Chanukah is upon us
The countdown to Chanukah has begun and that familiar feeling
of anticipation is in the air . . . time to polish those menorahs,
unpack the dreidels, and make our gift lists. If there's one word
that sums up much of the excitement for me, though, its latkes!
My mouth waters at the mention of the word. When I was growing up,
my mother would make them with us every day of Chanukah. My sisters
and I would bring them to school each year to share with our class,
and we'd freeze entire batches to enjoy long after the festival had
passed. One year we had a latke fry-off at my synagogue with more
than 25 different versions of potato latkes! I can recall my
surprise that not one was the same as any other--there were thin
crispy latkes, some were soft and fluffy, others were creamy or
chewy. When I asked my friends which ones they liked, just about
each person said that even though all the others were good, they'd
choose their own mom's latkes every time.
In those days the idea of making
latkes with anything other than potatoes and onions was pretty rare,
but now latkes have gone quite gourmet. The Philadelphia restaurant
Brasserie Perrier currently features smoked salmon, potato, and
basil croquettes with a citrus crème fraiche on its roster of cold
appetizers. I've seen recipes that call for scallions instead of
onions and the addition of fresh herbs, lemon juice, and all sorts
of exotic seasonings. Joan Nathan writes, in Jewish Cooking in
America, that before potatoes arrived in Poland and Russia,
latkes (from the Russian "latka") were most likely made
from buckwheat groats, lentils, or other legumes.
In my perusal of a variety of Jewish
cookbooks, I came upon recipes for green pea latkes and sweet potato
latkes, zucchini latkes, latkes made with parsnips, carrots, and
beets . . . even guacamole! And though applesauce and sour cream
really can't be beat, I've had the pleasure over the years of
experimenting with a wealth of tantalizing toppings. Last year, some
friends hosted a Chanukah dinner with three exotic variations on the
latke and guests brought a few kinds as well. I guess you could say
it was a regular "pot-latke" supper.
When my mom passed away just days
before Chanukah, one of the first things I did when I got up from
sitting shivah was to get out her big box grater, pile potatoes on
the counter, and start peeling. My tears started long before I got
to the onions, and that will probably be my experience again this
year and every year from here on. But one thing is certain,
me, Jewish food especially--is linked to important people, to
tradition, and more than anything, to memories. Here's to honoring
our memories and the miracle of the oil.
Until we eat again . . .
Lisa Kelvin Tuttle has professional experience in the
gourmet, catering, and health-food fields, as well as being an experienced
kosher camp cook. Her greatest pleasure, though, is cooking Shabbos dinner for
family and friends. She resides with her husband, Alan, and sons Adam and Jeremy
Edie's Potato Latkes
- 6 large Idaho potatoes
- 3 medium yellow onions
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup self-rising flour
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Grate the potatoes and onions
either by hand, using the largest holes on a box grater, or with
the grater attachment of a food processor. Then, using your food
processor's blade attachment, pulse the grated mixture two or
three times to break down only slightly. Remove mixture to a
large bowl and fold in the beaten eggs, flour and salt.
- Heat ¼ inch of oil in a large
heavy skillet, and gently spoon batter into the pan (I find that
a soupspoon works well), tapping the spoon in the center
slightly to form uniform latkes. The flatter you make the
latkes, the more crisp they will be. Cook about 2 minutes till
golden brown on the first side, then flip and fry about another
30 seconds. Remove to paper towels or cut-up brown paper bags to
drain. You can keep them warm in a 200-degree oven while you fry
the rest. If the batter becomes watery, just stir in a bit more
of the self-rising flour.
Makes about 40 three inch latkes.
Moroccan Beet Latkes
If you don't fancy Moroccan spices, leave them out! These unusual
latkes are delicious either savory or sweet. These are great with
sour cream and hot sauce!
- 6 medium beets
- 6 tablespoons self-rising flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 large eggs, slightly beaten
- Peel and coarsely grate the beets.
Place in a large bowl and press with paper towels to remove as
much of the liquid as you can.
- In another bowl, whisk flour,
salt, cumin, coriander, and pepper. Then mix in the beets and
the eggs, folding to combine ingredients.
- Pour ¼ inch of oil in a large
skillet and heat over medium heat. Working in batches, drop beep
mixture by ¼-cupfuls in to skillet, and spread to 3½-inch
rounds. Fry until golden, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to
a baking sheet and rewarm in a 350-degree oven until
This funky take on the potato latke from Kosher by Design Entertains
will have people talking-and asking for the recipe!
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes,
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 avocadoes, peeled, pit removed
- ½ large red onion, minced
- 2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded,
and finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups canned black beans,
drained and rinsed
- peanut oil for frying
- Using the coarse grating disk
of a food processor, grate the unpeeled potatoes. Transfer to a
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the salt into the eggs.
- In another bowl, mash the avocado with the back of a fork.
Add the onions, jalapeno peppers, and the beans. Mix to combine,
then add the egg mixture and the avocado mixture into the grated
potatoes. Gingerly toss to combine.
- In a large skillet, heat the peanut oil until very hot but
not smoking. If you are using a thermometer, bring the oil to
375 degrees F.
- Add the potato/avocado mixture ¼ cup at a time. Fry until
golden, flip and fry until golden on the other side. Drain on
paper towels or brown paper. Serve with a dollop of salsa.
Makes about 14-18 latkes.
Pineapple Cottage Cheese Latkes
These delicious dairy latkes are so easy-you just whip up the batter
in the blender-and they can be made with any plain or flavored
cottage cheese, as well as ricotta or farmer cheese. The batter will
appear too thin, but it will cook into light tasty little pancakes.
- 1 12-ounce container of pineapple
- 6 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil and butter for frying
Mix first seven ingredients on high speed for one minute in a
blender, or in the bowl of an electric mixer. Drop by tablespoonfuls
into a heated mixture of melted butter and oil (the butter adds a delicious
flavor to these dairy pancakes, and the oil keeps the butter from
burning). Fry until golden brown on both sides. Serve with sour
cream and jam.
Steven Raichlen's "Amazing Low-Fat" Sweet Potato Latkes
I was impressed by Raichlen's technique of bake-frying latkes in the
oven. Below is a variation on this traditionally high-calorie treat,
adapted from Healthy Jewish Cooking.
- 1½ pounds sweet potatoes
- 1 small onion
- 1/3 cup egg substitute or 3 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- ¼ cup matzo meal or flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil or cooking spray
- Place a large nonstick baking
sheet in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
- Coarsely grate the sweet potatoes and onion into a mixing bowl,
using a food processor or box grater using the largest holes. Stir
in the egg substitute, parsley, matzo meal or flour, baking powder,
cinnamon and nutmeg (if using), and salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the oil on the hot baking sheet, spreading it around with
the back of a metal spatula, or spray cookie sheet well with cooking
- Spoon small mounds of sweet potato mixture onto the baking sheet
to form 2-inch pancakes, leaving an inch or so between them.
- Bake the latkes until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side,
turning once with a spatula. When you turn them, be sure to flip
them onto spots on the baking sheet that still have the oil. Do not
overcook or the latkes will become too soft or too dark. Transfer to
a serving platter and serve at once.
Makes about 24 2-inch latkes.
Previously on the Kosher Table