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Lots of Luscious Latkes!

December 15, 2005
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Chanukah is the only one of the major Jewish holidays not recounted in the Bible, and much of its symbolism is open to interpretation. Was Chanukah, as some say, originally a recognition of the solstice? Did it become a family-based holiday and de-emphasize its military connotation because Jews living under the Romans realized the imprudence of celebrating victory over a powerful ruler?

Does the word "latke" come from the Greek word for oil (elaion)? Are latkes symbols of the hastily made food the Maccabees ate prior to going to battle? Does the dreidel signify a game that Jews, who were reading the Torah, pretended to be playing when they were caught by watchful oppressors?

Chanukah will always be full of such puzzles and wonderments. And there will always be as many opinions as there are latke recipes. Certainly, though, there is nothing like a latke party for exchanging and explaining traditions, and passing them along to the next generation.

Get your party started with some recipes from Jewish Holiday Feasts.

Classic Potato Latkes
[Pareve]

11/2 lbs. all-purpose potatoes, peeled
1 medium onion, chopped or grated
1/4 cup chopped parsley (optional)
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsps. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 cup oil for frying
applesauce for serving

Grate potatoes and squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can. Combine them with the onion, parsley, egg, flour, salt and pepper. Heat about one-third cup of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, until very hot.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into the pan to form each pancake. Use the back of a spoon to flatten the mixture so that each latke is about 3 inches in diameter. Fry until brown and crisp, about 4 minutes per side.

Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 250? oven.

Frying will have to be done in batches; use more oil as needed.

Serve hot with applesauce.

Makes 16 latkes.

Fresh Salmon Latkes
[Pareve]

11/2 lbs. boneless and skinless salmon fillet
1 small onion
1 stalk celery
3 sprigs parsley
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 egg
1 egg white
11/2 cups dry breadcrumbs
1/2 to 1 cup oil for frying
pareve tartar sauce for serving (optional)

Cut salmon into chunks and place in a food processor with onion, celery, parsley, dill, salt and cayenne pepper. Process until chopped, but not puréed.

Add the lemon juice, egg, egg white and one-half cup of the breadcrumbs and process again, just until combined.

Measure out about one-quarter cup of the salmon mixture for each latke and form into 3-inch patties. Spread remaining breadcrumbs on a plate; coat both sides of each latke with them.

In a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, heat about one-third cup of oil until hot. Fry latkes until golden-brown, about 4 minutes per side. Use more oil for each batch as needed.

Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 250 degree oven.

Serve with tartar sauce.

Makes 16 latkes.

Zucchini Latkes
[Dairy]

4 cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 2 lbs.)
1 small onion, chopped or grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 to 1 cup oil for frying
Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Squeeze out as much moisture as possible from the zucchini, and combine with all remaining ingredients except the oil.

In a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, heat about one-third cup of oil until hot.

Drop 3 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture into the pan to form each pancake. Fry until golden-brown, about 4 minutes per side.

Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 250 degree oven.

Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Makes 16 latkes.

Cauliflower and Carrot Latkes
[Pareve]

4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 large head)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 to 1 cup oil for frying

Cook cauliflower in large pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Purée cauliflower with eggs and stir in remaining ingredients except oil.

In a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, heat about one-half cup of oil until hot.

Ladle three tablespoons of batter into pan to from each pancake. Fry golden, about 3 minutes per side. Use more oil for each batch as needed.

Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 250 degree oven.

Serve as soon as all are done.

Makes 15 latkes.

Sweet Cottage-Cheese Latkes
[Dairy]

1 cup regular or low-fat cottage cheese
3 eggs, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps. sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
grated zest of half a lemon
1/2 cup oil for frying
Apple-Pear Purée (recipe follows)

Beat cottage cheese, egg yolks, flour, sugar, cream, salt and lemon zest until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, but not dry, and fold into the cheese mixture.

In a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, heat oil until hot. Drop 4 tablespoons of batter into the pan to form each latke. Fry until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Use more oil for each batch as needed.

Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 250 degree oven until ready to serve.

Serve with Apple-Pear Purée.

Makes 16 latkes.

Apple-Pear Purée
[Pareve]

3 ripe Comice or Anjou peers, peeled, cored and quartered
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsps. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar or to taste

Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan.

Cover and cook over a medium-high heat until fruit is soft and starts to break down, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Uncover and cook over medium-high heat until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.

Purée in a food processor.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

From the book by Jeannette Ferrary and Louise Fiszer. The latter is a nationally-known cooking teacher and food consultant, as well as a food columnist for the Jewish Exponent.

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