Hanukkah is my favorite holiday because it revolves (get it? Like a dreidel!) around two of my most beloved things: controlled fires and fried food.

Some would argue that it’s hard to have said controlled fires — in kitchens, combustible engines, and biblical temples alike — without vast quantities of oil and natural gas. Not necessarily! Today, Americans are using less oil per dollar of GDP than they have in 40 years.

In the video above, we explain how the story of Hanukkah can be an analogy for a new age of energy efficiency — and how to celebrate that by frying up some seasonal vegetables!

We made three kinds of latkes: traditional (potato), beet, and apple. All latkes are made essentially the same way, so the only real difference between each recipe is the ingredients.

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Traditional (potato) latkes:
2 russet potatoes
1 medium onion
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1-1½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten to blend

Beet latkes:
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
4 medium beets (enough to yield 4 cups shredded beets)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend

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Apple latkes:
Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 pound Granny Smith apples (or similar)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (recipe originally calls for half of this, but we thought these weren’t sweet enough)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Peel your vegetable of choice and shred. I used the grating attachment of a food processor, because I’m lazy efficient. You can also use a box grater. (Special note: For traditional latkes, I pulse the shredded potatoes and onions in the food processor a couple times so the consistency is a bit more mealy.
  2. Drain liquid from shredded vegetables. I do this by tossing them a few times in a colander, and then laying them out on paper towels if I’m feeling particularly ambitious.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine shredded vegetables with remaining ingredients — a combination of flour, salt, pepper, spices, and eggs. (See ingredients list for exact measurements, but feel free to experiment to your liking.) Stir to mix. All ingredients should cling together, but not be too wet. (Special note: For apple latkes, lemon juice should be added before all other ingredients, and we let the shredded apple marinate in the lemon juice for a few minutes.)
  4. Cover the bottom of a heavy pan (cast-iron is ideal) with roughly ¼ inch of vegetable oil, and place over medium-high heat. You want the oil to be hot enough that water splatters, but not so hot that the oil is smoking.
  5. Add latke batter by spoonfuls — you don’t want them to be too large or too thick, so I always pat them down a bit in the pan. Fry until browned and crispy on each side, and remove to drain excess oil on paper bags (which absorb oil better than paper towels!).
  6. If you don’t eat them immediately, you’re stronger than I am, but latkes can be kept warm in the oven and also freeze excellently.