GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 14, 2011

Traditional Hanukkah meal good all year

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

I knew Mrs. Katz years ago, when I was a nurse in the convalescent home she owned and operated in Framingham. It was a lovely home — fairly small with close to 60 residents and a reputation of excellent medical care.

She kept a kosher kitchen, and I came to know her and the main cook very well. I learned so much from them about their traditions and foods. I would always ask for recipes, and still have a few.

I developed a taste for matzo and almond sugar cookies while there, and still eat both very often.

I spent several Hanukkahs with them and their families. The table would be festive and set with Hanukkah place mats and an heirloom tablecloth. After lighting the menorah, we would sit down to a cozy dinner which would often be a lamb dish with dried apricots or roast chicken. There would always be latkes (crispy potato pancakes), and applesauce.

I haven't thought of Mrs. Katz for many years, until I came across this recipe. She would be honored that I am sharing it with you.

Whatever your heritage, this is a delicious meal anytime, and is easy to prepare.

Mrs. Katz's Simple Roast Chicken

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 (4-5 pound) roasting chicken

1/2 teaspoon of each: salt, pepper, paprika

1 medium onion, quartered

1 celery stalk, cut into 3 large pieces

1 medium carrot, cut into 3 large pieces

1 garlic clove and 1 bay leaf

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry. Trim any fat from chicken.

Combine salt, pepper, and paprika. Sprinkle mixture over breast, drumsticks, and into body cavity. Place onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and bay leaf in body cavity. Tie end of legs together with twine. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under chicken.

Place chicken, breast side up, on a broiler pan (or roasting pan with a rack) coated with cooking spray. Insert meat thermometer into meaty part of thigh, making sure not to touch bone. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until meat thermometer registers 180 degrees. Cover chicken loosely with foil; let stand 10 minutes before carving.

Sweet Potato Cakes

6 servings (2 cakes per serving)

Ingredients:

4 cups finely shredded peeled sweet potato (about 1 pound)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon dried minced onion

Scant quarter teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Dash of ground nutmeg

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Cooking spray

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; stir well.

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Spoon about one-quarter cup mixture onto hot griddle or skillet; flatten slightly with a spatula. Cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Homemade Applesauce

Makes about 5 cups

Ingredients:

10 cups red cooking apples, chopped into large chunks-about 3 pounds

(personal choice of peeled or unpeeled-some like the red color)

1 cup apple cider (not apple juice-it doesn't reduce as well as cider)

one-half cup firmly packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 1 hour or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.

An interesting fact about the menorah:

On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, the candles are placed in the menorah from right to left (the same way the Hebrew language is written), but they are lit, starting with that night's candle, from left to right.

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Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com, or write care of Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930.