NEWHALL – Crispy or chewy? Sweet or sour? They’re as individual as the makers and consumers and are the centerpiece of Hanukkah celebrations around the world. Latkes are, in their most basic simplicity, potato pancakes. In their splendor, they can be multicolored, using beets, zucchini and carrots for color or sweet as the jelly doughnuts that are often served alongside them. It’s all a matter of taste. And really, it’s all about the oil. “The point is the oil,” said Dawn Walker, a member of Temple Beth Ami and chef who teaches cooking classes in her Stevenson Ranch kitchen. “We are celebrating the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days, so everything we eat during Hanukkah – the latkes and the jelly doughnuts – everything is fried in oil.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake After the Jewish people overthrew their Syrian oppressors 2,400 years ago, they reclaimed Jerusalem’s temple and cleaned it of all the Greek icons and idols they had been forced to worship. When they were ready to ignite the temple’s Eternal Light, they could only find one small jar of sanctified oil – enough, they thought, to last only one day, but it burned for eight. Today, some of the most important foods eaten at Hanukkah are cooked in oil to celebrate the eight-day miracle. Walker is one of the kitchen mavens cooking up special batches of her favorite recipe – using shredded russet potatoes, browned onions, green apple matzo, eggs and salt – for a latke cook-off the temple is sponsoring this evening. The event won’t actually involve sizzling skillets at 10 paces, but participants are asked to bring their favorite version as well as the recipes. “This was originally my daughter’s idea,” said Tracy Blazer, another skilled chef who debuted beet latkes at last year’s event. “She kept hearing about chili cook-offs and asked why couldn’t we do a latke cook-off? We thought we’d give it a try.” At last year’s cook-off, 10 recipes proved popular and were traded after the tastings. Blazer doesn’t know how many people will be at today’s event, but said she recently received a call asking her for her recipe. “It’s a way to share the latke concept,” she said. “I actually cook mine at the event, but a lot of people bring extras prepared with their recipes.” Aside from the latke consumption, participants in today’s havdalah (a service that signals the end of the Sabbath) will have a potluck supper, followed by games and music for the children. Attendance is free and the public is invited. Other Hanukkah events include a Hanukkah jammies breakfast (because everyone attends in their pajamas) sponsored by Hadassah. It is a fundraiser; tickets are $15 per adult (children under 12 are free); Hadassah members and their adult guests are $10. On the menu are Swedish pancakes, waffles, doughnuts, bagels and cream cheese and quiche. Donations for the Santa Clarita Valley Food Pantry are also being collected. For further information, call (661) 297-2960. A free Hanukkah storytime is scheduled Tuesday from 7 to 8 p.m. at Barnes and Noble on Valencia Boulevard. Attendance is free and will feature Hanukkah stories, songs and treats. Wendy Hersch will lead songs and help with the storytelling. For further information, call Rabbi Mark Blazer at (661) 288-1421. — Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!