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.
Donuts were never really my thing. That is, until I was pregnant a few years ago and my husband brought me to New York City’s famous Doughnut Plant where I sampled several amazing flavors, including their peanut butter & jelly variety. I was in love, and it wasn’t just the pregnancy hormones.
Check out my elated face.
So this year when I was thinking about something fun and sweet to make for Hanukkah, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making an Israeli-style sufganiya, but with a classic American flavor pairing. After all, who doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly?! And most importantly, I love it, and I loved making these donuts. They were so delicious I might have eaten two. (I did).
If you have a peanut allergy in your family, you can swap out the peanut butter for almond butter, cashew butter or even sunflower butter. Instead of adding chopped peanuts to the top, add chopped salted almonds or cashews.
For the donuts:
1 ½ Tbsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
½ cup lukewarm water
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp salt
Vegetable oil for frying
For the glaze:
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup chopped, salted peanuts (or other salted nuts)
For the filling:
1 ½ cups raspberry jam
Combine yeast, 1 tsp sugar and water in a small bowl. Mix gently and allow to sit until top gets foamy, around 5-10 minutes.
In a stand mixer fitted with dough hook, add flour, sugar, eggs, butter, nutmeg and salt. Add yeast mixture and mix on low for 2 minutes. Increase speed and mix another 5 minutes. You can also do this by hand with a wooden spoon, which will take slightly longer.
Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise 2 1/2 -3 hours.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Using a round biscuit cutter or drinking glass, cut rounds. Place on a large plate, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise another 20 minutes.
While doughnuts are rising again, whisk the milk, peanut butter, powdered sugar and chopped peanuts together to make the glaze.
In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat until a thermometer reads around 370 degrees. Fry each round for around 30-40 seconds on each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Immediately spoon peanut butter glaze over the top.
Fill a pastry bag with jam and cut tip. Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Wiggle the toothpick around a bit to open up the inside of the doughnut. Fit the pastry bag into the hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
Add an extra dot of jam on top if desired.
Thanksgivukah is taking over: the menurkey (turkey + menorah) is the coveted item of the season and the interwebs are exploding with recipes, decorating ideas and kitschy paraphernalia to celebrate this “once in an eternity” event.
Not being one to turn up my nose at a Jewish fad, I set out to come up with my own perfect Thanksgivukah recipe.
I didn’t want to come up with some turkey-topped latke or cranberry Manischewitz sangria (although those are good ideas too). I wanted to think a bit sweet, since dessert is always my go-to. Pumpkin pie is my favorite traditional Thanksgiving dessert. But yet again, my mind kept straying to something slightly different. I thought…jelly doughnut…cranberry relish…it seemed almost too obvious.
Cranberry relish-filled sufganiyot might not be the right dessert to serve right after a big Thanksgiving meal, since they really need to be fried fresh. But they are a perfect Thanksgiving brunch option. Or even a great activity for your family the day after since you can use up that leftover cranberry relish!
If you make a chunky relish like this
then just puree the leftovers to use as the doughnut filling. If your relish is already smooth, then one less step!
Another tip: when filling the doughnuts it might seem like you are over-stuffing with relish, but you will want to make sure you are not skimping on the filling. When you insert the wooden skewer, wiggle it around a bit in the middle to create a relish-ready cavern. And don’t try to be too delicate with the piping bag – get it in there and squeeze away.
For the cranberry relish:
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
1 cup sugar
1 tsp corn starch
For the dough:
2 Tbsp dry yeast
½ cup lukewarm water
¼ cup plus 1 tsp sugar
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, softened
Vegetable oil for frying
Special equipment: wooden skewer, piping bag, round piping tip
To make the relish: Add cranberries, orange juice, orange zest and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and continue to simmer for around 5 minutes. Add corn starch and stir vigorously. Cook another 5 minutes or until cranberries have completely softened.
Remove from heat. Place cover on pot and let the cranberries sit for another 5 minutes.
Allow the cranberries to cool slightly.
Place cranberry mixture into food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse until completely smooth. Chill.
To make the dough: In a small bowl combine yeast and warm water. Sprinkle sugar on top and mix lightly. Allow to sit until foamy, around 10 minutes.
When yeast mixture is ready, in a large bowl combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, eggs, butter and yeast mixture using a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms.
On a floured surface knead dough until it is smooth, shiny and bounces back when touched, around 8-10 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl and allow to rise 1 ½-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
To assemble: On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch-round cutter or glass, cut rounds. You may have to roll out dough a few times. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 20-25 minutes.
Heat oil in a pot on medium heat until a thermometer measures 370 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, raise the heat to low-medium heat and test one of the doughnuts. If the oil immediately starts bubbling and the doughnut begins browning, it is the right temperature. If it doesn’t bubble at all, heat needs to be higher. If the oil splatters or the doughnut starts browning too quickly, heat needs to be turned down.
In a pyrex dish or large plate, combine around 2 cups of sugar with orange zest and combine lightly with a fork.
Using a slotted spoon, place 3-4 doughnuts into the oil. Allow to fry on each side around 40 seconds or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place onto a plate lined with paper towel. Once excess oil has been removed, roll in sugar-zest mixture while doughnuts are still warm so that the sugar sticks.
When all the doughnuts have been fried and sugared, begin to fill the doughnuts. Place the cranberry relish in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 20-30 seconds, just to soften slightly.
Fill pastry bag with a few heaping tablespoons of cranberry relish. If you don’t have a tip, you can just snip the corner of the pastry bag with a scissor.
Using a wooden skewer or toothpick, make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Fit the pastry tip into a hole, pipe about 2 teaspoons jam into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.