Making Latkes With A Twist

Lynn Neary talks about how to make pear latkes with Jessie Price, food editor for Eating Well magazine.

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LYNN NEARY, HOST:

I'm Lynn Neary.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

NEARY: This week with the holidays in full swing, we're going to sample some holiday treats. Today, latkes with a twist. We found a recipe that perfectly blends the fried potato goodness with some more sophisticated flavors. Jessie Price joins us from Charlotte, Vermont, where she's food editor for Eating Well magazine. Good to have you with us, Jessie.

JESSIE PRICE: Hi, Lynn.

NEARY: And I understand you're going to cook for us. You must have some ingredients in front of you. What goes into these latkes?

PRICE: So these are potato-pear latkes, and they are so simple to make. The first part is you want to use Yukon gold potatoes, and I'm just shredding them up here.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHREDDING)

PRICE: They've got the skins still on them because that's where a lot of the nutrients can be found. So you shred one pound of those, and then you take a firm pear. So, you know, it doesn't need to be ripe. You want it actually to be a little underripe. And you shred that up. And I'm just using a regular old box grater. So you do that. You put those in a bowl. And then you're going to take two sheets of matzo and pound it up into crumbs. So I just put it in a ziplock bag.

(SOUNDBITE OF POUNDING)

NEARY: Do people usually put matzo in potato pancakes?

PRICE: Very common. Once you pound those up, you put them in the bowl with the pear and the Yukon gold potatoes, and you stir it all together.

(SOUNDBITE OF STIRRING)

PRICE: And you're going to let that sit for 20 minutes. So you want the matzo to get nice and soggy. So while that's happening, you take a shallot, and you chop it up finely.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHOPPING)

PRICE: So chop that up, and then you take fresh sage. You could use dried if you prefer, but fresh gives it a nice woodsy flavor. And you chop up sage.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHOPPING)

NEARY: This is going to taste very different, it seems to me, from your regular old latke that you would have at a Hanukkah party. Because, first of all, the pears, why the pears?

PRICE: Well, you know, we thought that would be a fun plan, a traditional latke. You can do so much with a latke. It doesn't really just have to be potatoes. You can put zucchini in there. We've done them with pesto in there. Last year, we did one with turmeric and Serrano peppers and cilantro. So you really - the sky is the limit with them.

NEARY: Anyways, so back on the recipe, I'm beating up one egg. That's going to go in my mixture. So I'm adding the shallot, the sage, the beaten egg and salt and pepper. So that's all ready to go.

OK. And are you ready to cook it now or...

PRICE: I'm almost ready to cook it. I have to heat up my oil. You want to make sure your oil is good and hot before you spoon the stuff in there.

NEARY: Any particular kind of oil you recommend?

PRICE: I am not deep-frying these. I'm not putting, you know, an eighth of an inch of oil in here. I'm not using Crisco or the other thing, which is very common, which is chicken fat. I'm using heart-healthy canola oil. And I just put one tablespoon of the oil in the skillet per batch. So you take a quarter-cup measure. That's how big they are. You scoop out the mixture, and you just drop it straight into the pan.

(SOUNDBITE OF FRYING)

PRICE: And then you just smash it down with the back of a spatula to flatten it. You cook them two to three minutes per side. The only thing you want to do is just not be too anxious, just let them go. So after about two or three minutes, they'll be golden. You can peek at the underside. And you flip them over. And if you have waited, then they're not going to fall apart, and they'll flip over perfectly. Cook them on the other side for two or three minutes, and they're done.

NEARY: OK. Well, we had some here that I have to say they're not yours fresh right out of the frying pan. They were made yesterday and reheated, so it might not be quite the same thing as what you're doing. But I'm going to take a little sample. Let me get some here. I have sour cream. I'm going to put sour cream on it. OK.

PRICE: All right.

NEARY: All right.

PRICE: I'm going to make a bite too.

NEARY: OK. Mm. That's a really nice flavor.

PRICE: Mm-hmm.

NEARY: It's a little more sophisticated, I think. Is it - or do you think kids would like these as much?

PRICE: I think kids would love these, actually. You know, I think because of the pear that's added in there, that's such a subtle, slightly sweet flavor. So I think, you know, I think this is an easy way to sort of jazz up your latke tradition.

NEARY: Yeah. What I think is interesting about it is that there isn't really one dominating flavor. Even the pear is not a dominating flavor. It sort of all melds together somehow.

PRICE: Absolutely.

NEARY: But it is different. People should know that it is different from the sort of crispier traditional latke, but very good. So any other suggestions for what you would do with them besides the traditional apple sauce and sour cream? Any other thoughts or...

PRICE: I think I would go the traditional route, just with the pairing with the sour cream or apple sauce and serve it with some brisket, you know, and roasted vegetables, I think it will be delicious for dinner.

NEARY: OK. You're making me hungry.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PRICE: That's the point.

NEARY: That was Jessie Price. She's the food editor for Eating Well magazine. Merry Hanukkah and Happy Christmas, Jessie.

PRICE: Thank you. Same to you.

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