Food and this time of year just get along. As I ready myself for the cookie making extravaganza that will be Christmas, I still yearn for comfort foods equally associated with the month of December. These cold winter nights are just made for customary cuisine like latkes (potato pancakes to the uninitiated).
Ever a favorite Hanukkah food, latkes can be made of many different ingredients. Originally, they were actually made with cheese. Religious lore has it that Judith fed cheese to the leader of the Jewish enemies. The cheese made him thirsty, and to quench his thirst, he drank excessive amounts of wine. After he was drunk, Judith cut off his head ... not very appetizing, but it apparently did the trick in the day.
Today, latkes are often made with potatoes – golden or sweet – and are fried in oil to remind Hanukkah celebrants of the miracle of the single pitcher of oil that should have lasted only one day, but instead lasted eight days. In that time, new oil was prepared to supply oil for the menorah which was to have burned throughout the night each night. This festival of the miracle of oil, or light, is what we now know as Hanukkah, and celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple after the revolt against the Greeks.
Traditional Golden Potato Latkes
2 cups grated gold or white potatoes (approximately 1 ½ lbs.)
1 small onion, grated
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tbs. Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. sea salt
Pepper, to taste
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes or 1 ½ tsp. fresh parsley
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Vegetable oil for frying
Applesauce or sour cream as a condiment
Combine the grated potatoes and onion in a colander to allow the liquid to drain off into a bowl. As the liquid settles, the potato starch will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Pour some of the liquid off and set aside to add to the latkes if you need additional liquid.
Stir in the beaten egg with a fork, combining in a large bowl with the potatoes and onion.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including the parsley, and slowly add into the potato mixture, stirring with a fork until combined. If the mixture is too dry, slowly add in small amounts of the potato starch liquid. The final mixture should hold together in a pancake shape when scooped into the hot oil.
Heat about 1 inch of oil in an electric or deep skillet. Bring the oil to between 375 – 400 F. Drop the potato mixture into the hot oil by large tablespoon measures, flattening the pancake with the back of a spoon when in the oil. Fry each side until golden brown, flipping with a slotted spatula.
Drain the latkes on a plate lined with paper towels. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream, if desired. The latkes can keep in a warm oven, or you may freeze them once cooked, drained and cooled. To reheat, bake at 425 convection or 450 static for 15 minutes, turning repeatedly until crispy and hot.