You love your grandma, but just not her leaden matzoh balls and grease-laden latkes. With the eight days of Hanukkah beginning on Dec. 1 (25 Kislev for those of you on the Hebrew calendar), it's time for an act of self defense; it's time for Jewish holiday cooking classes.

Hipcooks founder Monika Reti has been at those dinners and has seen what she called “the rolling of the eyes, the 'Do we have to eat this stuff?' complaints. So the cooking school founder tested her versions through various holiday celebrations until she came up with a winning combination of fresher, lighter approaches to traditional favorites.

On Sunday, November 21st, from 1 to 4 p.m., Hipcooks West Los Angeles cooking school offers “Oy Vey!,” a participatory lesson in the essentials of many a Jewish holiday dish, including herbed matzoh ball soup, “Not-your-grandma's gefilte fish,” beef brisket, plum chicken and lemon polenta cake. Kosher white and red wines also will be offered for tasting along with the prepared dishes.

As part of a monthly series of cooking classes, on Saturday, December 4th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Barbrix chef Don Dickman will offer his take on the holiday's menu with “Oy Vey: The Art of Jewish Holiday Cooking.” The $75 demonstration class includes the classics — chopped liver, potato latkes, and matzoh ball soup, and also some welcome additions, such as a relish tray, a schmaltz and black bread appetizer, kasha varnishkes, carrot and sweet potato tzimmes, stuffed cabbage, holiday apple cake and chocolate-covered matzoh buttercrunch. A meal of the prepared dishes is served at the end. Classes may be reviewed and purchased here.

Extra Large Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

From: Monika Reti of Hipcooks cooking school

Note: Latkes may be prepared in advance. Drain cooked pancake on paper towels and pancakes, stack using parchment paper. Reheat pancakes in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until warmed through.

Serves: 4-16

4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and stored in cold water

2 medium onions

1 cup chopped scallion

4 eggs, beaten

salt and pepper

olive oil

fresh lemon juice

1. In a food processor, separately grate in batches the potatoes and onions and set aside.

2. Take handfuls of grated potatoes and squeeze out all excess moisture over a bowl set in the sink; reserve extracted moisture. To keep the potatoes from turning brown, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the exposed potatoes.

3. When you are ready to make the potatoes, add scallions, eggs, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly into drained, grated potatoes.

4. From the bowl of reserved potato liquid, a layer of potato starch should have accumulated in the bottom of the bowl. Add a handful of this starch to the potatoes (it helps them stick together).

5. Heat a nonstick, 12-inch sauté pan containing a twirl or two of olive oil, and spread the mixture thinly and evenly onto the pan.

6. Cook until golden on one side. Using potholders or mitts, hold both the plate and skillet tightly together and turn them over to invert the latke onto the plate. Then quickly slide the latke, uncooked side down, back into the pan. Continue cooking until the underside is crispy.

7. Repeat until all potato mixture is used.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.