Tasty Hanukkah twists and turns

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Other News

Everyone loves latkes. Making them is another story. Is buying frozen potato pancakes or working with a mix the way to go? Some say, ‘most definitely,’ others, reply ‘No Way!’

This is the second article (of two) featuring serious cooks who ‘play with their food’ and riff on the universally revered potato pancake. The first installment appeared in the December 9 issue of Jewish News.

Marcy Mostofsky—Latkes for Love
Marcy Mostofsky doesn’t prepare fried food for her family. Unless it’s Hanukkah. And that dedication to oil only lasts one night.

That’s when she cranks up her Cuisinart and makes peace with her inner-fryer. “It’s a big deal around here,” says Mostosfsky. Her extended family had a rough year and she wants to make her 87-year-old father Danny, who lost a daughter, a best friend, and a brother, happy. If making latkes can do that, she’s all in.

“My father is so disciplined,” says Mostofsky. “He can have all the latkes he wants. Now, Michael is another story. My husband can eat his weight in latkes! He’ll be cooking burgers or chicken on the grill and every time he walks by the plate of latkes, he’ll grab one. I have to cut him off or there will be nothing left for our guests.”

Mostofsky may not be a fan of frying, but she loves celebrating with and feeding her revolving door of nieces and nephews, and other friends and family who come to light the menorah. This year, during Hanukkah however, she will drive her father to Florida for a much-needed break. “I’ll have my one night here to fry latkes, and then I’m done. No frying in Florida.”

Mark Lipton—He makes the latkes.
Barb Gelb brings the party.

Mark Lipton has known Kenny Weinstein since college, but they didn’t become good buds until about 12 years ago.

“I was just separated from my wife,” says Lipton. “Kenny showed up at my door with a bottle of whiskey and said, ‘hey, you want a drink?’”

In 2012, Barb Gelb was Weinstein’s long-distance girlfriend. On one of her visits from California, she started a tradition at Weinstein’s home. She brought the Hanukkah party to Virginia Beach.
Lipton didn’t just show up. He showed up ready to make his homemade latkes.

“When I met Mark,” says Gelb, “I knew I had no choice but to pass the latke making baton to him.”

“There are two schools on latkes,” says Lipton. “Pureed mush that’s fried, and batter that’s grated almost like hash browns. Mine are from The American Jewish Cookbook and belong to the second category.
“Kenny’s always been very inclusive,” says Lipton. “He keeps up with people he’s known a long time, and he also has a way of making people feel as if they are part of his family. When I think about loving kindness, I think of Kenny.”

Beer-laced latkes
The recipe for a Happy Hanukkah is anything that brings Ronnie Jacobs Cohen together with her three sisters, Babbi Jacobs Bangel, Francie Jacobs Segal, and Marcy Jacobs Forster.

“I know some people are not close to their sisters and I consider myself so lucky to have them in my life,” says Cohen.

“Our mother made latkes every year for Hanukkah and I carry on her tradition with her recipe,” she says. “What makes it special is that it calls for a little beer, which we might drink while we’re cooking. Yes, they are a lot of work but I would never NOT make my latkes from scratch.”