Potato-friendly toppings turn ordinary latkes into spectacular spuds

For many, latkes need no more than a dripping of sauce from a pot roast or brisket, a spoonful of applesauce or maybe a shmear of sour cream. Then there are folks who like their latkes sprinkled with a bit of sugar. Today’s recipes are for those who want to try something new this season atop their potato pancakes.

The apple and red onion compote adds savory but still sweet flavor to complement the rich taste of the fried potatoes. The apple, beet and horseradish topping is reminiscent of borscht with all the trimmings. The flavor combination is based on a salad of fresh shredded beets and horseradish I once had in a Ukrainian restaurant on the Lower East Side in New York. Be sure to use the plain, white prepared bottled horseradish without cream or beets.

I like the apple pear sauce best with unpeeled fruit, but peeling is an option if you prefer. Finally, the apple cinnamon sour cream topping was developed by Green Valley Organics of Sebastopol for use with its kosher, lactose-free sour cream, but I think it works well with regular sour cream, too.


Apple and Red Onion Compote

Makes about 2 cups

1 medium red onion

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

2 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes

1 cup apple juice

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1⁄4 tsp. salt

1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves

1⁄8 tsp. ground coriander

Slice onions very thinly and then cut slices in half. Heat oil in large pan. Sauté onions over low heat until very soft, add apples and apple juice, and raise heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Add brown sugar, salt, cloves and coriander. Cover and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft but not mushy, about 30 minutes. Remove lid, raise heat to high and cook, stirring, until all the pan juices have thickened and the mixture is no longer liquid.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


Apple, Beet and Horseradish Topping

Makes about 21⁄2 cups

1 medium apple, peeled and cored

2 Tbs. lemon juice

15 oz. can of sliced beets, drained

1-2 Tbs. or to taste plain, prepared bottled white horseradish

1⁄2 cup sour cream

Chop apple into 1⁄4-inch pieces, mix with lemon juice and drain. Chop beets into 1⁄4-inch pieces and mix with drained apples. Stir in horseradish to taste. Refrigerate.

Just before serving, pour off any liquid and mix with sour cream. Serve immediately.


Apple Pear Sauce

Makes about 3 cups

3 medium apples, peeling optional

2 Bartlett pears, ripe but firm, peeling optional

2 Tbs. lemon juice

3⁄4 cup apple juice

Core and cut apples and pears into 1-inch cubes. Toss with lemon juice. Put in medium pot with apple juice over low heat. Cover and cook at a simmer. Using a heavy spoon, stir, mash and break up pieces of the fruit occasionally as the sauce cooks.

Once the fruit is very tender, about 30 minutes (peeled fruit may require less time), remove lid, raise heat and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken juices.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Faith Kramer
is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at [email protected]

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].