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Zucchini-Spinach Latkes from MorseLife a Winner

December 17th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Annual latke contest brings out the winners and the slightly weirds

The flu knocked me out of  my slot as judge at this year’s latke contest held at the MorseLife Learning Center in West Palm Beach.

But the potato pancake cooks perservered in the spirit of competition.

Spinach latkes take the Gold…Spatula

Rebecca Berman, director of clinical nutrition at Morse, and Fred Sternlicht, a dietary technician, took the top honors

Berman and Sternlicht

Berman and Sternlicht

 for their Israeli spinach and zucchini latkes.

Not quite sure what makes them Israeli – but….

Others were racier, or at least more unusual — raisin and pecan latkes, or apple latkes with chocolate, anyone?

You know the story

Latkes are one of many fried foods served at Hannukah – the festival of lights – celebrated for eight days by Jews around the world.

The story of the miracle of the oil had to do with the story in the Talmud of the  rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its destruction. Only one day’s worth of sacred oil was left to burn for the ceremony, yet miraculously, it lasted eight days, giving the people enough time to press and consecretate more oil.

Today, a menorah with eight arms (and one for holding the candle that lights the others day by day) is the symbol of the holiday. Foods fried or baked in olive oil are the traditional fare, and fried potato pancakes top that list in America.

Latke variations many and tasty

In the course of the years I’ve judged the latke cook-off at MorseLife Center, and a few others, the chefs and their celebrity partners have come up with some great ones — onion latkes, smoked salmon latkes, sweet potato latkes which are now found on menus everywhere.

Others just don’t quite cut it for me – the gefilte fish latke (blech!) may have my personal aversion to the stuff (I don’t eat any fish out of a can), and the doughy one that tried to combine the other Hannukah mainstay – sufganiyot, a fried doughnut – with the potato pancake didn’t make it either.

It’s a form of fritter

The apple one with chocolate from this year’s contest isn’t so far-fetched; fried fruit fritters of all kinds can work. I’m surprised no one has come up with a conch latke down here, but now that I think of it, is conch kosher?

I’m also curious as to why we don’t see cheese latkes. Since most latkes I’ve seen in restaurants are served with sour cream and or applesauce, I have to assume they’re part of a dairy (as opposed to meat) meal.

I’m also a fan of the plain-Jane ones – cooked in duck fat. For me, potatoes of any kind cooked in duck fat is the over-the-top answer to foie gras without “fowling up” any goose livers.

Recipe for spinach-zucchini latke

The recipe is simple, but follow the directions and drain all the vegetables well before cooking, or they will gum up the works and be a soggy mess.

Israeli Spinach and Zucchini Latkes

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 3 small zucchini
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 shallots
  • 1/4 pound fresh spinach, cooked to wilt, drained well
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour or matzo meal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • oil for frying

Grate peeled potatoes, zucchini and onion and shallots in food processor. Squeeze out liquid, and pour into medium mixing bowl. Add cooked spinach, eggs, flour/matzo meal, baking powder, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and sour cream. Mix well.

 Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Drop small, pancake size batter from a large spoon into the pan, and cook, browning on each side. Drain on paper; keep pancakes warm in oven while others cook.

Makes about 10 pancakes.

Tags: Holiday cooking · Recipes: What's Cooking! · Uncategorized

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Jan Norris // Dec 17, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Conch is a shellfish, of course, so I should have realized it’s definitely not kosher. Surely an oversight on the good Lord’s dietary plan.

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