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Steven Kurlander: Forget the world’s troubles, eat some Kurly’s Latkes

The holiday season is upon us.

Usually,  that means a lull in working and business activity, a lot of binge eating and drinking at obligatory holiday parties, ponying up charitable contributions to feed and clothe the less fortunate and to keep the not-for-profit industry healthy, and spending an inordinate amount of moola for presents for co-workers and relatives, most of whom we don’t really care for.

It also means enduring yet another season of banal traditional arguments whether it’s politically correct to use the word Christmas and the propriety of public nativity displays. For many more, the contrived merriment and celebration can be a very depressing time, exacerbating depression and feelings of loneliness and isolation, making life that much more miserable.

For me, the contrived behavior and superficial pronouncements for peace and goodwill toward all men (and women and transgenders, too) exacerbates my cynical nature into overdrive. Could you tell?

This year, it seems to be worse. After the Paris attacks, we once again sat transfixed to live coverage of a police chase à la O.J. Simpson in the aftermath of the San Bernardino shooting at an office holiday event. We subsequently read regurgitated arguments about Islamic and domestic terrorism, gun control, whether to display a U.S. or city of San Bernardino flag in our Facebook profile, etc. Ugh!

So instead of joining these exasperating debates and displaying my morbid holiday cynicism in a column about the holiday season and the fate of our nation, I got permission from my editor to share my latke recipe with you.

You will now be very enlightened, particularly during the Festival of Lights, or Hanukkah, which starts Monday.

The recipe for these latkes is my late mother’s, an amazing cook and baker, who was born in Poland and emigrated to the U.S. after World War II as a refugee.

Making and eating latkes is the perfect fix this time of year for me to enjoy the little things in life, like a good meal, and I hope you, too. They are really, really good. It’s my gift to you this holiday season. Try them and let me know how you like them (steven@stevenkurlander.com).

Kurly’s Latkes:

Prep Time: About 1 hour
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Eating Time: About 5 minutes
Here are the ingredients: Use them in an exact manner or I will hunt you down.

8 large or 10 medium peeled IDAHO BAKING POTATOES
1 large whole peeled yellow onion
1 large egg
1 cup of All Purpose Flour or Matzo Meal (I prefer Flour)
2 tablespoons of Minced Garlic Powder or 1 crushed Garlic clove
1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
Peanut Oil
Regular Sour Cream
Apple Sauce
Powdered Sugar
White Sugar

First, add about 1/2-inch total depth of peanut oil to a large nonstick frying pan (I have tried using iron and aluminum pans, but they get too hot and the latkes stick too much). Heat pan for several minutes on very low heat just to get oil moderately hot. You don’t want to heat the oil intensely and quickly.

Peel the potatoes, but make sure as you are peeling them, you drop the peeled ones into a bowl of cold water to keep them from discoloring. After peeling, grate them on the fine grate side of your standard box grater into a large bowl (do not use the large grates – lots of people do for potato pancakes). I pat dry each potato with a paper towel so it does not slip out of your hand while grating.

After grating the potatoes, grate the onion into the potatoes (don’t cry into the batter). Add egg, flour, garlic salt and pepper and stir with wooden spoon. The potato batter should not be a too lumpy, but be careful not to make it stiff. If watery, add more flour or matzoh meal. Do not let the mixture sit or it will discolor.  The batter must be cooked right away.

Take a half of a regular spoon of batter and place in oil. It should immediately start frying hard. If the batter sits in oil not frying moderately quickly, heat up oil, but be careful not to make oil too hot. Once the oil is hot enough (again, throw a little batter in to see whether it’s hot enough), start spooning batter into pan, and flatten into a 2- to 4-inch pancake – NOT TOO THICK – and cook each side for about two minutes until brown and crispy. The edges should be quite well done.

Remove latke and dry excess oil off on plate covered with paper towels. Then serve latkes immediately or place on ceramic plate.

Do not stack pancakes while waiting to serve them. They get greasy if placed one on top of the other (made that mistake before). If you have to wait to serve, place latkes on baking sheet and put in oven at 250 degrees, but not for too long.   Any leftover latkes can be frozen in aluminum foil. They reheat very well: Bake them in a toaster oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes frozen or 10 minutes thawed.

Serve with white sugar, powdered sugar, regular sour cream, or apple sauce. By the way, Target has some great varieties of apple sauce, like Apricot Apple Sauce.

Makes about 20-25 pancakes.

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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