Food & Drink

Ask A Philadelphia Chef: Top Latke Recipes For Hanukkah

November 20, 2013 7:00 AM

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(Terry Berch McNally of Paris Wine Bar.  Credit: Hadas Kuznits)

(Terry Berch McNally of Paris Wine Bar. Credit: Hadas Kuznits)

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Latkes, Yiddish for potato pancakes, are a popular dish during Hanukkah. As a celebration of the miracle when a one-day supply of oil in the Temple lamp lasted for eight days, many Jewish people eat foods that have been fried in oil, such as latkes and doughnuts.

Today, latkes can be found anywhere from traditional Jewish delis to upscale sit-down restaurants. Here, top Philadelphia chefs share a few of their favorite latke recipes. From the simple potato and onion mixture to more creative add-ins like mushrooms and goat cheese, there’s a latke for everyone. Celebrate the Festival of Lights with delicious latkes you can make at home in the style of some of the city’s best chefs.



Chef Michael McNally

London Grill
2301 Fairmount Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 978-4545
www.londongrill.com

As the executive chef and co-owner of London Grill, Chef Michael McNally has played a pivotal role in establishing the reputation of this Fairmount favorite. A winning combination of a relaxed atmosphere and creative, bold menus has earned the restaurant the honor of being named “Best Neighborhood Restaurant” by Philadelphia Magazine. Keeping with the neighborhood feel, London Grill always makes the holidays special for its guests, and Hanukkah is no exception. Beginning Wednesday, November 27, Chef McNally will offer eight nights of latkes, ranging from the traditional potato to the more exotic purple potato, and many in between. The recipes below are just a few dishes that he will serve along with accompaniments such as duck confit, caviar and salmon.

Portobello Mushroom and Spinach Latke

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds baking potatoes or Yukon Gold
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 Portobello mushroom, diced
  • 2 cups spinach, shredded
  • 3 tablespoons roasted garlic
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Peel potatoes and place in cold water until ready to use.
  2. Coarsely grate the onion and potatoes using a food processor or grater.
  3. Place the potatoes and onions in a fine mesh strainer and squeeze out the excess water over a bowl. The potato starch will settle to the bottom. Carefully pour off the water and keep the starch.
  4. Add the potato and onion to the potato starch and mix.
  5. Add the mushroom and spinach and mix to combine.
  6. Add the egg and a bit of salt and pepper. Mix everything together.
  7. Heat a cast iron pan or griddle and coat with just a bit of vegetable oil.
  8. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture and flatten in the palm of your hand.
  9. Place mixture in the pan, flattening with a spatula. Fry until golden. Then flip to brown the other side.
  10. Remove browned pancakes and place on paper towels to drain.
  11. Serve immediately with sour cream and/or apple sauce.

Related: Top Spots To Get A Hot Toddy In Philadelphia

Sweet Potato Latkes with Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes (approximately 3 medium-sized potatoes), grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 pound goat cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients except the vegetable oil.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  3. Heat a large skillet and add about 1/4 inch of oil.
  4. Using your hands, roll the potato mixture into balls about the size of a walnut.
  5. Place potato balls into the hot oil and flatten with a spatula.
  6. Fry until golden brown, and then flip the pancakes and brown the other side.
  7. Remove fried pancakes and place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  8. Top with a small amount of sour cream and caviar, and serve immediately.

Related: Top Meatball Dishes In Philadelphia

Chef Michael Solomonov
Zahav
237 St. James Place
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 625-8800
www.zahavrestaurant.com

With several of the city’s favorite restaurants on his resume, Chef Michael Solomonov is widely considered to be one of Philadelphia’s top entrepreneurs and chefs. Not only is he the co-owner and executive chef of Zahav, but he is also a partner in Percy Street Barbecue and Federal Donuts. All three of these ventures have earned Chef Solomonov a reputation for creating artful culinary dishes from simple foods. In fact, he was named among the country’s top “Empire Builders” by Food & Wine magazine in 2012, with a special mention of his skill at “reinventing overlooked cuisines.” Zahav, his modern Israeli restaurant, pays homage to his birthplace. And while Chef Solomonov grew up in Pittsburgh and now calls Philadelphia home, he returns to Israel often, gaining new inspiration for his menus.

Celery Root and Mushroom Latkes with Smoked Onion Applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound celery root, peeled
  • 1 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled
  • 1 pound fresh black trumpet mushrooms
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 pound Spanish onions
  • 1/2 pound Granny Smith apples
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups canola oil

Directions:

  1. Grate the celery root and potatoes over a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and mix to combine.
  2. Drain the mixture in a colander placed over the bowl in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  3. While the mixture is draining, smoke the onions (with the outer skin still on) in a stovetop smoker for about an hour. Check that they are fork tender. If you don’t have a smoker, you can also grill or broil the onions for about 30 minutes at medium heat.
  4. Bake apples wrapped in foil in a 350 degree F oven for 1 hour.
  5. Remove apples from the oven and allow them to cool while still wrapped in foil.
  6. When the apples are at room temperature, take off the foil and peel the apples.
  7. Core the apples and place the roasted apples as well as roasting juices in a food processor.
  8. Remove the skin from the onions. Add the onion along with a pinch or two of Kosher salt to the food processor. If you weren’t able to smoke the onions, you might want to add paprika at this time for extra flavor.
  9. Puree the apple and onions until smooth. Add a few drops of cold water if needed.
  10. Season with a little more salt if desired, then add cilantro.
  11. Remove the applesauce from the food processor, cover and set aside.
  12. Trim the bottoms from the mushrooms and cut each mushroom in half.
  13. Soak mushrooms for 5 minutes in cold water to clean and then remove. If the mushrooms aren’t clean yet, repeat the process until the water is clear and free of sediment. Place the mushrooms on a paper towel to drain.
  14. Remove the potato and celery root mixture from the refrigerator. Squeeze in a paper towel to remove any excess moisture and place in a large mixing bowl.
  15. Add the mushrooms, turmeric, cumin, pepper and eggs to the bowl and mix well to combine.
  16. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and chill for an hour in the refrigerator.
  17. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  18. Using your hands, form the mixture into round pancakes that are about 1/2 inch thick.
  19. Add oil to the skillet and fry each patty until golden brown, about 5 minutes for each side. The outside should be crispy, while the inside is still creamy.
  20. Remove pancakes from oil and drain on paper towels.
  21. Serve with the applesauce. Makes 16 latkes.

Chef Jae Shin
Six Points Catering
370 Montgomery Ave.
Merion, PA 19066
(610) 664-4919
www.citronandrose.com

Chef Jae Shin traveled to the United States from South Korea as a teenager, and got his start in the restaurant business as a server and then as a sushi chef at the age of 19. After seven years of cultivating his passion for food and perfecting his technique, he was given the opportunity to try something new as a chef for STARR Events. Through his experiences with the Stephen Starr catering company, Chef Shin was able to expand his culinary knowledge, taking his expertise to a higher level. After leaving STARR Events, Chef Shin was appointed Executive Chef at Six Points Catering, the sister company to the popular Main Line Kosher restaurant, Citron and Rose. In this position, he has embraced a whole new challenge in the arena of Kosher cuisine.

Potato Latkes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, sprinkled to taste
  • Chicken fat for cooking

Directions:

  1. Using a food processor, grate the potatoes.
  2. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and place the potatoes inside the sieve.
  3. Place the sieve over a bowl, and twist the cheesecloth, squeezing the moisture out of the potatoes.
  4. Reserving the potato starch, discard the excess water.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients (except the chicken fat) to the starch. Add the drained potatoes and mix well.
  6. Heat a non-stick skillet and add chicken fat for frying.
  7. Shape potato mixture into pancakes and add to heated chicken fat. Flip them over after a few minutes to get them nice and crispy with a golden color.
  8. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Michelle Hein is a copy editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer boyfriend would love to open.
< a href=http://www.examiner.com/user-michelle-hein

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