WASHINGTON — Hanukkah recipes generally have one big thing in common: oil.
Whether baked or fried, the dishes of the season feature it as tribute to that special menorah that burned seven nights longer than expected.
Oil not only makes for rich flavors in such holiday standards as latkes and sufganiyot, but it also makes for the unique taste of … wait for it … a cocktail.
A “(One) Eight-Night Martini” is among the Hanukkah recipes featured this year by the Jewish Food Experience, a program run by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. This year’s recipe roundup features new twists on time-honored standards, yet it’s mindful of modern diets.
Indeed, heavy use of oil isn’t necessarily a requirement, said Paul Entis, director of the Jewish Food Experience.
A good Hanukkah recipe “veers from recipes that involve oil or olive oil in some way,” he said. The Jewish Food Experience looked for recipes that “are a little bit more healthful and hit the notes of foods that don’t necessarily come from a fried vantage point,” he added.
The vast majority of these recipes come from kitchens with a local connection, Entis said. “That was important to us — that they have a following in Northern Virginia, D.C. or Maryland,” he said, “but they’re doing things creatively.”
But you’re probably still curious about that cocktail.
Making a (One) Eight-Night — created by One Eight Distilling‘s Alex Laufer — begins by infusing vodka with olive oil via a fat wash. The vodka extracts its flavor compounds, then the oil itself is removed after the combination is frozen and separates from the vodka.
“It does add a few steps and you do have to plan ahead, but you can make a small batch of it,” Laufer said. “It takes a few days in the freezer, and then it’s good to go.”
The martini is designed to cut through the richness of many Hanukkah dishes. One example of just that is another recipe featured in this year’s roundup: the latke egg sandwich, created by On Rye founder and CEO Ilyse Fishman Lerner.
Her breakfast sandwich is a playful approach to the traditional fare. She points out that it uses oil in three different ways: substituting latkes for bread; frying an egg; and adding in some rendered pastrami “bacon.”
“This is kind of like taking it to its extreme for Hanukkah,” Lerner said.
See all of this year’s honorees in the gallery below.