~ Everything Is Edible, Some Things Are Only Edible Once ~
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
There are few things that snap me back to childhood instantly like Latkes can. My Father is to blame for this. You see, when I was very young these little potato pancakes would bring me running to the kitchen quicker than the reflexes of GI Joe with the Kung Foo Grip. I don’t recall my Father ever telling me if these were handed down through my family, but I suspect that they have some roots. My Father grew up in Southern Cal. in a little town Called Coalinga. My Grandfather and Grandmother were humble people from a Jewish decent. Though they were not practicing Jews, there were many influences that made themselves evident in the cooking that my Father did time to time. I often regret not having spent more time with him learning more about that side of the family, but with most things in life, regret is fleeting and best not to ponder on it much.
Just recently I recreated this potato pancake for my two children. Of course, I didn’t tell them they were eating Latke’s because I wanted them to be a bit more exciting, in hopes they would at least try them. So, I named them “Ooy Gooey Pancake Chewy” and the kids were Jazzed to try them just because the name was fun. I suppose later in life I will explain that they are truly called latkas and give them a little history lesson about them.
Before my wife and I had children we observed Hanukkah every year in a nontraditional way. We did it to observe both my family heritage but also to remind us of our faith and why we believe in what we do. We haven’t had much success observing it over the past several years but soon we will pick up where we left off and teach our children that the “Ooy Gooey Pancake Chewy” actually has a different name and a meaning when we have them around Christmas each year.
I can't imagine observing Hanukkah without fried potato pancakes (latkas is Yiddish and livivot is the Hebrew term for these pancakes). We eat latkas on Hanukkah to remind us of the oil which miraculously burned for eight days when the Maccabees purified and rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem. But latkas are so tasty that they can be eaten the other 357 days of the year too.
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and finely grated
8 ounces onion, grated
6 ounces matzo meal
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
salt and freshly ground pepper
oil for frying
To make the latkas, wash the grated potatoes in several changes of cold water to remove excess starch and dirt. Pat dry with a towel and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Season well.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, drop tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil. Flatten each dollop into a round small flat pancake. Fry on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until the pancake is a pale golden brown and perfectly crisp.
Drain on absorbent paper and serve very hot.
This is a very simple recipe that won’t involve TONS of heartache shopping and 3rd degree burns up and down your arms. I don’t get overly fancy when I serve these simply because of there humble roots. I suppose you could served them on a plate stacked 4 high and put a little dob of sour cream, or cream freshe’ with a few sprigs of green onion as your finisher. Totally up to you!