My Latke Recipe
Happy Hannuka! I use a variation of the recipe I learned from my mother. But because we're in this highly inconvenient little apartment, far from most of our possessions, I did not have the recipe with me. Didn't matter; I remembered well enough without it and the nonconformities may have been beneficial. So here's the way I did it last night; I'd already promised the recipe tobandcandy, and antosha_c probably has a good recipe of his own, but I thought it might interest others also.
First I peeled 6 potatoes and left them to sit in a bowl of water. (We only have one large bowl right now, so I couldn't start mixing anything until later and I find it's better not to grade the potatoes until nearly the last minute). Then I chopped up 2 onions and set them aside. In another, smaller bowl, I beat 3 eggs, added about 1/3 cup of low-fat, plain yogurt (or "madzoon," as my Armenian wife calls it), some salt and fresh-ground pepper, and some nutmeg. (I grated the nutmeg directly into the mixture, so I'm not sure exactly how much there was, but I'll bet it was about 1 teaspoon (I really like nutmeg).) I mixed these wet things together until they were relatively smooth.
I chopped up a bunch of Italian parsley -- now, in the past I put the parsley directly into the final latke batter, which is the way my mother did it, and it adds color and a nice bit of flavor. But my kids don't like them that way, so this time I just set it aside to dump on top of the latkes when served.
I took the potatoes out of the bowl and set them on some paper towels while I rinsed and dried the bowl. Then I grated them on a hand-grater (coarsest option) into the bowl. (Had I been at home I would have used a food processor with the coarse grater blade; I liked this a bit better, actually, and besides, my friend Jennifer used to say that latkes aren't authentic unless they contain a bit of grated knuckle...) Then I added the onions, the wet mixture, and about 1/3 cup of unbleached white flour. I mixed the whole mess with my hands (which is really a lot of fun).
I got out the biggest skillet we've got here, and filled it with peanut oil (with some olive oil added), to a depth of a bit more than 1/4 inch.
The oil has to be really hot (but obviously not burning), or else the latkes will soak up too much of it and taste unnecessarily greasy. When it is hot, I added the batter using a heaping soup spoon (i.e., 1 tablespoon); after they were all added I flattened them a bit. The problem with adding them all at once is that it may cool the oil down a bit and slow the cooking process.
I turned them only when they were at least golden on the bottom, which really tries my patience. I have to use a spatula and a fork in concert, because you really don't want to splash that hot oil.
When they were browned on the second side, I removed them to a platter that has several layers of paper towels on it to soak up the excess oil. I actually made two batches (or 12 latkes, in my skillet), keeping them warm in the oven, before serving. (Note that as the oil level begins to decrease in the pan, some of the latkes will tend to scortch before others are even golden; adding oil may help, but then you have to heat it up again).
I served them with applesauce I'd made earlier in the afternoon, with extra yogurt and the parsley. Our friend Holly had brought some asparagus with lemon that we ate along with it. There were three adults and two children eating (and my 7-year-old only ate a bit of one of the latkes), but between us we polished off the whole recipe. Since it was Shabbat we also had some bread and wine; the kids (of course) ate Hannuka gelt for dessert.
The only real down-side of this process is that the cook himself can't really sit down to eat; he has to be constantly back-and-forth to the pan. This worked out fine, actually, because the kitchen table here will only seat four, and so I had an excuse not to use it. I suppose you could just cook all the latkes in advance and them serve them all at once, but I really think they're better right out of the pan. I look forward to eating these things (which are far to high-fat and high-calorie to eat at any other time, really) all year. The whole apartment still smells of the cooking, 24 hours later.