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Dining In: The history and foods of Chanukah

recipes Chanukah is a festival commemorating the restoration of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. According to tradition, a war raged in Palestine between the Greeks and the Jews between 168 and 165 B.C. The Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated the Greeks and made plans to return to Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.
   However, when they approached the Temple, they saw it was in ruins and had been desecrated by the Greeks. Maccabee and his followers began to clean the Temple. Before it could be used, the Ner Tamid (the light that burns forever) needed to be rekindled.
   After much searching, only enough oil for one day's burning was found. But a miracle happened, and the oil that was to burn for only one day lasted for eight days. A great celebration took place because of this miracle, the restoration of the temple, and the defeat of the Greeks.
   This is why Jews around the world today celebrate Chanukah for eight days. Chanukah means "dedication" and refers to the rededication of Temple. For each successive night of Chanukah, an additional candle is lit at sundown and special blessings are recited over the candles. Songs are sung and the dreidle game is played. The dreidle is a spinning toy that was originally used by the Jews during the Greek regime as a decoy to passing Greek soldiers so they wouldn't see the Jews studying the Torah, an activity that was banned.
   The Chanukah recipes here are from The Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan.

Potato Latkes
   10 medium potatoes
   2 medium onions
   2 large or 3 medium eggs
   1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, bread crumbs, or matzoh meal
   Salt and white pepper to taste
   Vegetable oil

   Peel the potatoes if the skin is coarse; otherwise, just clean them well. Keep them in cold water until ready to prepare the latkes.
   Starting with the onions, alternately grate some of the onions on the large holes of the grater and some of the potatoes on the smaller holes. This will keep the potato mixture from blackening. Press out as much liquid as possible and reserve the starchy sediment at the bottom of the bowl. Return the sediment to the mixture.
   Blend the potato mixture with eggs, flour, salt, and white pepper. Heat 1 inch of oil in a frying pan. Drop about 1 tablespoon of mixture for each latke into the skillet and fry, turning once. When golden and crisp on each side, drain on paper towels. Serve with yogurt, sour cream, sugar or applesauce.
   You can freeze potato latkes. After making them, place them on a cookie sheet, freeze, and remove to a plastic bag. When ready to serve, place in a 450 F. oven for several minutes. Make them early in the day, drain, leave them out on a cookie sheet, and reheat before serving. Refrigeration is not recommended, as they may turn out soggy.

   2 Tbsp. or packages dry yeast
   4 Tbsp. sugar and sugar for rolling
   1/4 c. lukewarm milk
   2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
   2 egg yolks
   Pinch of salt
   1 tsp. cinnamon
   1 1/2 Tbsp. softened butter, at room temperature
   Vegetable oil for deep frying
   Plum, strawberry, or apricot preserves

   Dissolve the yeast and 2 tablespoons sugar in the milk. Let sit for 10 minutes.
   Sift the flour. Place it on a board and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, the egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, and the remaining sugar. Knead well. Work the butter and knead until dough is elastic. Cover and let rise overnight in the refrigerator.
   Sprinkle flour on the board. Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch. Cut out with a glass into rounds about 2 inches in diameter. Cover and let rise 15 minutes more. With your hand, form into a ball. Insert a teaspoon of jam; enclose completely.
   Pour 2 inches of oil into a heavy pot and heat to 375 F. Drop the doughnuts in the oil, 4-5 at a time, turning when brown. Drain on paper towels. Roll in granulated sugar and serve.
   You can make larger sufganiyot if you like. Whatever you decide, eat them immediately!