During this holiday season, “All you need is Latkes.” I can’t stop thinking about those crisp, crunchy potato pancakes that my family’s latkateer, Auntie Essie, makes. For me, “Happiness is a Warm latka.” I belt out the holiday classics like, “I Wanna Hold Your Latka”, and “I ain’t got nothin’ but latkes babe, Eight Days a Year.” Full disclosure: I like The Beatles. I sing when I cook. And…sometimes I change the lyrics to include what I’m cooking.
These days everybody has a new and different recipe for latkes. But, you can’t reinvent the wheel/latka. The best recipe is the one that keeps it perfectly simple. I follow my mother’s recipe. She, and my Auntie Essie, follow their mother’s recipe. There’s no need to change it. “My mom’s latkes were the best — hands down.” Shares Sara Waxman (aka Mom.) “She peeled the potatoes, and grated them by hand. I like to pair them with Champagne.”
The Hebrew name for latka is leviva, a word whose homonym, levav, means “heart”—perhaps an indication why the very best latkes are still made at home.
Here’s our tried and true recipe for delicious latkes.
10 Yukon Gold potatoes
1 medium to large onion
1/3 – 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon
canola oil for frying
Cut potatoes and onion in chunks. Put the potatoes and onions into a food processor puree until smooth. Do this in 3 to 4 batches.
Put mixture in colander and press out moisture. Add lemon juice ( keeps potatoes from turning dark). Beat eggs & add to mix. Add flour, baking powder, salt & pepper. I always like to taste the raw mixture to see if it needs more salt or pepper.
Pour 1/8 ” oil in pan. I like to use an electric frying pan but any large pan is fine. Drop mixture using tablespoon into hot oil. Don’t overcrowd. Brown both sides. Drain on paper towel. If not using immediately, can be frozen when cool. When freezing place on cookie sheet in single layer. When frozen place in adequate containers.
When ready to serve, preheat oven to 400F. Place on cookie sheet, in single layer, and heat for about 5 to 6 minutes.
Makes about 5 dozen. Can be served with apple sauce, sour cream, etc. [How about a little caviar or smoked salmon?
Serves approximately 12 people.
Pro Tip: The acidity and effervescence of Champagne or Prosecco do a wonderful job of cleaning the palate between bites. Enjoy! We can all get by “With a Little Help From My Latkes.”
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.