I got really lucky this Hannukah when the folks over at Shmaltz Brewing sent me a couple of their Jewbelation Holiday He’Brews, the Jewbelation 14 and the Vertical Jewbelation. Now these brews have 14% and 10% alcohol, respectively, so I needed a friend to help me with the tasting so I didn’t end up on the floor. Luckily, my friend Katie is always a willing drinking partner. She also has pretty much the most goyisha children on earth, so I decided to inject a little Semitic culture into their world with some latkes and candle lighting.
Both of the brews are called ales but they are very dark, creamy and much more akin in flavor and body to a stout or porter. The Vertical Jewbelation is aged in whiskey barrels and has a very light smokey flavor. The Jewbelation 14 has 14 different kinds of hops and malts, so it was definitely a bit hoppier than the Vertical and had a malty sweetness to it. My typical go-to beer is an IPA, so these were significantly heavier and sweeter beers than I gravitate toward, but they went very well with the latkes. A couple of weeks ago I had the delightful opportunity to eat with the proprietors of Saul’s Deli in Berkeley, where they were holding a Shmaltz Brewing event and I got to taste the Lenny’s RIPA, which was a tasty rye based IPA. Along with that, I got to try Peter’s early foray into salami making at Saul’s, which I am hoping to highlight here after the holidays.
Its the day after Thanksgiving and I am enjoying the satiety that come from too much food and drink, and in the miracle of miracles, I finally got a seat at the grown-ups’ table. I had thought it might happen, given the guest count and but I have been having Thanksgiving with the same crowd for about 25 years and had yet to graduate, so I wasn’t holding out too much hope. But happen it did and it was all that I’d hoped for, but I was promptly told it was a fluke occurrence and I would be headed back to the “young adult” table next year. While today I will bask in the glory of my newly recognized adulthood, Hanukkah is just around the corner (starting Wed night) so the frying and latke making has already begun for the Heathens. I figured in honor of Thanksgiving I would carry on the pumpkin theme and make pumpkin latkes. Obviously these have a slightly different texture than traditional potato latkes, and are more pancake like. They are also slightly sweet so I would include them with my apple latkes as a great Hanukkah breakfast or dessert option.
What could possible make the fried potato goodness that is a latke any better? Our friends the sweet potato and zucchini can answer that question (with flying colors!). Even better* are the locally grown, PURPLE organic taters I threw in from my CSA. You can even pretend that these are healthy and we’ll just ignore all that oil :) For more fun alternative and sustainable latke recipes, check out one of my favorite blogs The Jew and the Carrot.
*what would actually be better is losing the zucchini and adding in some carrots or parsnips for the sake of using seasonal produce…but i have a soft spot for the zuc.
Get ready for some delicious latkes, mid-eighties cartoon style ;) after the break
So my contribution to the various latke recipes for an interesting Channukah feast is cheese-infused latkes. These are a more savory dairy infused potato pancakes that turn out crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They come out with a classic latke texture with lots of flavor. I used mozzarella cheese but I definitely will try again with a cheddar. Put in a mild cheese like mozzarella or for extreme cheese lovers use a more distinct cheese like feta or even maybe brie…. but choose wisely because there’s only 8 days of chanukkah!
Some latke making notes… I used the Israeli version of Russet potatoes. I highly recommend these as they have a pretty high starch content which will cut down on the need for flour and keep your pancakes together. Shred the potatoes only when you’re ready to fry them up and immediately squeeze out the water. Or if you wanna ditch the dairy just omit the cheese and they’ll still come out delicious.
Some frying tips: I added garlic to the oil to give it some extra flavor, but you can omit this if you’re not a fan garlic, but I like this because it adds a lot of flavor and lets you know when the oil’s ready. Test the heat of the oil by adding a little of the latke mixture, if it starts to sizzle immediately the oil’s ready. Don’t overcrowd the pan! 3-4 at a time is enough. Let the oil come back to room temperature in between batches. I highly recommend heeding this last tip as it ensures perfect latkes every batch.
Click on to get the recipe…
Animal Style with cheese, onions and fry sauce
Do you live in California, Nevada, Arizona or Utah? Do you know how to get a double-double animal style? If not, you might want to check out this regional fast food. Now, what would happen if the good folks at In ‘n’ Out were of the Hebrew persuasion rather than the decidedly Christian bent?
Well then there might be latkes on the secret menu. Since they aren’t going to make them, I will. I started off with the same potato they use, the Kennebec. Prized for its large size, thin skin and its flavor. They also slice very easily which is a bonus when you have to reduce them for use in latkes.
I decided to keep these simple, plain to the point of boring to highlight these potatoes and their crisp texture. Upon consulting several cookbooks I learned that another key is to rinse the potatoes of their excess starch with hot water and then allow the potatoes to drain so that you reduce the amount of water that ultimately goes into the fat. I also disposed with any notion of going “light” and fried them in a 1/2 inch of oil in the bottom of a dutch oven.
Recipe after the break