Monday, December 19, 2011

My Holiday Celebration... Part 1, Latka's And Margarita's, A Hanukkah Fiesta...

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My blog today is a lead into a few post I am going to be writing over the next week.  My friend Judy, which is my friend Sue's really good friend, asked me why I love Arnold's and my job.  I always think that is a given but it made me think and is still making me think of all the reasons I love Arnold's, my job and my life.  What can I say, it's that time of the year. 

I met Sue at Arnold's though my friend Shannon Rae.  She said she thought we should meet.  Boy was she right, Sue and I have become dear friends over the years. 

Latka's and Margarita's is a celebration  dinner at my friends Sue and Rob's home.  She celebrates Hanukkah and loves having her friends around to celebrate with her.  It's a mixed crowd of no more than 14 people and it changes from year to year.  I have been honored to attend several years.  It's a light twist on a holiday that is very dear to Sue's heart. 

We start the evening in Sue and Rob's kitchen with Mexican appetizers and some kick ass Margarita's that Sue makes from Tequila, agave, and fresh limes.  The sourness almost makes you pucker but the sweet agave smooths it at the end.  It isn't written in stone but no one seems to have more than one or two, we do have to drive home, you know.  While we are talking, eating and drinking, Bob (another friend), is making homemade Latka's on the stove.  These are made from shredded potatoes, herbs and a pinch of flour.  They are a bit thicker than Izzy's potato pancakes and very crispy.  He makes tons of them.  

Meanwhile Judy is making a salad which the greens are from her garden in Madeira.  She is STILL growing micro greens in her community garden in the middle of December!  She adds some tomatoes that I believe ripened on her window sill, green peppers and a cucumber.  Her salad "dressing" is made of feta cheese, oregano, olive oil and a touch of red wine vinegar.  It was just sprinkled over the salad.  I have to say, it was one of the most delicious salads I have ever had.  

The salad is then place individually on the dining room table, the appetizers are cleared and the "buffet" is set.  Sue carves the beef brisket that is the star of the show, believe it or not.  She had to get the recipe from her mom because this brisket is that good.  I Jones for that brisket throughout the year. She also has this deep red sauce to go with it.  It isn't bbq sauce and it isn't spaghetti sauce.  It is a deep rich flavor of tomatoes and beef.  I think not asking her for the recipe is a huge compliment to her.  That's the respect I have for her and the dish. 

Placed on the buffet table is the latka's, the brisket, the sauce (in a gravy boat of course), sour cream and apple sauce for dipping the latka's. 

There are thirteen of us at a table for 8 and for some reason there is plenty of room.  It is cozy, we eat our salad and then our meal.  There are tiny candles on the table which burn out long before the dinner and the conversation.  The meal is finished and removed from the table for dessert.  Jody has made cookies and Bret (my husband) is always responsible for making the traditional apple cake (recipe below). 

This dinner is one of my favorite things to do over the holiday season.  Bret and I missed it last year because we were "too busy" at the restaurant.  This year we decided to jump though every hoop possible, life is too short.  The meal is awesome but the friends are more awesome.  It is a night of happiness and joy.  We remember Sue's mom that passed this year and the time we called her and she sang to us.  Sue reads a hilarious letter she received from a friend.  Jody ad libbing to put us in stitches.  This is just one thing I love about Arnold's, my job and my life.

Jewish Apple Cake
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c sugar (use last)
1/2 c butter
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz. cream cheese (3/4 cup)
2 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS cinnamon (use last)
3 c chopped peeled apples (2 large)

Preheat oven to 350
Beat 1 1/2 c sugar, butter, vanilla and cream cheese
Add eggs 1 at a time
Combine flour, baking powder and salt then add to liquid ingredients
Combine 1/4 c sugar and cinnamon mix in bowl and toss chopped apples then fold into batter
Pour batter into 8" springform pan that has been oiled (Pam)
Sprinkle remaining cinnamon over batter
Bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until cake pulls away from pan