In the kitchen this week, we tackled the task of updating the traditional latke with seasonal veggies, tasty toppings, and a lot of improvisation. As any latke expert will tell you, part of the fun (and challenge) of making latkes is that every measurement is basically one you eyeball. It depends on the vegetables available that day, whether the matzo meal was ground fine enough, and how much time you want to spend squeezing water out of finely diced, chopped and grated veggies.
We started our 8 Days Of Latkes with traditional potato to perfect our latke-making technique, and went on to conquer carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, apples, and mushrooms, oh my!
First off, there are a few things that we did for all the latkes.
With the exception of the traditional potato, shred or grate all of the vegetables using a food processor. The method that works best for us is to use the grating blade as step 1, and the regular puree blade for step 2.
Latke Base Mix Ingredients:
– matzo meal
– diced onions
For your latke base mix, chop two onions, throw in a cup of matzo meal, and three eggs. You’ll need to re-up this mix here and there throughout. Basically if your mix is too wet or too dry it won’t stay together, and you’ll need to keep adding bits of egg and sprinkles of matzo meal until you’ve got latkes that keep their shape.
When your latkes are ready to cook, heat an eighth inch of oil in a pan on high. Do a sizzle test (yes, that should be a dance move) and if your oil is ready, form your first latke and drop it in. Fill the pan with as many latkes as you can, turn over when ready, and when both sides are nice and crispy remove from the pan. Place finished latkes on a cookie sheet and blot with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
1. Traditional Latkes with Sour Cream, Apple Sauce and Scallions
Ingredients: Sierra Gold potatoes, sour cream, apple sauce, 1 scallion
Use a cheese grater to shred the potatoes, and then squeeze all the water out. You can simply use your hands and squeeze water out over the sink, or you can use cheese cloth to press it out. Either way, it is totally surprising how much water potatoes contain! Mix potatoes with half a cup of the latke base mix, form your latkes, and get cookin’! To keep things traditional, serve with sour cream, apple sauce and scallions.
2. Zucchini Latkes topped with Tomato and Basil
Ingredients: 3 zucchinis, half cup of corn, 1 tomato, 4 basil leaves
Since we love turning zucchini into a vehicle for bruschetta-like things (see Zucchini Bruschetta Boats), top these latkes with diced tomatoes and basil. To add a little extra texture, throw in a handful of canned corn or black beans into the zucchini mix as well.
3. Carrot Latkes topped with Sesame Ginger Soy Sauce
Ingredients: 2 carrots, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger
The bright orange of the carrots inspired us to try these, and the results were totally scrumptious. Add a little Asian flare to these bad boys by topping with a sauce made of sesame oil, soy sauce, and thinly sliced ginger.
4. Yellow Squash Latkes topped with Avocado, Lemon and Sea Salt
Ingredients: 2 yellow squash, 1 avocado, 1 lemon wedge
The yellow squash have a consistency much like the zucchini but with a summery flavor. To embrace the squash's sunnier disposition, top this with avocado, lemon and a bit of sea salt.
5. Beet Latkes topped with Chevre and Toasted Walnuts
Ingredients: 2 beets, chevre, and a handful of toasted walnuts
Beets are definitely a messy move, but one that is well worth it. Not only is the color holiday festive, but the beets retain a hearty flavor in spite of being shredded, matzo meal-ed and fried up the wazoo. To echo a favorite salad combo of ours, add chevre and toasted walnuts to the beets. If you’re a balsamic fan, a drizzle of balsamic reduction would take this latke to the next level.
6. Mushroom Parmesan Latkes topped with Roasted Garlic
Ingredients: half box of mushrooms, parmesan cheese, roasted garlic
The mushroom mix requires a whole additional egg to keep itself together during the latke-making process. The results are yummy, but this is definitely our most unconventional latke. Pair the super savoriness of parmesan and mushrooms with creamy roasted garlic, and it tastes a lot like a re-purposed stuffed mushroom – in a really good way.
7. Sweet Potato Latkes topped with Cinnamon Sugar Ricotta
Ingredients: 2 sweet potatoes, ricotta, cinnamon, brown sugar
Sweet potatoes, as it turns out, are much less latke-friendly than regular potatoes. I would recommend hand-grating these rather than using the food processor, as the texture of grated potatoes holds together better and brings out a moisture that is necessary to keep the latke bonded. Nevertheless, topped with ricotta, a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar, these are delightful.
8. Apple Cheddar Latkes topped with Honey
Ingredients: 3 apples, half cup shredded cheddar, honey
And finally, the cheddar apple pie latke. These are definitely the most delicate latkes in our latke factory, but like their predecessors, are sweet, delicious, and worth a little extra care. Before forming latkes, be sure to add brown sugar into the latke mix along with the apples, cheddar, and latke base.
All in all, a totally successful day of latke innovation. And what’s better than being able to serve a different latke for each day of Hanukkah?
What are your creative recipes for Hanukkah festivities? Send your tips over to email@example.com and we’ll give them a try!