Thursday, December 17, 2009


Ok. So basically what happened is that I didn't get to make latkes on Sunday (the day I'd planned because my friends came over to bake cookies and we had tons of fun but didn't finish up until almost 9 and we'd all eaten so many cookies/so much dough that something as heavy as latkes was completely out of the question. So instead I waited until Tuesday, which was the next day that the Ia(i)ns and I would be able to eat dinner together. This also happened to be the day Bozzie was making chili. He'd thought about cornbread as a side, but that just didn't happen.

Latkes go as deep into my memory as anything. I don't remember the first time we made them, but I have a number of images of my Dad standing in the kitchen, apron on, potato in one hand and grater in the other. (Ok, so sometimes we used the cuisinart too). Latkes are deep-fried, so there's no point in trying to make them healthy, but they taste amazing. Believe me. I'm not normally one to go for fried foods. Since latkes are a traditionally Jewish food, there are probably as many recipes as there are Jews in the world. This is the one my family uses. Happy Hanukkah!

Potato Latkes


Note: This recipe is given in proportions rather than exact amounts. The numbers in parentheses are what I used, and I made about 20 latkes from the batch. Each person ate about 3-4 and we had leftovers.
  • Potatoes(6 medium)
  • 1 onion for every 2 potatoes (3 medium)
  • 1 egg for every 1 potato (6)
  • 1/4 cup flour for every potato potatoes(1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 tsp salt for each potato (1 1/2 tsp)
  • Black pepper. Lots.
  • Ditto on the canola oil

  • Put up a pot of water to boil
  • Scrub the potatoes. You can peel them if you like, but I wouldn't suggest it. Grate them into little bits like hashbrowns. You can use a food processor, but, as my Great Grandma Rhea from what is now Belarus said "Latkes are no good unless they have a little bit of knuckle in them." (Apparently this phrase was not her invention--I've heard it tossed around by other Jewish grandmothers).
  • Parboil the potatoes for about 5 minutes. You don't need them to be completely soft, but you want them to get cooked enough that they run no risk of tasting like raw potato once finished. You may have to do this in batches, depending on how many potatoes you have.
  • Meanwhile, grate the onions and stick them into a large mixing bowl
  • Drain the potatoes into a colander, rinse with lots of cold water, and squeeze out the excess moisture. I found the method for this to be picking up handfuls and squeezing them repeatedly, then tossing them in the mixing bowl.
  • Throw in the eggs, flour, salt and pepper, and mix well. It'll look pretty gooey and white at this point, most likely. That's a good thing.
  • Get the oil going. I pour 1/4-1/2 inch depth on the bottom of the skillet and the way I test its readiness is by throwing in a little tiny piece of latke. When it starts sizzling, you're in business.
  • Using a spoon (or whatever really) scoop latke mix from the bowl and throw it into the skillet. I usually do three at a time. Let them sizzle along and press them down a bit with a spatula or spoon. The time will vary wildly, and so will the temperature you need to keep the skillet on, because the oil keeps getting hotter. When it's nicely browned on one side, flip it and let it cook until it seems done on the other side. Taste the first one to make sure it doesn't need more salt. If the batter seems too thin, add some flour.
  • When the latkes come out of the skillet, have a plate layered with paper towels ready so they can drain. Once they've drained a bit, it's a good idea to put them into an oven on "warm" until it's time to eat. You can cook all of the batter and reheat the leftovers in the oven (a microwave will do too, but that doesn't lend the nice crispy quality of an oven or toaster oven). You can also store batter in the fridge for a few days.
  • For the record, applesauce is a much better accompaniment for latkes than chili, but chili worked surprisingly well. Some people like sour cream on top. I'm not really sure why. In fact, I'm not really sure why people like sour cream on top of anything....

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