As the eight days of Hanukkah fin­ish, we are gen­tly reminded of those lovely fried gems that are cus­tom­ar­ily eaten dur­ing the course of the Fes­ti­val of Lights.

Tra­di­tion serves up golden brown latkes. One does not have to be Jew­ish to appre­ci­ate this espe­cially del­i­cate good bite. Nor do we need to con­fine our latke indul­gence to the few short days of the hol­i­day sea­son.

Latkes (potato pan­cakes) are tra­di­tion­ally topped with apple­sauce or sour cream. There are many new cre­ative vari­a­tions to these cakes and top­pings.

The crisp, golden clas­sic is made of shred­ded rus­set pota­toes and grated fresh onions. Yukon gold or sweet pota­toes put a softer spin on the clas­sic.

Other root veg­eta­bles like car­rots, turnips and parsnips sur­prise the pal­let in a new cake direc­tion. Include zuc­chini, cau­li­flower, apples, green onions and fresh herbs to amp up flavors.
To shred or grate is a ques­tion best answered with a box grater. A food proces­sor can be used but the box grater yields a good sized potato slice with­out excess mois­ture. If the grated veg­eta­bles seem soggy, def­i­nitely squeeze out any liq­uid prior to assem­bling the pat­ties.

Choose a neu­tral oil with a high smoke point for fry­ing the pat­ties. Veg­etable, canola, peanut or sun­flower oils work. Olive oil has a low smoke point (the tem­per­a­ture it can reach before burn­ing) mak­ing it a bit trou­ble­some. Ren­dered chicken fat, “schmaltz”, can be used.

Non-​traditional latke choices include gluten free, vegan and global ren­di­tions. Decid­ing on what meal to serve them for sets the tone for enter­pris­ing com­po­nents and ingre­di­ents.

Mod­ern ver­sions make use of sliced per­sim­mons, apples, pears and but­ter­nut squash. Crème fraiche, moz­zarella or yogurt sauce stand in as new age top­pers.

Like any mem­o­rable cook­ing expe­ri­ence, mak­ing latkes is bet­ter when shared with oth­ers. Pick a sous chef or kitchen helper to assist with grat­ing, chop­ping, mix­ing and patty mak­ing. Sto­ry­telling unfolds nat­u­rally around the recipe assign­ments.

Sweet or savory, there is a pan­cake cry­ing out for a spe­cial accom­pa­ni­ment. Pink apple­sauce, pome­gran­ate arils or caramelized onions ele­vate pedes­trian potato cakes. Find sea­sonal bliss in the mea­sure of sugar or spice and all things nice.

The vir­tu­ous potato can be appre­ci­ated for ver­sa­tile adap­ta­tions and eco­nom­i­cal afford­abil­ity. Grate, mix and fry a direct path to the heart of potato latkes.

Patty cakes tran­scend all hol­i­day tra­di­tions.

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