I didn't really acknowledge the start of December--it sort of snuck up on me-- but anyway, it's a month full of traditions, right? There are the regular ones, decorating a tree, baking cookies, lighting a menorah, watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve... Some conventions are a little more quirky though, like the time honored tradition we annually return to in our house: the yearly let's-make-latkes-and-break-Felicia's-no-fry-rule. I's not that I hate fried food or anything-- it's just that I cannot stand the smell of deep-frying in the house. That grease just coats everything, the jackets, the furniture, my hair etc., despite the fact that we run the kitchen vent, open the windows and close all the upstairs doors. But even I, with my sensitive nose and all, have to admit, after gobbling down one of these sweet and crunchy creations dipped in that luscious cinnamon-y sour cream mixture, that rules are meant to be broken!
If you celebrate Hanukkah, you, like me, may be surprised to learn that the holiday actually starts this Sunday, yikes! No time to recover from the Thanksgiving festivities!! Anyway, if you know anything at all about the Festival of Lights, it's that Hanukkah and fried food go hand-in-hand, thus the appearance of these latkes. For years I've been breaking my no-fry rule with this classic version, but this year, I decided to break with tradition a bit more (there's that word again) and try a recipe I'd filed away a long time ago but never actually attempted. And my family is so glad I did. These have been proclaimed, "the best ever" and I wish my grandpa could be here to taste them because latkes were one of his favorites.
And they come together pretty easily too. Basically, you just grate a potato, an onion and a couple of apples together and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Then you mix them all together with eggs, flour, baking powder, etc., form little patties and fry.
The latkes have wonderfully crispy crunchy exteriors, with a touch of sweetness from the apples that's balanced out by the tang of the onion, so there's that interesting ying/yang dynamic going on. The dipping sauce which is just made of sour cream, cinnamon and maple syrup, really puts these over the top, although these would be great with applesauce too. And if you accidentally forget that you put thin white bread into the toaster and start a fire, (not that I speak from personal experience or anything) you'll instantly get the latke smell out of your house!! Happy Hanukkah!!
And remember, you only have two more days to enter my holiday giveaway and win a copy of Wintersweet. So put down the latkes for a minute and click here to enter!
Potato-Apple Latkes with Cinnamon Sour Cream
Makes about 18 mini-latkes
Prep Time: 15 minutes; Frying Time: 15-20 minutes
For the Cinnamon Sour Cream
- 6 tablespoons sour cream (full-fat or light)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
For the Latkes
- 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and cored (you could use a different variety of sweet apple as well)
- 1 large russet potato, peeled
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled
- 2/3 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- About 1/4 cup vegetable oil--you may need to use more, you want about 1/4 inch oil in the pan
1. To make the Cinnamon Sour Cream: Whisk together the sour cream, cinnamon and syrup in a small bowl till thoroughly combined. Cover and keep chilled until ready to use.
2. To make the latkes: Using the large holes of a grater, grate the apples, potato and onion into a large bowl. Either place the entire mixture into a towel and squeeze to wring out as much of the liquid as possible or squeeze small handfuls of the mixture over the sink. Once you've gotten as much liquid removed as you're able to, place the mixture into a large bowl.
3. Working quickly so that the apples and potato don't turn brown, add the flour, eggs, baking soda, salt and pepper and mix well until no flour is visible.
4. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. You want the oil to be very hot, but not smoking. Form small patties and carefully place them into the oil. Try not to crowd the pan too much or it will be hard to turn them over. Let latkes cook for 2-3 minutes, until the bottoms and edges are golden brown and then flip them over and let the second side cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the second side is golden brown too. Use a spatula to transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat the entire procedure with the remaining batter.
5. Serve the latkes immediately with the cinnamon sour cream on the side.
6. I haven't doubled this recipe, but I imagine it would work well. And if you're making these for a large crowd, you could make them ahead, leave them at room temperature and then crisp them up in a low oven before serving.
Note: Recipe adapted from an article in the NY Times by Melissa Clark.