Chanukah’s Coming: Ta’am to Make the Latkes

chef table

Daniella Silver’s Parsnip Potato Latkes Photo: EyeCandyTo

I’ve never met a latke I didn’t like. Chanukah is still one of my favorite holidays, and to me, hot, crispy latkes taste best straight from the skillet. Latkes always bring back wonderful memories from my childhood, counting my Chanukah gelt and spinning the dreidel at family Chanukah celebrations.

My mother always made traditional latkes from grated potatoes on a box grater. When she got her first food processor, latke making reached new levels—and new speeds.

Today, almost anything goes. Latkes can be made from parsnips, broccoli, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, cottage cheese . . . the choice is yours. Big ones, small ones, baked ones, fried ones . . . and then there are the tantalizing toppings.

Crisp, crunchy potato latkes are scrumptious topped with a dollop of creamy sour cream for a dairy meal, or nondairy sour cream or applesauce for a meat meal. Those watching their fat intake often opt to top their latkes with thick, snow-white Greek yogurt because of its higher protein and lower carb content. To lighten up those latkes, you can fry them in a nonstick skillet or bake them in a hot oven until crisp.

Here is a collection of latkes from my personal recipe collection, plus some favorites from a few of my friends who are cookbook authors.

Enjoy this “sneak peak” at one of the fabulous recipes from the exciting new cookbook that I’m collaborating on together with Daniella Silver of Toronto. The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular will be published by ArtScroll in the spring of 2015. These savory parsnip potato latkes are just a tiny taste of what’s to come.

P.S. As soon as we finished shooting the photos of the latkes, the photography team devoured them in minutes. We all agreed that Daniella’s mouthwatering latkes are totally addictive!

Yields 12 to 15 large latkes
Pareve/Dairy Option/Passover Option/Gluten-Free

Festive enough for Chanukah, but casual enough for year-round meals, parsnip latkes are a wonderful way to enjoy a different spin on this traditional Jewish delicacy.


1 pound/500 grams parsnips, peeled (2-4 depending on size)
1 large potato, peeled (preferably Idaho/russet)
1 medium onion
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour (regular or gluten-free)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Oil for frying

Preheat oven to 250º F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred parsnips, potato and onion, using medium pressure. Transfer vegetables to a large strainer and press firmly to drain off excess liquid.

Place veggies in a large bowl. Add eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and dill. Mix well.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of batter into hot oil to form pancakes, flattening them slightly with the back of the spoon. Do not crowd the skillet. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden.

Drain well on paper towels. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.

Sour Cream Dill Topping:

1 1/2 cups sour cream (or nondairy sour cream)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (preferably fresh)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground black pepper
Additional dill for garnish

Stir together sour cream, lemon juice, dill and pepper. Place in a serving bowl and garnish with dill. Serve with latkes.

Note: Freezes well

Chef’s Secret:chefs secrets

Grating onions together with potatoes prevents them from turning black.

Passover Option: Use 3 tablespoons potato starch instead of flour and use Passover baking powder. You can omit the baking powder, but the latkes won’t be quite as light.

Adapted from Silk Road Vegetarian
by Dahlia Abraham-Klein
Yields 24 patties

Leeks originated in Egypt and traveled to the Ottoman Empire, becoming part of this traditional patty eaten by Jews on special holidays. It’s a variation on the Eastern European Jews’ potato latke, which is traditionally eaten on Chanukah; Sephardic Jews eat this as their Chanukah treat, since it is also fried in oil. Not much more than sautéed leeks (sautéing intensifies the flavor), potatoes and eggs create this deceptively delicious and addictive pancake. You must eat these when they are just cooked; otherwise they lose their perfect crispiness.

While Ashkenazic Jews have the custom of eating potato latkes fried in oil because potatoes grew in abundance in Eastern Europe, Mizrachi Jews (Eastern or Asian origin) eat a variety of latkes—mainly, but not exclusively, consisting of any of the following: spinach, cauliflower, leeks or zucchini. It really depends on which country you originally came from and what grew indigenous there.

2 pounds leeks (about 10)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3 large potatoes, peeled
Salt as needed
5 cloves garlic
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Grapeseed oil, for frying
Lemon wedges, for garnish

Prepare the leeks, which absorb large amounts of sand as they grow. Trim and discard the tough dark green outer leaves. Slice the leek lengthwise but leave the root intact. Hold it by the root to wash under cold running water. Separate the layers to get all the dirt out. When you are done, cut off and discard the root and chop the leeks.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and season with the salt. Sauté the leeks, stirring and shaking the pan, for 7 to 8 minutes, until quite wilted.

Place the potatoes in a separate saucepan and add enough water to cover them by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Add 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart of water. Cover the pot and boil for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender.

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the leeks, cooked potatoes, garlic, eggs and black pepper. Pulse to form a paste.

Use the same skillet that you used for the leeks and pour at least 1/2 inch of oil into it. Set it over medium-high heat. When the oil is sizzling hot, carefully drop large dollops of leek mixture into it. Lower the heat to medium, so as not to brown too quickly. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, then remove and drain on paper towel and serve warm. Arrange on large platter and garnish with lemon wedges.

Taken from Food, Family and Tradition
by Lynn Kirsche Shapiro
Yields 8 to 10 /Pareve

Here is a simple way to turn leftover cooked potatoes (either whole, boiled, baked or mashed) into a potato patty that is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.

3 medium cooked skinless potatoes, whole, pieces or mashed
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 small, finely shredded onion
Salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
Vegetable oil, as needed for frying

Mash the cooked potatoes until smooth in a medium bowl using a potato masher.

Add the eggs and onion and mix well. If potatoes have been cooked in salted water do not add seasonings. If potatoes have been baked, unseasoned, add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. In a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 1/4-inch oil until hot. If a drop of water sizzles and evaporates immediately, pan is hot.

Ladle potato mixture into pan by 1/4 cupful. Fry until golden and crisp on one side, 3 to 4 minutes, turn once and fry on the other side until golden, crisp and cooked through.

Transfer cooked patties to paper towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining batter.

Variation: If you are using unseasoned baking potatoes, you may replace salt and pepper (and onion) with sugar to taste for a sweet pancake. Serve it with cinnamon and sugar or jam or applesauce for breakfast or dessert.

Lynn’s Latkes from Cooked Potatoes Photo: Nick Uliveri Photography

Lynn’s Latkes from Cooked Potatoes Photo: Nick Uliveri Photography

Yields 8 to 10

Lynn Kirsche Shapiro explains: “I prepare the latkes following my family’s simple recipe and my husband follows his own created recipe (see variation below), and we wait to see whose latke was the favorite. Every year, all the latkes—mine and his—are always gone.”

4 medium russet potatoes (see Note, below)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper (optional)
Vegetable oil, as needed, for frying

Grate the potatoes into a medium bowl using the second finest side of a box grater. Or use a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Chop potatoes into chunks; grate finely by pulsing, but do not purée.

Transfer potatoes and their juices to a medium bowl. Add the eggs and salt. Mix very well. Add pepper if using.

In a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 1/4 inch of oil. Drop latke batter using a 1/4-cup ladle or a large spoon carefully into the frying pan. Fry on one side until edges are crispy and golden, about 3 minutes. Flip once and fry until cooked through and crispy on the other side.

Transfer latkes to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat using remaining batter, adding more oil if necessary.

Note: A medium russet potato is 2 1/4 by 3 1/4 inches. If the potatoes are very large, use 1 egg per potato.

Lynn’s Husband’s Latkes
He does not finely grate the potatoes but shreds them manually or by using the shredding disk in a food processor, then squeezes out all of the liquid and discards it. Then he adds eggs and salt and mixes. The cooking procedure is the same. His latkes are more like hash brown patties, but they are also delicious and crispy.

Yields about 18 small latkes

This is a tasty way to eat your veggies. Be sure to try the variations below.

1 package (10 ounces/300 grams) frozen broccoli
1 medium onion, halved
3 eggs
1/2 cup matzah meal or cracker crumbs
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

Cook frozen broccoli according to package directions.

Drain well.

Insert steel blade in food processor. Process onion until minced. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs and broccoli and process until finely chopped, about 20 seconds. Add matzah meal or cracker crumbs, salt and pepper. Process a few seconds longer, until smooth.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Drop tablespoons of mixture into hot oil to make small pancakes. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. Brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed.

Note: Keeps 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats and/or freezes well.


Replace broccoli with green beans, cauliflower or spinach.

Chef’s Secrets: chefs secrets

Freezing and reheating latkes: To save space when freezing or reheating latkes, stand them upright in a loaf pan. Reheat, uncovered, in preheated 400°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Yields 16 to 18 latkes or 5 dozen hors d’oeuvres.

Different and delicious! Minis make great appetizers.

4 to 6 medium carrots
1 medium onion, halved
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
Dash freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons oil

Insert grater in food processor. Cut carrots to fit feed tube. Grate, using medium pressure. Measure 2 cups. (Any leftovers can be added to soups or salads.)

Insert steel blade in food processor. Process onion until fine. Add carrots along with remaining ingredients except oil. Process until blended, about 15 seconds.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Drop carrot mixture from a spoon into hot oil and flatten patties with the back of the spoon. Brown on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden.

Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil if necessary. Drain well on paper towels.

Note: Keeps 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats and/or freezes well.

Norene Gilletz is the author of nine cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, culinary consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer and editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada. For more information, visit her web site at or e-mail her at

This article was featured in the Winter 2014 issue of Jewish Action.
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