Just when I’m starting to recover from the gluttony fest known as Thanksgiving, bam! It’s already time for Hanukkah. Bring on the fried. Growing up, my Mom cooked both traditional and sweet potato latkes every year for my brother and me. We looked forward to these tasty fried treats almost as much as getting the latest Everclear CD or a new set of Pogs, hypothetically speaking of course.
I continue the tradition by cooking for our annual Chrismukkah gathering and showing my friends that latkes are way more than a Jewish hashbrown. Last year, I served up Mexican Potato Latkes, which were gobbled up faster than you can say “chag sameach.” This year, inspired by my leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving, I went with a slightly sweet approach. Coconut gives the latkes a subtle flavor and extra crunch, while the cranberry applesauce and cardamom mascarpone brings a tartness that lends itself to the perfect bite. Since I am not hopeful of having a white Hanukkah with the 80-degree weather we have be having in my home in Austin, TX, I garnished the plate with extra coconut to resemble snow. Wishful thinking, perhaps?
Amy Kritzer is a food writer and recipe developer in Austin, TX who enjoys cooking, theme parties and cowboys. She challenges herself to put a spin on her grandmother’s traditional Jewish recipes and blogs about her endeavors at What Jew Wanna Eat. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook and watch her cooking videos on Google+.
2 cups (2/3 pound) russet potatoes, washed and peeled
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsps flour
2 Tbsps granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
½ cup canola oil
For Cranberry Applesauce
3 pounds apples (any apples you would use for baking, I used golden delicious), peeled and diced
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 Tbsps granulated sugar (up to 4 if you want it sweeter)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground all spice
Zest and juice from 1 orange
2/3 cup water (1/2 cup if using frozen cranberries)
1 Tbsp brandy (if desired)
For Cardamom Mascarpone:
¼ cup mascarpone
1 tsp cardamom (or more to taste)
To make the Coconut Latkes, start by shredding your potatoes with a grater.
Ring out all the moisture with a strainer and paper towel until all the moisture is gone and then add in the coconut, eggs, flour, sugar and salt and combine.
Meanwhile, heat up canola oil in a large sauté pan. Scoop two-tablespoon dollops of the potato mixture and flatten lightly and fry until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Then flip and fry the other side. Drain on a rack over paper towels.
To make Cranberry Applesauce, in a large saucepan, combine apples, cranberries, sugar, spices, orange juice and zest, water, and brandy if desired.
Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover, and cook for 15 minutes until apples are tender and some of the cranberries have burst. Stir every so often, adding water if it gets too thick.
Remove from heat and let cool. Blend with an immersion blender or smash with a fork.
To make Cardamom Mascarpone, combine cardamom and mascarpone in a bowl until blended.
Garnish latkes with applesauce and mascarpone!
Holidays in general are not very easy on the dieting sector, but when you think about it, nothing beats Hanukkah. Basically we have eight days in a row where its traditional to eat fried foods. And so we start the meal with fried carbs, cap it off with deep fried dough, and probably spend weeks dreading the scale.
Tradition is great, and I am all for it, but there is also a mitzvah to take care of yourself, and I think that eating healthy is way up there on the list of ways to take care of yourself. And while I am not suggesting we all boycott every form of fried food this Hanukkah, a great way to stay healthy and eat healthy is to follow one of my most important dieting tricks: combat delicious and tempting food with delicious, but healthy food.
The challenge, for me, as a perpetual dieter as well as a cook, is to come up with a recipe that is within the spirit of Hanukkah, but won’t cause a bad case of “scale fear.” I think, if I do say so myself, that I succeeded amazingly with these spinach latkes. It’s pretty sad the way spinach gets such a bad rap among vegetables. I think it’s delicious, and I let it shine in this recipe.
This recipe comes together in a frying pan, but don’t let that fool you. This latke recipe is super healthy…and yet totally delicious. Make sure to have enough on hand for the non-dieters. They might just love them as much as I do!
Miriam Pascal blogs at Tales of an Overtime Cook.
spray oil, for frying
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb bag frozen spinach, thawed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt, to taste
additional black pepper, to taste
Prepare sauteed spinach: sautee onions in spray oil on low to medium flame until translucent. Add minced garlic and sautee an additional couple of minutes. Add thawed spinach and stir to combine. Continue to cook over low to medium flame, stirring occasionally. Cook 20-30 minutes, until spinach is heated through and fully cooked. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice.
You can make the sauteed spinach in advance, and when you are ready to make the latkes, proceed with the following instructions:
In a large mixing bowl, combine sauteed spinach, eggs, breadcrumbs, oil and salt. Heat a frying pan and spray well with spray oil. Roll some of the batter in your hands to form a ball, then press between your palms to form a (relatively thin) patty. Fry on medium flame for 2-3 minutes per side, or until light brown. I like to taste the first latke to make sure I got the spices right, then fry the rest.
Notes: When spinach fries it turns brown and may look burnt, but it isn't!
Don't flip the latkes too soon, or they will fall apart. Make sure you allow them enough time to get cooked on the bottom before flipping.
I love Hanukkah, but more than celebrating the holiday with friends and family, I relish the excuse to break out some oil and start frying.
These days, Hanukkah ends up being a fun, though harried, time of year – work parties, friend parties, and of course celebrations with both sides of the family. All those latkes and apple sauce, or latkes and brisket as my uncle likes to serve, can get a bit boring for all eight crazy nights.
So why not try a Hanukkah latke brunch? Get out the bloody mary mix, throw together a nice fruit salad, and serve up some latkes and eggs as a fun alternative to the traditional latke spread.
Here is my recipe for a Latkes Salmon Benedict, inspired by Essex House in New York City.
- 5 yukon gold potatoes, peeled
- 1 small onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- Salt and pepper
- Oil for frying
- One dozen eggs
- Smoked salmon
Put potatoes, onion and garlic cloves through a food processor in batches.
In a large bowl, mix together grated potato and onion along with flour, egg, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit for around 10 minutes, and then strain some of the excess liquid.
In the meantime, heat a few Tbsp of oil on medium high heat in a large skillet. When oil is almost sizzling, put together latke patties, draining excess liquid once again, in your hand. Fry on each side until golden and crispy.
Dust the hot latkes with just a sprinkling of salt while they are still hot. Let the latkes drain on a cooling rack or on plate with paper towel.
When ready to serve, poach or fry eggs.
On a serving plate arrange latkes topped with smoked salmon and eggs. Add dill for a festive garnish.