The Latke - New Twists On An Old Favorite
It’s just about Chanukah time again but who says that Chanukah has to be only oil and potatoes? On the other hand, what would Chanukah be without that old time favorite, greasy potato latkes? And while I’m quite sure that most everyone out there already knows how to make a regular latke, how about some different ideas that shed a new light on the old Chanukah theme of latkes, potatoes, and cheese. There’s a wealth of possibilities out there …
Have a great Chankah!
Tamar Ansh is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist. Her articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide. She has published 4 books so far which include: Splitting the Sea (Targum Press), inspirational stories on finding one’s soul-mate; Let's Say Amen!, an illustrated children's book about the holiness of Amen (Feldheim Publishers); her first cookbook, A Taste of Tradition (Feldheim Publishers) which is both gluten free and kosher for Passover. Her most recent book is called A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers, 2007). It is a photographic guide to baking and shaping beautiful challahs, and includes many other healthy and interesting bread types as well. Visit www.TasteofChallah.com to see all her books online, as well as other, not yet published, challah and bread recipes. She will be coming on a short book tour and speaking in two different places in the Tri-State area the week of March 4-9th! See her website for details and locations.
Zucchini Cheese Potato Latkes
1 medium sized onion
2 medium zucchinis, scrubbed and washed well
4 medium potatoes, peeled
¼ cup breadcrumbs (if you don’t have, you can use matzo meal)
½ cup yellow cheese such as parmesan or mozzarella, shredded
2 stalks fresh parsley, chopped, optional
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
2 T. mustard, Dijon or Spicy Yellow
2 T. canola oil
oil baking spray
This makes enough for about four hungry people or six regular people, all depending on how long ago they ate before you started to fry these up…
In a food processor fitted with the sharp “S” blade, puree the onions completely. Add the eggs and puree one more minute. Change the blade to the shredding device. Shred the zucchinis and potatoes onto the onion mixture.
Pour this vegetable mixture out into a large bowl and add the breadcrumbs, cheese, and fresh parsley. (The parsley really adds to the nice look and taste of this recipe. I only wrote it’s optional in case you have fussy little people who won’t eat them if they see ‘those green things’ coming out of their latkes...) Add in the salt, pepper and mustard. Mix well by hand.
Take out a large frying pan and spray it well with a thin coating of baking spray. Add 1 Tablespoon of oil to this and start to heat it on a medium to high flame. You will use the other tablespoon of oil when frying up the second batch.
Form small patties out of the cheese/vegetable mixture with a tablespoon and place them by spoonfuls onto the hot pan. Using your spoon, shape them a bit more while they are in the pan, then flatten slightly with a spatula. Let them sizzle until browned on the first side, then flip and do the same to the other side. You’ll be nicely surprised to see that this small amount of oil is sufficient to do the trick of ‘frying’ your latkes to a nice crunchiness. When they are done, lay them out on a flat plate that is lined with one or two paper towels, to drain any excess oil. I warn you though, they may not have too much time to drain as your family gobbles them down as soon as they smell them coming off the griddle…
Chocolate Chip Cheese Latkes
A sweet idea the kids are sure to love. Makes about 20-25 smaller sized "latke" pancakes.
¾ cup cream cheese (OR a 250 gram container of 5% Israeli white cheese, ‘gveena levana’)
1 cup milk
3 T. white sugar OR light brown sugar, which is a bit healthier than white sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 T. vinegar
3 T. canola oil
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour or finely ground whole wheat flour (see note below)
¼ cup chocolate chips
Note: This recipe also works well with whole wheat or spelt. For whole wheat, substitute the same amount of finely ground whole wheat flour or a mix of white and whole wheat flours. For spelt use the same amount of flour; I’ve done it with whole grain spelt, which is darker and heavier, as well as white spelt, which makes it come out whiter and lighter. Spelt is a bit lighter in general than wheat so if the batter looks too loose to you, either cut down slightly on the milk or add another ¼ cup of spelt flour. Of course this recipe works just fine with ordinary white flour!
Put the ingredients, in the order listed, into a large bowl. Mix well with a fork, or for added smoothness, use a hand beater. Once it is smooth, sprinkle in about ¼ cup mini or regular chocolate chips. If you have access to them, you can get creative and add peanut butter or caramel chips instead…
Lightly spray a large frying pan (a.k.a. ‘griddle’) with baking spray and heat it over a medium sized flame. When hot, pour out small amounts of batter all over the pan for smaller latkes, or larger amounts for full sized ‘pancakes’. Serve with syrup or cream cheese of your choice and enjoy!
Spinach Potato Pancakes
6-8 potatoes, about 2 and 1/2 lbs. / 1 kilo, peeled
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped spinach, fresh or frozen (no need to cook it up)
1/2 cup matzo meal
1 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 T. olive oil
Grate potato and onion and pour it out into a large bowl. Add in the eggs, garlic and spinach.
Mix well and press out excess fluid. Add the matzo meal and seasonings. If the batter seems too loose add a bit more matzo meal. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes while the oil begins to heat in a nonstick pan.
Drop large spoonfuls of the batter into the pan and flatten them to about a half an inch thickness each. Keep cooking them until they are browned on the first side; flip them over and allow the other side to brown as well, until crispy.
1 package flaky dough/ Batzek Alim in Israel
2 American packages, 8 oz. each package, of solid cream cheese, not the whipped version. (For our Israeli readers, I use 9% G’veena L’vana)
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup regular granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
3 oz. dairy white chocolate bar (In Israel I would use the good chocolate 100 gram bars) -- melted
Roll out the dough on your counter into a large rectangle.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix it together by hand. Add in the melted chocolate and mix again. It will now be a nice white color.
(Side tip: you can also do this with contrasting colors. Just roll out a second rectangle afterward, add in all the same ingredients except for the chocolate. This time use a good milk chocolate; after you’ve melted it and added it to the cheese mix, it will make it look browner and more chocolate-y; then you will have two colors of “Shoshanim/ Roses” when you are done.)
Fill the dough 2/3 of the way, and roll it up jelly roll style. Freeze it as a log for an hour.
After an hour, it will be firm enough to be sliced; cut 1 ½ inch slices (about 3 cm slices) they should be thick but not too huge. Lay these slices face down into muffin tins. This means that it will be flat down into the muffin cups and you will see the cut roll part facing upwards. Bake them at 350°F / 180°C for 20-30 minutes until they are light golden and fluffy. When they cool down a bit, sprinkle them with a bit more powdered sugar, and serve.
If you are making them ahead, after you slice them, line up the slices on a lined cookie sheet and freeze them until they are hard. Store them in an airtight freezer bag and leave them there until the day you want to eat them. Remove as many pieces as you need for that day…plus a few more, just in case! They taste best when served fresh.