Liz’s Latkes: A Big, Beautiful, Delicious Mess!

By November 20, 2023January 19th, 2024Blog, The Power of Cooking

Making latkes is a messy, greasy, big-clean-up kind of undertaking. But it’s always worth it. With my potatoes in hand, I know exactly what the end result is going to be. A crispy fried potato latke topped with whatever suits my mood: sour cream, apple sauce, or maybe caviar, kimchi or smoked salmon! When making latkes, there are recipes and guidelines. However, there’s a lot of room for variation. If you’re the kind of cook who stresses over exactness, you can relax. The beauty of latke-making is that there’s no exact proportions that radically impact how they turn out. If you have one egg too many, that’s fine. A little more or less onion, that’s fine too. 

The more you try and fry, the greater your sense of expertise and confidence. As latke-making day approaches, I look for lots of great russet potatoes, get fresh eggs from my flock upstate, and double check for ample supplies of onion, oil, seasonings and flour.

I’m not a chef, but I feel very at home in the kitchen and I find myself needing to experiment, explore and unwind at my prep counter once or twice a week. The best part of improvising in the kitchen is knowing, despite the mess, that you’ve created a dish that will be delicious. Though, I confess, that doesn’t happen 100% of the time. 

Cooking is a wonderful adventure. I love the connection I feel with interesting, delicious and seasonal ingredients. The process of imagining what to do with a head of cabbage, for example, is always fun: What direction to go in?  A cold slaw or a braised dish? What’s in my fridge that needs to be used? Did I see some old apples hanging out? What about the scallions, peppers and carrots from the farmers market?

The other key factor – I like a crowd. My best memories of cooking with my children when they were little are around the latke frying pan. Where else does a mound of unattractive battered shredded potatoes turned into batter morph into something so delicious? Once everything is in place, it’s easy to fry dozens of latkes. Try the full recipe here!

Until next month, be powerful in the kitchen!

Liz Neumark, Founder of The Sylvia Center and Great Performances