Notes from Nina

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Notes from Nina
Dr. Nina Gilbert, Music Director

These are traditional for Chanukkah, because you’re celebrating the abundance of oil, and also for Passover, because they are flourless.
Ingredients for 4-6 servings (depending on the size and hunger of who’s eating):
3 russet potatoes
1 egg (more if the potatoes are large)
About 3 tablespoons of finely chopped onion (any kind of onion)
About 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Large quantity of olive oil for frying
Equipment (beyond basic chopping, mixing, and pancake-flipping implements):
Grater with coarse and fine holes
Two bowls, both pretty large
Paper towels for draining oil from finished latkes
 Large skillet
Do not peel the potatoes. Grate them into the strainer over a bowl, so you can catch the water that’s released. Grate some fine and some coarse, about half and half. (This grating plan gives you latkes that are crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside.)
Use your hands to squeeze the grated potatoes over the strainer. Let the water sit in the bowl so the starch settles out.
While you wait for the starch, you can chop the onions and parsley, and whisk the onions and parsley with the egg in a large bowl. (Not the bowl with the potato water! This is a two-bowl recipe.) Fork is better than actual whisk for this.
Squeeze the potatoes again and wait for any last starch to settle. Dump the potatoes from the strainer into the egg mix.
Carefully pour off the water from the bowl that was under the strainer, discarding the water and retaining the starch that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl. This is your science-project moment—look at that clay-like starch! Then scrape the starch into the potato mixture. Stir everything together. Hands are good for this.
Heat about ⅓ of an inch of oil in the skillet. Test its temperature by dropping a dot of batter into the oil. If it sizzles, it’s ready to fry. If it doesn’t, you can watch until it starts to sizzle (that is, you don’t need to remove it).
Use your hand to form/squeeze/flatten small patties of batter and drop them gently into the oil. (Continue to flatten with spatula.) Fry until bottom is golden (you can see the edge cooking), then flip and fry other side until golden. Drain on thick paper towel.
Serve with sour cream and applesauce.
These can be successfully made ahead. You can under-cook them and refrigerate for a day or two (or freeze for longer); reheat at 375° for 8-10 minutes and then hold at 200°.


The secret ingredient in my applesauce recipe is...more apples! That is, I simmer the apples in cider or unfiltered apple juice.

Only two ingredients, any quantity: apples and apple juice or cider. Any kind of apples—I used Gala, Fuji, and Envy, but I’ve used others too. Do get apple juice or cider with some character if possible, not the clear yellow basic stuff.

One special piece of equipment: a stick blender, sometimes called an immersion blender.

Directions: Do not peel the apples. Dice the apples, cutting around the core. (That is, discard the core.) As you dice each apple, add it to a large saucepan and splash in some juice/cider to protect the cut surfaces of the apples. You don’t need a lot of juice—you’re not covering the apples, just creating a base for simmering. If your apples are, say, five or six inches deep, you could have three inches of apple juice. Once you’re done chopping, put the saucepan on medium-low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally and rotating apples up from the bottom so all the apples get to cook in the juice, until the apples break down. You can simmer longer—the juice will concentrate and intensify the flavor. (This is also your chance to steam off any extra apple juice if you added too much.) When you decide you’re done cooking, use your stick blender to purée your applesauce to whatever level of smoothness or lumpiness you like.

Special thanks to Rev. John Benbow, Nina Gilbert, Sigrid Nicholas and the Nicholas family and the Diaconate for such a warm and wonderful Casual Sunday service and breakfast.
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