Latke experiment advice: Move your potatoes aside and say batter up

Why are latkes usually made from potatoes? Why are they almost exclusively served at Chanukah parties or for dinner? What’s wrong with other times of day?

Everyone loves latkes, so I thought it would be fun to create a new latke recipe for each day of Chanukah.

In Yiddish, the word latke means pancake. The definition doesn’t include a connection to potatoes. The dictionary defines a pancake as a thin, flat cake of batter fried on both sides on a griddle or in a frying pan.

Although potatoes have proven to be a superior latke ingredient, I decided to see if other foods could enhance the Jewish pancake genre. Here are the results of my experiments:

Basic Flour Latkes

Makes 8 latkes (4 inches in diameter)

3 Tbs. butter for batter

2 Tbs. butter for frying

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. plain yogurt

11⁄4 cup 2-percent lowfat milk

12⁄3 cups flour

21⁄2 tsp. baking powder

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1. In small pot, melt 3 Tbs. butter. Cool briefly.

2. In large bowl, beat egg, yogurt, milk and melted butter, until foamy.

3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into egg mixture.

4. With a wooden spoon, stir ingredients until well combined.

5. Melt 2 Tbs. butter in a large (12-inch) skillet, preferably the no-stick variety, until butter sizzles but doesn’t burn.

6. Pour half a soup ladle of batter at a time into hot pan. When bubbles appear in batter and bottom surface turns golden brown, flip pancakes. Turn only once. Gradually add more milk to batter if it thickens while first batch cooks. Add more butter to pan, if needed.

7. Serve immediately. If making several batches, pile pancakes onto an ovenproof dish and keep warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.

Banana Latkes

Mash 1 banana (preferably over-ripe) with a fork until mushy. Add banana to step 3 of Basic Flour Latke recipe and follow remaining directions. Serve with maple syrup and chopped walnuts.

Creamy Lemon Latke

To step 3 of Basic Flour Latke recipe, add 1⁄2 cup whipped cottage cheese, 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla, 1⁄2 tsp. lemon zest, and 1 tsp. sugar. Follow remaining directions. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over top of latkes and serve with black cherry preserves.

Tex-Mex Latkes

To step 3 of Basic Flour Latke recipe, add 1⁄2 cup canned cream style corn, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 Tbs. minced roasted red pepper (from jar), 1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin and 1⁄2 tsp. chili powder. Fry latkes in peanut oil and follow remaining directions. Sprinkle freshly minced cilantro on latkes. Serve with sour cream.

Salmon Latkes

Makes 10 latkes

2 lbs. salmon, skinned, boned and ground (for convenience, ask your fishmonger to grind the salmon)

1 small onion, chopped fine

2 Tbs. dill, finely minced

1⁄4 cup flour or matzah meal

1 egg, beaten

Kosher salt to taste

ground pepper to taste

3 Tbs. olive oil

In large bowl, mix together with a wooden spoon the salmon, onion, dill, flour, egg, salt and pepper until well combined. Form salmon mixture into latkes, 3 inches in diameter.

Heat oil in a large skillet on a medium flame. Fry latkes in oil until bottom surface browns, then turn latkes and brown the other side. Fry for about 6 minutes per side, or until latkes are cooked through. Serve immediately with sour cream.

Zucchini Birds Nest Latkes

Makes 10 latkes

1 12-oz. package fine egg noodles

4 Tbs. peanut oil, or more if needed

1 onion, chopped

3 zucchinis, grated (if grating with a food processor, squeeze out excess liquid)

2 eggs, beaten

4 Tbs. flour

Kosher salt to taste

ground pepper to taste

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Mix in 1 Tbs. of peanut oil. Cool briefly. Mix in remaining ingredients. Form batter into 3-inch latkes.

Heat 3 Tbs. of oil in a large skillet. Fry latkes in skillet. Turn over when bottom surface is well browned. Continue frying until other side is well browned too. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Pumpkin Latkes

To step 3 of Basic Flour Latke recipe, add 1⁄2 cup canned pumpkin, 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon, 1⁄4 tsp. nutmeg, 1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves and 1⁄4 tsp. cardamom. Follow remaining directions. Serve with butter pecan ice cream.

Chocolate Latkes

To step 3 of Basic Flour Latke recipe, add 1⁄2 cup chopped semi-sweet morsels and 1 Tbs. granulated sugar. Follow remaining directions, but fry on a medium-low flame so chocolate doesn’t burn. Serve with warm chocolate sauce (or melted semi-sweet morsels) and vanilla ice cream.