Are you ready for the simplest, most pure blog post ever? Here we go:
Here is said promised latke recipe. I don’t have any pictures to go with it, but just imagine potato pancakes frying in a pan and you’re pretty much there.
I am pretty sure the variations are all pretty much stolen from Martha Stewart, with my improvements of course.
latkes with variations
Makes about 2 dozen
Basic potato latkes
1 yellow onion
4 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
a few twists of freshly ground pepper
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼c matzo meal (just a tip: if you’re making these on, for example, a Hawaiian island, good luck finding matzo meal. You can use flour instead, sigh.)
grapeseed or coconut oil, for frying
applesauce, optional, for serving (see below)
tofu sour cream, optional, for serving (see below)
- Grate onion and potatoes on the large holes of a box grater or with the shredding disk of a food processor (the onion can also be minced).
- In a large bowl, combine onion, potatoes, salt, pepper, baking powder, and matzo meal. Toss until evenly mixed.
- Fill a large, heavy-bottom skillet (cast iron is ideal) with about 1/3” of oil. Place over medium heat until oil is very hot. When a drop of batter sizzles upon contact, the oil is ready.
- Stir potato mixture again. Using about 2 tablespoons of batter, form a pancake with your hands and drop carefully into hot oil. Repeat, making sure not to crowd skillet (crowding lowers the temperature of the oil and creates pancakes that are oily, not crispy). Cook until golden on each side, 2 to 3 minutes, turning once. Using a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining batter.
- Serve immediately with applesauce.
Celery root-potato latkes variation
Celery root is a mild root vegetable with a complex celery flavor. Be sure to select firm roots, and remove the woody inner core with a sharp knife.
- Use 2 potatoes instead of 4, and grate 1 medium peeled celery root with the onion and potatoes.
Parsnip latkes variation
Parsnips make the pancakes slightly sweet. Smaller parsnips are best, as the larger ones often have woody centers.
- Add the grated zest of one orange to the batter mixture.
- Use 1 potato instead of 4, and grate 1 ½ pounds (about 5 medium) peeled parsnips with the onion and potatoes.
- Use 1/3c matzo meal instead of 1/4c.
Sweet potato latkes variation
These almost candy-sweet pancakes are not much like traditional latkes, they are tasty in a different way.
- Add 3 thinly sliced scallions (white and green parts) to the batter.
- Add ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom to the batter.
- Use 1 potato instead of 4, and grate 1½ pounds (about 3 medium) peeled sweet potatoes with the onion and potatoes.
- Use 1/3c all-purpose flour instead of matzo meal.
Spinach latkes variation
Kale, swiss chard, collard greens also work well instead of spinach.
- Add 1 ten-ounce package fresh spinach, stemmed, and finely chopped, to the batter.
Carrot and beet latkes variation
This earthy mixture turns out gorgeous latkes that always convert beet-haters into devotees. Because the carrots and beets are high in natural sugars, these brown very quickly, so watch them carefully.
- Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice to the batter.
- Use 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour instead of matzo meal.
- Use 1 small potato instead of 4, add 4 medium peeled grated carrots and 2 medium peeled grated beets to the batter.
Tofu Sour Cream
yields 2 cups or so.
A good condiment for black bean soup, chili, and anywhere you’d use dairy sour cream. Play with the proportions of ingredients to find a flavor you like. This keeps 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Try to use the freshest tofu you can find. My favorite brand is Soy Boy, made in Rochester, NY.
For green apple sour cream, lovely with latkes, grate a tart green apple and add to the sour cream.
1 package soft tofu from the dairy case (do not use shelf stable tofu or silken tofu) (I always use firm tofu because it’s what I always have and it’s always fine. Because soft is ideal I keep it in the recipe, but I never ever use it)
5 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons salt
1-2 scallions, white part only
2/4 tablespoons white wine, apple cider, or rice vinegar
2 tablespoons good mustard
- Combine all ingredients but tofu in blender or food processor. Process until smooth, then add tofu and process until smooth and creamy.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. If sour cream isn’t going to be used for a day or so, make it super thin because it sets up a lot as it sits.
Tart pink applesauce
• For a lovely pear sauce, replace the unpeeled apples in this recipe with peeled pears.
3-4 tart apples. Pick apples with care—one-dimensional Granny Smith apples will make a one-dimensional sauce. McIntosh, Mutsu, and Galas will all make a pretty good sauce, and a combination will be even better. If you can find them, Pink Lady apples will make a wonderful sauce and as a bonus you get to buy something with the lovely name “pink lady.” Resist the temptation to use Red Delicious apples, as they are inferior to practically all others in all respects.
Juice from ½ a lemon
Cinnamon to taste, freshly ground or a cinnamon stick.
- Quarter (unpeeled) apples, and remove stems and cores with an apple corer or paring knife.
- Add apples, lemon juice, and ground cinnamon or cinnamon stick to a small pot. Heat over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, or until apples are soft and peels come off easily. Remove cinnamon stick, if using.
- Turn off heat, and mash with a potato masher or pass through a food mill. Pick peels out with a fork if not using a food mill. (Or just leave the peels in!)
- Chill in refrigerator for a few hours for flavors to meld.