By Elke Probkevitz
When it comes to anything traditional, it really depends on preference. Some of us love to keep the traditions alive exactly as they are. Eating latkes takes us back home to when we were growing up eating latkes hot off the stove from our mothers’ kitchens on Chanukah nights. Others don’t mind taking a little culinary adventure in cooking and trying something different. Whether you are a traditionalist or an adventurist, it can’t hurt to be a little curious and add some new flavors to your latke repertoire.
Color change-up. Swap out the regular russet potato for a sweet potato, which will add nutrition and color to your latke. You can add carrot to the mix as well or a combination of sweet potato, carrot, and yam for a sweet orange pancake. Parsnips can be used, as well as purple potatoes and any other root vegetables.
The mixture. Combine sweet potato, parsnip, onion, and two or three russet potatoes with grated ginger to make a bold latke with lots of flavor and color. Get crazy with your combinations and make a medley of flavors all in one bite that will have your diners wondering what’s inside that crazy delicious latke!
Add crunch. Onions are not the only way to get textures into your latke. Add in scallions, shallots, and garlic for added flavor. For the exterior, you can coat the pancake with breadcrumbs for added crunch. Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) works especially well to give that added crunchy texture.
Unusual add-ins. Who says you have to go the traditional route of root-veggie-style latkes straight up? For your dairy meal, throw some cheddar, Parmesan, or mozzarella into the mixture. The cheese will complement the potatoes perfectly and will be an unexpected addition to your traditional latke.
Roasted applesauce. Use crisp apples like Golden Delicious or Gala. Peel, core, and quarter the apples and toss with a pinch of salt and a little sugar. Spread in a baking dish in a single layer. Dab with butter, cover tightly with foil, and bake at 375°F for 20–30 minutes, until softened. Raise temperature to 500° and roast for another 10 minutes to brown. Scrape into a bowl and mash into a chunky sauce. Add salt and sugar to taste.
Flavored sour cream. Making flavored sour cream is as easy as 1–2–3! 1. Buy sour cream or a pareve equivalent, depending on the meal. 2. Choose the ingredient you want to flavor your sour cream with: chives, dill, rosemary, roasted garlic, cinnamon-maple syrup (for sweet potato), spicy Sriracha . . . 3. Prep the ingredients and mix in to the sour cream. And that’s it! You can keep your latke simple and make your accompaniments exciting, or make your latkes exciting and leave your sour cream and applesauce straight up. I’ll leave it to you. v
1 sweet potato
1 yellow onion
2–3 russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and unpeeled
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1” fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 eggs, beaten
3 oz. flour
peanut oil for frying (or any oil with a high smoking point)
applesauce and sour cream for serving
Using the large holes of a hand grater, grate the sweet potato, onion, and parsnip into a big bowl. (You can use a food processor as a shortcut, but the grating size won’t be the same.) Grate the potatoes into the bowl with the other vegetables. Add salt, pepper, and ginger, and mix together. Using a strainer or colander, strain excess moisture from the mixture. Return vegetables to the bowl.
Add in the eggs and flour, and mix well. Coat the bottom of a heavy pan with peanut oil, just about ⅛-inch deep, and heat over medium-high flame. Spoon in latke batter in batches, frying on one side until golden brown, then flip and cook on other side until golden. Remove to platter lined with paper towels to drain. Serve with applesauce or sour cream on the side.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.