Category Archives: JEWISH CUISINE

POTATO LATKES, FOR HANUKKAH AND BEYOND

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O Chanukah O Chanukah, Come light the menorah

Let’s have a party, we’ll all dance the hora

 

Gather round the table, we’ll give you a treat

Dreydels to play with and latkes to eat

 

And while we are playing,
the candles are burning low

 

One for each night, they shed a sweet light
to remind us of days long ago

Holidays, I love them and the foods they bring to us only for that day or season.  The anticipation of a food or foods that are eaten ONLY at that time of the year taste even better don’t you think?  One of the wonderful benefits of growing up in New York City and it’s 5  boroughs is the whole MELTING POT environment.  Back in the 60’s and 70’s before the harsh overreach of Politically correct took affect, Public schools in the City of New York allowed Christmas/Hanukkah songs to be sung at the Holiday time.  This was not cross indoctrination or promoting any religion, instead it was educational.  It taught this ItalianAmerican Roman Catholic all about some of the Holidays celebrated by others.  In 7th Grade we learned the song I posted at the top and we learned about Gelt (the gold foil chocolate coins, the latkes, the significance of the Menorah, the dreidel).  We had Jewish neighbors and friends who taught us their foods and cultures as being Jewish encompasses many nations and traditions.  Wonderful stuff.  I’ve never forgotten any of it and I appreciate the celebrations by those who follow that religion.  Latkes and Applesauce, the first homemade ones I had were made by Mrs. Miller, a friend’s very Yiddish mother.  She taught me what schmaltz is and how it’s made and used..the importance of onions..and dill..and here’s something about how EVERYONE of us cooks..we bring all those “things” we learned to our kitchen table whether we realize it or not.  When I created my LATKE (shredded potato pancakes that are a symbol of Hanukkah.  The lamp miraculously burned for 8 days and 8 nights on very little oil so foods FRIED in OIL are traditionally made at Hanukkah) recipe i added the onion and dill of Mrs. Miller’s kitchen.  Some do, some don’t, some add no flour, some add mashed potato..again, like with my usual Italian and ItalianAmerican cooking, this is home cooked recipe and it will differ from house to house.  Come, enter my kitchen with me and let’s make LATKES…good luck with having a full platter to serve though…they are incredible when they are still hot…ok, let them cool..enjoy them with a little Applesauce or Sour Cream!!

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TIME: 1 hour                    YIELDS: about 35 Latkes

  • 3 1/2 pounds peeled baking potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose  unbleached flour
  • 2 organic large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill,  fresh..not dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • neutral oil for frying, like Vegetable, Canolalatkes 002Now it’s time to make Latkes!  Using a box GRATER, taking care not to grate your knuckles (cooking can  be such a dangerous sport!!), over a large stainless steel bowl grate the potatoes.  After you are done with them, grate the peeled onion into the mix.  Let me stop here…
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    Notice something?  Let’s see if you’re paying attention.  OK, hint..the potatoes in the ingredients list are PEELED.  In the picture, they are not.  I like the peel in them.  That’s a personal preference that’s not shared by everyone. I’ll say more like the fully peeled SO you decide for yourself.  Next…in a paper towel lined colander empty the potato and onion mix into the colander.  Let this drain for 15 minutes. Then, squeeze the mix until it’s quite dry but reserve 2 tbs.  You want to keep some of that natural potato starch.  Put the whole mix back into the stainless steel bowl including the 2 tbs of potato starch water. Add all the ingredients and mix till just blended.latkes 003 Let this sit for about 5 minutes.  While that’s “sitting” heat 1/4 inch of oil in a cast iron or heavy frying pan.  When you can feel the heat coming off the oil, takes about 4-5 minutes gently drop 2 tablespoons of the mix for each latke you will make.  Lightly press into the mound to flatten them a bit.  Fry for about 6 minutes per side.  latkes 007 Drain the latkes on paper towels and lightly salt them while they are draining.  DO NOT CROWD THE PAN…it will reduce the temperature greatly and cause your Latkes to be greasy.  Serve with Applesauce

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    or Sour Cream.  Or both..nice to give a choice.  They are so delicious.latkes 009  A delicious gift from the Jewish culture to our huge world of foods.  To reheat them, never use a microwave or heat them covered.  Into a hot oven, place them on brown paper bags on heavy baking sheets for 5-8 minutes.  Or heat them in a hot cast iron or heavy bottomed un-greased pan.  If making them ahead of time and refrigerating them, remove them a few hours before re-heating.  They will be better if brought to room temperature first. For those who love tradition..here’s the Hanukkah song in Yiddish:

  • Oy Chanukah oy Chanukah, a yontif a sheiner

    A lustiker a freylicher nito noch a zeyner

     

    Alle nacht in dreydlech shpiln mir

    Zudik hesse latkes essen mir

     

    Geshvinder tsindt kinder
    di Chanukah lichtelech on

     

    Zol yeder bazunder bazingen dem vunder
    un tantzen freylech in kohn

  • enjoy your Latke frying!!!  and Thanks to Miss Ericsson and Miss Vogt who taught the 7th grade orchestra and chorus the Hanukkah song at I.S. 51, Markham Junior High, Staten Island, NYC.  Some things we never forget..