Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lots of Latkes!

One of the beautiful things about Detroit is that it is a very diverse city. People from all walks of life, from all corners of the world, have for more than 300 years come to this place near Michigan’s southeast corner. I realized a long, long time ago that not everybody I knew celebrated Christmas, as I did, and a so began an awareness and appreciation for all the ethnic, religious and cultural variations that surrounded me. So, before we can even get to Christmas, the celebration of Hanukkah begins.
Of course, thought of any celebration always takes my mind immediately to food. One of my favorite traditional Jewish foods is the latke. What’s not to love about fried potatoes and onions topped with sour cream? These are key ingredients in some Polish dishes, too, so I think this is why the latke has always appealed to me. As many as I have eaten, they are something I never prepared, so I was looking for a good recipe. One night at dinner with my dear friend Noah, the conversation went to latkes. He told me his nana (grandmother) had a great latke recipe and he would send it my way. He did – and I couldn’t wait to make them.
These delicious potato pancakes come out crispy on the outside and are tender and light on the inside. A beautiful balance of potato and onion, these are perfect with applesauce (Noah says to use homemade – and he’s right, but I only had enough time to open a jar of Mott’s) and with a side of rich sour cream.  Thank you, Noah, for sharing this wonderful recipe with me. More than just the best latkes ever, they are a beautiful tribute to your beloved nana. 

Potato Latkes
4-6 Idaho potatoes (depending on size) – I used Burbank Russets
1 small onion
2 eggs, beaten
2 TBSP pancake mix
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. baking powder

Grate potatoes on box grater or in a food processor. Give shredded potatoes a squeeze to get out some of the excess water. Put in large bowl. Grate onion and add to potatoes. Add eggs, pancake mix, salt, pepper and baking powder and mix well. In a large skillet, pour in Wesson vegetable oil to a depth of ¼ inch and heat over medium-high heat until hot (375 degrees).  Using a tablespoon, drop heaping spoonful of potato mixture into oil – the mixture will be loose but will come together as it fries. Flip latke only once when golden brown on bottom and brown other side. Remove from skillet to plate lined with paper towel. Serve immediately with apple sauce, sour cream and powdered sugar, if desired.

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