I love the latke, and who doesn’t? All crispy and crackly with sizzling onions right out of the pan, the latke holds such promise. And then the whole thing goes right out the window for me when topped with jarred, beige, boring applesauce.
All the time spent making delicious latkes just seems wasted to me when topped with something that is not as equally delicious.
This Hanukkah, I am celebrating the latke topper. I have come up with modern versions of the classic applesauce and some new toppers as well. This year the latke topper gets the much needed makeover.
I only use egg whites for my latkes. Think about it. Yolks make doughs and batters tender and cakey. I want my latkes crispy and crunch (all the better for holding up to some toppings). My latkes are crispy and stay that way longer. Save the yolks for your cakey sufganiyot.
Chef Laura’s Basic Latke
3 cups peeled and grated Russet potatoes
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and grated
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
All-purpose flour, about ¼-1/2cup
Salt and pepper
Neutral oil for frying-about 3-4 cups (prefer canola or peanut oil)
- Place the shredded potatoes in a bowl of ice cold water (this helps keep them from turning rust colored). Let the potatoes sit for about 15 minutes.
- Place a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat. Fill the pan with oil to a depth of about 2 inches.
- Remove the potatoes from the water. Squeeze as much water as possible by wrapping the potatoes in a towel. Squeeze all of the moisture out of the onion in the same manner. Then, add the onion and eggs. Add enough flour to bind the mixture but not make it too firm. Season with salt and pepper
- When the oil has reached 350 degrees, scoop the latke mixture with an ice cream scoop or large spoon and gently drop into the oil. Fry until golden brown and turn to fry the other side. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
- The latkes can be made several hours before serving and can be reheated in a 400 degree oven on a sheet pan until crispy. Serve with applesauce or the following recipes.
No boring applesauce here. This latke topper is brightly colored and slightly tart.
I have been making this garnet-colored applesauce for years. It is a perfect complement for the crispy latkes. When my kids were younger, I made large batches of this healthy sauce and served it for snacks.
Yields-1 ½-2 quarts applesauce
6 Granny Smith (or favorite variety) apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1-cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
½ cup apple cider or juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1. Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook uncovered over medium heat until the cranberries pop. Continue cooking until the excess moisture evaporates. The applesauce may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to one week or frozen for up to 2 months.
I love all things pomegranate and use my favorite pomegranate molasses to make vinaigrettes, marinades and glazes. The tart, faintly sweet flavor is the perfect foil for fresh out of the pan and slightly greasy latkes (I mean that in a good way). The addition of ginger adds a sharp citrusy, pepper note that just makes the apples burst with flavor. I top my latkes with pomegranate arils (seeds) for extra crunch and a dash of bling!
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup apple juice or water
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Garnishes: pomegranate arils, candied ginger
- Cook the apples, sugar, ginger and apple juice or water, uncovered over medium heat until the apples are soft and the moisture has evaporated.
- Stir in the pomegranate molasses, salt and lemon juice. Store the applesauce, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze up to 2 months.
Horseradish and Wasabi Salmon Schmear
When I want my latkes to be a little more dressed up, I whip up this quick topper. Smoked Salmon and crispy potatoes are a match made in culinary heaven. I kick up the schmear with horseradish and then decorate the whole thing with a wasabi pea and salmon roe. This latke is perfect anytime of the year and is great for brunch or as a hors d’oeuvre.
3 ounces Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon, chopped finely
1 medium shallot, minced finely
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (homemade or purchased)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Freshly cracked pepper
Garnishes: wasabi peas, fresh dill, salmon roe, caviar, crème fraiche (for dairy preparations), chopped chives, scallions
- Combine all of the ingredients together in a food processor. Pulse several times until the mixture is combined, but still has some texture.
- Dollop the schmear on latkes fresh out of frying pan and garnish as desired. Store the schmear, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Mixed Olive Tapenade
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
¼ cup pitted cracked green olives
1 tablespoon capers
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
2 anchovy filets (optional)
Salt and Pepper
- Place all of the above ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning.
This delicious condiment makes a great dip, crust for fish or poultry, and perfect topper for the latkes
2 red peppers-roasted
1 cup walnuts-toasted
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup pomegranate molasses
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (leftover challah is perfect)
1/3 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoons chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cumin seed
Salt and pepper
Garnishes: pomegranate arils, chopped parsley
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth. You may need to add more Extra Virgin olive oil to adjust the consistency.
- Place in a container and cover the surface of the muhummarah with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. The muhummarah can be kept covered for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Corned Beef Hash
Well, why not? Corned Beef hash traditionally has potatoes in it, so why not gild the lily with a modern version of the classic deli item?
1 large red onion, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ounces lean corned beef, chopped
½ cup finely chopped dill pickle
1 tablespoon favorite hot sauce
Garnishes; thin pickle slice, chopped parsley
- Sauté the onion in a lightly greased pan over medium high heat until it is dark brown and caramelized. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 2 minutes until the garlic has softened and is fragrant.
- Pulse ¼ cup of the onion mixture in the food processor until it is completely chopped but with some texture remaining. Transfer the onion to a mixing bowl.
- Add all of the remaining ingredients and fold together.