December 7, 2012

Traditional Potato Latkes (vegan and gluten-free)

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Hanukkah, the festival of lights, translates from Hebrew to mean "dedication". Hanukkah celebrates the triumphs, both religious and military, of ancient Jewish heroes. Traditionally, Hanukkah foods are fried in oil to symbolize the flame from purified oil that was used to rededicate the Hebrew's temple on Jerusalem's Mount Moriah that the Jews reclaimed after 3 years of fighting. That flame that should have only lasted a day but miraculously burned for eight days and nights and today it is called Hanukkah. Yes, I could be giving you a recipe for baked, low-fat latkes, but since I am actually making them this year, I am going for tradition all the way.

Frying in a pool of oil does not make this recipe for latkes healthy, but I did make them both vegan and gluten-free. They are light, flavorful, and truly decadent. If you feel a need to make them low in fat, bake them in an oven preheated to 400 F on a lightly greased baking sheet for about 10 minutes on each side. Fried or baked, I urge you to make them in advance of a celebration so you can enjoy the holiday with your guests. They will hold refrigerated for up to a few days and will freeze very well.

Rewarm the latkes from room temperature if possible in a 325 F oven for about 10-12 minutes.

Serve the latkes with bowls of cashew cream, sour cream, fresh herbs, and homemade roasted chunky applesauce for your guests to choose from.

Traditional Potato Latkes (vegan and gluten-free)
Makes 2 dozen latkes or roughly 12 servings
For all ingredients, please consider using those that are organic.
 
4 pounds potatoes, I used half russet and half yukon gold
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup potato starch
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
2/3 cup oat flour, gluten-free all purpose flour, whole wheat, or all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
 
Use organic safflower, canola, or sunflower oil refined for high heat for frying the latkes
 
Peel the potatoes and grate by hand or in a food processor on the finest blade grate.
Put the grated potatoes in a large colander over a bowl or in the sink and leave for 15-20 minutes until they turn red in color.
While the potatoes are resting, medium size saute pan over medium high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and the chopped onions (I chopped them in the food processor after I grated the potatoes since I was already using it). Sprinkle with a bit a sea salt and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until they begin to caramelize and cook down. Set aside to cool.
Put the colander with the color turned potatoes into the sink and begin to run water over them. Use your hands to work through the strands of potatoes and thoroughly rinse them all. You will see that as soon as the potatoes are rinsed, they turn white and the starch is gone. Once the potatoes are freshened and cleaned, use your hands to squeeze out any remaining liquid.
Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and add the onions. Use your hands to to thoroughly blend the onions with the potatoes. Be patient as it is a somewhat tedious process getting all of the potato strands separated.
Add the remaining ingredients and continue to work the ingredients together as best as you are able. You might want to blend the ingredients, take a break for about 5 minutes, and complete the task when the dry ingredients have had a chance to soften with the remaining moisture from the potatoes and onions.
Once the mixture is ready, scoop balls roughly 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter with a scoop or your hands and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. This step is not necessary, but allows you to get through this step all at once so you are not forming the cakes as they go in the oil.
Heat about 1/4 inch of oil in a deep saute pan, ideally a cast iron skillet, over medium heat. You want the oil to be hot enough so a small pieces of potato will sizzle when added to it, but not so hot that it will burn. I find that keeping the heat at a happy medium temperature works great from beginning to end.
When the oil is ready, flatten the prepared potato stacks to about 1/2 inch in thickness and gently lay into the oil. In a 12 inch skillet, you can comfortably fix 7 latkes at a time. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Use a metal spatula to gently flip the pancakes and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes. Remove them from the oil and place on a baking sheet fitted with a brown paper bag to absorb the oil.
Repeat and add more oil as necessary always keeping it at about 1/4 inch in depth.
Allow the latkes to come to room temperature before wrapping and refrigerating or freezing or keep warm in a 200 degree oven and serve immediately.

 

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Categories: Fall & Winter, Gluten Free, Grains, Vegetables
 

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