This aint your Grandmothers Latke recipe!
What would you create in the kitchen if you started with a blank slate? No preconceived ideas about the way it’s “supposed to” taste or look like? With Hanukkah upon us, and my dread of the house smelling like a greasy spoon, not to mention our current state of potato overload from Thanksgiving, I set out to create a new latke. From scratch! Literally.
I wanted a latke that has ingredients that will nourish, and a cooking process that won’t fall like lead in your intestines. When I gave up the notion of what it was supposed to be (my Grandmother’s Latkes) and the comparison to a standard latke that is made with potatoes and then fried, something interesting happened……the latkes actually tasted like latkes instead of some sort of health concoction! Funny how that happened!
I grew up on latkes. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time eating at my Grandparents house and my Grandmother made latkes all year round, not just on Hanukkah. It was one of her specialties and she never said no to a request for latkes. We were even allowed to bring them to school wrapped in foil as part of our lunches. Now, there’s a real valuable trade!!
When I had a family of my own, I was fortunate that my grandmother was still alive and I was able to get the recipe. Of course, I had to go to California for a demonstration, because there wasn’t an actual recipe….I had to watch how she approximated the ingredients. I had to figure out how much a handful was and what the right consistency would look like. I had to learn how to know if the eggs were a bit bigger than usual and more matza meal was needed, or how to realize that the potatoes had less starch than usual and what to do to remedy the situation.
So, this year I decided it was time to create a healthy latke. I knew I wanted to start with Brussels sprouts, I knew I was going to attempt a high heat bake rather than fry, and I knew the consistency I was looking for in a latke batter.
I look back now and realize what a gift my Grandmother gave me. She passed along more than a recipe, she passed along the tools she used to cook with—-not things you can buy in the store to stock your kitchen, but tools you find internally. My Grandmother taught me to use and trust all of my senses in the kitchen. To watch and look and listen and taste and smell and feel. As I set out to create a brand new latke, this advice/skill set was invaluable.
Although these are not Grandma Blanche’s Latkes, they have her spirit and her skill and her love written all over them!