Latkes (photo courtesy of Michael Siegel)
The important Jewish holiday of Chanukah (Hanukkah), otherwise known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day festival that can be traced back to the second century B.C. Chanukah is celebrated with nightly lightings of a menorah, observing rich traditions like music and dancing, gift giving, spinning dreidels and enjoying delicious traditional fried foods like latkes and sufganiyot. Three celebrated Bay Area chefs recently spent time away from their incredibly busy holiday schedules to share some of their very best traditional recipes for Chanukah.
Chef Matthew Sieger
Bon Marché Brasserie & Bar
1355 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
Chef Matthew Sieger was born in Lakewood, California and grew up in a Jewish household where life centered on what was on the dining room table. His parents, both physicians, made traveling and food a priority from an early age. Sieger attended UCLA, earning a B.S. in neuroscience. But shortly after graduation, he took his first restaurant job at Four Oaks, a historic boutique French restaurant formerly in Bel Air. Chef Sieger’s extensive culinary experience also includes sous chef at the Michelin-starred The Village Pub, and more recently as chef de cuisine at Café des Amis.
- 5 large russet, golden, (or Chef Sieger’s favorite) Kennebec potatoes
- 1 large yellow onion
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- vegetable oil for frying
Peel potatoes. Shred on hand grater one at a time and squeeze out the extra liquid. Add eggs in batches as you shred potatoes to prevent oxidation. Shred onion and add all onion and onion liquid to mixture. Season with salt and pepper. In large skillet heat 1/2″ of oil to 350 degrees. Shape latkes in large spoons squeezing out excess liquid. Fry till golden brown about five minutes and turn over and cook till golden brown on other side. Cool on rack.
After frying, rest the latkes on a rack, not on a paper towel as that wicks away too much grease. Drying on a rack allows you to reheat them in either a pan or the oven without losing the coveted crispness. When chef Sieger enjoys latkes, he likes to use both applesauce and sour cream but not in the same bite.
- 1 lbs. chicken livers
- 1 small onion sliced
- 1/4 cup chicken fat
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Season chicken livers with salt and sauté in vegetable oil until caramelized and cooked to medium, remove from pan. Over high heat caramelize onions in butter until cooked through, cool with livers. Once the livers and onions are cool, chop with egg until fine. Warm chicken fat and mix in a bowl with the liver mix. Season with pepper and taste for seasoning. If dry, add more chicken fat and add salt if needed.
A sufganiyah is a round jelly doughnut eaten during Chanukah. The doughnut is deep-fried, filled with jelly or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar. Chef Sieger borrowed his wife and fellow Mercer Restaurant Group chef Rikki Garcia’s recipe.
- 1000 grams AP flour
- 20 grams yeast (dry)
- 25 grams salt
- 125 grams sugar
- 10 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 140 grams milk (warmed to 100 f)
- 530 grams butter – soft, cut into small cubes
- vegetable oil for frying
Place the yeast in the bottom of a kitchen aid bowl, whisk in warmed milk. Make sure to whisk until the yeast has dissolved. Whisk the salt and flour together, set aside. Whisk eggs and vanilla together, set aside. Add the dry ingredients to the yeast/milk mixture and begin to mix on low. In the bowl of a kitchen aid, with hook attachment, mix wet ingredients into the dried. Slowly add in the butter cubes one by one. Mix until smooth and all the butter is incorporated. Mix on speed 2. Rest in fridge overnight in a sprayed container. Be sure to spray the top of the dough too. Next day, roll out to ½ inch thickness, on a well-floured surface. Punch out squares, about 1 1/4″ diameter, and lay on WELL floured and lined cookie sheet. Spray tops with non-stick spray and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Store in fridge until ready to fry. Fry in vegetable oil at 350F. Sprinkle with sugar after frying. Can be served with favorite jam, jelly, chocolate sauce.
Chef Michael Siegel
126 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94104
Michael Siegel is the owner and chef of Shorty Goldstein’s, one of the finest and most popular Jewish delicatessens in San Francisco. Located in the Financial District across from Crocker Galleria, the restaurant is named after his 4’10” tall great grandmother Pauline, and features both contemporary and classic Jewish cuisine all made from scratch while using local and sustainable ingredients. A native of Tucson, but with New York and Philadelphia roots, chef Siegel has a bachelor’s degree in business whose previous culinary experience includes chef de cuisine at the Bib Gourmand-honored Betelnut and the Zagat-rated BIX restaurant.
Sufganiyot – (Jelly Donuts)
- 1 quart Pomegranate Juice
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 ounces pectin, mixed with 2 ounces of sugar
- 1 cup lemon juice
Bring the pomegranate juice, lemon juice and sugar, just to a boil on medium-high heat. Slowly whisk in the pectin mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low, whisking to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. The juice will start to thicken, cook approximately five minutes. Pour into an oven safe 9×13 casserole pan. Let the mixture stand until warm, and cover directly with plastic wrap. This will prevent a skin from forming. (Be careful! The mixture is hot!) Cool in the refrigerator. If canning the jelly, pour while hot, into sterilized ball jars and leave a ¼” head space. Seal the jars while the mixture is hot.
Yield: 24 donuts, use the 3rd largest cutter
- 4 ½ cups flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 ½ teaspoon yeast
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups warm milk (110 degrees)
- 2 ounces melted butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar for yeast mixture
- vegetable oil for frying
Warm the milk and butter together to 110 degrees, no higher. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer with the bread hook attachment. Mix on low to combine. Add the egg yolks and slowly pour in the milk mixture while the mixer is running on low. Raise the speed to medium and kneed for three minutes. Transfer the dough to a greased container. Let rise for 1 hour. Roll the dough on a floured surface, making sure not to roll too hard. The dough should be ¼” thick and still fluffy. Cut rounds and transfer to a paper lined sheet tray dusted with flour. The scraps can be made into donut holes with the smallest cutter or combined together and rerolled to make more donuts. Cover with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil to 275-300 degrees using a candy thermometer to verify the temperature. Use a metal spatula to gently place the donuts into the oil. Do not over crowd the donuts. Fry until golden brown, approximately two minutes per side. Use a spider strainer to flip the donuts while in the oil. Transfer to a paper towel lined sheet tray. Let the donuts cool. Cut a small slit in the side of the donuts and fill with jelly using a piping bag. Top with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
- 2 pounds (2-3) large russet potatoes
- 1 pound (1) large yellow onions
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup matzah meal
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- vegetable oil for pan frying
Peel the potatoes and onions. Shred the potatoes and onions in a food processor with the cheese shredder attachment, keeping each item separate. Soak the potatoes in cold water, rinse twice to remove the starch. Drain water well in a colander, squeeze out the excess water with your hands. Mix the potatoes and onions with the eggs, matzah meal, salt and pepper. Fry a tester in vegetable oil to check the seasoning.
To get extra crispy latkes: in a large saute pan, add two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Cook the latkes until lightly golden brown on medium heat (adding more oil if the pan is dry). Transfer to a baking sheet to cool. Just before serving, heat a large saute pan on medium high heat with two tablespoons of vegetable oil. Place the precooked latkes in the pan. Pan fry the latkes until golden brown and crispy. Serve immediately!
Traditional Condiments: Sour Cream and Latkes
Chef Tim Wetzel
One CordeValle Club Drive
San Martin, CA 95046
Tim Wetzel is the executive chef of Rosewood CordeValle, a luxury resort regarded as among the best in the world. Located in the South Bay community of San Martin, the nearly 1,700-acre property features three distinctive restaurants, an award-winning spa, one of America’s finest golf courses and the 85-acre Clos LaChance winery and vineyard. Prior to his return to Rosewood CordeValle, Wetzel was executive chef of Crow Canyon Country Club and executive sous chef of Rosewood CordeValle.
Potato Latkes With Smoked Brisket,
Cinnamon Braised Apple Sour Cream
- 5 medium peeled and shredded russet potatoes
- 2 medium peeled and shredded yellow onions
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup all purpose flour
Prepare all items as listed above. Place all ingredients into stainless steel bowl and stir until combined. Heat small amount of canola oil in frying pan and cook latkes in oil until golden brown, turn over and cook the other side until golden brown. Place on paper towel lined plate to drain. Keep warm.
- 1 brisket-deckle off
- 1 cup smoked meat rub
Generously rub the outside of brisket with the smoked meat rub. Allow to sit 24 hours before cooking to allow flavors to penetrate. Pre-heat smoker to 215 degrees, place seasoned brisket in the smoker and smoke at 215 degrees for 18-20 hours or until it is easy to separate by hand. Proceed to shred the brisket and chop into small size pieces that will fit on a latke.
Braised Apple Sour Cream
- 8 peeled and sliced granny smith apples
- 1 quart unsweetened Apple Juice
- 2 tablespoon grated cinnamon
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 cloves
- 1 cup sour cream
Place all ingredients minus the sour cream in a large non-reactive pot. Cook on medium heat until the apples are soft. Place ingredients of the pot in a blender and process until smooth. Pour pureed apple mixture back into pot and cook on medium heat until reduced by half, stirring frequently. Cool down to room temperature and mix with the sour cream. Adjust sugar and cinnamon if necessary.
Top the warmed pieces of latke with the brisket and top with a dollop of the apple sour cream. Enjoy!
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com