With Chanukah approaching and minds turning to greasy, deep-fat-fried foods, I thought I would share a recipe for latkes that I invented years ago. The Cap’n and I were on a program in Israel (where we met, in fact) and while sufganiyot (doughnuts) were available everywhere, Ashkenazi Jews like us were on our own for latkes. Bored with the formulaic potato-only kind (and harboring loathsome memories of eating cold, greasy, tasteless hockey pucks at the innumerable Chanukah parties I attended as a child), I thought it time I seized the opportunity to strike out in a new direction. I shopped for vegetables at the shuk (outdoor market) and began grating, while the Cap’n peeled apples and began simmering a vat of homemade applesauce. When we were finished, the product was a great success. The Cap’n’s roommate warned us, "Don’t make too many; I’ll only eat one or two." He ended up downing five or six.
This recipe is flexible. Tweak it to your own tastes, and feel free to add anything you don’t see (e.g. shallots, leeks, olives, matzo meal). I also make no pronouncements on whether the cook hand-grates or machine processes the vegetables. (Human flesh is parve, so if you prefer hand-grating, go ahead.) Serve with whatever you like: applesauce, sour cream, or yogurt.
My own MIXED VEGETABLE LATKES
4 med potatoes, grated
1 lg sweet potato, grated
2 lg carrots, grated
2 lg zucchini, grated
1 lg onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Press grated potatoes into colander to eliminate excess moisture. Mix ingredients together in bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Heat oil in lg heavy skillet. When very hot (not smoking) squeeze moisture from small fistfuls of mixture and flatten in palms, dropping into hot oil. Smaller latkes take less time to cook, so make them small to cut down on cooking time. Lift to test after a few minutes; when brown, turn over and cook on other side until done. Drain on cookie sheets lined with paper towels. Serve immediately with toppings.