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3 Takes On Latkes And Other Fried Fare For The First Night Of Hanukkah

Dec 12, 2017

Resident chef Kathy Gunst shares her culinary ideas to celebrate Hanukkah with Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson and Robin Young.


John’s Traditional Potato Latkes

The starchier the potato you use, the crisper the latke will be. Use a good high-starch potato, like Yukon Gold. Get the oil nice and hot — but not burning — and the pancakes will be golden brown on the outside with relatively little grease.

Serve with sour cream, horseradish and applesauce. The pancakes are also delicious served with smoked trout or salmon and dill sprigs.

Ingredients

  • 6 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • About 1 generous tablespoon flour
  • About 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • About 3/4 cup oil (I like to use a combination of safflower or canola oil and Crisco)

Instructions

  1. Using a food processor or a hand-held grater, grate the potatoes coarsely. You can also use the finest setting on your grater for a more refined latke. Place the grated potatoes in a large bowl and let sit for five minutes. Using a large spoon, remove some of the starchy liquid that forms in the bowl.
  2. Whisk the egg and add to the potatoes. Add the salt and pepper. Add the flour and stir in gently to incorporate all the ingredients.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet (with at least 2-inch-high sides to protect you from hot oil splatter) over high heat. The oil is hot enough when you add a speck of flour and it immediately sizzles up without burning. If the flour seems to burn, reduce the heat a bit. If the flour doesn’t sizzle, let the oil get a bit hotter.
  4. Working in batches, add about 2 tablespoons of pancake batter to the hot oil. Add several other pancakes, being careful not to crowd the skillet, and cook about three minutes on each side or until they are golden brown on both sides. Test one (lucky you) and make sure it is hot and cooked through to the middle. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  5. Drain the latkes on paper towels or thick grocery-store bags. If you’re not serving the latkes right away, keep them warm in a 250-degree oven. Serve hot.

Carrot, Ginger And Chive Latkes

The sweetness of carrots combined with fresh grated ginger makes a delicious pancake variation. The fresh chives add color and a subtle onion flavor.

Serve with sour cream and dill. Makes about 12 to 14 pancakes.

Ingredients

  • 4 large carrots, peeled and grated on the largest opening on a cheese grater
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup flour or cornmeal
  • About 1 cup vegetable oil (safflower or canola and/or Crisco)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the carrots, fresh and dried ginger, chives, eggs, salt, pepper and flour.
  3. In a large heavy skillet heat the oil over high heat; the oil should come at least 1 inch up the sides of the skillet. Let the oil get hot, until a small piece of grated carrot sizzles up.
  4. Make a pancake with about 2 tablespoons of the batter; it should hold together (add more flour if needed). Working in batches, add pancakes to the hot oil and fry for two to three minutes. Gently flip and fry another two to four minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Drain on paper towels or a brown grocery bag. Keep warm on a plate in the oven.
  6. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve hot.

Latke Topping Ideas

You can serve some or all of these toppings, so everyone can create their own favorite latkes.

  • Smoked salmon or smoked trout
  • Sour cream
  • Horseradish: red (beets) and white
  • Applesauce
  • Chutneys
  • Capers
  • Finely chopped scallions
  • Fresh dill
  • Fried sage leaves (cooked for one minute in the hot oil you use for the latkes)
  • Greek yogurt

Kolokuthokeftedes, Zucchini Fritters

By Joan Nathan, from “King Solomon’s Table

Across from the ancient Agora in Athens is a line of outdoor restaurants with stunning views of the Parthenon. At one, called To Kouti, meaning “The Box,” are served the best zucchini fritters in Athens, even better than those I used to eat in Jerusalem, many years ago.

Makes about 36 fritters.

Ingredients

  • 6 small zucchini, about 3 pounds (1B⁄d kilos)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 bunch fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fennel fronds, chopped
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (lemon thyme is fantastic here)
  • 1 spring onion or 4 scallions, diced
  • 8 ounces (226 grams) feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup (135 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Cut the zucchini on the grating blade of a food processor or a box grater. Toss with the sea salt and the lemon juice. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Then squeeze the zucchini very hard in a strainer to remove the excess juices and put in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the mint, fennel, dill, thyme leaves and the spring onion or scallions to the drained zucchini. Stir in the feta cheese, egg yolks and wine vinegar, then gently fold in the flour.
  3. Create small patties about the size of a golf ball and dust lightly with flour, using a small strainer. Arrange on a tray covered with parchment paper. Freeze them for at least 20 minutes. This will make them hold together better when frying.
  4. When you are ready to serve them, fill a wok or deep fryer with about 3 inches of oil and heat until it is 375 degrees. When ready, fry about 5 at a time for a few minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

    Note I make all kinds of these vegetable fritters, serving them as a side or an appetizer, sometimes substituting eggplant pulp, carrots, a mixture of vegetables, and of course potatoes, calling them latkes in the winter.

Excerpted from KING SOLOMON’S TABLE by Joan Nathan. Copyright © 2017 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

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