You say ‘latke’ but I say ‘latka’; either way, my Grandma Maisie’s were the best and I will fight.. ok, bitch-slap..ok, tell anyone ‘very sternly’ if they disagree with me.
Born on the same day as my Dad, we named our eldest ‘Millie’ by way of tribute to my Grandma Maisie, my Dad’s mum, who passed away 15 years ago.
Memories of going round to visit my Grandma Maisie in Muswell Hill, down a leafy side road lined with those enormous thick-trunked plane trees. With their camo-style bark and knobbly-bobbly tops pruned to within an inch of their boughs in winter, whenever I see a plane tree I think of Grandma.
The suburban 3-story house was where my Dad grew up and he told me of how the trees weren’t maintained and pruned by the Council during War War II, growing so tall and bushy, they formed a leafy overhead canopy. When they were finally pruned, the family used a few of the very long branches as props to lift the clothes line higher.
The weekly pilgrimage to my Grandma’s was rarely without reward of some sort of baked or fried good. Gefilte fish not so much my bag, but the latkes? I couldn’t eat them quick enough when these fried fancies were made around Chanukkah time. When my Grandma passed away, as beautiful and sentimental as all of her jewels and brooches and ornaments were, I asked my Dad only for her precious recipe books, notes and scribblings. I hoped the latke recipe would be amongst them and I wasn’t disappointed.
A half term double playdate for my 2 girls this morning meant they were fully occupied, allowing me time to cook. Cue lots of elbow grease and literal grease. If you don’t like fried foods, then this isn’t for you. Don’t bother trying them with coconut oil. Don’t bother baking them. Well, you can I suppose, but they’ll never be like Grandma Maisie’s delights.
Grandma Maisie’s Latkas
*3 large baking potatoes (about 1.5lbs)
*1 medium onion
*2 large eggs
*1 level tablespoon Malden salt and some freshly ground black pepper
*4 level tablespoons self-raising flour (you can do with plain if that is all that is available but they won’t be as ‘fluffy’)
*1/2 teaspoon baking powder
*vegetable oil – quite a bit
Put flour, baking powder and seasonings into large bowl and mix, adding beaten egg s..l..o..w..l..y until you have a smooth batter.
Grate the potatoes using a fine grater. I like my Microplane fine grater best. I’ve tried doing it in my Magimix using the grater attachment. But it’s not ‘great’ (sorry…) as the resulting latkas are ‘heavy’. With the handheld grate your arm will feel like it’s going to fall off, but it’s worth it for a light consistency.
Squeeze out the liquidy starch from the grated potatoes and add potato pulp to the batter. (Throw away the starchy juice unless you can think of anything useful to do with it. My children are fascinated the amount of liquid a potato can produce.)
Grate the onion, juice and all, into the potato and batter mix.
Heat a medium sized non-stick pan with a couple of cm of vegetable oil on medium/high heat and drop in generous tablespoons of the mixture, gently flattening them with a spatula. Heat for a few minutes either side until golden and crispy. Ensure the oil stays to a good level throughout all batches otherwise the latkas will burn.
Drain on kitchen towel or greaseproof paper.
Keep breaking off crunchy bits to ‘check’ that they are ok. Then try a whole one just in case. Then try another one to make sure. Possibly half of another one to make doubly sure they’re ok? That’s my method. (I didn’t need lunch.)
Fridge or freeze if there are any left/before husband gets home.
“A latka is for life, not just for Chanukah”