When I asked my grandma Helen to reiterate her latke recipe, it went something like this: "You take the potato and onion and grate that all up, then throw in the salt and eggs and matzoh meal - how hard can it get?" It just goes to show how quickly we absorb recipes as time goes on, especially when they've been in our families for years. Here's hoping that some of our class recipes will stick with you for some time, and perhaps make their way to your family's table.
Grandma Helen eventually provided measurements for her latkes (which I've shared below) - though it is true that you'll find your own balance of what you like from tasting as you go. For those who like a sweeter latke, you should use one onion per potato, making sure they're medium-sized. If you're more of a savory latke person, go for a half onion per potato, or use smaller onions.
Grandma Helen's Potato Latkes
(makes 6-8 medium latkes)
1 Russet potato, washed and peeled
1 medium onion, peeled
1/3 cup matzoh meal (or 1/2 package)
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Grate potato and onion into a large bowl. For stringy latkes, use the second-largest setting on the grater (about 1/5 - 1/3" wide openings). For cake-y latkes, use the second-smallest setting on the grater (grates potatoes into a mealier consistency).
2) Add matzoh meal and egg, mixing until combined. Mixture should have a bit of excess moisture from the egg - try not to add too much extra matzoh meal or the latkes will be tough. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3) Heat 1/2" vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. You'll know the oil is ready for frying when a drop of water into the skillet sizzles.
4) Place a small handful of latke batter into skillet (watch for splattering!) Fry 2-3 latkes at a time, leaving enough room between each (about 2 minutes). When sides of latkes have turned golden brown, flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes until golden. When pressed with a spatula, cooked latkes will not give off any wet batter.
5) Let rest on dry paper towels for a few minutes. Serve with applesauce, sugar (Grandma's favorite!) or sour cream.
Variations that we experimented with in class included latkes made with carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, and apples.
For carrot latkes, swap carrots for potatoes and try adding in cilantro, cumin and scallions to the basic recipe.
For sweet potato latkes, try mixing in a handful of craisins and a hint of red pepper flakes for sweet and spicy latkes.
For zucchini latkes, try adding basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and lemon to the batter for a Mediterranean-style latke.
For apple latkes, be sure to drain apples of excess moisture, keep a potato in for texture, and add a bit of cinnamon for a sweet treat.