Season of Light

Latkes, sour cream, applesauce, smoked salmon, and light

Latkes, sour cream, applesauce, smoked salmon, and light

DSCF1171

Golden, crisp, and delicious

I never had occasion to eat latkes until I met Alex. My first attempt was about two years ago, and having never eaten them, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing when I first made them, despite assiduously consulting my thrifted copy of The Jewish-American Kitchen. They turned out delicious, but also heavy, greasy, and way too thick in the middle as Alex politely informed me after I had already made them.

Over time, however, I have mastered the technique. If you want more explanation, this month’s Bon Appetit magazine has a spot-on article about latkes. My key to success? Think light thoughts. No sumo wrestlers in pointe shoes. Only light thoughts. Like butterflies and tiny icicles and snowflake kisses. No dense pancakes here. Light and crisp, light and crisp–these are the words I say to myself while I form the cakes. ‘Tis the season of light (and crisp, light and crisp), indeed!

I’m re-posting my recipe for latkes in case you are interested in flipping yours in the air sometime(s) this week.

Potato Latkes
Makes about 20 latkes

 – 3 russet potatoes
– 1 yellow onion

Peel and shred the veggies using the wide holes on a box grater. Place in a clean kitchen towel over an empty bowl. When you’re finished, wring out the moisture through the towel (there will be a lot).

Get a frying pan heating up on medium-high heat on the stovetop. Also heat your oven to 200F and put a wire cooling rack atop a baking sheet in the oven for keeping the latkes warm while you fry up the rest.

– 2 lightly beaten eggs
– 1/4 cup (or a bit less) all-purpose flour
– salt and pepper
Add to the potato/onion mixture in a large bowl. Fold to combine with a spoon or fork.

Heat enough oil in your frying pan to comfortably cover the bottom of the pan. Form latkes by gently shaping batter into a small cake (think light and crispy – you don’t want it too dense).Cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until they turn a lovely caramel brown color. Slide each into the oven to keep warm (and crisp) until you’re ready to plate. (But watch out – they may disappear before you have a chance to do so!). Repeat until you’ve used all the batter. Serve warm with applesauce (or other sauce of your choice).

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10 thoughts on “Season of Light

  1. Elizabeth says:

    flour not matzo meal? SACRILEGE!!! But seriously this looks lovely! I made sweetpotato/carrot/apple latkes, myself. They tasted like dessert!

  2. Stefani says:

    So true about them disappearing before it’s time to eat! I make mine by pureeing the potatoes & onions with egg and they’re delicious! I guess it depends on what you grow up with, though.

  3. Alex Katzen says:

    Great post! Lee got to celebrate Hanukkah with me last weekend! I love potato latkes. My Aunt says the trick is to drain ever last ounce of water from the potatoes before starting. Also they seem to do better when they are thinner. Happy Christmakah! 🙂

    • Jessalyn says:

      I agree with your aunt, Alex! The very first time I made them, those were my two biggest mistakes! It’s well worth the hard work though.

  4. Liz says:

    THANK YOU!!! I will be cooking my first Hannukah dinner on the 23rd and was going to make some Latkas and am glad you posted this. I planned on making it from a box, which lets admit never turns out great. I will have to let you know if it’s a success! And I might even try the sweet potato ones sometime!

    • Jessalyn says:

      Good luck, Liz! I’ve never used a box mix, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be good. I will assure you that homemade is quite easy – and a good way to enlist guests’ help grating potatoes and onions! Maybe you can do a side-by-side taste test?

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