3 Latke Recipes From Joan Nathan for Hanukkah
E. Dwass

3 Latke Recipes From Joan Nathan for Hanukkah

Most Jewish holidays are associated with special foods. Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is no exception. Taking center stage during the eight-day celebration, which starts this Saturday evening, are latkes, which is the Yiddish word for pancakes.

The holiday commemorates religious liberty. One of its key symbols is a small container of oil that miraculously lasted for eight days, allowing the holy Temple to be purified. Which explains why we light Hanukkah candles in a menorah and, equally important, use buckets of oil to fry fritters.

"Everybody has all these weird configurations of latkes," acclaimed cookbook author Joan Nathan told us the other day. "I love putting celery root, apples and potatoes together, that's a really good latke. But at the end of the day, I think people like potato latkes the best."

Some purists insist that grating by hand is the only way to go, while others like the convenience of a food processor, even if that sacrifices something in the texture department. Either way, latkes can be fairly labor intensive, and your house will carry their aroma for days (but that's a good thing, right?).

"For American Jews intrigued with the grastronomic side of Judaism, Hanukkah appears to be the preferred holiday. It is difficult to equal the taste of brown, crisp potato latkes," writes Nathan in her Jewish Holiday Cookbook. "They can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or as cocktail party fare. They can be eaten plain or fancy, with sugar, applesauce, sour cream or even chicken soup."

Zucchini potato latkes
Zucchini potato latkes
E. Dwass

Romanian Zucchini Potato Latkes

From: Joan Nathan's Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook

Makes: 18 large pancakes

2 pounds zucchini

2 large russet or baking potatoes

1 medium onion

3 large eggs

¾ cup matzah meal

Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable or canola oil

1. Grate the zucchini. Peel the potatoes and grate into the zucchini. Drain off the liquid.

2. Grate the onion and add to the zucchini/potato mixture. Add the eggs and 1 teaspoon of oil. Mix well.

3. Add ½ cup of matzah meal. Stir in. If necessary, continue adding the rest of the matzah meal, until it is thick enough to hold together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Blend well.

4. In a large heavy frying pan, heat a thin film of oil. Using a tablespoon, scoop round portions of batter into the pan. Brown the latkes for about two minutes per side.

5. Keep the latkes warm in a 300-degree oven until ready to serve.

Apple latkes
Apple latkes
E. Dwass

Ada Shoshan's Apple Latkes

From: Joan Nathan's Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook

Makes: about 36 latkes

2 eggs, well beaten

1 ½ cups orange juice, yogurt or milk (any kind)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Dash of salt

¼ to ½ cups sugar, depending on taste

3 medium apples, peeled and coarsely grated

Vegetable or canola oil

1. Mix the eggs with the juice, yogurt or milk.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add these dry ingredients to the egg mixture, along with the grated apples.

3. Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet. Using a tablespoon to form latkes, cook them for about 2 minutes per side or until slightly golden.

4. Keep the latkes warm in a 300-degree oven until serving time.

Sweet potato latkes
Sweet potato latkes
E. Dwass

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes

From: Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America

Makes: 16 pancakes

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cayenne powder

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 large eggs, beaten

½ cup milk (any kind)

Vegetable or canola oil

1. Grate the sweet potatoes. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, sugars, baking powder and spices.

2. Add the beaten eggs and milk to the dry ingredients to make a batter. Add in the grated potatoes and mix. The batter should be moist but not runny. If it's too thin, add a little more flour. If it's too thick, add a little more milk.

3. Heat a thin layer of oil in a large frying pan. Use a tablespoon to form the latkes. Fry for about two minutes on each side.

4. Keep the latkes warm in a 300-degree oven until ready to serve.

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