Party Platters In 20 Minutes Or Less


December 19th 2014

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Last year I judged a food competition at the Nachum Segal Network. We had a blast and it was a fun, food-oriented competition among the talented staff at the network. The competition was close. The winner of the Chopped-style competition beat his competitors simply because of ONE unique item he produced: he made the most incredible pickled shallots. It was that one component on his plate that put him in the lead. This reflects a secret of many chefs and party planners. You don’t need to spend lengthy amounts of time making every component. Use fresh, store-bought ingredients and focus your energy on that ONE amazing component and you will have immediate success and awesome feedback from your guests.

For instance, take seasonal and stunning fruit and concentrate your effort on a two-minute Greek-yogurt dipping sauce and your platter is done.

Similarly, our Mexican-inspired platter places emphasis on a jalapeno cheese sauce.

For the Thai platter I focused on the meat!!

And for the deli-inspired party I focused on really succulent five-minute sausages in-blanks.

For the most successful cheese platter I have ever served, I focused on creating complementary dishes such as apple endive cups and homemade cranberry jam.

For the Thai Inspired Platter, try our Beef Larb, Crunchy Wonton Skins and Sweet and Sour Sauce. The rest of the recipes can be found in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine Chanukah 2013.

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Chanukah 2013

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A Healthy Paleo Chanukah Menu


December 19th 2014

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There are lots of things I love about Chanuakah. I love spending time with family, watching the candles burn as we sing Chanukkah songs. I love watching how excited my kids get about playing dreidel. And of course, I love the food. 8 days of decadent fried treats, from the traditional latkes and sufganiot to the less traditional deep fried cookie dough and cheese bunuelos, I love it all. But if I am being totally honest, I don’t love the way I feel after indulging in so much fried heavy foods. I usually try to offset some of the grease by serving a big kale salad alongside all the fried dishes but even with that nod to something green the heaviness of the traditional Chanukkah treats is a bit much.

That’s why this year I decided to come up with a Chanukkah menu that celebrates the miracle of the oil in a healthier, less deep fried, way. Don’t worry, it is still totally delicious, but it has the advantage of not leaving you feeling weighed down and unable to move by the end of the holiday. In fact, this menu is paleo, gluten-free, and dairy-free, but it tastes so good no one would ever suspect it is so healthy.

Since it wouldn’t be Chanukkah without latkes I start off the meal with Beet Latkes topped with Horseradish and Smoked Fish. They are crispy and just a bit sweet with a nice kick of spicy from the horseradish and smokiness from the fish. I discovered that using the sprializer to cut the beets yields the crispiest latkes, but if you don’t have a spiralizer, grated beets will work too.

The main dish, Olive Oil Poached Salmon, features olive oil in a bit of an unusual way. Salmon is poached, not in water, but in olive oil, which creates a wonderful silky texture in the cooked fish. The salmon comes out super moist and deliciously flavorful, truly a treat. Once the salmon is cooked the leftover oil is great as the base for a homemade Ceasar dressing. Serve the salmon along side any simply cooked vegetables or a large salad to complete the meal.

No meal would be complete without dessert, so I decided to finish off my menu with some Olive Oil Mandarin Chocolate Truffles. Olive oil might seem like a strange addition to a dessert, but the fruitiness of a good olive oil goes wonderfully with chocolate. It is not an assertive flavor, the mandarin flavor stands out more, but the olive oil rounds out the flavor so that the last lingering flavor from the truffles is a bit more interesting and enticing than your typical truffle. It also gives it a lush and creamy texture that just melts in your mouth.

With this healthy Chanukkah menu you can celebrate all that is wonderful about the miracle of the oil without that heavy feeling. That is something else to love this Chanukkah season.


/RECIPE/ Cinnamon Sugar Churros


December 18th 2014

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This AMAZING recipe can be found right over here.


Being Hanukkah and all I have a rapid fire style review for this recipe.


-Great recipe!

- I was originally fearful that they would not be sweet enough. Since there was no sugar in the actual dough. But once they were tossed in the cinnamon sugar mix they were perfect!

-The actual recipe itself needed to include the 1 C. of water in the ingredients list. When I got down to the directions I was trying to find where this “1 C. of water” came from. :)

-This recipe worked up so fast! No yeast, no baking soda/powder. It was great!

-They were gobbled up and loved by every one!!!! I’m thinking a few more batches will need to be made.

This is a fantastic treat to make for Hanukkah. Go ahead and try the churros this year. Who knows, they might even become a new family tradition.


Easy Fried Sweets For Chanukah


December 18th 2014

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Ah, Hanukkah! It’s all about the fried, right?

Well, of course it’s about much more meaningful events, but when it comes to the food part, it’s all about the fried, to commemorate the oil found by the victorious Maccabees when they went to rededicate the Temple.

Fried is one of our family’s favorite foods. Chicken, latkes, onion rings, you name it, we like it fried. Messy, labor-intensive, not-your-healthiest, makes-your-kitchen-smell-awful fried.

Of course we don’t have it very often, but on Hanukkah fried food is a must, and it makes our already joyous and festive freedom celebration that much more indulgent and enjoyable.

I make latkes, naturally. It wouldn’t be Hanukkah without those.

I make doughnuts too, but not the big ones. We prefer small doughnut “holes,” made with choux pastry, the kind you use to make cream puffs, gougeres and profiteroles, only instead of baking the dough as I do for those pastries, I fry it in small blobs. These Lemony Choux Doughnuts   go down easy, take minutes to make and don’t require waiting for yeast dough to rise or rolling out dough or anything involved like that.

We like plain doughnut holes. I add a hint of refreshing lemon peel to the dough and a coating of cinnamon-sugar or confectioners sugar on the crust. But you can add raisins, cranberries, chopped nuts and such to the dough if you wish.

This year I am adding another fried dessert to our menu – my mother’s Kichels. I haven’t made them in years. It’s time. They’ll give us yet another reason to remember Nana and her special ways and her special treats. And her recipe is very easy.

The big trick for fabulous Kichels is rolling the dough as thin as possible. It takes some time and patience, but the result — crispy, puffy, delightfully light cookies with just a sprinkle of sifted confectioners sugar – is so worth it.

Here’s a hint for all Hanukkah fry-chefs: make a homemade pot of potpourri and keep it going on the lowest flame. I crack 2-3 cinnamon sticks, add the peel of one orange, some whole cloves, allspice berries and cardamom pods, cover them with water, heat it up and keep it at a simmer for hours. That’s all there is to it. It not only gets rid of the fried smell, it adds a lovely, fragrant winter holiday fragrance to your house. You can keep adding water; potpourri will last for about a week.


Cooking With Joy: Salt and Pepper Chicken


December 18th 2014

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You may recognize this picture; it is after all on the cover of the cookbook! Aside from it looking pretty, I think it also says a lot about the recipes in the book. Jamie is giving delicious recipes for families to be able to prepare quickly (for the most part). This recipe is the epitome of that. The prep took minutes and the results were beyond words delicious!

Crispy Salt and Pepper Chicken with Caramelized Fennel and Shallots page 179
DRESS IT DOWN Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings 

After cleaning the chicken, I put it in a bag with flour, shook it around a little and placed the pieces of chicken and vegetables in a baking dish. I’m not gonna lie, Hubs and I were a little worried that this dish was not going to taste very good. How good could it possibly be with just flour, salt and pepper?

Since I skipped browning the chicken in the pan, after it was done cooking I broiled it for 5 minutes just to give it some color on top. The chicken came out AMAZING!!!!!!!! The caramelized fennel, shallot and garlic were divine! Our 6 year old finished his pulky and then helped himself to more chicken off of Hubs plate. He said “Mommy please make this again and again!” Score!!!! There is nothing that makes me happier then knowing that the food I cooked is enjoyed by my family. My personal favorite thing was the caramelized fennel covered in the juice from the chicken. Did I mention how juicy the chicken was? The chicken was moist beyond belief. I guess the trick is to coat it in flour to seal in the moisture. I will definitely be making this dish again!!


Classic Sufganiyot (Doughnut) Recipes to Make at...


December 17th 2014

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Baked or fried and glazed or filled, doughnuts are a Chanukah tradition and a favorite of probably everybody!  It’s easy to pick up doughnuts from your local kosher market, or at Winn-Dixie if you’re lucky enough to live by one! Or you can try your hand at frying or baking your own at home, leaving you with the freedom to adjust them to your taste.


Chanukah Donuts

You can’t go wrong with Sufganiyot, especially the classic jelly doughnut.  You can mix things up by filling the doughnuts with different jams that you find at your local supermarket and Winn Dixie, or make Whole Wheat Sufganiyot.  You can also try baking your doughnuts, I can’t admit to having tried this, but save some calories with Baked Jelly Doughnuts and Baked Mini Doughnuts.


Peanut Chew Doughnut

If you’re looking for even more of a treat, try Baked Molasses Doughnuts with Peanut Chews Filling or Pumpkin Doughnuts with Cinnamon Maple Glaze.  Both take the treat factor to the next level, but can be made without a trip to the gourmet shop.




For a fancy presentation, any of these doughnuts are a choice pick.  The Pistachio Apple Cake Doughnuts with a Cherry Jus, Zeppoles and Beignets make for elegant small bites for dessert, while the Cinnamon Sugar Churros and Sugar Sugar Doughnuts are a fun and refined treat for adults and kids alike.


Check out more doughnut recipes here!

This article is sponsored by Winn-Dixie, all opinions are my own.


Decorating Donuts


December 17th 2014

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No time to make homemade doughnuts but want to make a home run party??

Luckily, there are lots of ways to dress up store bought doughnuts.

Sushi Doughnuts - click for full instructions.
Try serving on a wooden sushi plate or in take-out sushi containers for extra Chanukah cheer!

Stenciled Doughnuts
Easily turn a run-of-the-mill, store-bought doughnut into a work of art!
All you need are glazed doughnuts, designed/lettered or Chanukah-themed stencils and colored powdered sugar*.
Place stencil flatly on doughnut and ever so gently sift colored powder over design.

Doughnut Hole Kebobs
The often overlooked doughnut hole receives an overdue upgrade with doughnut kebobs!
Simply add 5 doughnut holes to a skewer and gently sift colored powdered sugar* over doughnuts.
Traditionalists are welcome to substitute with cinnamon or cocoa powder.

Serve along with chocolate syrup, dulche de leche or fruit jam for dipping!

Ice Cream Sandwich Doughnut
Slice a doughnut in half and add a scoop of Klein’s ice cream for an original, memorable Chanukah treat. Klein’s ice cream is available in pareve and dairy in a variety of flavors. We used Klein’s vanilla frozen yogurt; the tanginess of the yogurt ice cream complemented the yeasty doughnut and rich chocolate sauce.

*Trick to making colored powdered sugar:
Powdered food coloring! It can be found at specialty food stores or baking supplies shops. (Be sure to look for a hechsher.) Very slowly add a few drops of food coloring to a few tablespoons of powdered sugar and mix well. Keep adding until you reach desired colors, bearing in mind that the colored powder will stay soft.

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Chanukah 2013

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5 Things You Never Knew About Latkes


December 16th 2014

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Dedicated to the life and works of Gil Marks who shared this article with us last Chanukah in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine, may his memory be a blessing.

Judah Maccabee never saw a latke or a potato (or doughnut)… nor did medieval Jews.

1. Pancakes are batters shallow-fried in a skillet or on a griddle. People were already cooking on hot stones and griddles since time immemorial. In the Temple, a minchat machavat was cooked on an oiled griddle. But with the fall of Rome, pancakes, along with many culinary techniques, disappeared from most of Europe. Pancakes reemerged (made from flour and fried in olive oil) in Italy after the First Crusades, then spread north (usually not fried in olive oil). The first record of the English word “pancake” was in 1430.

2. Sicilian Jews introduced ricotta pancakes to northern Italy, called cassola in Rome, as a Shavuot dish and later combin- ing two traditional Chanukah foods – fried and cheese. The association of dairy to Chanukah was first mentioned (c. 1360) by Rabbi Nissim ben Reuben (Ran) of Gerona.

3. The initial association between Chanukah and pancakes (and fried foods in general) was by Rabbi Kalonymus ben Kalonymus (c. 1286-1328) – raised in Provence, but spending his ca-reer in Italy — who mentioned pancakes in a poem about Chanukah.

4. Oil in northern Europe was rare and expensive, so the principal fat for frying was schmaltz – animal fat, being unacceptable for cooking with dairy. Rye and, later buckwheat, commonly substituted for cheese and wheat. The two most prominent Eastern Yiddish terms for pancake became chremsel (from the Western Yiddish vermesel from Latin vermiculos “little worms” – before you get all oooey, vermiculos is also the source of the pasta vermicelli) and latke, derived from the Ukrainian diminutive word for pancake/fritter, oladka (“little oily”), from the Latin oleum (“olive oil,” also the source of the English word “oil”) from the Greek elaion (olive oil).

5. When the white potato arrived in Europe around 1570 from its native Peru/Bolivia, it was considered poisonous, taking centuries to gain acceptance as food. By the end of the 1700s, Germans made pancakes from raw or cooked potatoes. Only with a series of crop failures in Ukraine and Poland in 1839 and 1840 were these tubers consumed there. Potatoes emerged as the staple of the Eastern European Jewish diet and most prominent type of latke.

As seen in the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine

Chanukah 2013

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A Little Meat Goes A Long Way *Giveaway*


December 16th 2014

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This article and recipes are sponsored by Joburg Kosher.

One of the trends we have seen this year has been to use less meat in our diets for health and for the environment.  The best way to do that is to use very flavorful meat to flavor vegetable filled dishes.  Many non kosher people use bacon and prosciutto in this way, cured meats with a smokey and salty flavor.  We can use salami.  Joburg started as a Boerewors (South African Sausages) and Biltong (South African beef jerky) company.  Recently they have introduced an Old World Beef and Veal Salami.


The salami is sold fresh or dried with garlic or spicy.  You can slice up the dried salami and serve on an antipasto plate with a bunch of vegetables or you can chop it up and use it to flavor all your cooking.  Here are two recipes that are perfect for Chanukah or anytime and great to serve a crowd.  They both show how much flavor the Joburg salami can add to any dish.

These Cauliflower Salami latkes are made with the fresh salami that is filled with large peppercorns.  The flavor of the pepper and the fat from the salami works perfectly with cauliflower.  The latkes can also be made ahead, frozen even and reheated in an oven.  Everyone will love these latkes and it is a nice change of pace.

There are so many ways to make stuffed mushrooms, you can make them dairy, meat or parve and with every flavor you can imagine.  The main constant is that you want to pull out the stems, chop them fine and sauté them with aromatics like onion and garlic.  Thyme always goes particularly well with mushrooms, but you can use other herbs as well.  For this recipe I decided to add a little extra flavor with Joburg’s hard salami. When cut small and sautéed with the mushroom stems it acted almost like a bacon with a little extra spice from the peppercorns they stuff inside. These mushrooms were a real hit.

Stuffed Mushrooms with Salami

Cauliflower Salami Latkes

For more about Joburg Kosher and to order or find store locations click here. 

***Giveaway*** Now enter to WIN big with Joburg.   Enter below to win a Salami Sampler pack valued at $65. Prize includes:

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Latkes That Just Happen To be Vegan and Gluten...


December 15th 2014

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Every year I try and come up with a new kind of latke.   I know I am not alone in this task, it seems all us foodie bloggers are doing the same, we can’t seem to leave well enough alone and like to find new spins on old classics.  There is always new inspiration too. New trendy flavors, new products and sometimes just new thoughts.

Growing up my mom would always make potato, zucchini and mixed vegetable as her latkes of choice.  She isn’t the type to use a recipe and they always came out great.  When I started making latkes, I am going to be honest, it took me some time to figure out how to get them just right.  Sometimes they wouldn’t really cook through to the middle and I was left with a raw potato taste and sometimes they didn’t stick together.  My first successful latke that my family loves actually comes from Joan Nathan.  Her thin crispy latkes use grated potatoes and eggs only, so they are also gluten free.  I found making them thin was the trick and I love the long strands of potato.  The recipe is so good I actually won a latke making contest quite a few years back.

I always make at least one night/batch of those classic latkes, but after that I start to play.  This year, I started to make my own Harissa, based on the peppers you use it might not even be very spicy, but it is flavorful and my family loves it.  Inspired by the Moroccan flavor I figured I would use chickpea flour which binds we’ll enough that I wouldn’t need eggs or flour and my recipe was born. Make them bit size, make them large, whatever you do, mix in the harissa and serve a little extra mixed with light mayo as the ultimate topping.

Here is my recipe for Vegan Gluten Free Harissa Latkes.


Free 20 Recipe #WinnDixieKosher Chanukah Ebook


December 15th 2014

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4 Ways To Throw A Healthy and Easy Chanukah Party


December 12th 2014

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In my biggest, glossiest fantasies I imagine a very specific Chanukah party.

In this fantasy I’m calm and welcoming amidst all the cooking chaos.  (OK, I also want to be wearing my favorite clothes and the earrings my mother gave to me).

The menu: easy to prepare.
The food: gorgeous, delicious, healthy.

Sounds pretty amazing, right?
(A lot better than last-minute runs to the grocery store and post-meal food comas. right?)

After years of holidays that stressed me out and left me feeling bloated and regretful, I’ve finally (finally!) discovered menus and mindsets that make it possible to have the Chanukah we want, with the food and feelings we want.

I’ve started serving plant-based menus to my holiday guests. My meals come together quickly, with easily and affordably sourced ingredients, and I have more time to spend with my family and friends.

Here are four ways to throw a healthy, easy Chanukah.  

1. Keep it to yourself

Try keeping your healthy Chanukah plans a semi-secret. No “Fat-free latkas @my house, PM me if you’re interested” Facebook updates or “Chanukah salad bar @my place” tweets.

Many people are timid with food that’s been earmarked as “healthy.”  Let the gorgeous food speak for itself and think of yourself as a healthy Chanukah secret agent.

2. Flirt a little bit (with the food)

People flirt with food (think the last time you made audible noises while window food shopping.) We want people to flirt with your food – eyeing it and wanting to eat it and we can create flirt-worthy meals by making them beautiful first and delicious always.

Make the extra effort to present the food with thought and style. Beauty is an important part of the food experience, making food and its consumption “special.” My goal is always to make healthy food look twice as beautiful.

When we prepare “healthier” food,  we occasionally take it a bit too far, thinking “whatever is worth doing is worth overdoing.”

Dear reader, you might want to sit down for this but I must be direct: do not limit salt or sugar in your plant-based Chanukah dishes. Salt and sugar give people a lot of pleasure and should be included in your recipes. Let your guests enjoy themselves!

3. Avoid the all or nothing trap

Whole-food, plant-based eating does not have to be an all-or-nothing lifestyle. You can start experimenting in small ways that feel doable and exciting to you, like swapping out a single ingredient in your favorite Chanukah dish or preparing one plant-based recipe for your Chanukah party.

4. Wow them with dessert

Plant-based menus aren’t about deprivation! There are tons of luscious, delicious desserts that don’t include eggs or cup after cup of butter and cream. My family loves my vegan chocolate zucchini cake and there are so many options for sweets that won’t leave you comatose on the sofa.

Repeat with me: simple, fresh, and beautiful. This Chanukah is for us and within our reach.

P.S. People stress the symbolic importance of oil at Chanukah. Nobody said you have to eat the oil! Get an oil candle if it makes you feel more connected to the miracle. Think about it.

Now try my Sweet and Savory Mini Latkes and serve them with homemade Tofu Sour Cream and Chives or Applesauce


My 11 Latke Loves *Giveaway*


December 11th 2014

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Fried in oil and or dipped in chocolate are two of my general criteria for favorite foods.  Lucky me it’s Chanukah and there will be no shortage of fried in oil (dipped in chocolate) sweet and savory treats.  Here are my 11 latke loves:



Do not pass go, do not collect $200, in fact do not do anything until you’ve mastered the classic.  This, my grandfather’s latke recipe is the absolute best in the entire world.  Watch how easy and delicious it is to make here: Best Ever Latke Video.


Potato Pancakes with Guacamole and Poached Eggs

Potato Pancakes with Guacamole and Poached Eggs

Heaven on earth, your new year-round Sunday brunch.  Get the recipe for Potato Pancakes with Guacamole and Poached Eggs.

Caprese Latke

Elegant, beautiful, fresh, and creamy – skip the balsamic reduction (it’s not traditional anyway) if you don’t have time.  Enjoy Caprese Latkes.


Latkes that eat like a meal.  (There are lots of shortcuts you can take to make these on the clock.) South of The border Latkes with Black Bean Topping. 

 cauliflower carrot latke recipe

Cause the only thing better than a potato latke is a low carb latke. Carrot Cauliflower Latkes. 

 Zucchini Latkes with Tzatziki

And the only thing better than a low carb latke is a lower carb latke. Zucchin Latkes with Tzatziki.


Potato and Parsnip Latkes

Parsnips are oh so underrated.  Don’t ignore this sweet flavored, creamy colored, root veg. Potato and Parsnip Latkes.


Carrot and Apple Latkes

Carrot and Apple Latkes

Slightly sweet and simple.  Carrot and Apple Latkes. 

Sweet Potato Latkes with Brie and Baby Arugula

 Pretty genius if I do say so myself.  Sweet Potato Latkes with Brie Baby Arugula


Steakhouse Latkes: Named so, cause they would make a great steak side.

Samosa Latkes

Different and delicious with mango chutney.  Watch how here:

What’s you favorite latke?  Do tell all in the comments below and then enter to win a $100 gift card from Winn-Dixie or a Joy of Kosher Cookbook.

Make sure to view and/or download our free ebook too – 20 Latkes and Doughnuts

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Disclosure: This post and giveaway is sponsored by Winn-Dixie, your neighborhood store, all opinions are my own.


/RECIPE/ Apple Cinnamon Latkas (Latkes)


December 11th 2014

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This week I was in LOVE with the #joktesters recipe list!!!! So many amazing options! It was great to help get me in the Hanukkah cooking mode. I decided to tackle the Apple Cinnamon Latkes for you all! Ok, so really they sounded amazing to me and I wanted to try them for myself, so I loved the excuse.

On to my review and ideas on this recipe.

First I would not put this recipe into the super easy category. First frying is fun on its own but these turn frying latkes into a whole new experience. They are much more delicate that their potato counter parts. But in the end they are worth it. I did try it fried in the normal and recommended way. I also baked part of the batch, as I generally burn myself less when I bake instead of fry. And yes, you can call me a cheater, but spraying a little olive oil on some of my Hanukkah treats and then baking them in a convection oven makes my holiday cooking go a lot smoother. And safer ;)

When whipping up the batch of latkes {and yes, I mean wh

ipping. A hand mixer would have been smart}I need to mention on the beating of the egg yolks to a “light lemon yellow color” mine are probably darker lemon colored. I purchase farm fresh eggs and their yolks are deeper colored than normal store bought ones. They do want to burn easily when frying. These latkes are much more fragile and need more soft treatment in the frying process. It was a gentle job to flip them. But they are also a nice light sweet treat. The beaten egg whites really make them a nice contrast to the heavier foods that Hanukkah brings {come on carbs!}


The verdict on the baked ones. They came out nice and sturdy and not delicate as the fried ones. They were a LOT easier to cook. I baked them on parchment paper {great clean up!} in a 375 degree convection oven. I then served both of them with greek yogurt with freshly ground cinnamon. YUM!

Results- They are a great light treat that require a bit more work than the average. But you can bake them and they come out great there too!

Leave your comments and let me know what you think! I would love to hear how it turns out for you!