Traditional potato latkes or pancakes originated in Eastern Europe (Germany Russia, Austria, and Poland) as a simple peasant food based on potatoes were plentiful, cheap and easy to store.
The European Jews renamed this simple potato pancake dish, by using the Yiddish name, 'Latkes', and they became a special holiday food with extra ingredients.
The very basic recipe for Latkes includes just five simple ingredients: potatoes, matzo meal or all-purpose flour, onions, eggs, salt and oil.
There are many ways in which you can customize this basic recipe. You can use sweet potato, many herbs and vegetables, spices and cheese. The recipe below includes leeks, cumin chives and a generous addition of kale that adds to the crispiness of the Latkes.
Frying the potato pancakes using rice bran oil or grape seed oil, which have a high smoke point and a neutral taste, means that the delicate tastes of the ingredients and not swamped by the taste of the oil and high temperatures ensure a crisp texture.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Place a wire rack on a flat baking sheet or shallow dish to keep the Latkes warm after they have been cooked. Combine the leeks, potatoes, kale, baking powder, cumin, chives, salt, pepper, and flour or cornstarch in a large bowl and mix well. Add the beaten eggs and mix together so all the potato and leek pieces are coated in the mixture.
Heat a large heavy skillet a moderate temperature and then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil and leave until the oil is very hot. Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the latke mixture and squeeze with another spoon placed on top to remove excess liquid. Transfer each spoonful into the pan and flatten. Only fry batches of three pancakes at once.
Cook one side until golden brown (generally about 3 minutes), then flip over and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Transfer each batch of cooked pancakes to the wire rack on the baking sheet in the oven, to drain and keep warm. It is important to keep the oil hot and to squeeze the excess liquid from the pancakes before frying.
Serve hot with low-fat sour cream sauce, a salsa or simply a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt and top with finely chopped cilantro, broad-leaf parsley or mint.
Preheat oven to 100 degrees C (300 degrees F. Line a baking tray, sprayed with cooking oil with paper towels. Rinse the grated sweet potato in a bowl of salted the water and drain through a sieve or colander. Dry the grated sweet potato using a cloth or paper towels and transfer to a bowl. Add the grated onion and stir through the eggs. Season with salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Heat the oil in a heavy frypan over moderate heat until it shimmers. Spoon heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the hot oil, flatten the patties with a fork. Fry until golden brown and crisp on the bottom (generally about 5 to 8 minutes). Turn the latkes overand cook on the other side. Keep the latkes warm in the over while you complete the cooking. Serve hot with apple sauce and yoghurt.
Toss the grated potato and beets with the flour, pepper, salt and thyme in a large bowl. Add the eggs and combine well. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering and hot. Spoon 1/2 cup of the mixture into the hot oil, press lightly to flatten, and fry until brown on each side. Repeat with the remaining beet mixture which will make 3 potato cakes. Double or triple the ingredient amounts for a larger batch. Serve warm with the sour cream.
A variant on the traditional potato latkes that includes fresh zucchini and feta. You can also use other vegetables as well.
Place the grated zucchini, potato and carrots in a colander or a sieve and squeeze dry using paper towels or a cloth. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables, set aside for 15 minutes and then squeeze vegetable again. It is importnat to remove as much moisture as possible. Then add the eggs to a large bowl with the salt and pepper and whisk briefly. Add the vegetable mixture and combine well. Stir through the matzo meal or flour, parsley and crumbled feta. Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan and fry about 1 tablespoon of the mixture in batches until well browned on both sides. Drain the fried latkes on paper towels and keep warm in the oven. Serve warm with yogurt or sour cream topped with fresh herbs.