There’s nothing like a platter of potato pancakes to inspire excess. Plain and simple, the recipe I grew up with called for measurement in pounds: as many potatoes as you could stand to peel and grate by hand, as many onions chopped as needed to bring tears streaming to your eyes, eggs and matzoh meal - enough to hold the ingredients together, salt and pepper enough to taste, and if you really wanted to give your Lipitor a workout, a dollop of chicken fat, enough to add that indescribably heavenly Jewish flavor.

Latkes, the Yiddish word for the potato pancakes we know and love, are the iconic food of Chanukah, Festival of Lights and Oil. Fried until golden in a pool of vegetable oil, drained on paper towels, latkes are best when eaten still sizzling, cooled just enough so as not to burn the tongue. Serve with sour cream and homemade apple sauce or apple-cherry compote.  Make plenty - the more, the merrier. When it comes to latkes, ain’t no mountain high enough to slow down the descendants of the Maccabees.

Really, why wait for Hanukkah for latkes? Here's a recipe so easy you can Tweet it:

1lb. potatoes,1onion,1egg,1/4c.matzoh meal, salt, pepper, oil. Grate,mix, fry,eat!

In Mark Bittman minimalist style, I suggest a latke shortcut -- easy as whipping up an omelette. If you’re a purist, take out a russet potato or three and grate in a food processor Otherwise, (cheat and) open a package of Simply Potatoes, hash brown style. Take from the package only what you need, about a half cup of potatoes per serving. Add chopped onion, egg, matzoh meal (bread crumbs or panko) a dash of salt and pepper, and mix.

For an elegant variation; add to the mixture 4 ounces of smoked salmon, chopped in narrow pieces. Fry in veg or peanut oil... until golden crispy, and heavenly scented. Serve with sour cream, more lox on the side, if you choose. Pour yourself a glass of white wine and have a simple, and elegant meal, from prep to finish in about 10 minutes.

Serves up to 4

  • 1 to 3 russet potatoes or 1/2 cup grated potatoes per serving
  • 1 or 2 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup matzoh meal (bread crumbs, panko or all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 2 ounces chopped lox, optional
  • 1/2 cup peanut or veg oil for frying
  1. MIX grated potatoes, onion, eggs, matzoh meal, salt and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Slice lox (smoked salmon) into narrow strips, gently stir into potato mixture.
  3. Spoon batter into hot oil. Fry until golden and delicious. Enjoy.

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