Try a new take on the traditional latke

That first long-awaited Chanukah latke out of the frying pan is what dreams are made of, but it rarely makes its way into the cook’s mouth.

It is universal knowledge that these crispy little pancakes are their best when consumed fresh, as soon as they leave the pan. The operative word here is “fresh.”

The latke cook does not have that luxury and usually by the time he or she sits down to his plate, the lakes have become tepid and soggy. Of course they can be made ahead and reheated, but they will taste like they have been made ahead and reheated — a very second-rate product, indeed.

This recipe takes liberty with the latkes’ traditional shape but does not compromise the taste and texture, and everyone, including the cook, gets to eat crispy, hot latkes.

Latke wedges marry well with the usual applesauce or sour cream or may be topped with something more substantial like the following chicken dish.

Chicken with Dried Cranberries and Mint | Serves 8

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup hot water
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
about 1 cup all purpose flour
3 Tbs. peanut or vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
In medium bowl soak cranberries in hot water about 1 hour.
Pound chicken breasts to flatten slightly and cut into 1-inch cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in plastic or paper bag with flour and shake to coat chicken pieces.
In large skillet or saute pan, heat oil. Cook chicken, over medium high heat just until golden. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. In same pan cook onion until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in turmeric, chives, mint and parsley. Cook about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the stock, cranberries and soaking water. Boil gently about 5 minutes. Add chicken and simmer another 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve over potato latke wedges.

Potato Latke Wedges | Serves 8

4 russet potatoes, about 2 1?2 pounds total weight
2 medium onions
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tbs. flour or matzah meal
1?2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs. salt
about 1?2 cup peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Peel and grate potatoes, using large holes of grater. (I like to use a food processor.) Grate onions in the same manner. Place potatoes in large strainer and press out as much liquid as possible. In large bowl combine potatoes and onions with eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Let mixture stand about 10 minutes.
Heat about 1/4 cup oil in two 12-inch skillets, preferably nonstick. When oil is hot pour half the potato mixture into each skillet and smooth each surface with spatula. Cook over medium heat about 8 minutes, pressing down with spatula every so often. Slide each latke onto a large plate, invert back into skillet and cook another 8 minutes. Both sides should be brown and crispy. Cut each latke into 4 wedges, top with chicken and serve immediately.

Spinach Salad with Tangerines | Serves 8

8 cups (about 1 pound) fresh spinach, washed, stemmed, and torn into bite-size pieces
3 seedless tangerines, peeled, pith removed and sectioned
1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil
1 tsp. grainy mustard
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, combine spinach, tangerines and pecans. In a medium bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until well combined. Toss with spinach mixture and serve.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a certified culinary professional. Visit her Web site at She can be reached at [email protected].