I have long considered myself somewhat a latke expert, with several varieties under my belt, and never a single latke leftover when serving to my friends and family. That is until I had the chance to spend time with Michelin Star Chef Bill Telepan and Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael of the acclaimed New York City restaurant Telepan last week.
Chef Bill Telepan isn’t Jewish, though his latkes might indicate otherwise. In truth, Bill grew up in suburban New Jersey eating potato pancakes every holiday season prepared by his Hungarian mother. He carries this tradition on with his own family, serving up a big Christmas breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes and, what else, latkes.
But he has also been serving up latkes at his restaurant for nearly ten years, and even won an award for his latkes at the Annual Latke Festival in New York City several years ago. He likes serving them two ways: plain with sour cream and homemade applesauce, or as an appetizer with smoked salmon and creme fraiche (a personal favorite).
So what can a Michelin Star chef teach a nice Jewish girl about frying latkes? Well, a lot. And it turns out I had been making a couple of mistakes.
Bill shared that you want to keep the natural potato starch in the mix, but also need to remove excess liquid. After mixing all the latke ingredients, he allows the mix to sit around 5-10 minutes. Then he drains it, mixes the eggs with the leftover potato starch, and adds that back into the potatoes.
Don’t squeeze out too much liquid: I had been squeezing out the liquid from my latke each time I formed a patty, but Bill told me you don’t want to do that, because then the latkes will be dry. Instead, lightly form a patty using your hands or a tablespoon to keep the moisture in, creating a fluffier and creamier latke.
Onion is key for Bill, who uses a ratio of 1 small onion to every 1 ½ lbs of russet potatoes. When I tried out this ratio over the weekend, my dad immediately said “wow, great onion flavor” so I guess Bill is really on to something.
Another key element is adding enough salt, both in the mix of the latkes, and then a small sprinkle after they come out of the hot oil. While 2 tsp of salt for 1 ½ lbs of potatoes may seem like a lot, Bill pointed out that potatoes really absorb the salt and need a little extra to bring out the flavor.
In my time at the restaurant I also had the chance to spend time with Pastry Chef Larissa Raphael, who has been serving up some of New York City’s best desserts for years, who decided to try her hand at serving Hanukkah jelly donuts this year for the first time.
You have probably had a jelly donut around Hanukkah time. And they are fine, I mean what is bad about fried dough. But what I loved about Larissa’s Hanukkah donuts is the balance of rich chocolate ganache and raspberry jam filling paired with delightfully light, bite-sized donut “holes.” After all eating several small donuts is way more fun than trying to stuff one enormous powder-sugar covered donut into your mouth.
If making donuts from scratch seems like a daunting task, Larissa shared that you can actually allow the dough to rise overnight in the fridge, a helpful tip for the busy home baker. No fancy oil for this frying: just plain old vegetable oil.
So now you can enjoy Michelin Star quality latkes and Hanukkah donuts all from the comfort of your own home.
Latkes and Hanukkah donuts will be available at Telepan from December 16th to 24th and are available both for take-out and in-house dining. Donuts will only be available for the dinner menu.
Chef Bill Telepan’s Potato Latkes, Yield: 6 latkes
1 ½ lbs of Idaho (russet) potatoes
1 small onion
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp salt
Using the large hole on a box grater, grate potatoes and the onions into a mixing bowl.
Squeeze the grated potatoes and onion and save the water from the potatoes. After the water from the potatoes has settled, pour off the water and save the starch which settled to the bottom.
Beat the eggs and add them to the starch and combine well. Add the flour and salt and combine all.
Pan fry in a sauté pan in a generous amount of vegetable oil until golden brown and crispy on the outside, and cooking through on the inside.
For the dough:
2 cups + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 medium eggs
2 Tbsp milk
3 scant Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh yeast or 2 tsp dry yeast
2 ¼ tsp salt
7 Tbsp slightly softened butter
For the chocolate ganache:
2 cups + 2 Tbsp bittersweet chocolate
1 cup + 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp heavy cream
Raspberry or strawberry jam
Mix yeast, milk, flour and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, on low speed until combined. Mix in sugar and salt.
Add butter and mix on medium speed until gluten is developed, around 10 minutes. Place dough onto a floured cookie sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise to double in size. Another option is to place in refrigerator overnight.
Once the dough is doubled in size, put onto a floured surface and roll to ½ inch thick. Cut with cookie cutter (I use a 1 ½ inch round cutter) and place on a cookie sheet with parchment, or waxed paper, or lightly floured. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
Heat your oil to 350. Fry the doughnuts for around 3 minutes. Break one open to check that 3 minutes is enough time and that middle is cooked through.
Roll in sugar. You can fill with chocolate or jam or both.
To make the ganache: Melt chocolate in a medium bowl over a pot of boiling water. Set aside. Place cream in a pot and heat until boiling. Pour over chocolate and mix with whisk until combined.
Loaded baked potatoes have always intrigued me. There are tons of vegetarian versions to enjoy, but there is something about the classic version that always captured my attention: steaming hot with melted cheddar cheese, a big dollop of sour cream, and of course, crispy bacon on top.
So I decided to take the plunge, and turn my affection-from-afar for the loaded baked potato into a latke version. The classic potato latke got a makeover with some grated cheddar cheese and scallions, and then I topped it all with tangy sour cream, more scallions and bacon bits. Ok everyone, don’t get your panties in a twist. Not real bacon: the fake kind they sell in the salad dressing aisle.
Of course, what could be bad about this combination of ingredients? Pretty much nothing.
An unexpected surprise of this recipe? The red and green from the scallions and bacon bits create a little Chrismukkah action. So for those of you who might be from interfaith families, or just like getting into the red and green holiday spirit, this recipe has your name all over it.
8 medium Yukon gold potatoes
1 small onion
2 cups diced green onions (around 10)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup flour
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Pareve “bacon” bits
Using the shredding attachment of a food processor or a hand grater, coarsely great potatoes and onions. Place in a large bowl.
Add flour, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until completely combined. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes. Drain excess liquid. Add grated cheddar cheese and half of the chopped scallions.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using your hands or large spoon, make a latke patty and place in the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on wire cooling rack placed on a baking sheet, which you can place in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Top latkes with sour cream, additional scallions and bacon bits.
There’s just something about comfort food that always gets me excited to eat. Give me some mac n’ cheese, tuna casserole or a grilled cheese sandwich and I am good to go. Can you tell that I love dairy? Hanukkah, which is traditionally celebrated with oily and cheesy foods, really is the perfect holiday for me!
On Hanukkah we eat foods fried in oil to symbolize the oil that lasted eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Greeks. The dairy is to celebrate Judith’s victory when she saved her village from the Babylonians. Basically, she served the General of the Babylonian army a basket of wine and salty cheese (the salt made him thirsty and got him very drunk). When he passed out, she beheaded him and scared away his army. It’s a bit graphic but definitely worth celebrating!
So now let’s get back to my comfort food, which really does tie in to Hanukkah beautifully. I decided that what this holiday really needed was a crispy latke fried in oil then sandwiched together with cheese. Sounds good, right?!? Jewish-American comfort food taken to the max.
2-3 large potatoes, peeled (2 cups grated)
3 Tbsp plain bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp light olive oil
5-10 slices cheddar cheese
Line a large bowl with a kitchen towel and line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.
Peel and grate the potatoes and place them in the towel then squeeze out all of the liquid from the potatoes. Discard the liquid then place the dried potatoes in the bowl.
Stir in the egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper until combined.
In a heavy saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. To test if the oil/butter mixture is hot enough, drop a small piece of the potato mixture into the pan and if bubbles form around the edges, the oil is ready.
Carefully place two ¼ cup-sized scoops of the potato mixture in the pan and cook for two minutes, until the latkes are browning on the bottom.
Flip the latkes over carefully with a spatula and place 1-2 slices of cheddar cheese on one latke. Cook for one more minute then place the second latke on top of the cheese and press down. Cook for 30 seconds then flip over the grilled cheese latke sandwich, press down and cook for 30 more seconds.
Place the hot grilled cheese latkes on the paper towels to drain then repeat this process to make 3-4 more sandwiches.
Once the latkes have drained, it’s time to eat!
If you want to take these grilled cheese latkes to the next level, you can add avocado or spinach to the cheese while cooking or switch it up with your favorite cheese.
I would like to say that this is the first time I have combined brisket and latkes into one recipe, but I would be lying. I just love finding ways to use brisket, like the brisket latkes I created last year and one of my newer creations: brisket-stuffed cabbage.
Like so many great recipes, this one was created by accident. At a Hanukkah party several years ago I served potato latkes, pulled brisket and some homemade challah rolls. Pretty soon my friends ditched the rolls and started topping their latkes with the brisket. And a new star was born.
If you are asking yourself, “can I use my family’s beloved brisket recipe for this?” The answer is absolutely. As long as the recipe calls for a significant amount of liquid so that it has a bit of sauce to it, whatever recipe you fancy will work great.
You don’t have to stop with brisket as a topping for your latkes. You can make a “top your own latke” party this Hanukkah season, serving up grilled pastrami, pulled brisket, caramelized onions or any other fun topping you like. Watch as your guests get creative with their latkes. You can also shake it up by adding some sweet potato latkes or parsnip latkes into the mix.
For the brisket:
2-3 lb brisket
1 Tbsp salt
½ Tbsp freshly grated black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried parsley
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1 can beer
1 can ginger ale
1 bottle red wine
4 oz tomato paste
4 medium carrots, cut into medium size pieces
2 onions, cut into quarters
For the latkes:
12 medium-large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 small onions, or 1 medium-large onion, cut into large chunks
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
¾ -1 cup flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 ½ Tbsp salt
½ Tbsp pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
To make the brisket:
In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and parsley. Spread dry rub on both sides of brisket evenly. Preheat the oven to 300F degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot on medium high heat. Sear the brisket on both sides "until the smoke detector goes off." Remove meat and set aside.
Using the remaining oil and "good bits" on the bottom of the pan, sauté carrots and onions, scraping the bottom until the veggies are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Put the brisket back in the pan, and cover with the bottle of red wine, beer and ginger ale. Place the entire pot with brisket into the oven, and cook for at least 3-4 hours, until meat is completely tender.
When the meat is fork tender, remove the meat and set aside on a large cutting board.
Let the sludge rise to the top of the pot liquid and skim it off. Strain out the carrots and onions and using a food processor, blend them with 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid, then return the blended mixture to the rest of the liquid and simmer to reduce slightly.
On the cutting board using two forks, carefully shred the brisket into small strands. Add 1-2 cups of the pureed cooking liquid to the pulled brisket for additional moisture and flavor.
Serve in a large bowl and allow guests to top latkes, or spoon small amounts of brisket on each latke for a more elegant presentation.
To make the latkes:
Using the shredding attachment of a food processor or a hand grater, coarsely great potatoes, onions and garlic. Place in a large bowl.
Add flour, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until completely combined. Allow to sit 5-10 minutes. Drain excess liquid.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using your hands, make a small latke patty and squeeze out excess liquid again. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on wire cooling rack placed on a baking sheet, which you can place in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah. Sigh. This has been such an exciting year to celebrate. But between Thanksgiving, the long holiday weekend and eight nights of latkes and sufganiyot, my stomach is sure ready to move on to lighter fare.
I’ve put together some of my favorite healthful eating ideas to help you detox from the eating debuachery of the past week. Got a great a recipe to get our eating on track? Post below and let us know!
Don’t forget dessert: Strawberry Lemon Granita
Is there anything more enticing than a perfectly fried, crispy potato latke? Served with apple sauce, sour cream or my own favorite combo: creme fraiche and smoked salmon. Look at these crispy, golden gems. Makes me drool a little just thinking about breaking out the oil.
But there is so much more than the basic latke, as delicious as it may be. So if you have been hankering for something different to serve for your Hanukkah (or even Thanksgivukkah) celebration next month, I’ve got you covered.
I have been scouring the internet and other blogs for the most creative, crazy latke combos that exist. And here they are in all their awesome glory. You’re welcome.
Every year at the holidays it seems like our lives get busier and busier and so we have to find creative ways to get all our friends and family visits in during Hanukkah. This year is no different, in fact it was even busier now that we have a new baby!
So in order to fit in a visit with some of our close friends we decided to host a Hanukkah brunch -latkes for breakfast, my favorite kind!
Last year for our latke-breakfast combo we served my classic (amazing) latkes with smoked salmon and poached eggs. But this year we wanted to do something slightly different.
First, we decided to make two different kinds of latkes – my husband tried out a recipe for Balkan Potato Leek Latkes from Janna Gur’s The Book of New Israeli Food. These latkes are made by cooking, then mashing the potatoes, dipping in egg and flour and then frying them. They tasted like a mashed-potato fritter. They were good, but we decided we liked our classic shredded style latke better.
And to accompany my more traditional latkes we decided to make two different condiments: tzatziki and Amy Kritzer’s cranberry-applesauce. The cranberry applesauce was so good there wasn’t a drop left! If you are still frying up some latkes during the rest of Hanukkah I definitely recommend whipping up a batch – its very easy and doesn’t take long at all on the stove.
Last weekend the husband and I were watching Rachel Khoo’s “Little Paris Kitchen” on The Cooking Channel (sidenote: what a great show! definitely check it out) when we came across her “Croque Madame Cups,” where she butters white bread, sticks it in muffin tins and then bakes eggs (ham) and bechamel for a heavenly little egg cup. We knew at once we HAD to make them.
And thank goodness we did – they are absolutely our new favorite recipe. We did not use any kind of meat product, but you could substitute spinach, mushrooms or even smoked salmon for the ham she uses. They truly are two-bites of rich, creamy delight-fulness.
Also included on our Hanukkah brunch table? Mimosas, Israeli salad and some homemade cookies for dessert.
Hope everyone is enjoying Hanukkah, whatever time of day you serve the latkes!
For me, February is prime comfort food month, so this Shabbat I’m thinking about yummy comfort foods I can serve to my guests.
And then for dessert, these Dark Chocolate Brownies with Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl have stolen my heart, and I don’t think I’ll be able to recover until I make them and wallow in them for a nice long time. Amiright?
I recently told my parents that they cursed me. The way I see it, when my (probable) Irish genes collided with my (definite) Eastern European genes, I was pre-destined to have a love affair with the potato.
My parents blush and look a little embarrassed when you ask them what my first un-coached word was. Not because it was uncouth, or racy, but because my first un-coached utterance was spoken as we drove past a Burger King. Ladies and gentleman, my first word was “fry”– as in french fry.
Now, my family isn’t really into fried foods. If we have a craving for french fries or onion rings, we go out to our favorite fast food joint or restaurant. We don’t ever fry anything at home; we leave it to the professionals. But, when I was growing up, come Hanukkah we’d open all the windows (a feat in the sometimes sub-zero Ohio winters), close the doors to the bedrooms, and my dad would spend several nights frying up latke after latke.
I love my dad’s latkes. As a child (and, maybe even as an adult) I would gobble them down, often leaving my mom’s brisket (also incredible) untouched. Eventually, we just started having latke-only dinners a few times each Hanukkah.
Everyone has “the perfect” latke recipe, so I won’t attempt to prove my family’s recipe is better than yours. I will, however, share a few of our latke tips with you”
– Do not peel your potatoes
– Salt the potatoes after grating them, let them sit for about 20
mintues, then squeeze as much of the water out as possible
– Grate your onions (juice and all) directly into your squeezed-out potatoes
– Use only a little matzo meal to bind the batter, don’t let the matzo
meal overcome the potatoey-ness
– Fry the latkes in corn oil
– After you fry, pat off excess oil with paper towels
– To keep warm and crispy, place latkes on cookie racks in a 250 degree oven
Rachel Korycan lives in Washington, D.C. and is a Development Coordinator at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
Want some additional tricks for making latkes? Check out this video that purports to give you foolproof latke tips.