Thursday, December 9, 2010

Latkes for the Win!

We usually do a small dinner party once a month with a couple of friends of mine.  We all provide different components and it's so nice to entertain in an intimate setting.  I love entertaining and I enjoy showing my love and admiration for people through food. 

We aren't Jewish, but we've always wanted to introduce the customs and rituals of other cultures into our home so that we could inspire openmindedness and awareness in our children.  Now that Billa is older and aware of holidays, we thought this would be a good year to start.  Michael got a menorah and candles and we looked up the traditional prayers that are said as part of the lighting of the candles.  My newest issue of Cooking Light had recipes for potato latkes and so we decided to give them a try and share the last night of Hanukkah with our friends.

We tried traditional latkes and latkes with serrano peppers and cilantro that were absolutely fabulous.  The only downfall of these recipes was that it takes a while to fry everything up.  Part of the tradition surrounding Hanukkah is eating foods fried in oil, as the oil is representative of the sacred temple oil lasting for eight days.  I think it would have been faster had I not grated my hand.  Yeah, you read that right.  I was grating the onion and I totally shredded my hand too.  Ouch!  Trying to cook with one bandaged and aching hand slowed me down a bit.  But beyond that, the latkes were amazing! 

The recipe called for jalapenos, but I still had serranos to use from the garden, so we subbed those in.  Michael did a really great job with the chipotle sour cream and the combination of the two was super delicious.  This recipe will be added to our repertoire and cooked more often than just at Hanukkah!



Serrano & Cilantro Latkes with Chipotle Sour Cream
Recipe and picture from Cooking Light magazine
6  tablespoons  light sour cream
1  tablespoon  chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
3/4  teaspoon  grated lime rind
1  teaspoon  fresh lime juice
6  cups  shredded peeled baking potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1  cup  grated fresh onion
6  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
2  tablespoons  finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1  large egg
1  teaspoon  ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  cup  olive oil, divided

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

2. Combine potato and onion in a colander. Drain 30 minutes, pressing occasionally with the back of a spoon until barely moist. Combine potato mixture, flour, and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; toss well.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Spoon 1/4 cup potato mixture loosely into a dry measuring cup. Pour mixture into pan; flatten slightly. Repeat the procedure 5 times to form 6 latkes. Sauté 3 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Remove latkes from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and potato mixture to yield 12 latkes total. Serve with sour cream mixture.

Some food for thought...
  • Cooking Light emphasized the importance of letting the shredded potatoes drain for 30 minutes or so.  This is very important as the shredded potato gives off a lot of liquid and that liquid will affect the quality and texture of your latkes.  I didn't let mine drain long enough and I could tell.  In the future, I will probably place the potatoes in cheesecloth and hang it over the sink to ensure that they have plenty of drainage!
  • Serranos and jalapenos can be used interchangeably.  Just remember that the heat of the pepper is mostly contained in the veins and seeds!  You can scoop those out using a spoon once they've been split down the center lengthwise.
  • if you're making a huge batch of these things, place the cooked ones on a foil lined cookie sheet and keep them in a warm oven until it's time to eat.
  • On frying: you need to make sure that you're oil is good and hot to ensure that the latkes don't get too soggy with oil.  Give the oil a minute or two to come back to temperature in between batches.  You can also use paper towels and brown lunch bags to help sop up any excess oil.
Happy Hanukkah to all of our Jewish friends...we hope your Festival of Lights was a wonderful one!

Cheers,
Kelly

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