Dairy delights for Hanukkah 2017

Check out our favorite dairy ideas for the last days of Hanukkah!



Everyone knows that Hanukkah means crispy latkes and soft sufganiyot, but another, lesser-known food tradition comes with our favorite winter holiday: dairy.

We know the story of the Maccabee’s eventual triumph over the Syrian-Greek army, and of the miraculous, everlasting olive oil that inspired the holiday’s deep-fried delights. To paraphrase a proverb, in order to win the war, the small Jewish army had to win many difficult battles. One of these victories was brought about by a brave and beautiful widow named Yehudit.

Her city, Bethulia, was besieged by Holofernes, a powerful Greek commander. With no rainfall and no food or water allowed to pass the city walls, the starving Jewish residents were at breaking point and ready to capitulate to the enemy, on pain of an almost certain death. Unwilling to acquiesce, daring Yehudit left the city and entered the foreign camp.

Using her obvious beauty and considerable charms, Yehudit slowly ingratiated herself with Holofernes, promising him information from within Bethulia’s walls. She seduced him and he became so enchanted that he accepted her invitation to drink with her without a second thought. She plied him with rich, salty cheese and then quenched his subsequent thirst with strong wine.

He passed out drunk, and she used his sword to decapitate him. Yehudit wrapped the severed head in a cloth and left for Bethulia. When the general’s headless corpse was discovered, panic ensued; seizing advantage of the disarray, Bethulia’s forces attacked and triumphed.

Yehudit’s clever thinking is immortalized in the custom to eat milk foods throughout holiday… and there’s so much more delicious dairy out there than the blob of sour cream next to your latkes!

Try making a rich, cheese-filled lasagna (with a creamy béchamel sauce and lots of mozzarella) – and if you’re looking for a low-carb version, sub the pasta sheets for thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant. Or serve up sizzling grilled cheese sandwiches, using latkes instead of bread, or host a pizza party with a choice of cheesy toppings. The possibilities are endless and delicious!

Plus, here’s our amazing cheesy sweet potato latke recipe:

Cheesy Sweet Potato Latkes

We love using sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes for latkes: the superfood’s powerful nutrients make us feel a little better about the sheer quantities of fried food we’re indulging in throughout the holiday! The versatile veggie tastes great with all kinds of cheese, so you can use anything from salty feta to creamy goat’s cheese to stringy, melty mozzarella.

To make 10-12 large latkes:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium white onion
  • Approx 3 tablespoons flour or matzah meal
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil for frying
  • 100g cheese, crumbled or shredded

Here’s how to do it:

  • Set a frying pan with enough oil to generously cover the base on a medium flame to heat through.
  • Grate and squeeze the sweet potatoes – the harder you squeeze, the crisper your latkes will be! Grate the onion.
  • In a large bowl, mix the shredded vegetables with the eggs, seasoning, and enough flour or matzah meal to bind the mixture. Stir in the cheese.
  • Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan and flatten gently with the back of a spoon. Fry until cooked and crispy, then enjoy!

Wanna shake it up? Try switching the onion for finely sliced green onions, or adding a few chili flakes, or a handful of cranberries. Happy Hanukkah!