Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Potato Pancakes

Hanukkah begins tonight at sundown. It recalls the story of the ancient Jewish Maccabees, who restored their synagogue in Jerusalem after it was desecrated by oppessors who had forbidden the Jews fto practice their religion.

Re-dedicating the synagogue meant re-lighting the eternal lamp. There was only enough oil to burn for a day, but it burned for eight days, until a supply of oil was found. This miracle is recalled each year as Jews around the world celebrate Hanukkah and eat fried foods such as donuts and latkes.

3 or 4 large baking potatoes, grated
1 cup (cold, leftover) mashed potatoes
3/4 cup finely grated onion
3 large eggs, beaten
3 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 to 4 tablespoons flour, plus more as needed
Vegetable oil for frying

Put the grated potatoes in a large bowl, cover them with water and let soak for at least 15 minutes (or up to 1 hour) to remove the excess starch.

Rinse the potatoes and drain well, squeezing them with your hands to remove excess moisture. Combine the potatoes and the mashed potatoes in a mixing bowl with the onion, eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder and 2 tablespoons flour. Stir well. Add more matzo meal if too much liquid accumulates in the bottom of the bowl.
Pour the oil into a large frying pan to a depth of 1/4 inch, and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, gently drop the potato batter by large spoonfuls into the hot oil, pressing down on them lightly with the back of the spoon to form thin pancakes about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, keeping the latkes about 1/2 inch apart. Do not crowd.

Fry the latkes until they are browned on one side, then turn and cook them until browned on the other.

Remove them to a paper towel-lined platter to drain, blotting off excess oil. Transfer to a plate and put in a 200° oven to stay warm.

Repeat until all the batter is used up, adding a bit more matzo meal or flour to the mixture as more liquid starts to collect in the bowl, and squeezing out the extra liquid. Skim the surface of the oil to remove any floating potato bits, which can burn and give the oil an off-flavor. Discard the oil when it begins to brown and use fresh oil as needed.

Serve with apple sauce or sour cream.

More info on this holiday:

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