Another conspicuous absence and another apology! I have been keeping a low culinary profile recently but have dug out a dish I made some weeks ago and never had the chance to blog – latkes.
As always there is some sentimentality attached, I first came across these many years ago when I lived in Amsterdam. I had just arrived, and, was staying in a youth hostel that a friend was working in. It was Rosh Hashannah, and, two Jewish girls from the US decided to make latkes. My interest was piqued, I had never heard of them before (I was relatively fresh from the Emerald Isle ;)), and a new way of cooking potatoes that involves frying sounded good, surely, this is a new posh crisp?! I was soon to discover it was much better, and, it’s a recipe that I make now with fond recollection.
I most recently had latkes on my August trip to Paris on a visit to the Marais. I went to the famed Jewish deli, Finkelstajn’s, and indulged. It’s a wonderful deli, full of treats like baked cheesecake and the aforementioned latke’s. Recent weeks have been gloomy and full of upheaval, so to restore my spirits, I made some of these.
I prefer to use a waxy potato when making these, like a Desiree or Charlotte potato. I have made them with floury potatoes and I don’t like the texture that results, they’re too dense. Some people prefer floury potatoes, though, so experiment if these are new to you. I have read that it’s traditional to fry latkes in goose fat but I used light sunflower oil, occasionally I use olive oil, whatever’s your preference really. Matzo meal is a common ingredient in recipes too, although I don’t use it here.
For the accompanying apple sauce, I kept it really simple. I don’t think it’s worth writing a recipe for this, as it was absolutely ad-hoc. I grew up making stewed apple, it was a favourite of mine, using apples from our neighbour’s tree, and, like most of my cooking now, was adjusted as I went, adding sugar and other little bits (more then than now with my young sweet tooth!).
I had some beautiful eating apples from the farmer’s market that were a little sour, so, I chopped and stewed them for about 10 minutes with a couple of tablespoons of sugar. The skins were very pretty and tasty so I left them on. There was no need to blend it as the apples fell apart as they cooked and I quite liked the skins texture in chunks. I did two versions, splitting the sauce in two when the apples were stewed. I added fresh chopped mint to one and kept the other simple. They were both nice, in fact, I think I might prefer the simpler one. Traditionally, these are served with sour cream also, so, feel free to add this.
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
Peel the potatoes and grate. Soak the grated potato in cold water. Let the last batch soak for a few minutes then strain in a colander.
Spread the potatoes and chopped onion on a kitchen towel and roll up and squeeze as much of the excess moisture as possible out. This will make a difference to the final result so it’s worth spending a bit of time doing this. Transfer the resultant mixture to a bowl and stir in the beaten egg and salt.
Heat about 1-2cm of the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, until hot but not smoking.
Form the latkes so that they are thin (less than 1cm) and about the size of your palm (should use about 2 tbsp mixture). The thinner the better for me. Cook the latkes until brown at the edges. Turn them over and cook until fully browned. You should be able to do about 4 at a time with an average frying pan.
Drain excess oil using kitchen paper and keep on a wire rack until you serve. I serve them as they are done so that they are nice and hot with the apple sauce.