BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Decadent Delicata

Hannukah is NOT the time to embark on some radical new low-fat diet. No matter where you believe lipids belong on your own personal food pyramid, oil is hero of this holiday, and the substance we all celebrate. From the oil in the miraculously burning lamps to the oil frying our food, the stuff has left its gloriously greasy residue all over this joyous event. This is the one rare time of year that we’re implored to ignore conventional nutritional advice and fry, fry again.

That’s not to say that just any old grease ball on a plate will suffice. Typical holiday fare turns starchy potatoes into crisp latkes and yeasted dough into jelly-stuffed sufganiyot. Dessert is where things get interesting, as the number of acceptable permutations for those requisite oily cakes hovers somewhere in the thousands. Latkes, on the other hand, are either right (however your grandma made them) or wrong (everything else.)

So on this occasion I throw caution to the wind along with another decadent treat into the vat of angrily bubbling oil. If there ever was such a thing as a “healthy” doughnut, laughable baked versions notwithstanding, it would unarguably be one made of a vegetable.

Inspired by their naturally alluring rings, simple sliced delicata squash stand in for the carbohydrate portion of the program, replacing the predictably dense dough with tender, subtly nuanced, pumpkin-like flesh. Far more flavorful than the bread-based default, it wins the battle for ease of preparation as well; the thin green skin needn’t be peeled, so just slice, remove the seeds, and you’re well on your way to an entirely new sweet holiday sensation.

Lightly battered and graced by a crunchy coating of simple cinnamon sugar, it’s hard to believe that such decadent treats are little more than plain squash rings dressed up in their finest. While you won’t fool any vegetable haters into confusing these for traditional doughnuts, you may just win them over.

Take it one step further still with a luxurious glaze of apple cider icing, redolent of the orchards on a brisk fall day. Reducing the cider does take a bit of patience, but every extra minute is well worth the wait. These dainty iced doughnuts are always the first to disappear.

Delicata Doughnuts

1 Medium (A Little Over 1 Pound) Delicata Squash
3/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tapioca Starch
2 Tablespoons Chickpea Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
3/4 Cup Water

Neutral Oil for Frying, such as Rice Bran or Canola

Cinnamon Sugar:

1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon

Cider Icing:

2 Cups Unfiltered Apple Cider
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar

To begin, fill a large saucepan about 1/3 full with your neutral oil of choice and heat to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, thoroughly wash and dry your delicate before slicing it into 1/2-inch thick rings. Clean out the inner guts and seeds by either scraping it with a spoon, or using small round cookie cutters to punch out the stringy innards.

Prepare the batter by simply whisking together all of the dry ingredients before slowly adding in the water. Whisk just until the mixture is smooth. Separately, stir together the cinnamon and sugar topping in a medium bowl, and set aside.

For the glaze, place the apple cider in a small sauce pan and simmer until it has reduce to a mere 1/4 cup. Add in the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar, stirring until perfectly smooth and lump-free. Set aside.

When the oil has come up to the right temperature, dip the delicata rings into batter one at a time, letting the excess drip off. Carefully lower them into the hot oil, cooking no more than two or three at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Let them cook undisturbed for about a minute before turning, flipping them frequently from that point onward to monitor browning. When the rings are evenly golden brown all over, use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer them to a wire rack. While still warm, toss them individually in the cinnamon sugar, if using. If using the cider icing, let the donuts cool just until you can comfortably handle them, and gently dip the tops into the prepared glaze.

Best eaten as soon as possible!

Makes 10 – 14 Doughnuts

Printable Recipe


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I Have a Little Latke

Chanukah celebrations already well underway, we approach the sixth of eight nights this evening, bringing the holiday ever nearer to a close. Before many people have even had the chance to drag an evergreen tree into their living rooms or sing one carol, menorahs will be cooled and put away for another year. Crazy how fast it’s sped by this time around! I’m still struggling to keep up, injecting extra holiday cheer into what seem like otherwise ordinary winter days. That’s why I’d make the argument that it’s not at all too late for latkes- In fact, the early date of Chanukah means that these luscious potato pancakes should be fair game through the rest of the month, while everyone else is still celebrating Christmas, too.

Hopefully no one expects an average latke out of me by now. This year, my starchy spud cakes are thick, tender on the inside with a crisp exterior, perfumed throughout with rich Indian spices. Inspired by a favorite takeout dish, Bombay Aloo, this nontraditional take on the standard Chanukah staple will make it hard to go back to plain potatoes. Brightened with piquant jalapeno and a complex blend of garam masala, they’re just spicy enough to add excitement without setting the most timid of palates on fire. Pairing beautifully with the standard sour creme, you could also embrace the theme and switch out the typical applesauce for a sweet and savory apple chutney instead. Whatever you do, don’t let this opportunity to enjoy latkes pass you by.

Bombay Aloo Latkes

2 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes, Peeled and Shredded
1/2 Small Yellow Onion, Shredded
1 Medium Fresh Jalapeno, Finely Minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons Grated Fresh Ginger
4 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 1/4 Teaspoons Garam Masala
1 Teaspoon Whole Cumin Seeds, Toasted
3/4 Teaspoon Turmeric
3/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 1/2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Potato Starch or Cornstarch

About 1/4 Cup Canola Oil, for Frying

After running both the potatoes and onion through the shredder (the food processor attachment is easiest, in my opinion) place both in a strainer and press down firmly, extracting as much liquid as possible. No need to get too crazy, but you should be able to remove about 1/3 cup starchy potato water. This will help the shreds hold together better while cooking.

In a large bowl, mix together the minced jalapeno, ginger, garlic, spices, salt, and tomato paste until smooth. Add in the drained potatoes, drizzling them first with the lemon juice before tossing with the seasonings. Stir well to blend the paste throughout, getting in there and using your hands as needed. Sprinkle the cornstarch over last, tossing to coat and evenly distribute throughout the shreds.

Heat about half of the oil in a medium-sized skillet over moderate heat. Once the oil is shimmering, it’s hot enough to start cooking up the latkes. For large, thick potato pancakes, I use about 1/3 cup of firmly packed shreds, using the measuring cup to mold them into an even round. Press the potato puck out lightly, so that it’s about 1 cm thick. For more dainty latkes, use closer to 1/4 cup of loosely packed shreds, flattening them out to about 1/2 cm thick. Cook no more than 3 latkes at one time, giving them all enough space to comfortable flip when the time comes.

Allow the latkes to sizzle undisturbed for about 3 – 5 minutes on each side, flipping only once. When they’re golden brown on both sides, remove the latkes to paper towel-lined plates to drain. Add more oil to the skillet as needed for additional latkes.  Serve immediately, or transfer to a wire rack and store in a 250 degree preheated oven until they’re all cooked and ready.

Makes 10 – 12 Thick Latkes, 16 – 18 Thinner, Smaller Latkes

Printable Recipe

 

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