Caleb and Jordan have known each other since they were just several months old. They met in the infant room at their childcare program, and are now in the pre-k class together. Jordan and his family joined us on Friday evening, the third night of Chanukah, for a latke making party. Jordan’s dad, Ty couldn’t join us (we missed his company), but his mom, Robyn and his little brother, Evan came over.
After work, I ran to Monterey Market to pick up the ingredients. I was both amazed and amused to find foot long potatoes (I kid you not!) in the potato bin. Who knew they could grow so large!? Another shopper and I stood there for a few minutes, marveling at the huge potatoes. Once I brought the ingredients home, Jordan’s family soon came over and immediately helped prepping the latkes. Mateo then came home a few minutes later and jumped right in. Before we knew it, the boys had grated / processed all of the potatoes and we had a full-on latke making production taking place in our small kitchen (with cheesy Chanukah music playing in the background).
Robyn and I managed the frying portion, but the boys put in their fare share of “elbow-grease” prepping the ingredients. Once we had all of the latkes fried up to golden brown perfection, we handed the boys the platter of hot, crispy latkes and they both looked so proud of themselves.
Our house smelled like Chanukah. We were all ready to sit down and feast on our delicious latkes. We brought them to the table, along with a spinach salad, and a loaf of challah. It was at this point that I dropped almost a bowl’s worth of sour cream over Caleb! Fortunately, the bowl missed him and I was able to clean him off quickly. Sorry, Caleb – your mom’s a klutz!
It was Friday night, so we also wished each other “Shabbat Shalom,” then we dug in – dolloping sour cream and applesauce onto our latkes. Our boys did good! Everyone loved the latkes and kept eating until we were stuffed. We finished off our meal with a delicious dessert that Robyn and Jordan made together the night before, called mandel bread – a Jewish recipe passed on to Robyn by her grandmother. Their baking adventures, along with photos and the recipe, will be included in a future guest-post. Hopefully, she’ll describe in better detail the electric menorah she grew up with… I laughed hysterically when she told me about it.
After dinner, Jordan and Caleb helped me light the menorah. We then gave them each dreidles to play with and a gift to open up. What a sweet occasion it was. What started out as a request for a recipe by Robyn, turned into a wonderful latke making adventure for our little guys.
(Recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle)
Serve with applesauce, jam or sour cream.
3 or 4 large baking potatoes, peeled
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely grated onion
3 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 to 4 tablespoons matzo meal or flour, plus more as needed
Vegetable oil for frying
1. Grate the potatoes in a food processor: Put them through the shredding disc, then take half of the shredded potatoes and process them briefly with the steel knife. If you don’t have a food processor, grate them by hand on a box grater — put half through the medium grater, and half through the fine grater. You should have about 4 cups grated potatoes.
2. Put the grated potatoes in a large bowl, cover them with water and let soak for at least 15 minutes (or up to 1 hour) to remove the excess starch.
3. Rinse the potatoes and drain well, squeezing them with your hands to remove excess moisture. Combine the potatoes in a mixing bowl with the onion, eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder and 2 tablespoons matzo meal. Stir well. Add more matzo meal if too much liquid accumulates in the bottom of the bowl.
4. Pour the oil into a large frying pan to a depth of 1/8 to 1/4 inch, and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, gently drop the potato batter by large spoonfuls into the hot oil, pressing down on them lightly with the back of the spoon to form thin pancakes about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, keeping the latkes about 1/2 inch apart. Do not crowd.
5. Fry the latkes until they are browned on one side, then turn and cook them until browned on the other.
6. Remove them to a paper towel-lined platter to drain, blotting off excess oil. Transfer to a plate and put in a 200F oven to stay warm.
7. Repeat until all the batter is used up, adding a bit more matzo meal or flour to the mixture as more liquid starts to collect in the bowl, and squeezing out the extra liquid. Skim the surface of the oil to remove any floating potato bits, which can burn and give the oil an off-flavor. Discard the oil when it begins to brown and use fresh oil as needed.