Crispy Traditional Potato Pancakes, adapted from Jewish Cooking in America by Joan Nathan
2 pounds russet (baking) or Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tablespoons potato starch (optional)
1 medium onion
4 scallions, very tops and bottoms removed, reserve most of the green
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
Applesauce (recipe below) or sour cream
1. Peel the potatoes and keep in ice cold water until ready to use. Using a grater or a food processor, coarsely grate the potatoes, onion, and scallions. Put together in a fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or tea towel and squeeze out all the water over a bowl. The potato starch will settle to the bottom; reserve that after you have carefully poured off the water.
2. Stir the potato starch into the potato, onion, and scallion mixture or just add the prepared potato starch. Add the egg and sprinkle on the salt and pepper.
3. Heat a griddle or nonstick or cast-iron pan and coat with a thin film of vegetable oil. Take about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture in the palm of your hand for small latkes and 4 for large, and flatten as best you can. Put the potato mixture on the griddle, flatten with a large spatula, and fry for a few minutes until golden brown. Flip the pancake over and brown the other side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining mixture, adding more oil as necessary, giving time to get the oil hot between batches. Serve immediately with applesauce and/or sour cream.
Yield: about 24 small or 12 large potato pancakes
Note: When cooking for masses you can make the latkes in the morning, then drain them and put them aside—do not refrigerate them—and crisp them up in a 350-degree oven before serving. You can also make them further in advance, freeze the potato pancakes on cookie sheets, and transfer the latkes to a freezer bag once solid. When ready to serve, arrange them on a cookie sheet and crisp them up in a 350-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes.
Variation: If you want a more traditional and thicker pancake, you can add an extra egg plus 1/3 cup of matzo meal to the batter.
Applesauce, adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France by Joan Nathan
2 pounds sweet apples like Jonathan, Gala, King of the Pippins, Jonagold, or Fuji, cored, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 cup green grapes, halved
1. Put the apples and the grapes in a heavy saucepan.
2. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the apples are mushy. This applesauce will be chunky.
Yield: 2 cups applesauce