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Hanukkah Potato Latkes

Mary Anne here. My mom was raised in a southern Presbyterian home during the Great Depression, and as I’ve mentioned in the past, she comes from a long line of quasi-professional home chefs.

In 1966, she remarried, and in the process of “adopting” an incredibly warm-hearted, hysterically funny step-dad, we also embraced his Judaic culture with all of its glorious traditions. Each Friday night I attended Temple services with my mom and George and then on Sundays trundled off to church with one or more of my siblings. We Ellicotts truly were blessed – unlike most families, we got to participate in all of the Jewish and Christian holidays!

My mom quickly learned how to produce amazing feasts for George’s religious holidays, some of which I’ve already shared including her light-as-a-feather Matzo Ball Soup as well as her famous Chocolate Matzo Cake. Mom also makes a mean Kugel and a Pot Roast that I had hoped to prepare this week, but alas…the week flew by and her recipe sits lonely on my desk, awaiting my attention.

So, in the meantime, what would Hanukkah be without traditional Latkes? Those tender yet crispy potato pancakes that literally melt in your mouth. The following recipe is culled from The Vassar Temple Sisterhood Cookbook, circa 1970 or so. Mom and her friends from Temple put all of their recipes together and to this day, I refer to it and recreate many of the wonderful recipes contained within. Mom serves her Latkes with Homemade Applesauce, which is a sweet complement to this savory pancake.

Hanukkah Potato Latkes
Makes 15 Pancakes

Notes: It is critical that your mixture is not too wet. After grating the potatoes and mincing the onion, squeeze out the excess water using paper towels. As you fry the Latkes, the remaining potato mixture will weep. Simply transfer the mixture to the frying pan, using a slotted spoon.

These can be prepared the day before and then reheated the day of your feast. And one last note: this is a great way to use up leftover onion and stray potatoes any time of year!

2 large potatoes, coarsely grated – $0.99
1 small onion, finely diced – $0.22
1Tablespoon flour – stock
pinch baking powder – stock
1 egg, lightly beaten – stock
salt and pepper to taste
Canola or Vegetable oil – stock
apple sauce or sour cream (optional)
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $1.21
Total Per Latke: $0.08

1. Shred the potatoes using a medium size grater or food processor disc. Finely dice the onion and combine with the grated potatoes. Squeeze out all of the excess water, using paper towels as noted above.

2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan—about 1/8 inch up the sides of the pan. While the oil is heating, combine the flour, baking powder, beaten egg, salt and pepper with the potato and onion mixture.

3. When the oil is hot, drop the potato mixture by large spoonfuls into the pan.

4. Fry until crisp and golden on both sides, about 15 minutes total cooking time.

5. Drain the Latkes on paper towels or brown paper.

6. To reheat, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pancakes on an un-greased cookie sheet and bake until hot, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve at once with applesauce or sour cream if desired.