though you can taste the oil, I bake them, so they’re healthier and not too greasy. Ratner’s, another Kosher brand, also makes good latkes if you can’t find the Golden.
The first bite of latke is not a seasonal treat like the first bite of stuffing and cranberry sauce, since I eat potato latkes all year round. They make a nice side dish if you’ve overdosed on pasta, rice or quinoa. Luci loves them too, though that might be because she can eat them with her hands.
This picture features a box of latkes and a box of blintzes, sweet crepes filled with potatoes or cheese. Next week I will post a recipe for blintz souffle, another perfect food for Hanukkah dinner.
We made it to Baltimore. At two o’clock in the morning. Luci woke up late today and asked to go to Bubby’s store for lunch. As we were eating our brisket, who walks in but Nancy Patz, one of our favorite chilldren’s book authors and illustrators. I grew up reading about Benjamin and El in Pumpernickle Pickle and Mean Green Cheese, and Luci likes to read Gina Farina and the Prince of Mintz pretty much nightly.
Nancy was at Edmart to pick up her granddaughter’s birthday dinner, and while she waited for Mr. Sheldon to pack her bags, we got to talking. Her latest project is a series of illustrated artifcats about the Holocaust, which will be on display at Goucher College this spring.
Like me, Nancy has a deep love for words and food. Below, she describes how they always seem to intertwine in her work.
Nancy Patz talks food and books.
I don’t know about you, but before I go on a trip I always get a little anxious, so it was a relief to be packed for Baltimore and in bed last night before midnight.
That is, until three o’clock in the morning when I woke with a start and realized I’d forgotten to clean out the refirgerator.
“The chicken,” I hissed to John, asleep next to me. “The chicken.”
I shoved my slippers on and padded into the kitchen, where I opened the fridge, and pulled out three leftover chicken breasts wrapped in Saran. It’s one thing if I leave something here in New York when I travel. It’s taken a long time, but I’ve finally acknowleged that pretty much anything I forget to pack I can find in Baltimore. Leaving perfectly good leftovers in the fridge while we’re away for a week, on the other hand? This is exactly the kind of thing that wakes me from a sound sleep in a total fit of anxiety, which is why I found myself standing at the counter in the middle of the night making sandwiches for our trip.
My panic is not unfounded; Have you ever tried to make a meal from the restaurants dotting the New Jersey Turnpike? The odor from the fast food attacks upon entering the rest stop, embedding itself into my clothes so I have to smell it all the way to Maryland. They do sell yogurt and fruit at most of the rest stops, but I’m picky about both, and rarely is the fruit fresh, nor is Dannon my favorite brand. (Has anyone else noticed it used to be creamy about twenty years back, but in recent years seems to be made with gelatin. Or is it just me?) Yogurt aside, the options along the turnpike mean that when I pack for our trip, I also have to pack a meal for the car.
This time I used leftover rosemary chicken and whole wheat bread, with just a dollop of mayo. (I know this sems hypocritical given the previous post. Mayo is good on sandwiches, just not when it interferes with stuffing.) I made the chicken last Sunday. See how it looks crisp, almost like it’s breaded? All I did was brush some olive oil on the meat, mince two tablespoons of rosemary with a pinch of thyme and some kosher salt, then sprinkle it on top. The seasoning mix adds the same texture, but uses no breadcrumbs. It’s become a favorite, and sliced rosemary chicken tossed with butter lettuce, carrots and thinly sliced raddish, with just a touch of olive oil and vinegar, makes a good salad too.
Whole Foods makes an amazing sandwich this time of year called The Gobbler, featuring sliced roasted turkey, stuffing, and havarti cheese, piled onto a cranberry walnut baguette. The sandwich is topped off with mayo.
Yes, mayo. That’s the part I don’t get. Why would you want to ruin an amazing set of seasonal flavors that naturally blend so well together, with mayo? We’re not talking small amounts here either. The mayo is smeared heavily on both sides of the baguette, and it detracts from the flavor of my beloved stuffing, overpowering the herbs all togther. I would show you a picture, but I finished my sandwich before I had a chance to take one.
I make my own version of The Gobbler with Thanksgiving leftovers. You can turn your extra stuffing into wonderful bookends for a sandwich, which I toast dry and slather with cranberry sauce, but keep completely free of mayo. Of course, you can add mayo if that’s your thing. I’ll be posting the recipe after the holiday.