Just in time for the holidays, VegNews Recipe Club appeared in my inbox touting these irresistible potato pancakes. My father, not Jewish, used to make latkes every Christmas morning. His recipe came from a friend of his; I recently found out his wife had spent a year on a co-op in Isreal and brought this recipe back with her. Although the original recipe isn’t vegan, it is easily veganized. But, wouldn’t it be nice to find an actual vegan recipe and not have to do conversions?
Lisa-worry-no-more: VegNews to the rescue! The recipe is so simple that I didn’t even have to go shopping for ingredients: I had everything already in my pantry. Only one problem: I decided on Christmas Eve evening that I was going to make these the next day, and I was in no mood to roam around LA looking for any open grocery stores that might have Tofutti. So, that’s really the only way that I failed in this mission, no tofutti and no applesauce.
As Friand settled in to watch tv and the kids locked themselves away in their rooms to play their new video games, I got to work!
Reading through the comments on their own website, I’ve discovered that this recipe may not be appropriate for Jewish people. The baking soda is not permissible, and substituting with Tofutti Sour Cream (for the vegans in the bunch) also not allowed. Hm…
Reading the recipe though, the first line struck me: 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes? Um… that can’t be right. That literally measures out to be 2 potatoes in the best of circumstances. The recipe also says it Serves 6, but I couldn’t imagine this recipe yielding more than 6 pancakes. This seemed highly suspicious… little did I know the mystery of this recipe would soon reveal itself later in this story.
I brought out my father’s recipe which calls for 6-8 medium potatoes which yields, in my father’s words, “a million latkes.” I decided to use that as my standard, and peeled & grated myself 12 small potatoes. Yup, looked about right in the bowl. Since I didn’t have applesauce, I figured it would only help to grate an apple into the potatoes along with the onion. Oh yes! That was a great addition! Other than that, I followed the recipe very closely.
The one thing I didn’t do, which I will the next time, is remember to squeeze the liquid out of the potatoes BEFORE I start mixing in the flour. In fact, I think I will also rinse the potatoes before adding the apples & onions, then squeeze them again. It will help reduce the amount of starch, not that starch is a bad thing, just that these are so light I think even more lightness will help!
My latkes turned out beautiful! And everyone loved them! Our two boys are both exceptionally picky eaters. So picky, that they were even eying these completely harmless pancakes with slight suspicion. “What’s in these?” “What’s that green stuff?” I hesitated to tell the youngest that there were onions, but he focused more on the apples, so that turned out ok as well.
In fact, the recipe that I came up with *still* didn’t yield enough latkes to satisfy us 4. Instead of using a “heaping tablespoon” of batter (um…. are you kidding me?) I used a 1/4 Cup measuring cup to scoop. I formed the patties in my hand into what were about 3″ diameter cakes, and still only came up with 16 latkes – that’s only 4 for each of us. Next time, I will double all my measurements and make at least 3 dozen of these things so we have enough to satisfy our hungry tummies AND some left over for late night snacks. But now it was clear why the recipe says “Serves 6”, using a tablespoon to measure? Again, I am dumbfounded by this lunacy. Seriously, this will keep me up at night for days wondering who exactly makes half-dollar sized latkes??
Here is my recipe:
Yields 16 pancakes
8 medium potatoes – peeled, grated, rinsed
1 small yellow onion – peeled, grated
1 small apple – peeled, grated
1 heaping tsp dried parsley
3/4 C flour, divided
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
olive oil, or any oil, for frying
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and prepare an oven safe casserole pan with a paper towel on the bottom. Combine rinsed & squeezed potatoes with onions & apples. Squeeze out extra liquid.
2. Add remaining ingredients, using only 1/4 C flour. Mix well and continue to add the remaining flour until desired consistency.
3. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, 1/2 inch deep, over medium high heat. Test readiness ofoil by placing 1 small potato strand – when it sizzles & bubbles, it’s ready.
4. Scoop by 1/4 C and form into round patty in your hand and place in hot oil. Do not put more than 4 latkes in the pan at a time. Cook until golden brown on that side, flip and cook to the same. Drain on a paper towel on a plate, then transfer to the casserole. Put in the oven while preparing the remaining latkes.