A latke is one of the many fried treats cooked in oil eaten to commemorate the miracle of light for eight days during Hanukkah. It is a pancake traditionally made with grated potatoes, onions, matzo meal, eggs and seasoning. I have many wonderful food memories of latkes from my childhood and recently had the pleasure of judging a latke making contest.

The latke contest was hosted by the Jewish Senior Life (JSL) organization at the Jewish Community Campus in West Bloomfield. This was a friendly contest among residents, volunteers, the JSL head chef and the rabbi and his wife. Ok, so maybe there was a little trash talking between the contestants, but it was all in good fun.

Many of the latkes for the contest were from traditional family recipes and tasted just as I hoped. There were also less traditional artichoke and feta latkes as well as a sweet potato latke. The panel of judges had a very difficult time declaring who was the winner—all the latkes were quite delicious. Best original latke was awarded to Rose Davidson’s Potato Latkes; best contemporary was awarded to Elana’s Artichoke and Feta Latkes; best technique was awarded to Mary’s Mashed Potato Latkes; Best Classic Traditional was awarded to Nancy’s Latkes; and best nontraditional was awarded to Chef Nick’s Latkes.

Now that I have some inside secrets to the perfect latkes, it may be time to tweak my own recipe to enhance my children’s fond memories of the Hanukkah holiday.

By | December 01, 2016

Ingredients

Artichoke and Feta Latkes
  • ¾ pound redskin potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1, 4.5 ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, diced and patted dry
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
Nancy's Latkes
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup finely grated potatoes
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons matzo meal
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Oil for frying
Rose Davison's Potato Latkes
  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • ½ cup matzo meal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for frying
Mary's Mashed Potato Latkes-Pancakes
  • 2 Russet potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked
  • 10 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Mary's Mashed Potato Latkes-Dredging Mix
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Chef Nick's Latkes
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • ½ large onion, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons oil

Instructions

Artichoke and Feta Latkes:

Elana Schwartz and Rabbi Daniel Schwartz

Add potatoes to a large stock pot of salted boiling water; cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, cool and peel. Coarsely shred cooled potatoes using a hand grater. Combine grated potatoes, artichoke hearts and leeks in a large bowl. Combine parmesan, egg, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add to potato mixture; stir well. Gently stir in feta and breadcrumbs. Divide batter into about 7 potato balls then flatten into a 3-inch pancake. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat; add enough oil to cover the bottom. Cook half of pancakes about 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining pancakes adding more oil as needed. Serve hot with sour cream.

Nancy's Latkes:

Nancy Handleman, English Professor at Schoolcraft College, avid baker and cook

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Heat oil in a large skillet. Fry half of pancakes in skillet until each side is golden brown. Repeat with remaining pancakes. Serve hot with applesauce. Yield about 10 pancakes.

Rose Davison's Potato Latkes:

Place grated potatoes in a large bowl and drain any excess fluid. Add matzo meal, salt, onion and egg; mix well. Heat large skillet over medium heat; add enough oil to coat bottom of pan. Fry large tablespoons of potatoes until brown on each side. Drain on a paper bag covered with paper towels. Serve hot with applesauce.

Mary's Mashed Potato Latkes:

Mash potatoes with 2 tablespoons butter and milk. Add egg, onion, salt and pepper; mix well. Combine dredging ingredients on a large plate. Form mashed potato mixture into small patties and dredge in the flour mixture. Heat a large skillet with remaining butter and fry patties until nicely browned on each side and warm in the middle.

Chef Nick's Latkes:

Combine potato and onion in a colander; set over sink to drain. Mix egg, salt, cumin and paprika in a large bowl; add potato mixture and combine. Sprinkle with cornstarch and mix well. Heat oil in a large skillet. Fry potato mixture until browned on both sides. Serve with plain Greek yogurt or applesauce.

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Ingredients

Artichoke and Feta Latkes
  • ¾ pound redskin potatoes, unpeeled
  • 1, 4.5 ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, diced and patted dry
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil
Nancy's Latkes
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup finely grated potatoes
  • 1 cup coarsely shredded potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons matzo meal
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Oil for frying
Rose Davison's Potato Latkes
  • 2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • ½ cup matzo meal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for frying
Mary's Mashed Potato Latkes-Pancakes
  • 2 Russet potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked
  • 10 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons chopped sweet onion
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Mary's Mashed Potato Latkes-Dredging Mix
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Chef Nick's Latkes
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
  • ½ large onion, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons oil
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