Cranberry-Walnut Quick Bread

This latkes with smoked salmon recipe is, itself, a kind of culinary miracle, because whether or not you are Jewish you can enjoy them as a perfect dish for entertaining throughout the holiday season.

The best-known Hanukkah foods, many of which are cooked in oil that recalls the miracle of old, are probably crispy, golden-brown potato pancakes, known in Hebrew and Yiddish as latkes.

Latkes can be served in so many delicious ways.

Most often, you'll find latkes served as a main course at the Hanukkah table, accompanied by bowls of applesauce and sour cream, to be spooned individually or together on top of or alongside the latkes and enjoyed with them condiment-style, bite by delicious bite. And sometimes, the latkes may be served as a side dish with such main courses as braised beef brisket or roast chicken.

I also enjoy serving potato pancakes another way: lightly smeared with creme fraiche mixed with some chopped fresh chives or dill, and then topped with cured seafood of some sort: thinly sliced smoked salmon; flakes of smoked fish such as trout or sturgeon; reasonably priced pink smoked salmon roe or golden whitefish roe; or, for an extravagant flourish, good caviar.

Served with such toppings, latkes not only make a Hanukkah party even more special but they also move beyond that holiday's table. You can present them as an elegant appetizer for any festive meal. Or cook them as miniature, bite-sized potato pancakes, add your seafood of choice, and pass them around as the perfect hors d'oeuvre to accompany sparkling wine at a New Year's Eve celebration.

For Hanukkah or any other occasion, another miracle about latkes is how well they lend themselves to making in advance. Mix and fry them all up several hours ahead of your party, letting them cool on paper towels rather than keeping them warm in the oven as my recipe instructs; then store them, covered, in the refrigerator. As guests start arriving, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Before serving, arrange the latkes flat in a single layer on one or more baking sheets and reheat them in the oven until hot and crispy, 5 minutes or so, testing one for hotness before you serve it (you deserve an advance taste).

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Potato Pancakes With Smoked Salmon

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Yield: Makes about 2 dozen potato pancakes / latkes

Potato Pancakes With Smoked Salmon Ingredients

    8 medium-sized organic baking potatoes, about 2-1/2 pounds total weight

    1 medium onion, peeled and cut into quarters

    1/2 lemon, juiced

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1 cup milk

    1 tablespoon baking powder

    1/2 tablespoon salt

    Dash of grated nutmeg

    1 large cage-free egg, lightly beaten

    2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

    1/2 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil, plus extra as needed

    1 cup creme fraiche

    1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

    3/4 pound thinly sliced smoked salmon

    2 lemons, cut into thin wedges, for garnish

Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon Recipe Instructions

    Using the large shredding holes of a hand-held box shredder/grater, or the large-hole shredding disc of a food processor, shred all the potatoes and the onion, transferring them to a large mixing bowl as you go, sprinkling and tossing the shreds batch by batch with just a little lemon juice to keep them from discoloring.

    Place the bowl near the sink, with a second, empty bowl nearby. A handful at a time, pick up the shredded potatoes and onion with clean hands and, over the sink, squeeze very firmly to extract as much liquid as possible from the shreds; transfer each squeezed handful to the second bowl.

    Add the flour, milk, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and egg to the potato and onion shreds. With a sturdy spoon, stir thoroughly. Drizzle in the melted butter and stir again.

    Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set it aside.

    In a large, heavy skillet, heat the 1/2 cup oil over medium heat until it flows easily in the pan and begins to shimmer slightly. Stir the potato mixture again. To form a latke, spoon 2 generous tablespoons of the mixture into the skillet, flattening it with the back of the spoon to a diameter of 2-1/2 to 3 inches. Form more latkes, filling but not crowding the pan. When the undersides are golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes, carefully flip with a spatula and fry about 4 minutes longer. As the latkes are done, transfer to the paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in the preheated oven while frying further batches.

    Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, stirring it before each new batch, and adding more oil to the skillet as necessary to keep its surface well-coated.

    While the latkes are cooking, transfer the creme fraiche to a bowl and stir in the chives. Arrange the smoked salmon slices on a platter with the lemon wedges.

    To serve, transfer the hot latkes to a serving platter. Pass them along with the accompaniments, to be smeared lightly with creme fraiche and topped with a little smoked salmon.

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Latkes for Hanukkah -- Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon Recipe

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