5 Rules for Crispy, Golden and Miraculous Latkes
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
When the familiar smell of potatoes frying in oil begins wafting through the house, you know that Hanukkah is in full swing. Though your family’s latke recipe is likely a matter of time-honored tradition, your potato-frying technique is something that should be perfected fry after fry, year after year. Here are five rules for making your crispiest potato pancakes yet, to be followed whether you celebrate Hanukkah each year or simply can’t resist this holiday tradition.
Rule 1: Grate or Finely Chop the Onion
The last thing you want in your latke is a hunk of raw onion in what was supposed to be a bite of crispy potato. To prevent any surprises, chop your onion until it’s super fine (we mean really fine), so that the onion can retain its sweet flavor to the fullest extent. Grating the onions is another option, but keep in mind that the grated onion will unleash the onion’s innate juices and will drain away a lot of its sweetness.
Rule 2: Prep the Potatoes Last
If you’ve made latkes before, you know that grated potatoes begin to discolor after they sit out for even just a few minutes. To prevent the oxidation process from happening, save the potato grating for the very end, right before the other ingredients are mixed together. Other than that, whether you use a box grater or food processor to shred the potatoes is a matter of family tradition.
Rule 3: Wring Out the Excess Moisture
A latke that is crispy and golden on the outside and tender on the inside is the perfect latke. Be sure to wring out the excess moisture in a clean kitchen towel. The more moisture you can squeeze out, the more likely you are to achieve that sought-after golden crust.
Rule 4: Use at Least 1/2 Inch of Hot Oil
You might be tempted to skimp on the oil to keep things healthy, but consider cutting your calories somewhere else. Using too little oil will result in latkes that are unevenly cooked, with sections that are burnt, soggy and unsightly. By that same token, using too much oil will drown the pancakes so they won’t retain their round, pancake-like shape. By using at least 1/2 inch of oil, you can expect to achieve evenly cooked (and therefore perfect) potato pancakes.
Most importantly, test a bit of the batter in the oil to make sure it’s hot enough before dropping your first batch of latkes in. That way, they’ll begin cooking on their initial impact without needlessly soaking up more oil.
Rule 5: Fry with Vegetable or Safflower Oil
As is the case with everything you cook in oil, one type of oil does not suit all. When frying your latkes this year, reach for a variety that has a high smoking point and won’t be overpowering in flavor. While certain types like olive oil have a low smoking point, vegetable or safflower oil will give your latkes that golden hue and crunchy bite you’ve been waiting for all year. For a buttery latke (made with dairy), Ina Garten uses clarified butter in her Potato Latke recipe, which works just as well.
After you’ve nailed down the basics, get creative with your latke frying with five classic and unique recipes that are just waiting to be dipped in applesauce and sour cream.
Christmas Week Prep: The Pioneer Woman’s Fastest, Easiest Meals
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
With just days left until Christmas, you’re likely in the midst of mad dashes to the shopping mall, last-minute gift-wrapping, cookie decorating and holiday party planning. But, of course, you still need dinner tonight, and surely this is no time to prepare intricate plates and involved recipes. This week calls for the ultimate in speed and simplicity, and for that, The Pioneer Woman‘s easiest, quickest meals fit the bill. Ready to eat in less than 30 minutes, Ree Drummond‘s family-friendly picks are dinners you can count on; most are made with refrigerator staples, and they’re comforting enough to fight the winter chill. Read on below to get Ree’s go-to supper ideas, including hearty taco salad and DIY pizza.
5. Chicken Taco Salad — Ree builds layer upon layer of flavor in her satisfying salad by starting with a bed of greens, then adding juicy seasoned chicken and classic taco-style fixings, like grilled corn, fresh tomatoes, creamy cheese and cool avocado. For an extra-special finish, top the salad with next-level dressing: bottled ranch spiked with salsa.
4. French Bread Pizzas — Instead of making pizza dough the crust, Ree starts with sliced rolls or baguettes and builds five varieties of pies to please everyone: tomatoes with basil, bacon and pineapple, and more.
3. Chicken Piccata with Buttery Lemon Noodles — Impressive enough to serve to company yet made in just 16 minutes, classic chicken breasts get dressed up when topped with a rich, creamy lemon-caper sauce and served alongside buttery, lemon-scented pasta.
2. Beef with Snow Peas — Even your local takeout spot can’t deliver dinner as quickly as Ree’s Asian-inspired dinner is ready. The star of her plate is a sweet and savory brown sugar-soy sauce she makes to coat the tender beef.
1. Chicken Florentine Pasta — Tossed with butter-sauteed chicken, a garlicky white wine sauce, and colorful spinach and tomatoes, Ree’s cheesy pasta is a big-batch favorite that makes up to 10 servings. Click the play button on the video below to watch her make it.
How to Make Homemade Food Coloring
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
If you’re steering clear of store-bought food colorings but want to make colorful cookies or holiday gifts, I’m with you. As a mom of four small kids, I’ve been looking high and low for recipes that produce vibrant colors without chemicals, and these are the best I’ve found. Below are techniques for making three primary colors that you can use as is or mix to create orange, purple or green.
To make red, use raspberries, pure pomegranate juice or roasted beets.
To make yellow, use raw carrots or mangoes.
To make blue, use radicchio or red cabbage.
1. Make one color at a time.
Fruit version: If you’re using raspberries (red) or mango (yellow), start with a cup of fresh or frozen fruit. Put it all in a blender to liquefy, then pour your thick liquid over a fine strainer to remove the seeds. You should have about a half cup of juice.
Root vegetable version: For roasted beets (red) or raw carrots (yellow), use a juicer to extract all the juice without any pulp. Use one whole beet and 2 large carrots, or 1 cup of either one, chopped up. If you don’t have a juicer, use a food processor, with just enough water to liquefy. Just add small amounts of water, bit by bit, until you have enough to totally blend the veggies. Then use a fine metal strainer or cheesecloth to remove the pulp. You should have about 1/2 cup of juice, depending on how big your veggies are.
Cabbage version: To use radicchio or red cabbage (blue), chop up a small head of either one, add to a medium-size pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 minutes, until the water turns deep purple. Remove the cabbage, strain the liquid, and add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and the liquid should turn from purple to blue.
2. Once you have colored liquid, you’ll need to reduce it to make a more powerful coloring agent. Pour juice into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it’s reduced to a thick, very colorful paste.
3. Stir into frostings, dough or batter as needed, but remember, a little should go a long way. To store, pour into ice cube molds and freeze. (Defrost before using next time.)
Charity Curley Mathews is a contributor to The Huffington Post and the founder of Foodlets.com: Mini Foodies in the Making…Maybe. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, plus their four small kids, and dreams of someday getting the dishwasher unloaded before it’s time to start making dinner again.
Calling All Fans: Vote Now to Determine Justin Warner’s New Web Series
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
If you’ve ever wanted a say in what kinds of videos you can watch on FoodNetwork.com, the time to speak up is now. Justin Warner, Brooklyn restaurateur and the winner of Food Network Star, Season 8, is set to launch his first-ever Web series on FoodNetwork.com in 2015, but he needs your help to pick the concept. He’s pitched three ideas to producers, but the decision about which will become a weekly series is in your hands. That’s right: It’s up to you.
Watch Justin’s three pilot videos below, then vote in the poll for the video you’d like to see more of on FoodNetwork.com. Stay tuned to FN Dish in 2015 for all of the details on Justin’s upcoming series.
Take Our Poll
All You Want for Hanukkah Is a Chicken-Finger-Latke Hybrid? Done!
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Nothing says Hanukkah like a latke crossed with a chicken finger. After all, the holiday is all about making the most of miraculous oil.
Perhaps with that partly in mind, the creative forces behind Sticky’s Finger Joint, New York City’s gourmet chicken-strip mecca, have come up with the perfect way to celebrate the Jewish festival of lights: a hybrid of a latke and a chicken finger that they’re calling simply The Latka.
Sticky’s is no stranger to whimsical regionally or ethnically inspired recipes. (Nor is it unfamiliar to Food Network fans, who will remember the eatery from 3 Days to Open with Bobby Flay.) The “handcrafted fingers” listed on its menu include a Wasabi finger, a Classic General Tso, the Tex-Mex-style Fiesta finger and the marinara-inflected Bada Bing. But the Latka, which features Sticky’s antibiotic-, hormone- and cruelty-free chicken marinated in buttermilk, onion and apple sauce, coated with grated onions, shredded potato and matzoh meal, and fried until golden and crispy – is especially close to co-founder Paul Abrahamian’s heart.
That’s because it was inspired by his very own grandma, a Holocaust survivor with a remarkable and deeply moving story, for whom the latke-finger mash-up was the culmination of a long-held dream.
Paul told FN Dish his grandmother had been “kvetching at me since day one to sell latkes.” But at first, he wasn’t nibbling.
“I would tell her, ‘Grandma, we only do fingers and fries,’ and she would say, ‘Pinky, you gotta do it. Just trust me.’ She calls me Pinky because my Hebrew name is Pincus,” he explains.
Cut to … just before Thanksgiving: Paul’s home with his family, and his grandma brings up a latke-finger hybrid yet again. This time, though, she offers to help him come up with the recipe. “Feeling a bit heart-soft for my grandma and also intrigued by the finger-latke combo,” he says, he “immediately agreed.” The resulting recipe was a result of their intergenerational collaboration.
The Latka fingers, which will run you $4.95 per finger and come with sour cream, “Cinnamon Glitter-banged Applesauce” and Hanukkah Gelt (mmm … chocolate) on the side, will be available at both Sticky’s NYC locations December 5 through 24, 2014.
Plus, if you indulge, you’ll also be doing a mitzvah: Sticky’s will donate 10 percent of all Latka finger sales to the national nonprofit Mazon, which works to address hunger among all people – regardless of faith or background – in the United States and Israel.
Sounds like Sticky’s is doing Paul’s grandma proud.
Photo by Paul Abrahamian / Sticky’s Finger Joint