My limited childhood memories of latkes at Chanukah are of cold, greasy hockey pucks brought on a plate to the basement rec. room of the neighbors’ house, where their annual Chanukah party included socializing upstairs for the adults and the kids sitting in the dimly lit, chilly basement watching “The Charlie Brown Christmas” on television.
Fast forward to when I was in Israel in 1996. Chanukah came to the Negev, the skies turned cloudy, the rain fell, the heaters in our apartments were barely sufficient to keep the chill out of our bones, and the Cap’n and I decided it was time for some comfort food. We went to the Co-op next to the absorption center where we were housed at the WUJS Arad program, bought up a bunch of produce and a few kilos of apples, and headed back to our apartments. I got grating, and he went up to his kitchen to brew up a fresh batch of homemade applesauce. We invited friends to help us eat our levivot (latkes) and were told by the Cap’n’s roommate, “Don’t make too many; I’ll only eat one or two.” He ended up eating five or six.
The following recipe, my friends, is NOT for cold, greasy hockey pucks. It’s also beyond the traditional recipe in its use of a blend of vegetables. And it’s tasty, colorful, and delicious. Warm applesauce and sour cream strictly optional. I just love them with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Chag Chanukah sameach!
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 a 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 cook faster, 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.