Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Latkes - Old & New

In honor of Chanukah, I made latkes last night. Let me start by saying that I love latkes. Simple, savory comfort food. Makes me feel like I am channeling my Jewish ancestors.

The traditional way to make these potato delights is to grate up some peeled potatoes and some onion. Add salt, pepper, flour and egg to bind up the mixture. Then you fry up the mixture like pancakes, preferably in a cast iron skillet. That's it. Easy peasy, as Kara would say.

A few notes on the basic recipe: Many people let their potatoes drain before mixing them up with the rest of the ingredients. I never have the time/patience for this, and I think my latkes are still pretty darn good. Also, many people - like my grandmother - would insist that latkes be made by grating your potatoes, and knuckles, on a box grater. I have done this many times. But I find that you can get an equally authentic product using a food processor with the shredding attachment. 

Because my mom and I have been participating in a fall CSA this year, I have an abundance of butternut squash. And if I am honest, I don't really like butternut squash that much. It's good as soup - for about a day. And I usually roast, puree and freeze up cubes of it to add to the instant mac and cheese my kids love and therefore assuage my guilt about feeding them instant mac and cheese. I was struggling to come up with uses for the all of the squash that are languishing in a box in our garage when I came across this recipe from Cooking Light that I had torn out and shoved in my recipe folder last year. Last night I gave it a try and found it to be excellent. I didn't follow the recipe to the letter, big surprise, but even as a blueprint, it was great. The curry makes these latkes a little spicy and very aromatic. I served them up with the traditional sour cream and added a side of mango chutney. They are hearty, too. I ate them as a main course last night and tonight.

Give latkes, of any variety, a try. They are incredibly flexible. Nearly impossible to screw up. Easily made vegan (no egg, use soy/rice milk instead) or gluten free (no flour, use corn starch or any gf flour). Happy Chanukah!

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