I Like You A Latke

Many well-meaning non-Jews mistakenly believe that Chanukah (pronounced with an agressive phlegmy “CH”) is a significant and important Jewish holiday. It is not. It’s the President’s Day of Judaism.

It’s the timing that shakes things up. Because it falls around Christmas, I’ve had non-Jews (particularly Christians) ask me, “What are you doing for Chanukah?” in the same vein I might ask what they’re doing for Christmas. So Christians and non-Jews take heed: I do nothing for Chanukah. Nothing, that is, except make latkes on the fifth night like I did with Lisa last night.

We made this awesome latke recipe we found on Epicurious, featuring apples and celeriac in the latke batter. Celeriac? What’s that? It is this:

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It cost $4. It smelled like celery. We used a one-inch cube of it. That, my friends, is celeriac.

We only used a one-inch cube (instead of a two-inch cube) because we halved the recipe. This was wise because we yielded a perfect number of latkes. Anymore and we would have been greasy and explosive.

Here’s what went into the shredding mechanism of my food processor: apple, potato, onion, celeriac:

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Then, into a towel where the juices were squeeed out:

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It’s unclear whether the recipe wanted us to retain the juice and reincorporate it or dump it. I dumped it (to Lisa’s chagrin) but I don’t think it had any effect on the finished product.

After adding egg, chopped marjoram (which added much flavor), flour, salt and pepper, we poured oil into a skillet and fried ’em up 3 and 4 at a time:

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Here’s the final result with presentation by Lisa:

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They were delicious. Tasted just like the ones mom used to make, except they weren’t defrosted from a box in the freezer. They capture the true spirit of Chanukah which is–ummm—appley? Potatoey? Celiarcy? Again, Chanukah isn’t a very important holiday.

9 comments

  1. It’s good that you tossed the watery stuff that squeezes out. If you hadn’t, the latkes wouldn’t have crisped up properly. This looks like a pretty good version–we’re already latked-out so maybe I’ll try it next year!

  2. Basic question: What’s the difference between latkes and hash browns (the grated and browned kind, not the home fries)? I’m not Jewish but made latkes the other day. Boyfriend and I said, “mmm, yummy, pass the scrambled eggs and where’s the coffee?”

  3. Basic question: What’s the difference between latkes and hash browns (the grated and browned kind, not the home fries)? I’m not Jewish but made latkes the other day. Boyfriend and I said, “mmm, yummy, pass the scrambled eggs and where’s the coffee?”

  4. I have to get a little mathematical here for a bit. (Sorry, can’t help it. It is after all what earns me a living, allowing me to buy food and more importantly cookbooks!) I don’t think you followed the recipe exactly as to how much celeriac to use. The 2 inch cube called for in the original recipe is 8 cubic inches of celaric. Halving it would be 4 cubic inces which would be a l inch by 2 inch by 2 inch piece. You used a 1 inch square or 1/4 of the ammount the halved recipe called for. Okay, I’ll shut up now…

  5. I have been making latkes all my life – for years with my mom and then when I got married I’ve made them for my husband and chile for years. You dump the liquid that comes out of the potato mixture. You do not need it for the latkes. It has all that starch in it and you have enough in the potatoes and if you use matzo meal, which I do because that is what my grandma taught me, you have some there too.

    I never use celeriac, apple or anything else in mine – just egg, matzo meal, potatoes and onion and salt. You don’t forget the salt, just not a heavy hand with it. You make the mixture, you drain out the liquid from the potatoes, and you salt it lightly. Fry up a tiny latke just for seasoning. If it tastes like it needs more salt, add a bit more. Fry another small latke until you get the seasoning correct.

    I make latkes every first night of Chanukah. My family expects it. My non-jewish friends ask for them. I am the latke queen.

    One time, about 6 years ago, I decided to use a different recipe (from Bon Appetit). It had zucchini and some other veggie in it. My family asked “what is that green in the latkes?” I said “Zucchini.” My husband asked why I wrecked the latkes.

    So just use the basic ingredients. Works well, for years. If fried in a cast iron skillet, with a moderate amount of vegetable oil, or corn oil, they will come out scrumptious. Do not use a deep fat fryer. I learned that this year.

    Latkes are my life!

    I’m glad you tried them. Now try them with just the basic ingredients and you will like them much better.

    No celery or apple flavor, just pure potato!

    RisaG

  6. Yum,try frying Latkes in Rice Bran Oil-it has the highest smoke point and the oil won’t burn. Mine come out perfect but I use a basic recipe!!