Latkes…Lots of Luscious Latkes

by | in Chanukah

Although potato latkes are a traditional Chanukah treat, why not experiment this year by making latkes with other vegetables? With the recipes below, you can enjoy a different kind of latke every night of Chanukah!

I prefer to use russet potatoes because they are higher in starch and have a lower water content. However, you can also use red potatoes or Yukon Gold successfully.

To keep grated potatoes from turning a grayish color, immediately add grated onions to the potatoes—the onion juice will prevent the potatoes from turning black. (You can also achieve the same effect by crushing and adding half a vitamin C tablet to the potatoes.) If you want to grate the potatoes by hand, do it at the last minute to keep the potatoes white.

For lacy latkes, grate the potatoes using the grating blade of the food processor, using very light pressure. Empty the potatoes into a colander and rinse under cold running water to remove the starch (this also helps prevent the potatoes from turning dark). Squeeze dry and then process in batches using the steel blade, with very quick on/off pulses. Do not overprocess. Transfer the grated potatoes to a bowl and mix them with the other ingredients, working quickly.

You can bake latkes instead of frying them. If you’re frying, don’t overcrowd the pan, as it will lower the temperature of the oil. When the latkes are done, their outsides will be crisp and the centers will be tender yet cooked through.

Most latkes can be made in advance and frozen successfully. Reheat them, uncovered, at 375° for about 10 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet, until they’re crispy and piping hot. There’s no need to defrost them first.

Serve latkes with a dollop of applesauce or tomato salsa for a meat meal, or with low-fat sour cream or yogurt for a dairy meal.

Norene’s Easy Potato Latkes
Makes about 2 dozen latkes or 5 dozen miniatures

These latkes are quick and easy, and you can use basic ingredients you’re sure to have on hand.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and scrubbed
1 medium onion
2 eggs (or 1 egg plus 2 egg whites)
1/3 cup flour or matzah meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil (plus more as needed)

Insert steel blade in food processor. Cut potatoes in chunks and cut onion in half. Place both in processor with eggs. Process until puréed, about 20 to 30 seconds. Add all remaining ingredients except oil; process a few seconds longer to blend into a smooth mixture.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop large spoonfuls of potato mixture into hot oil to form pancakes; brown well on both sides. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil if necessary. Drain well on paper towels.

Note: Stir batter before cooking each new batch. Latkes can be placed on a baking sheet and kept warm in a 250° oven. They freeze well.
Baked Version: Place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions in oven. Preheat oven to 450°. Drop spoonfuls of potato mixture onto well-oiled baking sheets; flatten slightly. Bake 10 minutes, until bottoms are browned and crispy. Turn latkes over and transfer pan from upper rack to lower rack and vice versa. Bake 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Carrot Latkes
Makes 16 to 18 latkes or 5 dozen hors d’oeuvres.

6 medium carrots
1 medium onion
3 eggs (or 2 eggs and 2 egg whites)
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons oil (plus more as needed)

Insert grater in food processor. Cut carrots to fit feed tube and grate using medium pressure. Measure 2 cups.

Using the steel blade of the processor, process onion until fine, about 6 to 8 seconds. Add all remaining ingredients except oil. Process until blended, about 15 seconds.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop large spoonfuls of carrot mixture into hot oil to form pancakes and flatten slightly. Brown well until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil if necessary. Drain well on paper towels.

Note: Freezes well.
Variation: To make zucchini latkes, replace carrots with 3 medium zucchinis. After grating, salt zucchini lightly and let stand for 15 minutes. Press out excess moisture.

Cauliflower Latkes
Makes 14 latkes

These luscious, low-carb latkes are a delicious alternative to traditional potato latkes, with just 42 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates each.

1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into florets(about 4 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic (about 1 teaspoon minced)
1 large egg
1/4 cup matzah meal or bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oil (plus more as needed)

Steam the cauliflower for 10 minutes or until tender (or microwave on high, covered, for 6 to 7 minutes). Measure 3 cups cooked.

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the cauliflower until mashed, about 10 to 12 seconds. Add all remaining ingredients except oil; process with quick on/off pulses to combine. If the mixture seems too loose, add a little extra matzah meal.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Drop rounded spoonfuls of cauliflower mixture into hot oil to form pancakes and flatten slightly. Brown well until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil if necessary. Drain well on paper towels.

Note: Latkes reheat well, but freezing isn’t recommended.
Variation: To make broccoli latkes, substitute 4 cups of broccoli florets for cauliflower.

Estee’s Crispy Cheese Latkes
Photos: Estee Gestetner

Winter Vegetable Latkes for a Crowd
Makes 48 latkes

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
2 large carrots or 12 baby carrots
2 large parsnips
2 large potatoes
1/2 Vidalia or other sweet onion
4 to 5 scallions
1/4 cup fresh dill
6 large eggs
1 cup whole wheat flour or matzah meal
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil (plus more as needed)

Peel the vegetables and cut into chunks. In a food processor fitted with a grater, grate the sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips in batches through the feed tube, using medium pressure. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Next, grate the potatoes in batches through the feed tube, using medium pressure. Combine with sweet potatoes and other grated vegetables.

Remove the grater and insert the steel blade into the food processor. Process the onion, scallions and dill until finely minced, about 8 to 10 seconds. Add the eggs to the processor bowl and process for 5 additional seconds. Transfer the mixture to the grated vegetables and add flour, salt and pepper; mix well.

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop rounded spoonfuls of vegetable mixture into hot oil and brown well, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining batter, stirring before each new batch. Add more oil if necessary. Drain well on paper towels.

Note: Keeps for up to 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator and reheats well. Freezes well for up to 2 months.

Chef’s Secrets:
Eggs-Actly!: Instead of using 6 eggs, substitute 4 eggs and 4 egg whites or 1 1/4 cups liquid egg substitute.
Warm It Up:To keep cooked latkes warm, arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet and place in 250° oven. Do not cover.

No-Fry Potato and Spinach Latkes
Makes about 24 medium latkes or 6 dozen miniatures

Traditional latkes are usually fried in at least 1/4 cup of oil, so one latke contains about 3 grams of fat. I don’t know anyone who can stop at just one latke, so these “no-guilt” latkes are a terrific alternative. Each one contains just over a gram of fat—now that’s a miracle!

4 teaspoons canola or olive oil, divided
3 medium potatoes
10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach,
thawed and squeezed dry
1 medium onion
1 to 2 carrots
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)
3 eggs (or 2 eggs plus 2 egg whites)
1/4 cup flour (white or whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Place oven racks on the lowest and middle positions in your oven. Preheat oven to 450°. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Spray with non-stick spray, then brush with 1 teaspoon of oil. Or, use two non-stick baking sheets and brush each one lightly with oil.

Peel potatoes (or scrub them well if you don’t want to peel them). Using the grater of your food processor, grate potatoes using light pressure. Place potatoes in bowl and set aside. Insert the steel blade of the food processor and process spinach, onion, carrots and dill until fine. Add potatoes, eggs and the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Process with quick on/off pulses to mix. Quickly blend in remaining ingredients.

Drop mixture by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets and flatten to form latkes. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes, or until bottoms are browned and crispy. Turn latkes over and transfer pan from upper rack to lower rack and vice versa. Bake about 8 to 10 minutes longer, until brown. Best served immediately.

Note:Latkes may be made a day in advance and can be frozen.
Variations: Instead of baking latkes, brown them in a non-stick skillet. Instead of adding the oil to the latke mixture, use it for frying.

Norene’s Easy Potato Latkes

Estee’s Celery Root Potato Latkes
Makes 10 latkes

Here’s a slightly different version of typical potato latkes. The celery root adds wonderful flavor and is a great idea for those who are watching their carbs. This recipe is from my friend Estee Kafra, a food photographer and food writer.

2 cups grated potatoes
2 cups grated celery root
2 eggs
1/4 cup flavored breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

Place the grated potatoes and celery root into a colander and press to squeeze out extra juices.

Pour mixture into a large bowl and add all remaining ingredients except oil; mix well.

Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan and place tablespoons of batter into the hot oil. Be careful not to overcrowd. Once edges have browned, flip latkes over and cook on other side. Remove latkes from oil with slotted spoon or spatula and place on paper towel to drain.

Estee’s Crispy Cheese Latkes
Makes 14 latkes
Another wonderful latke recipe from Estee Kafra.

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 pound farmer cheese
4 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup sugar (or less, or substitute with Splenda)
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
Oil for frying
Low-sugar strawberry jam for garnish

Place all ingredients except oil into a large mixing bowl. Using an immersion blender, blend until a thick batter forms.

Heat a frying pan with a thin layer of oil. Drop in batter, a tablespoonful at a time. Adjust the temperature to ensure the latkes don’t burn; flip them once the batter is a bit firm and the bottom is brown.

Remove from pan and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Garnish with jam.

Note: These cheese latkes have less flour, less sugar and more cheese than most cheese latkes.
Variation: Estee sometimes adds a bit of jam into the middle of the latke right before it firms up. To do this, make an indentation in the center with a spoon and place a small amount of jam in it. Flip over carefully. Enjoy!

Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author and culinary consultant in Toronto. She is the author of seven cookbooks. For more information, visit her web site at www.gourmania.com.

This article was featured in Jewish Action Winter 2009.

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