I've had a few requests for that latke recipe (we pronounce it as "laht-kuh," Jack, but I've definitely heard "lot-key" used as well). This recipe comes from my father's side of the family--his mother made them for him when he was a child in Germany, and he in turn made them for me and my sister every winter when we were growing up. When I left home, he gave me the recipe, and I'm now the official latke-cooker in my house.
Here's it is, as I learned it. This is not a Joy of Cooking recipe with exact proportions...you'll have to use the rule of thumb guidelines provided.
- lots of large potatoes ("about the size of a man's fist," dad says; I generally use Idaho baking potatoes)
- 1 egg per potato
- 1 "baseball-sized" white or yellow onion per ~4 potatoes (to taste, really)
- 1 tbsp salt per 6 potatoes (again, this is to taste)
Peel and grate the potatoes (to a "mush" consistency, using the fine tooth side of the grater; not the side that makes shreds). Grate the onions the same way, and mix into the potato mixture. Use a ladle or large spoon to remove excess moisture...we put a heavy metal ladle onto the mixture, and the liquid drains into the ladle over the edges. Keep this up for as long as you have the patience for it; removing the water helps the pancakes stay together better when cooking.
After removing the water, add in the eggs and salt.
Heat ~1" of oil (preferably peanut oil, but vegetable or canola oil will work) in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) until water "pops" when dropped into oil. Pour some of the mixture in with a ladle. If it falls apart, it means that either the oil is too hot, or the mixture is too watery and needs more egg. Experiment with temperature first, because it's easier to undo than adding eggs.
Latkes should float above the bottom of the pan, not stick to the bottom. Use a spatula (metal, not plastic!) to dislodge them if they stick. When edges start to brown, flip.
When latkes are crispy around edges and brown on both sides, place on paper towels. We rip up a full roll of paper towels, and just layer the latkes and paper towels; 2 paper towels, 3-4 latkes, then 2 more paper towels over that, more latkes, etc. Keep the plate with latkes and paper towels in a slightly warm oven while you're making more, so that you can bring out a lot at a time, reducing family warfare over who gets them. :-)