Not-Your-Grandmothers Latkes

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Every year on Christmas morning we have a family brunch, but each year the menu is a little different. Sometimes we do a whole turkey and pairings, sometimes frittatas, and one year we made some delicious crepes–my brother’s brilliant idea. My grandma is Jewish so usually there are bagels and lox no matter what. This year we decided to go a little lighter and make a few different salads to go with the bagels and lox. I thought it would be fun to do some latkes too- nothing like a non-denominational holiday meal! But I didn’t want to make just your standard latkes–I needed to turn it up a notch as Emeril Lagasse would say. I also thought it would be nice to eliminate most of the potatoes in the spirit of primal cooking, which led me to parsnip latkes with horseradish and dill, and spinach, feta, and zucchini latkes- a spin on one of the food network feature holiday recipes. The parsnips make for a nice crispy latke with a somewhat sweet taste, while the spinach feta and zucchini are more salty and savory. Best of all, these can easily be made primal-friendly by replacing the flour with almond meal.

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Parsnip Latkes with Horseradish and Dill (slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

(Difficulty: Medium; Makes 10-12 pancakes)

For the pancakes:

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 pound parsnips ( 4-6 medium)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (replace with almond meal for primal version)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
peanut oil for frying

For the Sauce:

1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated or prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon chopped dill

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line one large baking sheet with foil and leave them in the oven until needed.

Peel parsnips and grate them on the large holes of a box grater or with the shredding blade in a food processor.

Transfer shredded vegetables to a colander or square of cheesecloth, and wring out as much liquid as possible. Let stand for two minutes, then wring again. Any excess moisture will make the latkes fall apart when frying so this is a vital step.

Transfer drained parsnips to a large bowl. Add lemon juice. Stir in the flour (or almond meal), baking powder, dill, salt, and pepper and toss with parsnips, evenly coating the strands. In a small dish, whisk the egg(s) and stir this into the parsnip-flour mixture, evenly coating the strands.

Heat a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Once skillet is hot, add 3 tablespoons oil and heat oil until shimmering. If you’re unsure, you can flick a droplet of water onto the oil; if it hisses and sputters, you’re good to go.

Using a fork or your fingertips (letting the eggy batter drain off a little is good), gather spoonful-sized mounds of battered parsnips and drop them onto the heated skillet. When golden underneath, 3 to 4 minutes later, flip pancakes. [If you’re using a gas range, you’ll likely have to rotate your pancakes 180 degrees halfway through the cooking time so that they color evenly underneath.] Cook on the other side until nicely bronzed underneath, another 2 to 3 minutes, and transfer to paper towels briefly to drain pancakes, before transferring them again to tray(s) in warm oven. If latkes cook too quickly or slowly on the stove, adjust the heat accordingly.

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Add more oil if needed (you want to keep the pan at that 3 tablespoon level), being sure it is heated before adding more pancakes to the skillet. Repeat with remaining batter. I like to keep the latkes in the oven for at least 10 minutes to insure they’ve cooked through before serving them.

While latkes are cooking the oven, mix sauce ingredients in a small dish. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot with sauce on side.

Spinach, Feta, and Zucchini Latkes (adapted from Food Network)

(Difficulty- Medium; Makes 10-12 pancakes)

  • 3 ounces spinach, stems removed, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 large zucchini squashes
  • 1 large russet potato
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (replace with almond meal to make primal)
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • peanut oil for frying
  • horseradish and dill sour cream for topping (recipe above)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and place a large baking sheet in the oven. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander set in a large bowl; refrigerate until cold, about 15 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture; set the spinach aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the scallions and cook 3 to 4 more minutes. Let cool.

Peel the potatoes and grate on the large holes of a box grater. Grate zucchini the same way. Transfer both to a clean kitchen towel, gather into a pouch and twist closed, then squeeze over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. This mixture is especially fragile when frying so be sure to get rid of as much excess moisture as possible between the spinach and potatoes and zucchini. Transfer to a large bowl; add the leek-scallion mixture, spinach, eggs, flour, dill, feta, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and mix until combined.

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Heat about 3 Tbsp. peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the mixture into the pan for each latke and flatten with a spatula; fry until golden brown and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Place on preheated baking sheet, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with horseradish and dill sour cream (recipe above).

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One response »

  1. Pingback: Holiday Fare- Addictive Ricotta Cookies « The Kitchen Faerie

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