I am firmly of the belief that there is no greater party than a latke party. Greasy crispy latkes are the perfect party food, and Hanukkah is the perfect party holiday. If you took last year's comprehensive guide to making latkes to heart, you may be ready to host one of your own. Here's how.
'Chanukah' on Serious Eats
Veselka is nothing short of an institution when it comes to Eastern European food in New York, so it should come as no surprise that when latke season rolls around, we look to them as experts.
Great latkes take some time and preparation, but with the right technique and tools are easy to master. If you need to store them for later service, let them drain, then stash them in a 200°F oven with the door slightly ajar for no more than two hours.
This past week, Ethan and I were dutifully frying up latkes for friends and family. Now that Chanukah's over, we've got a load of starch-spackled laundry to do and some leftovers to get rid of. I often wind up with an extra jar or two of applesauce after a latke session. Sure, a late-night bowlful makes a nice (if not blandly healthy) palate cleanser after all that fried potato, but if you're looking for something a little less virtuous, you can turn that applesauce into a lusciously creamy, spiced-up sorbet in all of ten minutes.
Up until recently my repertoire of Hanukkah edibles consisted of potato latkes (obviously), jelly-filled doughnuts, and little bags of chocolate coins a.k.a. Hanukkah gelt. But while perusing Joan Nathan's Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous I came across a less familiar Hanukkah treat, Hutzel Wecken, a dense, fruit studded bread from the Alsace region of France.
The lemon and orange zest permeates the meat with bright citrus, the cider vinegar and white wine add a slightly sour note, and the ginger lends the tiniest kick. And like any brisket recipe worth its salt, it comes out of the oven exactly two and a half hours later fork-tender, ready to be sliced, sauced, and served with the sweet carrots that have been cooking in the braising liquid.
Since I was on the prowl for Hanukkah recipes in Joan Nathan's Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous, a good latke was the first order of business. Nathan has three different potato pancake preparations in the book, but for me, these Brandade Potato Latkes truly capture the spirit of a French-accented Hanukkah celebration. The recipe combines brandade, a whipped cod spread popular in the South of France with a mashed potato latke.
Thanksgiving leftovers, a latke and brisket-filled Chanukah party, a chocolate chip cookie tasting, and last night's ten-course meal—help! Thanksgiving leftovers by themselves are a buttery, greasy, slippery slope when it comes to serious dieting. Nothing good can come of availing yourself of the copious amounts of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and worst of all, pie. But then in my case, I add diet insult to injury by throwing in another early Chanukah party's worth of fattening leftovers into the mix. Needless to say, it wasn't a pretty week. Let me explain. We had my wife's family over on Thanksgiving at 2 p.m., which means we're digging into leftovers by Thursday night. But because I was weighing in on Friday...