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Making latkes fun again

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It’s not Hanukkah without latkes, but doing the same thing every year can get a little tedious. So why not circumvent the same boring latkes this year by making some that are more vibrant, fun and flavourful?

Indeed, latkes are not just for potatoes anymore. Try substituting them with beans or shredded vegetables, such as zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli or spinach. You will be amazed at how great a potato-free latke can be. Baking rather than frying is another way to go. The baking sheet will need to be generously coated with Canola oil spray, but you will end up using a lot less oil than if you were frying.

There are eight nights of Hanukkah, so there can be at least eight latke and topping combinations. You can serve the old standby toppings, or imagine other novel toppings or spicy condiments to jazz up your latkes.

Applesauce is a traditional topping that can be stepped up. Forget the store-bought varieties, as nothing beats homemade. Simmer the peeled and cored apples with berries, citrus or cinnamon to elevate the taste. Or be adventurous and garnish the latkes with sautéed mushrooms, grilled vegetables or caramelized onions. Guacamole or salsa can add a little Mexican zing to your Hanukkah table. Sour cream goes great with dill, sliced green onions or chives.

Before you get out the food processor to prep for your regular latke routine, get inspired. Make an interesting variety of latkes. Serve them up with lots of creative toppings and you will change your Hanukkah get-together into a true celebration.

 

Falafel Latkes

o 90 g (1½ cups) canned chickpeas, drained

o 1⁄2 small onion, chopped

o 2 large garlic cloves, chopped

o 30 g (4 tbsp) flour

o 6 g (1 tbsp) ground cumin

o 5.4 g (1 tbsp) ground coriander

o 3.2 g (2 tbsp) dried parsley

o 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil

o 1 egg

o 1 small carrot, diced

o 5 g (1 tsp) salt

o .5 ml (1/4 tsp) pepper

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F) and line a baking sheet with foil.

Combine the chickpeas, onion, garlic, flour, cumin, coriander, parsley, olive oil, egg, carrot, salt and pepper. Pulse in a food processor until the mixture is well combined and smooth.

Scoop about 2 heaping tablespoons, or 1 ice-cream scoop, of the chickpea mixture and form into a flat patty. Repeat until approximately 15 latkes are formed. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the falafel latkes are lightly browned on the bottom and golden on top. Remove from oven and serve with tahini dressing (recipe below).

Tahini Dressing

o 3 cloves garlic, crushed

o 10 g (2 tsp) salt

o 2-3 lemons, juiced

o 112 g (1/2 cup) tahini paste or smooth peanut butter

o 2 g (1 tsp) ground cumin

Puree garlic in a food processor, then add in remaining ingredients. Adjust flavourings to taste. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

 

Waffle Latkes

o 4 medium potatoes

o 3 eggs, beaten

o 15 g (2 tbsp) flour

o 10 g (2 tsp) salt

o .5 g (1/4 tsp) pepper

o 30 ml (2 tbsp) Canola oil, plus more, if needed

 

Wash potatoes and remove any blemishes.

Preheat waffle iron to medium-high. Process potatoes using the medium grating blade and transfer to a large colander. Rinse well under cold running water, then squeeze out any water and place in a large bowl. Add eggs, flour, salt and pepper.

Grease the waffle iron with Canola oil using a silicone pastry brush. Place 1/2 cup of potato mixture on each square of the waffle maker. Spread it out evenly. Close the waffle maker and cook for 8-10 minutes. Place on a parchment-covered cookie sheet in a 130 C (250 F) oven to keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture until all of the mixture has been cooked. Serve with unsweetened applesauce.

(The applesauce may be enhanced with herbs like cinnamon or nutmeg. Dried fruits such as raisins, dried chopped figs or dates will make a statement, as well.)

READ: HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS KICK OFF THIS WEEK

Cranberry Latkes

o 4 medium potatoes

o 3 eggs, beaten

o 15 g (2 tbsp) flour

o 10 g (2 tsp) salt

o .5 g (1/4 tsp) pepper

o 2 (348 ml) cans whole berry cranberry sauce

o 60 ml (4 tbsp) Canola oil, plus more, if needed

 

Pour cranberry sauce into a sieve placed over a bowl. Drain off most of the sauce, gently stirring with a fork. Set cranberry sauce aside. Reserve cranberries.

Wash potatoes and remove any blemishes.

Preheat frying pan. Process potatoes using the medium grating blade and transfer to a large colander. Rinse well under cold running water, then squeeze out any water and place in a large bowl. Add eggs, flour, salt and pepper and mix well. Add drained cranberries and mix until combined.

Add oil to pan and heat. Using a large spoon, carefully drop portions of batter into the hot oil. Fry for 5-7 minutes on one side. Flip and fry for another 5 minutes. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with the remaining cranberry sauce.

(Cranberry sauce may be enhanced with either cinnamon, ginger or allspice and is delicious spiked with splash of dry sherry.)

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