Friday, November 22, 2013

לאַטקע aka Latkes for Hanukkah

קע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע 


קע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע לאַטקע 

Latkes how do I love thee? Latkes are traditionally eaten by Jewish People during the festival of Hanukkah.  The oil used for frying the Latkes is symbolic  of the oil used in the Temple.  The miracle is this...Eight days worth of oil was needed but they were only able to find one days worth of oil.  They lit the Menorah anyway and miraculously the oil lasted eight days.  

Summary of Jewish holidays  They tried to kill us G-D saved us, we won, now lets eat. 

This particular blog about Latkes is less about recipes and more about techniques. If you master some of these techniques you can make the perfect Latke and walk away with countless recipes.  
Let talk about ingredients.  You can use any starch you want.  

Personally I love Russet Potatoes as the main starch.  Russets have a high starch and low moisture content which I think is vital when making traditional Latkes. 

Some other starches I like are sweet potato, Yams, and Parsnips.  Great texture and taste differences when added together. 
I also love adding to this combo, Zucchini, yellow Squash or both together.  Great flavor and texture combos.  Spaghetti squash is awesome too. 

Carrots provide sweetness and color and I just love them.

Scallions are a great addition to the Latke which provides flavor and color.  

To give more color try Cilantro too.  It provide color and a south west flavor.

Onions no matter which ones you choose are essential   They are an absolute necessity for a good Latke!!!!!!

Other Flavors to consider
Salt and pepper is an obvious.  Some other additions could be......Cumin, curry, Coriander, Chives, Chili peppers and garlic  EtcEtc.....there are so many other ingredients to consider.  Just use your imagination and you will have countless recipes and Latke combos. 


Lets talk Starch- Use Russets which have high starch and low moisture content. This creates a crispy Latke.....Enough said.  

Gluten Free-  If you want to go gluten free don's use the Matzos listed below in the general recipe. You can use Potato starch,  Corn starch, Rice Flour specialty flours that are gluten free. 

Grating-  Grate all your veggies using a box grater (large holes) or food processor. Even the onions.

Grating the starch- Whether you use a box grater (large holes) or a food processor its up to you as long as you grade long potato strands.  If you use a box grater make sure to take very long strokes to get the long strands.  Personally I love my food processor. Long strands get tangled up and hold the Latke together. 

Reduce the moisture- the technique I use to achieve the perfect Latke is the reduction of moisture while preserving the starch.  As you grade the Potato, let them drop into a very large bowl of ice water (cold water makes starch insoluble).  When your finished grating, remove the potatoes from the water and squeeze them out over the bowl.  Place grated potato into a large bowl fitted with a colander lined with a tea napkin or what every towel you might have. Gather up the edges of the napkin and twist into a ball and squeeze out water over colander.  Set potatoes aside.  After about 15 minutes or so the the starch will have sunk to the bottom of the bowl and form a dense, white layer.  Poor off the water reserving the left behind starch. Poor all the grated potatoes and collected starch in a large bowl and get ready to make your Latkes. 

If you choose to use other veggies in-addition to the Russets you must extract the excess water using the same technique outlined above. Onions have lots and lots of water so make sure to extract as much as possible.  If the veggies don't have lot of starch don't worry about dropping them into cold water first. 

Baking Powder-  the baking powder makes carbon dioxide bubbles and gives lightness to the Latke interior.  If you desire a more traditional denser Latke leave it out.  If you decide to use it I would choose Double Acting. 
"Baking powder is available as single-acting baking powder and as double-acting baking powder. Single-acting powders are activated by moisture, so you must bake recipes which include this product immediately after mixing. Double-acting powders react in two phases and can stand for a while before baking. With double-acting powder, some gas is released at room temperature when the powder is added to dough, but the majority of the gas is released after the temperature of the dough increases in the oven".

Biggest Secret-(optional) to make great Latkes you need Schmaltz . Use it , love it, appreciate it. Click on the link to learn more. 

2 Idaho baking potatoes
1 sweet potato
1 large onion
1 small zucchini
1 large carrot
1 bunch of green onion sliced finely
1 bunch of cilantro chopped finely
4 eggs scrambled
3 to 4 Matzos pureed in a

food processor (size of rice) 
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tsp of curry powder or to taste
1 tsp cumin or to taste
Optional- 3/4 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp paprika 
Optional 4-6 TBL of Schmaltz (this is an awesome addition)
Canola oil for frying

Process first five ingredients in a food processor fitted with a shredding blade or grade on a box grater.  Use the above techniques outlined above to extract water.  Keep accumulated starch at the bottom.  Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust seasoning to personal taste.  The mixture should be very wet.  Adjust recipe as needed.  Before frying the whole batch up; fry a little bit in a frying pan and taste, and if necessary adjust seasonings.  

Note 1: the Matzos are used to absorb liquid and give texture.  The Matzos also help with binding.  Add more or less depending on texture desired. You can also substitute Matzo meal.

Note 2: Don't skimp on the oil!!! The oil used to fry your Latkes must come up 3/4 of the way up the Latke in order to cook correctly. 

Secret- Use a large Ice cream scoop to measure out your Latke that way they are all the same size. 

Suggestions for perfect Latkes.  Latkes should be very wet if not add some more egg.  Place a 2 to 3 inch ball in your hands and place in hot oil and push down with the back of a spatula to form a pancake.  Brown Latkes evenly and do not turn prematurely because they will fall apart.  

Traditional Latkes are served with Apple sauce and sour-cream. 

Serve Latkes for lunch.  Top with Salmon, eggs or what every suits your fancy that day. 

Topping are only limited to your imagination.

Charoset is a great option as a topping. Google recipes and make them as your Latke topping. Charoset is traditionally made with fruit, cinnamon and sugar with many variations in-between.  Most contain some type of nut but you can exclude this from your recipe. 

Apple Relish 

  •  1 apple finely diced (or pear)
  • 1 small piece of ginger, peeled, minced fine
  • 1 small shallot, minced fine
  • Sugar to taste (or substitue something else sweet.)
  •  ground cumin to taste (or curry powder)
Lets Talk Sour Cream!!
Anything made with sour cream is great. You can add many things to sour cream to kick it up.  Chives, green onion etc etc. Flavors can include salt, pepper, cumin, curry , coriander, cinnamon.  All the fresh herbs you can throw at it. 

 Crème fraîche  is another topping that is wonderful.  Easy to make and serve....

1 cup of heavy whipping cream (pasteurized OK, avoid ultra pasteurized  sterilized or anything with additives)
1-2 Tbl of cultured butter milk

Heat on stove top to 85 degrees (instant read thermometer). Place in clean jar and close partially. I like using mason jars. Between 8-24 hours it will have thickened at bit. Give it a stir or shake and refrigerate until ready to use.   Add what ever herbs you want.  Add some lemon juice to kick it up.  Puree some herbs for a green color.  Maybe add some Sun-dried Tomatoes for color and taste.  Endless possibles. 

Chutneys are another great option too.  Just Google some recipes and modify for your taste. 

gotta love Spaghetti squash!!! Use it for to make a Latke!!!!

Spaghetti squash Latke.