For me, Hanukkah is all about latkes. I can eat them all year long, actually — they’re comforting, and best when they’re super hot, straight from the pan or the oven.
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Our family has a long tradition of Hanukkah parties, starting when relatives from Canada immigrated to Israel and started inviting friends and family every year to light candles. Aside from lots of presents, there also was lots of food, particularly little potato pancakes served alongside applesauce and sour cream.
There are as many latke-making styles as there are families making them. Some of my relatives like to grate the potato coarsely, some grate it finely, while I blend it in a food processor until it’s a chunky puree. This creates a latke that’s juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Traditional latkes (makes about 40)
6 medium sized potatoes, peeled (730 grams)
1 medium-sized onion (120 grams)
9 heaping tablespoons of flour (135 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
pinch of black pepper
oil for frying
Blend the potatoes in a food processor until you have a chunky mash. Squeeze out some of the liquid, and place into a bowl. Blend the onions as well, and add to the potatoes, including the onion liquid.
Add the rest of the ingredients - eggs, flour, salt and pepper — and mix well.
Heat some oil in a frying pan. The oil needs to be about half the height of the latkes. When the oil is hot, add spoonfuls of potato into the pan. Fry for a few minutes on each side until golden.
Once golden on both sides, transfer each latke to a paper towel to remove excess oil. Serve hot. Latkes can be reheated in the oven.
Carrot and almond latkes (makes about 15)
These latkes can be fried or baked in the oven.
3 medium-sized carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (175 grams)
1 medium onion (120 grams)
Half a bunch of parsley or cilantro, chopped
3 heaping tablespoons of flour (45 grams)
30 grams coarsely ground oatmeal
30 grams coarsely ground almonds
20 grams coarsely ground toasted almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
oil for frying, or for greasing a baking pan
Blend the onion in a food processor and transfer to a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients — carrot, oatmeal, almond, parsley or cilantro, salt, pepper, eggs and flour — and mix well.
To fry the latkes, heat oil in a pan. The oil needs to be about half the height of the latkes. When the oil is hot, add spoonfuls of batter into the pan. Fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden. Once cooked, remove from the pan and place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Serve hot. These can be reheated in the oven.
To bake the latkes, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Wet your hands slightly, and form the batter into patties. Place on a tray lined with lightly-oiled baking paper. You can spray a bit of oil onto the latkes themselves if you’d like. Bake for 20 minutes until the latkes are golden and hold their form.
Sweet apple latkes (makes about 22)
2 red apples (200 grams)
juice from half a lemon
3 tablespoons Creme de Cassis liqueur
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams)
3 large eggs
5 heaping tablespoons of flour (75 grams)
oil for frying
Grate the apples with the peels. Mix with lemon juice so that the apple doesn’t brown. Place in a bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients — liqueur, sugar, eggs and flour — and mix well.
Heat oil in a pan. The oil needs to be about half the height of the latkes. When the oil is hot, add spoonfuls of batter into the pan. Fry on each side for several minutes, until golden. Once latkes are done, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve hot.
Michal Rachlevsky is the pastry chef of Meshek 41 in Mevasseret Zion.