Party season is HERE and I’ve been in full-on drinks and apps mode. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been prepping for a brunch holiday party with our friends at Sweet & Spark. Vintage jewelry, mimosas, and bites? Yes, please.
I wanted to do something a little different than your average brunch spread. Also, the party host is gluten-free and diary-free, so there had to be enough options for her and any other guests with dietary restrictions. These days, you should just assume a mix of gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan guests.
The answer? A latke bar!
Latkes are dairy-free and can be made gluten-free (we subbed brown-rice flour for all-purpose flour). As far as the toppings go, a build-your-own setup is perfect so your friends can not only pick what they like, but also avoid certain food allergies and restrictions. Options, people…options!
One problem though. I’ve never made a single latke in my life. I know better than to try a recipe for the first time the day you need it, so I had to get started on my latke skills ASAP. Where to begin?
I’ve got my collection of trusty cookbooks and go-to recipes sites, but sometimes you just need to phone a friend. Enter Lisa, my dear friend who’s been flippin’ latkes her whole Jewish life. So as far as I’m concerned, she’s a pro.
Lisa came over to the CK Test Kitchen (aka my apartment) on a Saturday and dropped some serious latke knowledge. How do you know someone has been making a lot of latkes in their life? No recipe. She just rolled in, grated some potatoes and onions, and masterfully made some amazing latkes! I, of course, was jotting down ever bit of info so that I could attempt to recreate her magic on my own.
Thanks to Pinterest, I was pretty obsessed with the idea of sweet potato latkes. But trust me, russet potatoes are so much easier to work with than sweet potatoes. Lisa had warned me about using sweet potatoes, but I didn’t believe it until seeing mine burn and fall apart in the pan. Pinterest fail, for sure. Russet potatoes have more starch which help keeps the latkes together (along with the egg and flour). Lisa’s Latke Lesson #1: Don’t mess with a good thing. Go with russet potatoes.
While we stick with traditional russets as the base, it’s in the seasonings and toppings where we can go a little cray. We added curry powder and cumin to our latkes. This added just enough flavor but wasn’t overwhelming or even that noticeable. Potatoes are so bland on their own, they really need some seasoning love. Lisa’s Latke Lesson #2: Don’t be afraid to spice ’em up!
As for the toppings, I tested two sets of pairings that were colorful, festive, and pretty darn tasty. I made our cranberry sauce from Friendsgiving, and served that with thin slices of Brie. Another pairing, a bit more traditional, was smoked salmon with Greek yogurt. I added chopped fresh dill to the yogurt, and also used dill to garnish. More traditional (and kosher) toppings include applesauce and sour cream. Lisa’s Latke Lesson #3: There are no wrong toppings…but smoked salmon with yogurt is her go-to.
What I love about these latkes is that you can make them ahead of time. This is especially helpful if you’re planning on doubling this recipe for a party. Just set them on a wire rack placed over a sheet pan, and bake for 5-7 minutes in a 350 degree F oven, or until warm. I wouldn’t make them earlier than the same day you plan to serve them. A soggy latke is a very sad latke.
Lovin’ your latkes? Find your favorite topping combo? Leave a comment below or tag your pic with #confettikitchen!
What You Need
1 pound russet potatoes
1 small yellow onion
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for after frying
Freshly ground black pepper
Grater (or food processor)
Large mixing bowl
Large nonstick skillet
Grate potato and onion.
Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel the potato. Grate the potato with a box grater or food processor. Transfer the grated potato to a large mixing bowl.
Cut the onion in half, then peel. Use a food processor to grate enough onion for ~1/3 cup. Or, use your chef’s knife and finely chop the onion. Add to the mixing bowl.
In a nonstick pan or cast iron skillet, pour enough grapeseed oil to just cover the bottom. Set the heat to medium-high.
While the oil is heating, finish making the potato and onion mixture. To the large bowl, add the egg, flour, curry powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. With your hands or a wooden spoon, combine all of the ingredients.
Test the oil.
Test the oil to make sure it’s hot enough by dropping a piece of potato from the mixture into the pan. The oil should sizzle once the latkes drop in, otherwise it’s not hot enough. If the oil is smoking, then it’s too hot and needs to be turned down.
Using a spoon, scoop out a generous spoonful of the potato mixture. Carefully drop the mixture into the pan. Use the spoon to flatten the latke into a round disc.
Add 3-4 latkes to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until a golden brown. Use a spatula to flip each latke over and cook for another 5 minutes. They should be crispy on the outside, moist on the inside.
When they’re done cooking, slide the latkes onto a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
Continue with the remaining mixture. As you get to the bottom of the bowl, you’ll notice a lot of excess liquid. Just be sure to press the liquid out with your spoon as you scoop up the mixture.
Serve the latkes warm with toppings. See our Recipe Notes below for make-ahead tips.
Wring ’em out? We avoid the extra liquid in the bowl when we scoop our mixture. But you can also add another step. After you grate the potato and onions, place them on a clean kitchen towel. Wrap it up tightly and squeeze over the sink to release extra liquid. Then go on to add the egg, flour, and other seasonings as normal.
Need more oil? Between batches, you may need to add more oil to the pan. Just make sure to let the oil get hot again before dropping latkes in to cook.
Make it ahead! Place latkes on a wire rack with a baking sheet underneath. Reheat in a 350 degree F oven for 5-7 minutes, or until warm.
|All-purpose flour||Gluten-free flour / brown rice flour|