‘Tis The Season For Leah’s Latkes

For Honolulu’s Leah Bernstein, this is one of her favorite times of the year.

As president of the record label Mountain Apple Company, it’s also one of her busiest.

Right now she usually has three things on her mind: getting ready for Hanukkah, the upcoming holiday concert with the Brothers Cazimero and releases of new holiday music CDs by Hawaiian artists.

As a staunch advocate of Hawaiian music and island artists for more than two decades, Bernstein has grown Mountain Apple Company to be a true force in the industry, helping island culture thrive.

This year, many Mountain Apple artists have released uplifting holiday CDs. Look for new releases from Mailani, Napua and Kalei Gamiao.

Leah’s favorite holiday tradition is attending the annual Brothers CAZ holiday concerts, Dec. 13-15, this season.

Hanukkah begins next week, and families will prepare traditional Hanukkah recipes such as potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyots (jam-filled doughnuts).

Hanukkah dates back to 168 B.C., when the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus plundered and defiled the holiest site of the Jewish people, the Temple in Jerusalem. On the outskirts of Jerusalem, guerrilla warriors led by the priest Mattathias and his sons vowed never to submit, and liberated Jerusalem three years later.

Once the battle was over, the Maccabees rid the temple of idols and lit the golden menorah with a little purified olive oil they found, which was supposed to be enough to burn for just one day.

But then, according to tradition, a miracle happened: The oil lasted for eight days – exactly the time it took to press fresh oil.

It is to commemorate the Miracle of the Oil that Jews all over the world eat foods fried in oil on Hanukkah.

The word “latke” derives from Yiddish, the Jewish language spoken by East European Jews. Bernstein has given me her special latke recipe to share with MidWeek readers.

Happy Hanukkah!


* 1 pound russet potatoes, cut into chunks if using food processor or peel and leave whole if grating
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 1 egg, lightly beaten (may use 2 egg whites for no cholesterol)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
* oil, for frying (may use olive or non-GMO canola oil)


In food processor, add egg and pulse. Add potato chunks a few at a time, mixing in between additions, and pulse until chopped.

Mix onion into potato mixture until well-combined. Drain any excess water.

Add salt to taste.

To make a coarser pancake, use a grater and drain water from potato before frying.

Heat oil in frying pan until hot, and add about 3 tablespoons of potato. Repeat with remaining potato.

Fry until golden brown on one side, and then turn and cook until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels. Serve with applesauce or sour cream.