I think I am Jewish. I don’t have 100% proof (other than my deep love for Jewish food and culture), but our ancestors DID flee from Russia to Germany and changed their name from Meyer to Mayer. Just saying. So I celebrate my potential Jewish heritage through cooking and appreciation for such a deep, historical religion and culture. One of my favorites…latkes. These potato pancakes of sorts are traditionally served during Chanukah. Chanukah celebrates a Jewish military victory along with a miraculous amount of oil for the temple lasting 8 days when it should have lasted 1. So to commemorate these miracles, foods cooked in oil are eaten during this holiday.
If you have never eaten a latke, it is a combination of potatoes, flour, onion and egg fried in oil until crisp. I have seen them made with shredded, riced and mashed potatoes. No matter what way, they are oh.so.delicious and are even better served with sour cream and applesauce.
If you do not want to make latkes at home (even though they are well worth it) and you are in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, you should visit Cecil’s Deli in the Highland area of St. Paul. This delicious Jewish deli serves homemade latkes (among other delicious things), and they are some of the best. Served with a side of sour cream and applesauce, these perfectly fried piles of potato can be eaten for any meal and all year round. If you do not like latkes, they have a large choice of deli fare including incredible cabbage borscht and Chad’s favorite reuben. If you are in the area…you MUST stop.
Now for the latkes…
5 large potatoes
1 small onion
2 large eggs
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
canola or vegetable oil for frying
Grate potatoes and onion. Wring liquid out of potatoes in a flour sack towel. Put potatoes, onions, eggs, flour, salt and pepper in a bowl and stir until combined. Let batter sit for 5 mintues to thicken. Heat oil over medium high heat. Oil is hot enough when you dip the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and small bubbles appear around it. Don’t let the oil smoke. This means it is too hot.
Drop batter into the oil. Fry until edges are brown and crisp and then flip and repeat on other side. When done, put on a baking rack to let oil drip off (put paper towel on counter under the wire baking rack). Repeat until all batter is used. Fry no more than 3 at a time or oil will cool and latkes will be soggy.
Makes 6 large latkes or 12 small.