You Say Potato Pancake, I Say Latke

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by Amy Flanigan on December 7, 2009 · 34 comments

I grew up confused about the proper way to spell Hanukah Chanukah Hanukkah. (Well, at least that’s one way.) Adding to the confusion, even though the holiday is always in December, it never occurs on the same eight days every year. To top it all off, my gifts were usually signed, “Love Santa.” Seriously. How am I not in therapy?

There should be no confusion, however, about Latkes – or potato pancakes, if you prefer – which are traditionally made for the Passover and Hanukkah holidays.

Fact: they are made from a potato base.

Fact: they are fried in oil.

Fact: they are not healthy.

Fact: my mother rarely made them because of the previous two facts.

Fact: they are beyond scrumptious.

The first day of Hanukkah, this year, begins at Sundown on the 11th, and in it’s honor, I thought I would post my two favorite recipes. (Truly, I think I was just looking for an excuse! And thanks to a request from Lora, we all win.)

Mini Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Dill


This version is a more traditional Latke, with the potato and onion shredded. You can eat them plain or add something on top for an extra “wow” factor. My favorite is sour cream, smoked salmon, and dill. But I also love applesauce or pieces of apple. Mama Mia! I could eat way too many of these.

Potato Zucchini Latkes

Now, these guys are made differently than most Latke recipes; the ingredients are pureed in a food processor fitted with a metal blade until they are smooth. They have a nice crispy outer shell, but still slightly soft inside. Plus, the added zucchini is an awesome way to fool yourself into thinking these are actually good for you.

Final Fact: you do not need to be Jewish to enjoy latkes. Oh no. These little bites of Heaven are universal.

Print the recipe for Mini Potato Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Dill.
Print the recipe for Potato-Zucchini Latkes

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

lo December 1, 2010 at 8:49 am

Hey! I call them latkes too, and I’m not even Jewish… and I don’t THINK therapy is in order, though I may be wrong about that.

I love a little latke action. And I’m in total denial that they’re not good for me. I am particularly enamoured of those extra crispy fried bits around the edges.

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Carolyn December 18, 2009 at 8:18 am

I went out and bought the fine shredding disk for my Cuisinart JUST to make latkes. When you have something once a year, it’s gotta be good. Baby boy coming home from college today just in time for Chanukah’s last night. Oh, on the spelling, my favorite was when some dumb teacher put Chanukah on the kid’s spelling list; as if there’s a right way to “spell” Chanukah!!

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pigpigscorner December 12, 2009 at 9:26 am

wow great idea serving it with smoked salmon and dill! Delicious.

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Dina December 10, 2009 at 4:34 pm

wow those latkes look perfect! i’m going to make the potato celery root rosti in martha stewart living next week. i can’t wait!

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jive turkey December 10, 2009 at 4:28 pm

I WANT.

I remember one of the room mothers when I was in 2nd grade made these for the class one year and HOLY SHIT I can still remember how awesome they tasted.

I’ll take a plate of the smoked salmon beauties, please.

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food-4tots December 10, 2009 at 11:55 am

Yes, they are not healthy but who cares! Nothing will go wrong if we eat everything in moderation. They look so delicious and irresistable!

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DebinHawaii December 10, 2009 at 2:14 am

Both kinds look delicious–especially the one with the smoked salmon. Yum!

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Mom December 9, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I’ve made the latkes with some shredded apple thrown in, and they are also very good. But the purist in me will stick to the original recipe 99% of the time.

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Amy December 9, 2009 at 8:35 am

Melissa – I cut the potatoes into cubes before I run them through the food processor, to give them a much smaller thread. This makes them LESS like a hash brown, so keep that in mind. I really like Krysta’s variation with the shredded apple mixed in, instead of on top…will need to try that next time.

Dani – you’ve really never had these? Wowza. If you don’t mind fried food every once in a while, you must make a batch!! Consider it a treat.

Lora – OH YEA!! I was waiting for you to chime in, hoping I made you proud. I’m sure there are many different methods to squeezing out the excess liquid, but you’ll notice in the directions, I just lay the shreds on paper towels. Seems to do the trick. Hanukkah Harry…LOL.

Natashya – I’ve seen some Latke recipes using 100% sweet potatoes or 50/50 and they sound/look really good. Try it and let me know!!

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Natashya December 9, 2009 at 7:18 am

I have always wanted to make these, they look delicious! I have some gravlax curing in the fridge – they would be perfect with it. I wonder if I can make them with sweet potatoes?

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Lora December 8, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Yahoooo! I’ve been waiting for this. Yes, we have our own “momma’s recipe” here, but I just knew Amy would have a way to put it a bit over the top. And yes, she pulls through again! Love the idea of salmon and dill. Kind of a… latka and lox kind of thing. Can’t WAIT to try it out.

By the way, the gifts at our house were from “Hanukkah Harry”. I’m sure he’s out there.

And point me to that delicious slow cooker recipe you mentioned earlier. Chicken and cider, dried plums, sounds yummy. R U sure I can’t use up the rest of my prune juice as a substitute?

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Dani December 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Mmmmmmmm, yum! I’ve never tried the sour cream & smoked salmon or zucchini-potato latkes. Both sound delicious! Thanks, Amy. Happy Hanukkah to you and your family!

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Melissa December 8, 2009 at 7:10 pm

Your dad is hilaaarious.

And you must be reading my mind. I’ve been wanting to make latkes since last year and I never got around to it. It’s time and they are on my to do list for the weekend. I would definitely do the grated/shredded. My mom used to do them the second way, more like a fritter with a softer inside, and I always wanted something hash brown-ier. Heh. Hash brown-ier. *Giggle*

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Amy December 8, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Jen – slow cooker currently contains braised chicken thighs, onion, apple cider, spices, and dried plums. House smells gooood.

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Andrea December 8, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Amy: What a great meal for a day like this. I was going to do it tonight too, but I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer, so I’ll have to do it by the stovetop method with Chicken Breasts instead. Follow the recipe as written? Me? Anyway, I hope you love it!

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Amy December 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Andrea - yes! Latkes are very similar to German potato pancakes…who knows which one came first, but there are many varying recipes and I suspect they are all yummy.

p.s. guess what’s in the slow cooker, as we speak?

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Amy December 8, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Mike – oooh, adding chocolate chips. You and I speak the same language.

Dad – your comments are not allowed to be better than my post!

Mom – I completely agree about the hash browns, and you’re right…I do cut the potatoes in cubes before shredding them to make the threads much smaller.

Jay – have Jen make up a batch. Promise something sparkly in return ;-)

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Dad December 8, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I have nothing to say, but would you like to hear the real origin of the latke? It was named for a Dussledorf housewife named Frau Brenda Latke…

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Jennifer December 8, 2009 at 3:20 pm

I agree with Dad, twice a week please.

What’s in the slow cooker? I wanna know! I’m hungry.

Something sparkly…oh yes!

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Andrea December 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Hmm. As understood by this non-German, practicing Catholic (social-justice kind), latkes are almost like German potato pancakes, served with applesauce, to accompany — brace yourself — pork roast and German red cabbage. I will try this recipe, though. The fried part is soooo tempting.

Incidentally, you can get Tater Tots in the shape of letters, which delight small children.

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incrediblecrunchyflavor December 8, 2009 at 2:13 pm

the mini potato latkes with smoked salmon and dill look incredibly delicious to me right now!

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Jay December 8, 2009 at 11:40 am

Okay, now that I’ve wiped up the puddle of drool, I can say the salmon & dill look delectable.

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Anonymous December 8, 2009 at 11:37 am

Drool…Drool…Drool…Drool…Drool!

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Mom December 8, 2009 at 11:28 am

I will definitely try the potato zucchini recipe, but not for Hanukkah. I’m a traditionalist, so I’ll stick to straight potatoes for the holiday. I’ve made the latkes by shredding the potatoes but they tasted more like hash browns. I see you cut the potatoes into cubes before shredding, so this would give a smaller shred and more closely resemble the processed method. I’m going to try a batch this way, and I’ll let you know the results. They are so good any way you make them. Let’s just have latkes for dinner!

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Mike December 8, 2009 at 9:16 am

Is there a version where you add either chocolate chips or M&Ms? And maybe sprinkle them with colored sugars? No?

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Amy December 8, 2009 at 8:59 am

Joanne – tater tots! I haven’t had a tater tot in…forever. First the Chile Rellenos and now the tater tots. I wonder if the two go well together? I seriously want them both now.

As for Haley, Santa will come on his designated holiday. Paul was raised Catholic, so we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas – we are so 21st century, no? Maybe we’ll have the Hanukkah Armadillo come…like on Friends. LOL.

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Jude December 8, 2009 at 10:32 am

Hallelujah! Spuds in all their fried glory. Like ‘Dad’ said, these would do with any topping.

Had something similar to this recipe recently. Made in an iron skillet by a German/recovering Catholic. Not sure what HE called them, but with applesauce and cream cheese on top, I called them divine.

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Dad December 8, 2009 at 9:27 am

You say “latke, ” I say “Yum!” Now you’re talkin’! Nine more variations and you’ll cover the 12 Days of Channukah. (There’s a bonus round this year.)

Your very first one, fried in oil, would make one lord a’leaping. Those look absolutely mouthwatering. In order to keep them true to the tradition, they should be served with applesauce and a little cinnamon. Not keeping with tradition, they should be served twice a week.

They could also be served plain or with a little Worchestershire or even a little vinegar. And I’ll bet cranberry sauce wouldn’t be bad either. But applesauce on latkes goes back to the first Thanksgiving when Squanto gave them as a gift to the Plimouth Colony. Since the Pilgrims really sucked at survival and cooking, they reciprocated with Macy’s gift cards which expired on December 26th, 1619. Squanto was so ticked that he no longer allowed the Pilgrims into his casino.

As for the history of your Christmakuh gifts, let’s keep the record straight. They were not signed “Love, Santa.” They were usually signed by the Secretary of the Treasury.

And the reason you’re not in therapy is because the choice was therapy or braces. We figured it’s better to have something to eat with than a silly hobby that you’d have to pay for the rest of your life. This is Walnut Creek, not Beverly Hills. Therapy goes by seniority.

Love,

Santa

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Joanne December 8, 2009 at 7:03 am

Latkes are perhaps one of my most favoritest foods ever. Especially the traditional kind. I mean, I love tater tots and they essentially have the texture of a tater tot patty. But better. I love the smoked salmon idea.

I can’t believe your parents signed your presents From Santa! What are you going to do for Haley??

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pam December 7, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I love these with applesauce!

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Amy December 7, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Jen – the zucchini latke recipe is the one like Mom’s, where you throw it all in the food processor. We might make these again while you’re here…we’ll see ;-)

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Jennifer December 7, 2009 at 12:23 pm

I’m a traditionalist. I prefer traditional latkes with applesauce. Yum! Yum! Yum! However, I will eat them any way you want to make them! I think Mom throws hers in a food processor, until they are mostly smooth. So, um, do we get these on the 17th? Do we? Huh? Huh?

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Natasha - 5 Star Foodie December 7, 2009 at 9:58 am

Your latkes look so good! Perfect with smoked salmon and dill! I’m ready to start making a bunch this weekend!

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daphne December 7, 2009 at 8:57 am

I hv to say that I will be the first to polish them off if I am over at your place. Fritters and potatoes (and I learned they are called Latke! thank you amy!)- how much better can they get!

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