Looking for last-minute gifts or small items to tuck into stockings. Several Saratoga Farmers’ Market vendors have created special stocking stuffer items, such as the two-pack bon-bons from Bon Bon Brazil and the Bon Bon Mittens knitting kits from Blind Buck Farms. Also, consider the following items:
• The bright green cilantro pesto hummus from Freddy’s Rockin’ Hummus.
• Cheesy treats from Longview Farm such as their herbal cheese balls, Serendipity logs, goats milk fudge, and jars of caramel-like Cajeta.
• Baby bow-tied honey bears from Ballston Lake Apiaries.
• Mini maple syrup bottles from Slate Valley Farms.
• Essential oil infused room sprays and other products from Wash Green and Clean.
• Maple cream from Sheldon Farms.
• Apple chips and lemon verbena from Saratoga Apple.
• Cheese curds and Sweet Greeks from Argyle Farm.
Also, keep in mind fresh produce. Think tomatoes in hues of green, red, and yellow; red, purple, yellow and orange carrots bunched together; purple, red, yellow, and white russet potatoes bagged together; kale bouquets; and more.
And, if all else fails, Farmers’ Market tokens make a perfect gift.
Latkes, Saratoga Farmers’ Market Style
By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
The Jewish festival Hanukkah begins this year on December 24, which also is the final shopping day before Christmas. Throughout this season, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market has invited shoppers to to get creative by giving longstanding traditions an innovative twist.
Now, as the countdown to both Christmas and Hanukkah come, we turned to our local latke making expert, Kelley Hillis, owner of Puckers Gourmet Pickles, for her best tips on making these savory fried potato cakes.
Hanukkah celebrates the reclamation of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Greeks in the second century before the Christian era. With only a single cruse of olive oil, the Jewish army led by Judah the Maccabee kept the temple’s menorah lit for eight days. In honor of that oil, it is customary to dine through the eight days of Hanukkah on fried foods. Over time, latkes, which are of Eastern European origin and are made in a manner similar to pancakes, became a central item for at least the first night’s meal.
But, says Hillis, a one-time winner of a latke cook-off at the temple she attends, it is not just oil and potatoes that make the savory cakes special. “It’s also the toppings. Play with them, experiment, get creative.”
Walking around the market reveals a host of tempting toppers: Saratoga Apple’s applesauce, Laurie’s Jams, Argyle Farm’s Greek yogurts, Longview Farm’s soft cheeses, and Hillis’s own kraut, kimchi, and pak dong.
Hillis favors sweet potatoes as the base for her cakes but also will use Yukon golds for their soft yellow hue. Regardless of what type is used, fine shredding is essential. “Also, be sure to press out the excess liquid,” she says. “Otherwise, they won’t fry properly.” Hillis likes to flavor her latkes with green onion, a touch of garlic or garlic salt, as well as a “touch of cayenne” for some heat.
Hillis serves matzoh ball soup, a special Hanukkah beer, and doughnuts, also Hanukkah fare. She sometimes tops her latkes before serving them, matching colors and flavors of both the cakes and the toppings but also advocates giving guests choices.
“Create a toppings bar,” she says. “It’s all about having fun and being creative.”
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market will be open Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its usual location at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park.
Last Minute Potato Latkes
Recipe adapted from ‘Easy Potato Latkes’ recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes about 2 dozen
*Ingredients currently available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• 1 yellow onion, grated or minced*
• 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• Pinch of cayenne pepper
• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten*
• ¼ cup matzo meal
• 3 large potatoes, peeled and grated *
• 1 sweet potato, peeled and grated*
• Oil for frying (peanut or vegetable oil)
• Select your topping(s): Sour cream, applesauce, kimchi, yogurt, jam*
1. In a large bowl, combine onion, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Add eggs, and stir until incorporated. Add matzo meal, and stir until incorporated. Add potatoes, and toss until combined and evenly coated.
2. Fill a large skillet with about 1/2 inch oil. Place over medium heat until oil is almost smoking. (To test, drop a small bit of batter into the skillet; it should sizzle upon contact.)
3. Working in batches so as not to crowd skillet, carefully spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into oil for each latke. Lightly tamp down to flatten. Cook, turning once, until golden on each side, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spatula, transfer to a paper-towel-lined wire rack to drain. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve immediately with desired toppings.