Montreal·FOOD & DRINK

My holiday recipe: Sweet ricotta cheese latkes inspired by Hanukkah

Some people within the Jewish community might not have ever heard of or tried a ricotta latke, but Kat Romanow makes a mean stack.

Kat Romanow of The Wandering Chew shares her recipe for these little-known treats

The ricotta cheese latke is a lesser known take on the traditional one that's made of grated potato. (Submitted by Lauren Kolyn)

This may be cheating, since Hanukkah came and went early this year, wrapping up on Dec. 10, but that doesn't mean it's too late to whip up a batch of ricotta cheese latkes.

Kat Romanow came across this recipe while doing research for a Hanukkah party a few years ago.

"There was this lesser known tradition around Hanukkah of eating dairy foods to commemorate the story of Judith killing Holofernes," she explained.

Kat Romanow, left, and Sydney Warshaw founded The Wandering Chew in 2013. (Submitted by Sonia Primerano)

In the story, the heroine Judith saves her town from Assyrian invaders with some quick-thinking and a nice cheese plate.

"Judith saved the town and all the Jews in it by feeding him lots of salty cheese, and he drank lots of wine because he was so thirsty. And he passed out and she cut off his head," said Romanow.

Consider this a cautionary tale against over-imbibing this holiday season.

Romanow says this story led her to discover that ricotta cheese latkes were the first kind of latkes made by Jewish people in Italy, so she decided to try them out.

She runs the café, Fletcher's, at the Jewish Museum of Montreal and hosts food-based events for The Wandering Chew, a small business she co-founded with Sydney Warshaw.

Together, the two Montrealers aim to preserve, revitalize, and innovate Jewish food traditions through events like pop-up dinners, cooking classes, and special culinary programming.

She said some people even within the Jewish community might not have ever heard of or tried a ricotta latke, but that the dish went over quite well.

"Normally people don't associate these foods with Hanukkah at all," she said

"What we try to do at our events is to introduce people to lesser known food traditions or different food traditions from Jewish communities they may not be familiar with. So this is kind of the perfect recipe to do that."

These latkes only take a few minutes to cook and can be kept warm in the oven until serving time. (Submitted by Lauren Kolyn)

Ricotta cheese latkes

Makes 20 to 24 three-inch pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of ricotta cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Method

  • In a large bowl, beat together the cheese, eggs, flour, sour cream or yogurt, honey, vanilla and salt until smooth.
  • Heat a large, heavy, frying pan over medium heat. Lightly grease with oil.
  • In batches, drop the batter by heaping tablespoons and fry until bubbles form on the tops and the bottoms are lightly browned, about three minutes
  • Turn and fry until golden, about two minutes. Pancakes may be kept warm by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet in an oven at 200 F.

Serve with sour cream, jam, cinnamon-sugar or fresh fruit.

Persimmon Jam

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of persimmon pulp, from about 3 fuyu persimmons
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 clementine

Combine all ingredients in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until setting point is reached, around 220 F. Cool slightly and pour into a clean jar. Refrigerate.


This is Part One of a series where Montrealers share their favourite holiday recipes. 

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