Laurel Herman
Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine

You Don’t Have To Be Jewish To Love Latkes (But It Couldn’t Hurt)

Me and daughter Tracy eating way too many latkes, All Photos credit Laurel Herman

What am I doing writing writing about Latkes in a Jewish publication.? I must be Meshugeneh (a little crazy)! How does the saying go, there isn’t A Jew in Israel that doesn’t know how to make Latkes. This is for my non Jewish friends. I’m thrilled you love Latkes. It says a lot about you. 

For non Jews, my explanation is this: Think of St Patty’s Day. Everyone is Irish just for a day.  Once you experience Jewish cooking , you get  to proudly wear that title, even if your mother wasn’t Jewish. Its temporary, we still love you.

A lot of my non Jewish friends asked for my recipe. Its kinda a recipe. You know how I am, unstructured, a rule breaker. Besides, no self respecting Jewish grandmother would ever  measure ingredients. So fasten your seat belts while I take you on a magical Latke ride.

Ingredients :

5 Lbs russets peeled and sliced, read below

3 eggs

1 onion chopped

salt and pepper

I use Gluten free flour, about a 1/2 cup,  This is entirely debatable but  I like it.

Coconut oil – It has a high smoke point and even though in ancient times they probably used olive oil, I love using this.

I used 5 lbs Russets. Peel them and leave them in a pot of cold water. Oh and by the way slice them into wedges (think of them like Jewish steak fries) so they can easily fit in your food processor chute. We would call that A Yiddishe Kop ( a smart person). No wonder we invent all the cures for disease!  And look at how many Jewish  doctors there are.  It had to start somewhere.

Process the potatoes with the grating blade, empty and squeeze them in a colander.  This is almost a useless endeavor because they will get somewhat watery, its the nature of potatoes, but we do it anyway,  It makes us feel better.  Add them to a large bowl.

Change the blade on the processor to the chopper. Cut an onion into  large pieces and pulse until they look chopped.  BTW, always have the blade in first otherwise the onions will get caught underneath and you might say things that would  be a Shanda for the neighbors. ( to bring shame, disgrace, embarrassment. What will the neighbors say ? )  My grandmother constantly worried about this, and I my grandfather used to yell out the tenement  window, ” What didn’t you want the neighbors to hear Bessie?”

Add the onions to the bowl along with 3 eggs that you have broken into a separate bowl. This is for 2 reasons. #1 Make sure there is no blood. ( if you were kosher, adding eggs with blood would make the entire thing no good, and not kosher). But since you aren’t, just check for shells. Add in the flour and mix well with your hands.  Yes there are raw eggs, yes its messy. But just think of all those good vibes you added to the bowl.

Heat up a large saute pan, add in the coconut oil, or whatever oil you use. Get the pan nice and hot and drop them in. Some cultures like them thick, but we love them thin and crispy, so I flatten them a bit. Don’t turn them until you see the edges brown and that ‘s a wrap! Tracy ( my daughter) said, “look Mom there is oil left over! A Chanukah miracle!”

Happy Chanukah  from my family to yours, Love, Laurel

 

 

About the Author
Laurel Herman is Chef Instructor and Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine practitioner, residing in Richmond, Virginia. A classically trained chef in the European style( Thames Valley University, London, U.K. and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition) Her style is anything but classic, its fun, and relaxed. A lifelong career in food, Laurel had the unique experience of being the only woman in a kitchen brigade of 30 men, ( 40 years ago) earning their respect and affection through hard work and determination. Laurel's passion is bringing people together through food, her joy is to watch people arrive as strangers, and leave as friends. Her workshop and retreat work use storytelling combined with cooking and music to evoke a sense of remembrance. She teaches that cooking is a healing modality anyone can learn, but mostly that it brings people together. She currently teaches at Mise en Place Cooking School, and various venues throughout Richmond including a program for City of Richmond Employees. Her newest endeavor for 2020 is a fun online teaching course, and hopes to bring food education to food desserts throughout the city and surrounding areas. She is a strong believer that one way we can fight racism and bigotry of any kind is by helping people have access to clean and abundant food, supporting farmers markets and local vendors. Although not a chef himself, her favorite mythological character is Robin Hood, the revolutionary defender of social equality. Her books, The Blissed Out Chef was published in 2015 and the Inner Kitchen, Balboa press in 2011.
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