Latke VS Doughnut

Quick Hanukkah quiz: Which came first, the latke (potato pancake) or the sufganyot (doughnut)?

Well, if you guessed the latke, you’d be wrong. Even though Jews have been celebrating Chanukah for more than 2,000 years, the potato latkes didn’t get “invented” until around the 15th century because potatoes did not become a staple in Europe and Russia until the New World was discovered and the potato was introduced to the menu our great great great great great bubbies and zadies.

The sufganyot or doughnuts, however, can be traced back to a fried honey ball called “loukomathes” that our ancestors made in ancient inGreece.

Being of Ashkenazi decent I always made latkes at least 3 or 4 nights of Hanukkah.  For the best results I always use russets or Yukon Gold potatoes. They are high in starch, and the starch is necessary to help the latke mixture stick together and form pancakes that don’t fall apart. Most people choose to peel the potatoes but . leaving the skin on will add color and texture to your pancakes. Be sure to scrub the potatoes thoroughly with a vegetable brush if you leave the skin on. If you do peel them keep them under water between peeling and shredding to prevent them from oxidizing. (Oxidation is what’s happening when potatoes start turning those lovely shades of pink brown and gray.) Latkes are traditionally made with a potatoes and onions, but there’s no halicha that says you have to make them the same every time. You can use shredded sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, garlic, parsnips or zucchini in most latke recipe. Just be sure that the majority of the mixture still consists of potatoes; these other vegetables do not contain enough starch to make the mixture stick together.
Having the onions and any other veggies trimmed and peeled and measured before you start shredding if really helpful. If you have a food processor with a shredder attachment, this will make putting everything together go faster, but a good old-fashioned hand-held grater will work just as well. If you want lacy latkes with rough, crispy edges, shred those potatoes coarsely. If you prefer denser latkes with smooth edges, use the fine side of the grater.

One of the most important parts of the latke-making process is squeezing out the potatoes. Wet, juicy potatoes make for soggy, greasy latkes that fall apart in the pan because wet items will not brown well in oil. The potatoes need to be dry and the oil needs to be good and hot, so that the exterior of the latke will quickly crisp up prevent to much grease from being absorbed. To squeeze out the potato mixture, place it in a towel and squeeze. Empty the contents of the towel into a mixing bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients

Pour the oil into a skillet until it’s 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. When the oil is about 350 it’s ready.  If you don’t have a deep-fat thermometer, you can test the temperature of the oil by dropping a small amount of latke mixture into the pan. If it turns golden brown within one minute, the oil is ready. Form the latkes by carefully placing spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil, then flattening the mounds with a spatula. Fry until they are browned on the bottom, then flip them with a spatula and brown the other side. Drain the latkes on paper towels and serve them immediately, if possible. If you aren’t able to serve them right away, keep them in the oven at 200 on a pan or platter. To keep them nice and crispy, don’t stack them up, and don’t cover them.

 

Latke Cooking Tips

Any latke can be made low-fat just by changing how you cook it. For a lower fat version, just fry for a minute or two on each side to get the outside crispy then bake latkes for about 10 minutes at 400-450. then turn the latke over and bake it for another 5 minutes on the other side.

APPLE AND POTATO LATKES (pareve)

 

1 lb russet potatoes, peeled
1 apple, peeled and cored
1 large egg
1/4 cup flour
salt
ground pepper
canola oil
powdered sugar

 

Grate the potatoes and apples together in food processor. Put the shredded mixture into a colander and squeeze out liquid. Place the mixture in a bowl and add the egg and flour, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. In large non-stick skillet, heat enough oil to cover bottom of the pan. Spoon out the batter into pan (approx 2 to 3 tablespoons per latke), being careful not to crowd the latkes. Cook until crisp and brown on one side, then turn and fry on other side. Keep finished pancakes warm in oven all pancakes are fried. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired just before serving. Makes 10 pancakes.

 

SPINACH AND ZUCCHINI LATKES (pareve)

 

2 lb fresh spinach, stemmed rinsed and chopped
1 lb zucchini peeled
1 lb russet potatoes peeled
1 onion
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried ground coriander
pepper
salt
oil

 

Grate the potatoes, zucchini and onion in food processor. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place the grated potato in a bowl and add the spinach, egg, flour, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. In large non-stick skillet, heat enough oil to cover bottom of the pan. Spoon out the batter (approx 2 to 3 tablespoons per latke) at a time into pan, being careful not to crowd the latkes. Cook until crisp and brown on one side, then turn and fry on other side. Keep finished pancakes warm in oven all pancakes are fried. Drain on paper towels. Makes around 24 pancakes.

 

GARDEN VEGETABLE LATKES (pareve)
Carrots, parsnips, green onions and dill make all  the difference in these colorful pancakes. Mix some chopped dill and green onions into sour cream to pass alongside.

 

8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces carrots (about 2 large), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces parsnips (about 2 large), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend

10 tablespoons (about) oil

 

Preheat oven to 325. Place baking sheet in oven. Using food processor fitted with medium grating disk, shred potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Place towel on work surface. Spread vegetables over. Roll up towel; squeeze tightly to absorb moisture from vegetables. Blend flour, dill, onions, salt and pepper in large bowl. Add vegetables; toss to coat. Mix in eggs.  Heat 6 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, drop 2 heaping tablespoons batter per pancake into hot oil. Using spoon, spread to 4-inch rounds. Cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to sheet in oven. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to skillet by tablespoonfuls as necessary. Serve hot. Makes about 12

 

MASHED POTATO PANCAKES (dairy)
Your search for hard-to-find good recipe for  mashed potato latkes  is now over. These are good old homemade ones that are slightly sweet, and very very moist.

 

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 potatoes – peeled, boiled and mashed
1 onion, chopped

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup oil
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir in mashed potatoes and onion until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk, and stir lightly into potato mixture. Stir in corn syrup and nutmeg, mixing well. Heat a large griddle to medium-high heat. Brush the griddle with oil and spoon potato mixture onto griddle in 12 equal portions. Fry  until brown on both sides brushing the griddle with more oil as necessary. Serve hot. Serves 6.This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. guesswho
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 17:21:43

    Yum
    I love latkes
    can you post a recipe for homemade sour cream to go with them?

    Reply

  2. Julie
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 20:13:25

    I love latkes… can’t wait for Chanukah!! Thanks for getting me excited! I’ve used a recipe in the past years that calls for a tablespoon or so of corn meal (instead of flour) l to give it a bit more crunch. Came out pretty good.

    Reply

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