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Month: November 2023

Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes – A Family Tradition 


December conjures images of tradition, great food, and the holiday season.  We may not normally have snow here in Texas, but we never fall short of celebrating our family, friends, and the cultural heritage we hold close to our hearts. 

One of the original ethnicities who were early settlers and among the defenders of early Texas freedom, were the Jewish Texans. The Texas Revolution of 1836, the Battles of Goliad and San Jacinto are among those battles.  

Dr. Albert Levy was surgeon to revolutionary Texan forces in 1835, and ended up joining the Texas Navy in 1836.  

The Galveston Movement was an operation between 1907 and 1914 when at least 10,000 Jewish immigrants made the bold move to become Texans.  It was here in this land of opportunity that Jewish business leaders and philanthropists emerged.  Stanley Marcus of Neiman-Marcus, Michael Dell of Dell Computer and Joe Straus, first jewish Speaker of the House in Texas History are a few of the many notables.  

Today, most Jewish Texans are descendants of families that arrived after the Civil War and are Ashkenazi Jews.  Temple Beth-El, founded in San Antonio in 1874 was closely followed by B’nai Abraham in Brenham, Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, and Congregation Beth Israel in Austin.  

Many more were added as the population grew.  

From sunset on December 7th – nightfall December 15th the celebration of Hanukkah will be celebrated in Jewish Texan homes this year.   Lighting of the nine branched menorah is marked by first lighting the Shammash (candle occupying the tallest branch) and adding an additional candle each evening of the celebration, using only the Shammash to light the remainder candles.  

Singing Hanukkah songs, playing the game of dreidel, and eating oil-based foods such as our recipe this month – fried potato latkes are all an historical part of the festivities.  

I caught up with my friend, Gaby Poler’s cousin – Valerie Sar-Shalom to learn how to create this easily prepared, economical, and yummy recipe.  Valerie, a Sephardic Jew is a more recent immigrant to Texas, hailing originally from Venezuela. She continues her ancestor’s Sephardic traditions with her young family and thereby passing them to the next generation.  Preparing delicious meals together is an integral aspect of her tradition.

It is so much fun to learn from different cultures!  Latkes make a fabulous easy weeknight dish that is quick and easily rewarmed the next night.  Served with sour cream (a nod to including dairy) and applesauce creates a flavorful mouth full of comfort.  And it’s only 5 ingredients! 

Subscribe to our youtube channel to view Valerie demonstrating how to create Latkes.

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Potato Latkes

A 5 ingredient side dish or main
Course brunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Jewish Heritage


  • 1-2 russet potatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 - 2 Eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Neutral frying oil


  • Peel potatoes, grate them with a food processor or a hand grater.  Squeeze out the excess liquid with a towel.
  • Chop onion in a food processor
  • Mix together the potatoes, onions, eggs
  • Add salt and pepper to taste
  • Heat about 2 inches deep oil to medium temperature in a frying pan
  • With a spoon take the mix and drop it on the pan trying to create a circle shape.
  • Fry on both sides until golden brown
  • Serve with Applesauce and sour cream on the side.


Easy, Peasy, Cranberry Pie

Crunch, moist, with a little tang – I love this pie!  So many times cranberries are the accompaniment, but in this pie they are the unadulterated STAR!

Cranberries provide sweet and slightly tart flavors while Texas pecans give this pie a delightful crunch!

So easy to assemble since there is no crust:  you simply dump all the ingredients into the pie pan after mixing the batter.  A simple top of pie adornment is to use a stencil (large leaf for fall – or Christmas tree for Christmas) and dust with powdered sugar.  See video here.

Since it freezes easily, you can declutter your holiday by baking several days ahead.  It is best when served slightly warm – so thaw and place in your oven on low temp while you enjoy your holiday meal.  Remove from oven and top with whipped cream if desired.


Quick How-To Video

Easy, Peasy, Cranberry Pie

Colorful, Tasty, and Super Easy
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 4 cups cranberries
  • 1 cup Texas pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 tsp salt


  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a deep dish 9-inch pie plate with the butter wrapper.  Melt butter in microwave. (I like to do this first so butter has a chance to cool slightly).
  • Add cranberries to the pan. Sprinkle the pecans evenly across the top, followed by 2/3 cup sugar
  • Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl, and slowly add butter - whisking as you pour.
  • Stir in vanilla, almond flavoring, 1 cup of sugar, flour, and salt until combined.
  • Pour batter evenly over the berry mixture.
  • Bake until golden for about 40 minutes
  • Let pie cool 1 hour and dust with powdered sugar (use a stencil if desired).  Serve warm and top with whipped cream when serving.
Keyword pie, cranberry, cranberry pie, easy desert, Thanksgiving desert, Christmas desert

Harvest Soup

Sometimes a friend shares a recipe that just becomes a season favorite!  This is it for me!

A few years ago, my husband, Barry and I were hunting on the 5F Ranch and the owner just happened to mention she was looking so forward to making her favorite fall soup the next week.  So, of course I asked about the recipe.

Harvest Soup has a plethora of healthy ingredients that resonate with each other in a spirited  sort of way.  I would have never thought of including pinto beans in a soup with butternut squash – but it works beautifully, and for all you vegetarians – this soup fills the bill.

I use a vegetable broth to tie it all together.  Here’s where you can add some creativity – either you use the minimum amount of broth for a super hearty bowl of soup; Or add more broth to thin it out and also make it go further.

I hope you love this recipe as much as do!

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How to make it Video





Harvest Soup

Nutritious Meal in a bowl!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 3 cups pinto beans
  • 4 cups orange and red peppers
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 3 cups butternut squash
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (add more if needed)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp mexican oregano
  • Dash of wine
  • 10 oz greens - choice of kale, chard, or spinach


  • Heat oil in a soup pot.  Add onion, celery, and garlic and saute.  Add jalapeño, and continue to cook for a couple minutes.
  • Add remaining ingredients except greens. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until veggies are tender.
  • Add dash of wine and additional broth if desired
  • Stir in greens and heat until wilted.
Keyword soup, pinto beans, butternut squash, kale, chard, spinach