Since it’s customary to eat foods fried in oil during Hanukkah, I made latkes for dinner last Saturday night (the second night of Hanukkah). I started making latkes on my own maybe five years ago, after a lifetime of helping my mom make them every Hanukkah. My mom doesn’t follow a recipe. She inherently knows the right ratio of ingredients.
One Hanukkah, I decided to write down my mom’s method for making latkes as she prepared them. I knew that if I had any hope of every making potato pancakes on my own, I’d need a recipe to follow. The challenge with my mom’s recipe is that no single ingredient is measured out. Like all good family recipes, it’s a handful of this and a sprinkle of that.
My mom’s “recipe” for latkes serves a crowd, so I always have to adjust the recipe to feed two people: Eric and me. Even though I scale back the recipe every year, I’m always dubious as to how mine are going to come out. I assume my latkes are going to come out soggy because I didn’t get the ratios of ingredients right, yet every year they cook up just fine. I’m happy to say this year’s batch of latkes was no different.
I served the latkes with sour cream and apple sauce, and I steamed a bunch of red chard, which came in my CSA that week, to eat on the side. I wanted something healthy to eat with the latkes…and with the jelly donuts we were also having for dinner. In Israel, Jewish families eat jelly donuts on Hanukkah because donuts are fried in oil. Being the gluttons that Eric and I are, we decided to do up our Hanukkah Ashkenazi and Israel style. We’ll use any excuse to eat jelly donuts. What the heck? You only live once, right?
Oddly, when I was little, I didn’t like latkes. My mom used to douse them in sugar or apple sauce to get me to eat them. Now I can’t get enough of them. I devoured five of them last Saturday night.
I can’t share my latke recipe here because it’s a family secret. Suffice to say they’re the best latkes. You’ll just have to try them yourself some time.