With Hanukah beginning this weekend, I’ve just recently dusted off my Tree of Life menorah I received as a wedding gift over 15 years ago.
Like an archeologist discovering a lost treasure, I carefully unraveled the remaining blue and white candles from last year as well as the two little dreidels we’ve used since my kids were preschoolers.
While I like to say Hanukah is my kids’ favorite Jewish holiday, I’ve never really admitted it’s mine too.
I truly enjoy turning out the lights after dinner to light the candles of the menorah and to sing the festive holiday songs. Not surprisingly, my kids adore the holiday for the gift-giving. We aspire to give a little gift every night.
This year I wanted to make homemade Potato Latkes for the first night’s festivities and saw a yummy recipe from Fairway Market.
BTW- for those of you in the NYC area who are hard-pressed for time, Fairway does offer an extensive catering menu for Chanukah: http://www.fairwaymarket.com/files/catering/hannukah2012-uws.pdf Note: orders must be placed by Dec 6th – for in-store pick up only.
But, I was hell bent on making latkes from scratch. After all, I was stocked with the necessary ingredients (even some Matzoh meal leftovers from last Passover) and I was eager to start peeling and shredding the potatoes.
This recipe is so easy and takes very little culinary skill. But, there are just a few additional suggestions I’d make (now that I’m a conditioned latke maker):
Make sure you place your shredded potato pieces in a sieve and press against the potato to adequately drain the excess water before you mix it with the eggs and other ingredients.
Make sure your skillet is sufficiently hot, with the right amount of oil coating the bottom before dropping in the spoonfuls of potato mixture. Gently press the potato down and let it brown around 2-3 minutes on each side.
Some latke recipes might have you lightly brown the potato pancakes in the skillet and then transfer them to the oven for a couple minutes of baking to achieve a nice fluffy center.
My latkes were crispy and somewhat flattened—exactly how I remembered eating them as a kid.
Lastly, make sure you place your newly-cooked latkes on a paper towel with which you’ll pat out all the grease. While the oil is necessary to get your potatoes properly fried on the outside, if they’re too greasy, guaranteed you won’t even get through one whole pancake.
And, don’t be alarmed, Potato Latkes never look pretty. In fact, they always look like a non-descript pancakes with irregular shapes. But, rest assured, with a little bit of salt to taste, some fresh apple sauce or perfectly chilled sour cream, you’ll enjoy each bite!
My kids gave the latkes 1 ½ thumbs up. My son couldn’t figure out whether he was to eat the latke with his hands like a bagel, or cut into them.
Both kids preferred them hot, right off the skillet, and requested more salt and applesauce. Neither tried the sour cream option.
In general, Potato Latkes tend to be bland, so don’t be shy. Spruce them up with salt, pepper, and nice heaping spoonfuls of fresh apple sauce or sour cream as toppings too.
Potato Latkes (from Fairway Markets)
· 4 Idaho potatoes, peeled and shredded
· 3 large eggs
· 1 Spanish onion, diced
· 1 cup vegetable oil
· 4 tablespoons matzo meal
· 1 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1 teaspoon fresh pepper
· sour cream
1. Mix the potatoes, eggs, onion, matzo meal, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy pan until it is just short of smoking.
3. Use a soup spoon to portion out each pancake into two soup spoonfuls per pancake.
4. Place each potato pancake in the pan, browning them for 2-3 minutes per side.
5. When done, take each pancake out of the pan and drain on a paper towel.
6. Serve with a side of apple sauce and sour cream and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I was not compensated for writing this post. I’m just a huge fan of Fairway Market.