Food & Drink

Ask A Charlotte Chef: Best Latke Recipes For Hanukkah

November 20, 2013 7:00 AM

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Berlin Hanukkah Market
Latkes are a favorite dish on holiday tables during Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. The crispy potato pancakes are fried in oil, commemorating the miracle of the small vial of oil that kept the flame in the Temple alight for eight nights. Jewish families typically top their latkes with sour cream and applesauce, but numerous variations are possible. We asked Bill Averbach, known as the Pickleman of Atherton Market, to share his favorite latkes recipes. In addition to making pickles and heading up blues, jazz and klezmer bands, Averbach also hosts his own “Latkes Festival” at Atherton Market each year. The free 2013 event is scheduled for the Tuesday before Hanukkah, November 26, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the market. Last year, Averbach made (and gave away) 650 latkes, and hopes to break that record this year.
Chef Bill Averbach
Pickleville
Inside the Atherton Market
2104 South Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28203
(704) 966-6873
www.pickleville.net

After a career that combined gigs as a professional musician with day jobs as a chef, Bill Averbach moved from Texas to Charlotte and grew too many cucumbers. A friend suggested he pickle and sell them, and Pickleville was born. Fermented using the traditional salt-water method that doesn’t include vinegar, Bill’s probiotic kosher dills and green tomatoes are based on Middle Eastern recipes that date back thousands of years. He pickles other things as well, including a variety of vegetables, garlic and hot peppers, and makes a mean salsa and kimchi as well. All are for sale at the Pickleville booth inside the Atherton Market, open Tuesdays through Saturdays. Bill will be making latkes using all of the recipes listed here during the fourth annual Latke Fest, plus lots of non-traditional variations including Cajun, jalapeno, Tex-Mex, kale, garlic pickle and possibly even turkey latkes, since Hanukkah and Thanksgiving overlap this year. “I like to show people how to be creative with their latkes,” he says.

Basic Latkes Recipe

This is a traditional recipe. The flour and baking powder can be replaced with matzo meal if you don’t want “leavening” or you can use self-rising flour which has the baking powder, flour and salt already among its ingredients. Other grated vegetables, such as zucchini, jalapenos or carrots, as well as ingredients such as feta cheese or corned beef, can be added to this recipe to create your own unique dish.

  • 1 large potato
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4-1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small onion (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Frying pan
  1. Grate potato and onion in bowl with water and 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
  2. Drain water and add egg, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix in 1/4 cup flour and baking powder. (Add more flour to thicken to consistency of pancake batter.)
  4. Fill pan with 1 inch of oil and heat to about 300 degrees F.
  5. Spoon in latke batter and fry until edges show a golden brown.
  6. Carefully turn latkes and fry until golden brown.
  7. Place on cookie sheet and keep warm in oven.
  8. Serve with a variety of toppings (traditionally sour cream and applesauce).

Related: The Best Potato Latkes Recipe Ever (gluten-free)

Sweet Potato Latkes Recipe

This is a great addition to the Thanksgiving/Hanukkah table. The flour and baking powder can be replaced with matzo meal or self-rising flour.

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4-1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raisins and/or other dried fruits
  • 1/4 cup pecan pieces
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Grate potato in bowl with water and 1 Tbsp lemon juice.
  2. Drain water and add egg, salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix in 1/4 cup flour and baking powder. (Add more flour to thicken to consistency of pancake batter.)
  4. Fill pan with 1 inch of oil and heat to about 300 degrees F.
  5. Spoon in latke batter and fry until edges show a golden brown.
  6. Carefully turn latkes and fry until golden brown.
  7. Place on cookie sheet and keep warm in oven.
  8. Serve with a variety of toppings: whipped cream, ice cream, applesauce, turkey slice with cranberry sauce… let the creative juices flow!
ChocoLatkes

This unique recipe created by Bill Averbach is a fusion of the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Hanukkah cooking traditions; a hybrid of the latke and sufganiyot (traditional fried dough item from the Middle East) with the local donut shape. Averbach suggests that if you aren’t so interested in balanced flavors but want a nice buzz, you can soak the ChocoLatkes in Cachaca. “They will be truly gross,” he says, “but in five minutes you won’t care.”

  • 1 very large potato, more than 1 lb.
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Oil
  1. Grate potato in a bowl – don’t worry if it turns a little brown because we’re using cocoa in the recipe and you’ll never notice.
  2. Add egg, vanilla, sugar, salt and cocoa. Mix until well combined.
  3. Add 1/2 cup flour and baking powder and gently fold. If mixture is not the consistency of thick batter, add remaining flour.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat 1 inch of oil to 300-350 degrees F. Be careful because chocolate burns easily!
  5. (An alternate cooking method is to sauté in butter at a much lower temperature.)
  6. Using a fork, carefully drop small amounts of the batter into the oil.
  7. Fry until done along edges and turn.
  8. When done, remove to a pan and store in the oven at 250 degrees F to keep crisp.
  9. Dust with powdered sugar and top with anything you want.
Some of Bill Averbach’s favorite serving suggestions:

  • Vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup
  • Sour cream and shaved Mexican chocolate
  • Honey and cinnamon
  • Coffee liqueur – flambé
  • Orange marmalade and whipped cream
  • Sautéed cherries and brandy – flambé
  • Brie and cranberry chutney
  • Chocolate truffle with Curacao
  • Mint sherbet and shaved semi-sweet chocolate

Related: Best Ways to Celebrate Hanukkah In Charlotte

With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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