8 Essential Latke Recipes You Need For Hanukkah
Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins this year at sundown on Dec. 2, and continues for eight days and nights. The holiday is celebrated by lighting candles, exchanging gifts and eating foods fried in oil, an ancient custom, commemorating a miraculous event at the Temple in Jerusalem, where a tiny vial of oil burned for eight days. Of course, latkes are the favorite Hanukkah food, and most of us are familiar with those made from grated potatoes, served with sour cream, preserves or applesauce.
This year I decided to search for some new and different latkes. The result was more than I bargained for! I never dreamed there could be so many sensational new recipes, and the delicious new sauces that accompany them are an added bonus. Plan a festive latke party for family and friends and prepare these eight exciting recipes, one for each night of Hanukkah. The cooler weather lends it-self to the enjoyment of eating crisp, hot latkes, and the Hanukkah candles will add a festive glow to your table. Keep the menu simple — after all, the latkes are the real stars, and a hearty soup or salad may be the only addition needed.
When latkes are served for dessert, invite neighbors to drop in after dinner for latkes and tea or coffee.I’m always looking for ways to reduce the use of butter and cream in our diet. I have developed wafer-thin, super-crisp Oven-Baked Potato Latkes. They bear absolutely no resemblance to the old-fashioned heavier, more caloric potato latkes, but are delicious. Bruce Marder, a friend, restaurant owner and truly innovative chef, created Two-Tone Potato Latkes, made without eggs and served as a main course to ac-company your favorite veggies.
Another recipe that is quick and easy to make are flavorful Austrian Dessert Latkes, served with a dash of lemon juice, powdered sugar and orange marmalade. Two totally different latke recipes for Hanukkah are from my cooking class. All-American Corn-Cake Latkes, which the students loved, and Italian Risotto Latkes, served with your favorite marinara sauce. A special treat for the final night of Hanukkah, is a recipe for Red Pepper and Corn Latkes served with salmon caviar. Cooking for a large group can be made easier by using a food processor or blender.
Also, many recipes can be made in advance, and requiring only frying the latkes just before serving. Cookies baked in the traditional shapes of stars and dreidels (spinning tops) add to the holiday spirit. Blue and white icing can reflect the color scheme in streamers, gift wrappings and paper plates and cups, all available in specialty shops and stationery stores. In planning a Hanukkah party, don’t forget the traditional songs, the custom of giving Hanukkah gelt (money) to the children, and exchanging small gifts. Re-member homemade latkes of all varieties, traditional or new, sweet, tangy or hearty, make a delicious Hanukkah gift that your family and friends will enjoy.
FOOD PROCESSOR LATKES
1 onion, quartered
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Cut the potatoes to fit the feed tube of a processor. Grate them, using very light pressure. Place the potatoes in a colander and rinse under cold water to remove the starch and to keep them from turning dark. Grate the onion in the processor. Leaving the onion in the bowl, insert the steel blade in the processor. Add the grated potatoes, eggs, flour and baking powder. Pulse the machine briefly, a few times, just until mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil. With a tablespoon, spoon the potato mixture into the hot oil and flatten the latkes with the back of the spoon for thinner latkes. Brown well on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with apple sauce, sour cream or sugar. Makes about 3 dozen.
OVEN-FRIED POTATO LATKES
2 large potatoes, peeled
Salt, pepper to taste
Sour cream, diced cucumbers, for garnish
Julienne the potatoes into long, thin strips. (Do not wash or soak in water.) Heat oil in nonstick frying pan and saute the potatoes with salt and pepper, until soft. Cool and place on large sheet of plastic wrap and cover with another sheet. Flatten with the bottom of a heavy pot until about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove top sheet and cut potato mixture with a round cookie cutter. Carefully place each potato round on an oiled bak-ing sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with sour cream and diced cucumbers. Makes about 16.
CHEF BRUCE MARDER’S TWO-TONE POTATO LATKES
1 large potato, peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
Julienne potatoes lengthwise into long matchsticks, either with a knife, food processor with julienne attachment or mandolin. Place in a large bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and mix well. In a cast iron skillet or griddle, heat olive oil, shape potatoes mixture to form pancakes about 2 inches in diameter. Fry on one side until brown; with metal spatula, carefully turn, flatten with back of spatula and brown on the other side. Place latkes on heated plates and serve with veggies. Makes about 12 latkes.
ALL-AMERICAN CORN CAKE LATKES
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
4 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Oil for frying
Roughly chop the corn kernels or process in short bursts in a food processor until a chunky but creamy consistency. Place in large bowl and whisk in the milk, cornmeal and flour, making sure there are no lumps. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, whole eggs and egg yolks. Stir into the corn mixture and season with salt, pepper and chives. Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat and spoon in batter to make pancakes the size of silver dollars. Fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown on one side, then flip and fry for 2 more minutes. Remove from pan using a slot-ted spatula. Place 4 cooked corncakes on each serving plate. Serve with spicy vegetable or fruit relish. Makes about 2 dozen.
ITALIAN RISOTTO LATKES
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onions
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 pinch saffron (optional)
1/2 cup white wine
1 quart vegetable broth
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cream
Olive oil for frying
Heat oil in large pot and saute onion. Add rice and brown. Mix in saffron. Add wine and simmer until wine evaporates. Add half of broth and cook slowly, stirring until liquid evaporates. When dry, add broth 1/4 cup at a time, until rice becomes tender. This should take about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, add Parmesan, butter, and cream and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cool. (This can be done a day ahead.)Shape the rice mixture into latkes (pan-cakes). Heat oil in large frying pan, and fry latkes on both sides until brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towels. Serve immediately with your favorite marinara (tomato) sauce. Makes about 12.
6 medium zucchini, julienned
5 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley, stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for frying
1/4 to 1/2 cup flour
Salt, black pepper to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine zucchini, eggs, scallions, parsley and 1 tablespoon oil. Add flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition until ingredients are the consistency of pancake batter. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil to 375 degrees. Spoon zucchini mixture by tablespoon into hot oil and flatten with back of a wet spoon. Cook on both sides until well-browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Makes about 36 latkes.
RED PEPPER AND CORN LATKES
1 red bell pepper3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup flour 1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, pepper to taste
Oil for frying
Salmon caviar, optional
Preheat oven to 375 F. Roast red pepper for 40 minutes, turning once. Skin will puff and brown; peel. Remove, let cool. Remove stem and discard seeds. Puree in blender or food processor. In a large bowl, combine the red pepper puree, egg yolks, milk and corn kernels and mix well. Blend in the flour. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into red pepper mixture. Season to taste, with salt and pepper. In a nonstick or heavy skillet, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. For each latke, spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into the hot oil and fry on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with salmon caviar. Makes about 2 dozen.
AUSTRIAN DESSERT LATKES
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup milk
Olive oil for frying
Lemon juice, powdered sugar and orange marmalade, for garnish
In a mixing bowl, combine flour and 2 tablespoons sugar, lemon zest and salt. Beat in egg yolks and milk. Beat egg whites with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form and fold into the flour mixture. The batter will be thin. Heat oil in a skillet until very hot, and spoon in 1 tablespoon of batter for each latke. Fry only about 1 minute on the first side, turn and fry 30 seconds on other side, they brown quickly. To serve, squeeze fresh lemon juice on each latke, sprinkle with powdered sugar and add a dollop of orange marmalade. Makes about12 small latkes.
For a gluten-free latke recipe click here.
Judy Zeidler is a cooking teacher and cookbook author
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