For many people, December means holiday time. This includes religious commemorations, family get-togethers, gifts and, of course, food — lots of food. This year, Generation Next staffers cooked up some of their favorite holiday dishes and provided recipes for the rest of us to try out.

Potato latkes

by Luke Chavez

Potato latkes, better know by my siblings and I as potato pancakes, hold a warm place in my heart. This savory dish — usually served with a sweet, homemade applesauce — encapsulates a typical, loving family dinner in our household. First introduced to us by a school program called Cooking With Kids, we instantly fell in love with the dish and incorporated it into our family traditions.

For latkes:

41/2 cups of shredded potatoes

1 thinly sliced green onion

2 eggs beaten

3/4 teaspoon of salt

3/4 cup of whole wheat flour

1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Preparation: Grate peeled potatoes directly into a bowl of water. Transfer the grated potatoes into a colander and press them to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, salt, pepper and vegetable oil. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Add the potatoes and sliced green onion and mix well.

Heat a skillet over high. Spread a small amount of oil evenly over the surface. Spoon about two tablespoons of potato mixture to form each latke. Flatten the latke with a spatula and cook until dark golden brown and cooked through.

For applesauce:

6 apples washed, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup of water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup of honey or sugar

Preparation: In a saucepan, combine the apples and water. Cook over medium heat, covered, for about 25 minutes, stirring often, until the apples are soft. Bring heat to low and crush the apples into a thick paste. Stir in the cinnamon and honey or sugar, if using, and cook for five more minutes.

Onion pakora: A classic Indian appetizer

by Nive Bala

In India, pakoras are popular snacks made during family gatherings and special occasions. They are easy to make and are often sold by street vendors. They are usually flour-based and, depending on the occasion, can include a variety of different ingredients. This specific dish has been a huge part of my life thus far. Growing up, my mom and my grandma loved to make this dish on rainy days and special occasions. While this isn’t the most “holiday-ish” dish, for me, it is reminiscent of happy times with friends and family, and I think that is a huge part of the holidays.

1 full onion

½ cup chickpea (besan) flour

¼ cup rice flour

½ teaspoon chile power

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

10-15 curry leaves

A handful of cilantro

Grated ginger (optional)

Chopped cashew nuts (optional)

Green chile, chopped length wise (optional)

1 pinch asafoetida powder

Salt to taste

Oil for deep frying

Preparation: Cut onion thinly and lengthwise so that you have sections of thin onion rings

In a bowl, add the sliced onions, the ginger, the curry leaves, the cilantro, the green chile and the cashew nuts, if using. Squeeze the mixture gently to extract water and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

Add fennel seeds, besan flour and rice flour to the bowl and mix well.

Sprinkle some water over the mixture so that the batter comes together like dough.

Carefully add one teaspoon of hot oil to the mixture — this will ensure a light, crispy pakora.

Heat oil in a pan for deep frying.

Once the oil is sizzling hot, take a small amount of the batter and gently place it in the hot oil. Make sure not to add too much at once.

Fry the pakora until they are crisp and golden brown, and transfer them into another container. If you would like to, line the bowl with napkins to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot, either plain, with masala chai or green chutney.

Wedding cookies

by Valeria Ramirez

Mexican wedding cookies are a classic holiday treat. For as long as I can remember, I have been eating these cookies at traditional Hispanic celebrations and making them with my family for the holidays. They are not only a great cookie but a big part of my culture.

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2¼ cups sifted flour

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Powdered sugar (for rolling baked cookies in)

Preparation: Cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in vanilla.

Whisk together flour and salt in a separate bowl and add gradually to butter mixture. Stir in chopped nuts.

Chill dough if it seems too soft.

Form dough into 1¼ balls and place onto parchment-lined or greased baking sheets.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or just until the cookies start to turn light golden-brown. Then remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

While cookies are still warm (but not hot), remove them from the baking sheets and roll, a few times in powdered sugar until evenly coated. Then cool cookies completely on a wire rack.

Red Chile

by Sofia Ortiz

For any Hispanic family in New Mexico, the holidays simply are not the holidays without a pot of red chile. For as long as I can remember, every family gathering, especially around the holiday season, came equipped with perfectly spicy red sauce to slather on all of our food. The best chile sauce by far is made by my grandmother, who learned to make it when she was young from my great grandmother. Now it’s a family tradition that every grandchild learns from their grandma. The smell of my Nana’s chile on the stove tells me that Christmas and good times are here.

2 quarts of dried red chile pods

3 or 4 garlic cloves

3 to 4 pounds boneless pork loin, chopped in small cubes

2 teaspoons Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon of cumin

salt to taste, about 1 teaspoon

Preparation: Snap tops off of chile pods. Put about 2 quarts of pods in a large vessel of water, then cover and heat to boiling, weighing down the pods if possible to keep them underwater. Turn off the heat when water comes to a boil. Cover the pods and let them sit for an hour or two.

Pull pods out of hot water with tongs to allow as much water as possible to drain. Place in blender and tap down lightly. Fill with cold water (or broth from cooking the pork in Instant Pot) to just above pods. Add three to four garlic cloves and blend it together. Blend it again.

For the meat mixture:

Use boneless pork loin chops or loin roast if you are using an Instant Pot. If not, it’s probably better to use pork shoulder. Boneless pork chops are easier to cut if slightly frozen. Cut in small squares, about 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes. You need about 3-4 pounds of boneless pork for a large pot of chile.

With a little oil in the bottom of the skillet, cook the cubes of pork until they’re no longer pink. The meat does not have to be fully cooked, since you will put it into the Instant Pot for full cooking (or simmering with chile added).

Add all of the spices: oregano, cumin and salt.

Place the chile mixture into the Instant Pot and add the cooked meat. For thickening, instead of a roux, you may add bread that has been ground in a mixer. Start with about 1/2 cup and add to your liking. Salt to taste. Cook for an hour in Instant Pot. You may thicken it to your liking by adding more breadcrumbs and simmering an extra 15 minutes. If you do not have an Instant Pot, simmer the meat and chile mixture in a large pan on very low simmer, for two hours or so.

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