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Latkes fit for Breakfast

Over years of observing the food world’s seasonal rush to make staple holiday dishes into exotic novelties, perhaps the most riffed-upon is the humble potato pancake, or latke. A quick web search of a popular record of food trends (both alive and dead) will yield a cornucopia of possibilities: parsnips, beets, celeriac, sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, butternut squash, pear, zucchini… such a dizzying array of plausible ingredients to chose from!

What can the word “latke” possibly mean after such loose interpretations? According to a trustworthy dictionary, though the colloquial use of “latke” has (in times past) meant fried potato cakes, its etymology can be traced back to the Greek eladion, or “little oily things.” I suppose we have unwittingly abandoned the Yiddish meaning and gone back a century or three.

Words and meanings aside, there are some very practical reasons to go “traditional” and stick with the boring old potato. As many of us know, they are delicious when fried, starchy (which means they hold together and brown up nicely), and make an excellent vehicle for other flavors. Though I’m sure many of the more exciting “little oily things” are delectable and worth the effort, we suggest getting creative with the toppings and leaving the pancakes alone.

Though many would consider deviating from applesauce and sour cream to be sacrilegious, not even the staunchest traditionalist can get peeved about using leftover latkes for fanciful flights of culinary experimentation. We first tried Latkes Benedict two years ago, and now consider making latkes themselves to be a means to a much more decadent end. Originally, we made this dish with some leftover roasted salmon fillet, but smoked salmon is equally (if not more) delicious. For this dish, we prefer the texture of hot-smoked over lox. Of course, roasting a salmon fillet (or poaching some in white wine) specifically for this recipe is totally worth the extra effort, but we like to think of this as a no-fuss leftover dish (our favorite kind).

From our family to yours, have a joyous Hanukkah!

 

 

Latkes Benedict
2-4 servings

We include a recipe for potato Latkes and Blender Hollandaise below... keep in mind that the yield for those recipes is much higher!
Place on a baking sheet:
    4 Latkes (see below)
Reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, prepare:
    Blender Hollandaise (see below)
Remove the latkes from the oven and blot any excess oil with a paper towel. Place on warmed serving plates and divide among the latkes:
    8 oz. smoked, roasted, or poached salmon, sliced thin or flaked apart
Top each latke with:
    1 poached or fried egg
    2 tablespoons Blender Hollandaise
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley or chives
    (Smoked paprika)


 

Blender Hollandaise
Makes about ½ Cup

Do not make in a smaller quantity than given here—there will not be enough heat to cook the eggs properly. In our experience, whatever quantity you make disappears quickly.

Combine in a blender:
    3 large egg yolks
    1½ to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    A pinch of ground red pepper
    ½ teaspoon salt
Heat until bubbling:
    ½ cup (1 stick) butter
Remove from the heat. Blend the egg yolks on high for 3 seconds; with the blender still running, pour in the butter in a steady stream. By the time all the butter is poured in—about 30 seconds—the sauce should be finished. If not, blend on high about 5 seconds longer. If the sauce is too thick, add a few drops of warm water. Serve at once or keep warm for up to 30 minutes by immersing the blender container in warm water.


 

Latkes
About twelve 3-inch cakes

Use baking or all-purpose potatoes—their starch content helps hold the potato shreds together. Mixing scallions, fresh herbs, or minced garlic to the potato mixture makes for an even tastier pancake, but the simple, classic combination of egg, potato, and grated onion is a star.

Wrap in a clean dish towel and wring to squeeze out as much moisture as possible:
    2 cups coarsely grated peeled potatoes
Combine in a bowl with:
    3 large eggs, well beaten
    1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon grated onion
    1¼ teaspoons salt
Heat in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot:
    ¼ inch or more vegetable oil or butter
Place spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the skillet, in batches, and form them into 3-inch patties about ¼ inch thick. Brown on the bottom, reducing the heat to medium if necessary to prevent scorching. Turn and brown the second side until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes each side. Drain briefly on paper towels.
If you want to hold the cooked pancakes until all are cooked, place them on a rack on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven. Then serve all of them at once after draining on paper towels to remove any excess fat. To store, wrap in a paper towel and refrigerate covered.

Comments

Jigme Nordzin's picture

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john's picture

Too kind! Thank you so much.
Mrs Audrey Pearson's picture

For Christmas my husband bought me a 75th Anniversary edition of Joy, and I love it. This is the third Joy I have owned. The first I bought during my first trip to the USA (N Carolina) twenty years ago - a spiral-back. I replaced it ten years ago with a similar version. They both got so much use the pages started to separate from the spirals, so this one is a hardback, and a luxury. I am a terrific fan of Joy, but I do miss some of the homely chat that runs through the earlier editions, and I am glad I have kept my last edition, as there are many recipes there that I treasure, and which are not in the 75 edition. Naturally nothing stays the same forever, and there are new sections and subjects which I find quite exciting - the pastas and ethnic dishes for instance. And it is usefully informative on current trends in diet etc. Having passed on my compliments, can I make a request? I don't know how many Brits or Europeans are familiar with The Joy - perhaps you have some idea yourselves - I can't believe I'm the only one! But I sometimes find ingredients which I don't recognise (part of the "English and the Americans being divided by a common language" syndrome)? For instance: What are Graham Crackers? I have always assumed that your "all-purpose flour" equalled our "plain flour" - do you think that's correct? (We now have plain light cake flour, strong bread flour etc just to make life more complicated). Is "confectioner's sugar" equivalent to our "caster sugar"? I've never heard of "nonalkalized cocoa powder" - what is special about it? Items like these keep me on my toes. I know it is a huge thing to ask, but perhaps in a future edition, someone from the UK (for instance) could proof-read, and provide feedback on those entries which don't tie in with our known vocabulary or culture. What do you think? With affection, and appreciation Yours sincerely Audrey Pearson
meg's picture

Hi Audrey, We're thrilled that you love JOY--I, for one, am continually amazed at all the information contained between its covers. Nearly every time I open it, I find something that I didn't realize was there (this is still true after over 2 years of testing its recipes, mind you!). We hope your 2006 edition gives you many, many years of use. It's true--there are several older recipes that are not carried on to the 2006 edition, and many recipes in the 2006 edition that are brand new. We try to do this in as conscientious a manner possible, but of course there will always be some casualties. As to your questions, we actually published a UK version of JOY some years back--1998, I believe--and while I'm not sure that it is available at this time, I was able to look to my copy for some answers to your questions. First off, graham crackers are thin, rectangular cookies made from graham flour (similar to whole wheat or wholemeal flour), but you could use speculoos, zwiebacks, or digestives instead. You are correct on the all-purpose flour front--all-purpose simply means "plain" flour. We, too, also have cake flour and bread flour (and a host of others I won't even go into!). Confectioner's sugar is very fine, powdery sugar with cornstarch added. I believe it is equivalent to "icing sugar." You can usually substitute alkalized for nonalkalized cocoa powder. Alkalized cocoa powder is treated with alkali to neutralize its acids. This means that it will not react with baking soda, so, unless there are other acidic ingredients in the recipe, you should always use baking powder with alkalized cocoa. It is also called "Dutch-process" cocoa powder--it is reddish brown in color and has a mild cocoa flavor. Nonalkalized cocoa powder (or "natural" cocoa powder, to make things more confusing) has a stronger flavor and will react with baking soda. Usually, when a recipe calls for nonalkalized cocoa powder specifically, it means that you need the acidity of the cocoa to react with the baking soda, otherwise the baked good will not rise as it should. As to having someone from the UK proof-read the book for things like this, we would absolutely love to! Unfortunately, we do not always have control over things like this. Many of these decisions are made by our publisher, and it all depends on the costs incurred. We would also love to publish a Spanish language version of the book, but we'll see if that wish will bear fruit. In any case, it's an idea to keep in the file for the next edition and future printings. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us what you think--we love any opportunity to hear the thoughts and opinions of our readers. Please don't hesitate to share in the future (or ask any ingredient-related question you may have). Oh, and don't underestimate Google! If you ever have a question about an ingredient, a quick search may just shed some light on it for you.

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This recipe is adapted from Cook Republic

Beat together in a large bowl:...