Author Archives: Rachel Korycan

Rachel Korycan

About Rachel Korycan

Rachel Korycan lives in Washington, D.C. and is a Development Coordinator at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Apple Cake with Honey

Passover Toffee Squares

These toffee squares are a part of my family’s yearly Passover repertoire. After eating them at a close friend’s seder for years, my mom finally asked for the recipe so we could enjoy them year-long.  It turns out that the recipe originated in the kitchen of a woman who had deep roots in Akron (my hometown) and who loved to share her recipes with others.

They make a great addition to a dessert buffet, but my family makes them to keep on hand as a snack.  Beware—they go quickly! We usually end up making more than one pan to last us the entire holiday.

Jewish Food? Czech!

Growing up, I didn’t realize that the food my grandparents served me wasn’t typical “Jewish” food. Sure, when I would visit them in Chicago they would make matzo ball soup, roast chicken and potato kugel like my friends’ grandparents did, but most of the foods I would request them to make that I considered “Jewish” were actually based on Czech cuisine. It never occurred to me that what my grandparents cooked was different than what other Jewish grandparents served my peers.

It wasn’t until I was 21 that I made my first visit to the Czech Republic. My dad and I spent two weeks exploring all that the Czech Republic (CZ) had to offer. Unfortunately, I was getting over an epic stomach bug I acquired right before flying to CZ, so I don’t remember much about the food, other than I subsisted mostly on pastries purchased at local cukrárnas (sweet shops).

This October I joined my mom and dad on another trip to CZ. This trip had special meaning, since both of my grandparents had passed away within the last three years. I was determined to pay more attention to the cuisine, indulge in some of my favorites and honor the culinary traditions my grandparents passed down to me. I decided that the best way to accomplish this was to return home with a better understanding on how to duplicate Czech cuisine here in the US.

Although I could spend pages describing the morning pastries, traditional salads and soups I fell in love with, there are two dishes I grew up on that I want to share.

The first dish I came across greatly elevates the average chicken schnitzel. Chicken breast breaded in potato pancake batter instead of crumbs or crushed cornflakes. I found this gem in a hospoda (tavern) in Pilsen, the home of Pilsner Urquell beer. The crispy, well-seasoned latke crust perfectly complimented the moist chicken breast inside. With a side of sauerkraut and a small salad (and pint of beer, of course) it is a delicious and filling meal. My dad makes the most incredible latkes, and I plan on adapting his recipe this Chanukah to re-create this culinary discovery.

Apple Cake with Honey

Passover Recipes: Salat Tapuz

Sometimes you need a break from all the heavy meat and kugels that are typical during Passover. This salad is a refreshing treat and can either be served as part of your Seder menu or during the week alongside a piece of grilled chicken or fish. Enjoy!

Rachel Korycan lives in Washington, D.C. and is a Development Coordinator at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

1 package of arugula or lettuce of your choice

4 blood or navel oranges, chilled, peeled, excess pith removed, and sliced crosswise

1 small thinly sliced red onions

2 peeled, pitted and sliced avocados.

How to Make the Perfect Latke

I recently told my parents that they cursed me. The way I see it, when my (probable) Irish genes collided with my (definite) Eastern European genes, I was pre-destined to have a love affair with the potato.

My parents blush and look a little embarrassed when you ask them what my first un-coached word was. Not because it was uncouth, or racy, but because my first un-coached utterance was spoken as we drove past a Burger King. Ladies and gentleman, my first word was “fry”– as in french fry.

Now, my family isn’t really into fried foods. If we have a craving for french fries or onion rings, we go out to our favorite fast food joint or restaurant. We don’t ever fry anything at home; we leave it to the professionals. But, when I was growing up, come Hanukkah we’d open all the windows (a feat in the sometimes sub-zero Ohio winters), close the doors to the bedrooms, and my dad would spend several nights frying up latke after latke.

I love my dad’s latkes. As a child (and, maybe even as an adult) I would gobble them down, often leaving my mom’s brisket (also incredible) untouched. Eventually, we just started having latke-only dinners a few times each Hanukkah.

Everyone has “the perfect” latke recipe, so I won’t attempt to prove my family’s recipe is better than yours. I will, however, share a few of our latke tips with you”

– Do not peel your potatoes
– Salt the potatoes after grating them, let them sit for about 20
mintues, then squeeze as much of the water out as possible
– Grate your onions (juice and all) directly into your squeezed-out potatoes
– Use only a little matzo meal to bind the batter, don’t let the matzo
meal overcome the potatoey-ness
– Fry the latkes in corn oil
– After you fry, pat off excess oil with paper towels
– To keep warm and crispy, place latkes on cookie racks in a 250 degree oven

Rachel Korycan lives in Washington, D.C. and is a Development Coordinator at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Want some additional tricks for making latkes? Check out this video that purports to give you foolproof latke tips.