I am positive that your inbox is inundated with recipes celebrating the humble potato latke.
How to make the perfect potato pancake is featured in newspapers, magazines and the internet and is offered up as a way to enhance the joy experienced at Hanuka. And of course we all want to come up with the newest, healthiest, tastiest version? It has become a delicious way to connect us to the excitement of the holiday.
And so, the question that begs to be asked is why do I feel that last year’s recipe isn’t good enough? Why do I feel the need to try something new? Was I dissatisfied with last year’s latke?
If I answer, that trying something new is fun and that nobody really likes the same old same old, that may be a fair response. But when something as delicious as a fried crunch coating a pillowy soft cream of onion-y potatoes and eggs comes along once a year, why would I want to mess with that?
I shudder to think of the real reason. Feelings of latke inadequacy.
It has taken me decades to come to terms with it, but now that it is out in the open, I feel much better. In fact, by admitting that in the quest of the perfect latke, I have deluded myself and cruelly teased dear family and friends, I have come to a realization.
And by way of repentance, I will give them what they want. I will forswear hiding any secret grated squashes. No roasted roots snuck in. Just potatoes, onions, eggs, flour, salt and pepper fashioned into patties lowered into is-it-hot-enough-for-you oil fried to a golden brown with porcupine like shreds crisped into place for that first bite.
Slather on the sour cream or applesauce and the flavour juxtaposition is sublime.
It took me a few years to realize the blatant truth, but it is that my latke recipe is none other than the potato kugel recipe I make every Shabbos, only fried into pancakes.
And that truly is my take away lesson from Hanuka.
When I think that what I’m already doing isn’t good enough, stop, think and appreciate how already outstanding is my effort and, just maybe, a small little something extra will suffice.
The two tips that I want to share with you to turn your kugel into the most satisfying latkes are;
- to make sure that your oil is at the right temperature for frying, and
- to wash your grated potatoes very well (in at least 2 changes of water) which removes the starch.
In demonstration of the values of a kosher kitchen, I know some dedicated homemakers who dry this potato starch to use at Pesach.
Whatever method you use to create your Hanuka magic for family and friends, pause and take a (grease filled) moment to appreciate the memories that you are creating. And realize that by waiting a whole year for such a grand treat builds great anticipation from the expectation of something so wonderful.
Shabbat shalom and Hanuka Sameach,
Nancy Weisbrod, Director of Culinary Education, Kashruth Council of Canada