You say potato...

Latkes are one of Hanukka's culinary highlights. This year, why not branch out, incorporating leek, carrot, or even quinoa in your favorite fritter.

latkes 224 88 (photo credit: Jerry Erico/Quick and Kosher)
latkes 224 88
(photo credit: Jerry Erico/Quick and Kosher)
Think Hanukka, think doughnuts or sufganiot, and, of course, latkes. The custom of eating these foods has become almost universal in the Jewish world. But it wasn't always been so. When the Diaspora was more disparate and insular, other culinary customs prevailed. According to Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food Sephardim eat fritters in syrup "variously called zalabia, loukoumades, sfenj, and yoyos." These are crisp on the outside and as sweet as sweet can be. Italians eat chicken pieces dipped in batter and deep-fried; Moroccans eat couscous with chicken that has been deep-fried rather than boiled. In keeping with their love for both tea and alcohol, Russian Jews have an ancient "flaming tea" ceremony, which involves taking a cube of sugar on a spoon, dousing it in brandy, setting it alight and dropping it in a glass of tea. For those of use who prefer to limit their pyrotechnics to the hanukkia, here are a few unusual latke recipes. POTATO & SPRING ONION LATKES Courtesy of Amir Markovitz, chef Forelin, Tel Aviv Makes 12 Latkes These latkes are pretty traditional, relying on the potato as the base and a hand-held grater rather than food processor to give the finished product a more homey feel. The spring onion gives it a nice twist and a splash of color. 4 1⁄2 kilo potato, peeled 4 1 spring onion, cut into thin strips 4 2 Tbsp. flour 4 2 eggs 4 Salt, pepper 4 Oil for frying 1. Using a hand-held grater, grate the potatoes and squeeze out the excess liquid. Drain and transfer into a bowl. 2. Add the spring onion, eggs and flour and season with salt and pepper. 3. Pour the oil into the frying pan. Once hot, add the latkes. 4. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove from the heat. 5. Serve hot with cold yoghurt. LATKES WITH CARROT, QUINOA AND SESAME SEEDS Courtesy of Ayelet Or, Chef OM, Hod Hasharon 4 3 peeled, cooked and mashed carrots 4 1⁄2 cup quinoa, cooked 4 1 peeled and grated potato 4 1 Tbsp. sesame oil 4 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted 4 1 tsp. fresh chili, diced 4 2 spring onions, diced 4 salt 4 1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated 4 3 or 4 eggs Mix all the ingredients together. If they are too wet, drain. Form into latkes and fry until golden on both sides. Serve warm. LATKES "FONDANT" WITH LEEK & SAINT MOR CHEESE Courtesy of Ofer Sa'adi Kanizi, Metro 4 1 kilo, leek 4 1 egg 4 2 to 3 Tbsp. matzo meal 4 salt, pepper, oil for frying 4 150 gr. Saint Mor cheese, rolled into tiny balls LEMON BUTTER 4 1 shallot, diced 4 100 gr. butter 4 2 slices of pickled lemon Clean and cut the white part of the leek. Cook in water with a touch of salt for 20 minutes. Remove and squeeze out the water. Puree in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse in the processor. Form the latkes around the small ball of Saint Mor cheese. Deep fry until golden brown. FOR THE BUTTER Process the lemon roughly. Saute the shallot in half the butter until soft. Add the pickled lemon. Turn off the heat. Add the rest of the butter, which should be cut into small cubes. Whisk and serve with the hot leek latkes. APPLE LATKES This recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food. According to Roden, "this is one of the most scrumptious" recipes for fritters, "because the apples are macerated in brandy, which gives them the most wonderful flavor, and the batter is very light." This is a recipe for those with patience and time. Even though the actual physical preparation takes minutes, both the apples and the batter require 1 hour to rest. 4 4 tart or sweet apples 4 2-3 tbsp sugar 4 3 tbsp brandy, dark rum, or fruit liqueur 4 2 eggs, separated 4 2 tbsp light vegetable oil 4 A good pinch of salt 4 1 cup (150 gr.) flour 4 7⁄8 cup (200 ml.) water 4 Vegetable oil for frying, preferably sunflower 4 Superfine sugar for sprinkling Core and peel the apples and cut each into 4 thick slices. Put them in a shallow dish with the sugar and brandy, rum or liqueur, and turn them so they are well coated. Leave for at least one hour, turning the slices occasionally to incorporate the spirit. For the batter, beat the yolks with the oil and salt, then stir in the flour and mix well. Now beat in the water gradually and vigorously, squashing any lumps. Leave for an hour, then fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Heat at least 2 cm. of oil in a large frying pan. Dip the apple slices in the batter - about 5 at a time - making sure they are well covered with the batter. Lift each one out carefully and lower into the hot oil. The oil must be sizzling but not so hot that the fritters with brown before the apple inside is soft. Fry in batches, and turn the slices over to brown both sides. Lift out with a slotted spatula and drain on kitchen paper before serving. Pass the superfine sugar for everyone to sprinkle on. Variations • You may use beer or milk in the batter instead of water.