Sunday, December 20, 2009

Food is Community December 2009: A Shared Jewish Tradition - Latkes

When I wanted to add an amazing family recipes to the blog this month, the first person I thought of was Liz.  She is the best hostess I know and is famous for having snacks in her home and on her person at all times for everyone.  You can be high up on a mountain, on your two boards, hanging over a crevasse and mention that you are hungry and out of her pocket comes cheese and crackers and crudite - I'm very serious.  I'm sure she gets this from her mom who is the ultimate event planner and hostess - both professionally and personally. Liz's sister Dee is in the Peace Corp - doing amazing work-, and I often wonder whether locals appear at her home and she instantly breaks out with hot wat and freshly baked injera.  Probably - its just the way with Hertzberg women.  So, because Liz's words were so elegant, here it is as she wrote it - their family recipe for latkes. 


Every good Jewish grandmother has her own latke recipe, and of course everyone of them cla
ims that theirs is the best.  Our family recipe is a combination of both of my wonderful grandmothers.  As with many family recipes it is not written down anywhere and it calls for a lot of "use your best judgment", but the more you make them the better they get!

salt to flavor

Bowl of cold water
Paper towels or cheesecloth
large mixing bowl
grater or Cuisinart
slotted spoon
large frying pan can be electric
cookie sheet lined w/paper towel or brown paper bag

6 medium russet potatoes
1 small yellow onion
2 or 3 eggs
2 - 3 tbs matzah meal (can substitute flour or even pancake mix)
1/2 c. vegetable oil

Recommended toppings:

Sour Cream
Apple Sauce
Cottage Cheese

An important tip before you begin: 
Complete all steps one right after the other, taking breaks is not recommended because the potatoes will brown and continue to oxidizing and discolor.  So leave yourself plenty of time.

1. Grate onion with either hand grater or Cuisinart. 
2. Pat onions with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible.
3. Grate potatoes 2 or 3 at a time.  
4. Put grated potatoes into cold water for a couple minutes and give the a good shake, to rid of starch.  While the first 2-3 potatoes are in the bath grate the remaining potatoes.
5. Transfer potatoes into bowl with slotted spoon.  While transferring hold paper towel in other hand and firmly press each spoonful of potatoes removing as much water as possible.  Or put all into cheesecloth and squeeze out all water. 
6. Add onion, eggs and matzah meal, alternating 1 egg then 1 tbs. matzah meal.  You are looking for a consistency of which the potatoes will bind together while frying.
7. Heat oil in pan over medium heat to 350F.  I like a little less than 1/4 inch. 
8. "Test" your oil and your batter - put one spoonful of batter into the oil.  I suggest a heaping tablespoon full, which ends up being a little smaller than the circumference of a baseball about 1/4 inch think.  The batter should stay together when you flatten it out.
9. Don't touch it!!  Let it fry for about 2 minutes than flip it and fry for about 90 seconds.  It should be brown and crisp. 
10. Adjust your oil and adjust your batter by adding more egg or matzah meal if necessary.
11.  Put 4-6 spoonfuls in your pan as quickly as possible as to not change the temp of the oil.  Try not to let them touch.
12.  Remove them and place on lined cookie sheet.
13. Salt as soon as possible.
14. Can be kept warm in the oven.

Serve them as soon as possible after they are made with a variety of your favorite toppings. 

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