If there is one thing Jews know, it’s how to make a good starch. We’re the people who brought you bagels, after all. During Hanukkah, we make it our business to show the world what we can do with potatoes. We call them latkes (some pronounce it latKAHs and some pronounce it latKEEs) and they can best be described as a hybrid of hash browns and potato pancakes.
In my humble opinion, they taste better than both.
Last week, my friend Daniela came over to fry up some latkes with the kids. Daniela and I met because her older son Noah was Mazzy’s book buddy when she was in kindergarten. She runs an after school program called Kulinary Kids NYC, where instructors come to your home to give small groups of kids cooking lessons. She designs the lessons so the kids can do as much prep work as possible, which she says empowers them and leads to a better chance of kids trying new foods.
After quizzing me about the contents of my tiny kitchen (I think I failed), she arrived with all the ingredients and the tools I was missing. She even brought her boys, Noah and Ethan, over to help and suggested we do most of the prep on the dining room table.
It was fun to watch Daniela bark orders and put the kids to work. She moves so fast, I had trouble taking pictures. “Keep up, Ilana!!!!” But I’ve never seen my kitchen run so smoothly.
Daniela’s Gold and Orange Latkes
What you need:
1 Yukon Gold Potato
1 sweet potato
½ medium onion
1 large egg
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
What to do:
1. Peel and grate the potatoes.
Daniela likes to make the kitchen tools kid-friendly by naming them things like “Charlie the Chopper”, “Gary the Grater” and “Marty the Masher.”
To help the kids understand how sharp tools work, she explained that these tools have teeth to make food smaller just like our teeth do when we chew. Then she let them use the tools with supervision.
2. Let grated potatoes sit in a bowl for a few minutes and then squeeze out any excess liquid.
3. Coarsely chop ½ onion in a mini chopper. (The proper way to prepare the onions is to grate them, but it is too hard and dangerous for kids. Daniela uses the chopper so that the children can be as involved as possible.)
4. Add chopped onions to potatoes. Mix in egg, flour, salt and pepper.
If the mix seems like it has too much liquid, add a little extra flour to make sure the latkes hold together once you fry them.
5. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Drop batter by heaping tablespoon, press down slightly. (Kids have to stand back because the oil can spatter.) Cook until golden around edges, about 3 minutes.
6. Flip latkes over, press and cook 3 more minutes. Add more oil if needed. Or burn them to a crisp, if that’s your preference. Personally, I like nothing better than the burnt crispy parts of a latke.
7. Cool, Eat and Enjoy!
Thanks Daniela for teaching my kids how to make latkes in my tiny kitchen! You can find out more about Kulinary Kids NYC here.