As we were on the road almost the entire month of December last year, Brett did not really have the opportunity to celebrate Hanukkah so I decided to try and make it up to him this year. Since I am not Jewish, my familiarity with traditional Jewish foods (and how to cook them) is pretty much nil. When we were doing our Thanksgiving shopping, I made a list of a few recipes I wanted to try and make him for Hanukkah and latkes were at the top of the list. These are basically potato pancakes that sound more like hash browns to me. Turns out, latkes are one of his favorite childhood memories of Hanukkah so I was quite excited to surprise him with this.
I researched a lot of different latke recipes and personally, the traditional ones all seemed rather bland — shredded potatoes, onions, eggs, and flour. I reached out to my favorite foodie sources like Food & Wine Magazine and Food Network for a little inspiration. Wolfgang Puck had an interesting recipe on Food Network and I looked at Renée’s Latkes from Gail and Renée Simmons on Food & Wine Magazine.
In the spirit of being adventurous, I decided to take elements from each of the various recipes. In the end, I used the following ingredients in my latkes:
- 2 potatoes (shredded)
- 1 medium sized yellow onion (grated)
- 1 egg (beaten)
- Garlic powder
- Lemon juice
- Kosher Salt
I shredded the potatoes with a large grater and then minced the onion with a smaller size grater. I mixed about 3/4 of the onion in with the potatoes. I added one beaten egg, a little flour, nutmeg, garlic, salt, and juice from 1/2 of a lemon. I probably added 1 tablespoon of melted butter to the mix as well. I used sunflower oil instead of peanut oil and they seemed to fry fine — of course that was after my test one that was horribly undercooked! Once I made them a little smaller and flatter, they cooked up fine with a nice brown crisp.
Sadly, Brett kept getting delayed at work and had no idea I was surprising him with dinner so I kept trying to delay and lower the temperatures so it would not get cold before he arrived home. Once in the door, Brett recognized the smell of latkes immediately. You’re kidding, right? How does he immediately know the smell of potatoes and onions means latkes?!? Well, so much for that surprise!
I served them as a side dish in our dinner and used sour cream to top. Since Brett doesn’t like sour cream, he used the caramelized onions (cooked in red wine and blackberry jam) I made for the main dish. Sour cream or not, they still tasted delicious and I’m rather proud of my first attempt at traditional Jewish cuisine!