Carol is my dear friend and former co-worker. We worked on the same magazine at Scholastic in New York City and now we both live in San Francisco. Every Hanukkah, Carol would invite us to dinner. We’d get off the elevator on her floor and follow our noses – the irresistible aromas of pot roast simmering would beckon us to her door. Carol accompanied her feast with a big green salad and a bowlful of cranberry sauce with mandarin oranges. But the star of the show, for my boys at least, were the golden-brown latkes, served with applesauce.
Carol, a designer, would set an exquisite table using her best china, silver and crystal, many heirloom pieces inherited from her mother. And she’d work in a blue and white theme to fit the occasion. There would be Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins) in gold mesh bags at every place setting and with Hanukah lights to light and a dreidel to play, it was always a memorable evening.
But it wasn’t just the latkes. Dave and Chris knew all about the significance of Hanukkah – how the victorious Maccabees gave thanks at the temple and how the oil, enough for one day, burned for eight. It’s in their Hanukkah book, which sat with the Nutcracker, illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and Polar Express on our coffee table during the holiday season.
Here’s a recipe for potato latkes made easy by using frozen hash brown potatoes instead of shredded fresh ones. This recipe was developed some years ago in the Ketchum Food Center, the national culinary center of the PR agency where I worked, for the US Potato Board. I’ve kept this recipe over the years since it’s such a smart way to make delicious potato pancakes.
While the prep is easy, be extra-careful cooking with hot oil to prevent accidents. And never drop water into hot oil – it will pop and splatter.
World’s Fastest Potato Latkes
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
1 package (30 ounces) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed *
1 ½ cups finely chopped onion (about 2 medium)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
In large bowl, combine all ingredients except oil; mix well. In large cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium heat until hot. Drop 1/2-cup portions of potato mixture into skillet, flattening with a spatula to form 6-inch pancakes. Cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes, turning once. Drain on paper towels; serve hot.
Makes 12 (6-inch) pancakes/
*Once the potatoes thaw, I gently squeeze a handful of potatoes at a time to remove excess moisture.
Nutrition Information Per Serving (2 Latkes): 283 calories; 13 g fat; 142 mg cholesterol; 1245 mg sodium; 34 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 8 g protein
Potato mixture can be prepared, covered and refrigerated up to 6 hours before cooking. Stir to combine before using.
Potato pancakes can also be cooked in advance and refrigerated. To reheat, arrange pancakes in shallow baking pan; heat in 425°F oven until hot, about 10 minutes, turning once.
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