Chanukah, which begins the night of Dec. 6, has always been a joyous holiday celebrated more in the home than in the synagogue. Every year, we invite a minimum of 25 family members and friends to our celebration, and it is always a festive occasion.

When our guests arrive, we begin with platters of Crispy Potato Latkes that are served with sour cream, applesauce and sugar. Latkes fried in olive oil act as a reminder of the ancient miracle of the oil that burned for eight days in the Temple.

With each course during dinner, we serve a different kind of latke. The Romanian Noodle Latkes, similar to a pasta dish, seem to be everyone’s top choice and are always a special request. We’ll see how they stand up to Salmon Latkes, a new addition to our celebration this year.

After serving dinner, we take a break before dessert to exchange presents, which usually takes at least two hours. In the past, everyone had lots of gifts to open, but this year, the family has rebelled and decided to have a Chanukah grab bag, for which everyone will bring one present. (Of course, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren will receive more!)

For dessert, serve my Sweet Potato Latkes, a family favorite enriched with dates, raisins and nuts. Or make Apple Latkes dusted with cinnamon and sugar — a suitably sweet way to end the evening.

CRISPY POTATO LATKES

  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Ground pepper to taste

Peel potatoes or scrub and use unpeeled. Grate potatoes, using food processor or fine shredder.

In large bowl, combine potatoes, onion, lemon juice, eggs and 1 tablespoon oil. Blend well. Stir in flour. Add salt and pepper. Mix well.

In a heavy skillet or an electric frying pan, heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil. Drop potato mixture by tablespoons into hot oil, flattening with back of spoon. Brown well, on both sides, turning once. Cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Serve latkes crisp and hot with applesauce, sugar, sour cream or preserves if desired.

Makes about 3 dozen latkes.

ROMANIAN NOODLE LATKES

  • 1 (8-ounce) package fine egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, melted
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 Cook noodles according to package directions; drain well. Transfer to a large bowl, add margarine and blend well.

In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat and sauté onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Add onions to noodles. Blend in eggs. Add salt and pepper.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Drop noodle mixture by tablespoons into hot oil, flattening each spoonful with back of spoon to form thin latkes. Fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. (Do not turn latkes until first side is golden and firmly set.)

Makes about 2 dozen latkes. 

SALMON LATKES

  • 1 (15-ounce) canned pink salmon
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs or matzah meal
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

In a mixing bowl, place salmon and its liquid in a bowl. Add onion, eggs and bread crumbs. Add salt and pepper. Mix well. Set aside for 15 minutes.

With wet hands, shape mixture into latkes. In large, heavy skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add latkes to skillet and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or cold.

Makes about 12 latkes.  

CARROT AND ZUCCHINI LATKES

di-zucchini-latkes

Carrot and zucchini latkes

  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 eggs
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

In a large bowl, combine carrots, zucchini, onion and eggs; blend thoroughly. (This can be done in food processor with metal blade, using a quick on-and-off motion, just enough to blend, then transfer mixture to a large bowl.) Add flour, baking powder, salt and pepper; mix well.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Drop carrot-zucchini mixture by large spoonsful into hot oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Makes about 3 dozen latkes. 

SWEET POTATO LATKES

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, eggs, granulated sugar and enough ground almonds to make a thick batter. Mix well. Fold in raisins, dates and pecans. Add salt.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Spoon heaping tablespoonsful of potato mixture into oil, flattening with back of a wet spoon. Brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes about 12 latkes.  

APPLE LATKES

  • 2 eggs, separated,
  • 1/2 cup milk or liquid nondairy creamer
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted margarine, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 to 4 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • Powdered sugar
  • Ground cinnamon 

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until light. Blend in milk. Stir in flour, granulated sugar, margarine and lemon juice. Add salt and beat until smooth. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into egg yolk mixture.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil to about 375 F. Dip each apple slice into batter. Lift out with fork or tongs, drop into hot oil and fry until brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen latkes.

Judy Zeidler is a food consultant, cooking teacher and author of “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her website is judyzeidler.com.