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Latkes - the Topic!


Fat Guy
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I notice in the above recipes that the grated potatoes seemed to be squeezed almost dry after adding all the other ingredients. I've always squeezed them before adding the eggs, flour, etc. Is this wrong? I also add a touch of cream to the mix.

I've always squeezed the grated potatoes dry before adding any other ingredients other than the grated onion. It just seems logical. Why strain out the eggs or salt and pepper?

If I were cooking Indian style cakes, I would do the same. Seems logical to me as well.

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Oh stop it, boys. :wacko:

Instead of latkes (which I rarely make in any case), I made some thick-sliced potato chips tonight.  Hey, why not: it's fried potatoes, without all the hassle of grating, squeezing, mixing, etc.  Still more or less in the spirit of the holiday (something fried in oil).

Sound yummy! I would eat those most any time of the day. Thick cut potatoc chips.... One of my favorite snacks ever... But for that matter.. I can eat potatoes in most any form.

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Next Saturday (last night of Hanukah) is our annual latke party at my sister's. We make very traditional latkes - grate the potatoes (in a food processory), wring as much moisture out of them as possible, retaining the potato starch. Mix the starch back in, along with grated onions and some eggs, salt, and enough matzah meal to obtain the right texture - fry in hot pre-heated oil, but not too too hot - you don't want the outside to get too done and the inside not be cooked enough.

Drain on paper towels (both sides), and keep on platter in a low oven until ready to eat. The latkes themselves are not sweet in any way - they are served with applesauce and sour cream - either together, or separately.

Is anyone making sufganiot?

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Sorry, but I love latkes studded with double-smoked slab bacon and topped with creme fraiche. :sad:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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I know it's sacreligious :biggrin: , but jelly donuts from Krispy Kreme are sufganiyot - same size, same everything - of course when people make sufganiyot at home they will vary from kitchen to kitchen - but they're it - let's face it. Jelly donuts from Dunkin' Donuts are not really like sufganiyot - too heavy and dense, and too big...

I have never had sufganiyot and latkes together (latkes in Hebrew are levavot, by the way)...sufganiyot are from the sephardic tradition, and latkes are from the ashkenazi tradition - perhaps in present day Israel some people have adopted the tradition from the other side and therefore eat them both - but they come from different traditions so they couldn't be eaten together "traditionally."

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I made mine the same way Nina makes hers. I usually use corn oil for frying, because that is what my grandmother used, and it adds a certain taste I've come to expect, although duck or goose fat is even better. The latkes are golden brown and very crisp on the outside. I try to use a minimum of matzah meal, since I prefer the lighter crispier texture you get with less. I make my own applesauce. I peel and cut a mixture of apples into quarters and cook them down in a tiny bit of water so they don't scorch and add sugar to taste when they have softened. Occasionally, I'll add a little lemon juice or vanilla if the apples are not flavorful enough without it. It is not necessary to pass the sauce through a food mill, but it will be less chunky if you do.

Edited by Sandra Levine (log)
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Sorry, but I love latkes studded with double-smoked slab bacon and topped with creme fraiche. :sad:

Great - then call them potato pancakes with bacon and creme fraiche, or potato pancakes with sour cream and caviar, or potato pancakes however you want them - but don't call them latkes. Latkes is a Yiddish word for a dish that was created by poor people for poor people - consisting of very basic ingredients, and very basic toppings.

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I made mine the same way Nina makes hers.  I use corn oil for frying, because that is what my grandmother used, and it adds a certain taste I've come to expect.  The larkes are golden brown and very crisp on the outside.  I try to use a minimum of matzah meal, since I prefer the lighter crispier texture you get with less.  I make my own applesauce.  I peel and cut a mixture of apples into quarters and cook them down in a tiny bit of water so they don't scorch and add sugar to taste when they have softened.  Occasionally, I'll add a little lemon juice or vanilla if the apples are not flavorful enough without it.  It is not necessary to pass the sauce through a food mill, but it will be less chunky if you do.

And for god's sake, no cinnamon in that applesauce!

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[but they come from different traditions so they couldn't be eaten together "traditionally.]

...never said it was a tradition, just that I have seen these two things served together often.

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Sorry, but I love latkes studded with double-smoked slab bacon and topped with creme fraiche. :sad:

Great - then call them potato pancakes with bacon and creme fraiche, or potato pancakes with sour cream and caviar, or potato pancakes however you want them - but don't call them latkes. Latkes is a Yiddish word for a dish that was created by poor people for poor people - consisting of very basic ingredients, and very basic toppings.

Yes, Nina. Sorry, Nina. I know I'm a bad person, Nina. Sorry. Sorry. :sad:

But "potato pancakes" to me means rosti. And the "psuedo-latkes" I make were based on my years of cooking for a Jewish ex-husband (which included learning to make gefilte fish).

But, as you say, Nina. Sorry. :sad:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Sorry, but I love latkes studded with double-smoked slab bacon and topped with creme fraiche. :sad:

Great - then call them potato pancakes with bacon and creme fraiche, or potato pancakes with sour cream and caviar, or potato pancakes however you want them - but don't call them latkes. Latkes is a Yiddish word for a dish that was created by poor people for poor people - consisting of very basic ingredients, and very basic toppings.

Yes, Nina. Sorry, Nina. I know I'm a bad person, Nina. Sorry. Sorry. :sad:

But "potato pancakes" to me means rosti. And the "psuedo-latkes" I make were based on my years of cooking for a Jewish ex-husband (which included learning to make gefilte fish).

But, as you say, Nina. Sorry. :sad:

Yeah, Jin, I hear you. Latkes are sort of like mini rostis, I suppose.

(An aside - I made sweet and sour braciole tonight, served with spaetzle - it was all very brisket-like, except I threw some pork neck bones in for flavor. Talk about sacreligious!)

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You want sacreligious? My friend Mori's mother in Israel makes matzo ball soup, latkes, lasagna, borscht, and pork loin every Hanukah. She says pork loin is so expensive, of course it's for the holidays.

Edited by Jinmyo (log)

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Potato pancakes of course are not unique to the Jewish culture. The Germans and Austrians make damn good ones as well, and they are eaten with any number of accompaniments and are effectively made the exact same way as latkes. The German variety tends to have a bit more flour and are a bit more "cakey".

For the most part what makes a Latke a Latke is the Jewish Grandmother cooking them.

Jinmyo: Bacon, BTW, sounds like an excellent idea. Especially as bits mixed up in the sour cream.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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Robert S. - Because those were the best latkes I've ever had. Could there be better ones including Fat Guys? Possibly. Could the numerous Tante Gussie's out there make better ones? Possible as well. Meanwhile the Campagna latkes win my prize and if I never found a better version I wouldn't care.

Nina - Latkes are just the idiomatic phrase for potato pancake. Like kishka for stuffed derma. Every Polish coffee shop in the city has the same exact recipe as Eastern European Jewish homes have listed on their menus as potato pancakes. But the type of latke you are describing is the peasant way of making latkes. Not every Jew was a poor peasant. In fact, Jews from wealthier countries had better quality potatoes, and they had access to expensive toppings like smoked fish and caviar (see Alsatian Jews.) They would not only not need flour in the batter, it would probably lower the quality of the finished product.

A trick to making good latkes, no matter which version you make, and I don't know if anyone has already mentioned this, is to put an onion in the pan while you are frying the latkes. That way they get the subtle taste of onion from the oil without any onion being in the batter.

Edited by Steve Plotnicki (log)
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