Saturday, December 10, 2011

Uncle Mike’s Cheese and Green Onion Latkes

The scent of potatoes and onions cooking can only mean one thing this time of year ... Hanukkah is near! Latkes are fried pancakes, usually made with potatoes and onions, and are one of the foods eaten during Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is the festival of lights and commemorates the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple during the Maccabee Revolt. The oil we used to rededicate the Temple in the second century BCE revolt miraculously lasted eight days, and now we light eight candles on a Hanukkiah (menorah) and eat foods fried in oil. Jelly doughnuts, called sufganiyot, are another popular fried choice. Children spin dreidels and eat chocolate gelt in the flickering candlelight.

Latkes are not limited to potatoes, though! There are many different variations made with apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, zucchini or cabbage. Basically, if you can grate it you can make it into a latke! It’s a good thing Hanukkah lasts for eight nights so we have plenty of time to try lots of different kinds. (More than eight nights and our waistlines might start to expand too much...)

A number of years ago, my brother, Mike, worked at a café/take-out spot in our hometown of Lexington, MA. During Hanukkah, their latkes were one of the most popular items. Based on the ingredients Mike shared with me, I recreated the latkes and my sons began calling them Uncle Mike’s Latkes.

These latkes are cheesy and delicious! They fry up delightfully crisp around the edges and have a fresh flavor from the green onions. The Swiss cheese is an unusual, tasty addition. Latkes are usually served with applesauce and/or sour cream, but these are so rich we eat them as is.

We always look forward to latkes during Hanukkah, and this year we’ll be eating them in Australia! We leave on Friday and can’t wait! We are visiting our lovely friends Chris, Cheryl, Nick, Carly and Lucy and we look forward to sharing Hanukkah and celebrating Christmas Aussie-style with them.

When making latkes, the key is really to squeeze the moisture out of the potatoes. I tend to make small batches of batter and squeeze the potatoes and add them in right before frying. For some reason, the first couple I fry up never turn out very pretty (I have a similar experience with pancakes) but they make for good snacking.

Enjoy these fried morsels! Happy Hanukkah!

Uncle Mike’s Cheese and Green Onion Latkes
Makes 12-4 inch latkes

2 pounds potatoes (I use Yukon Gold and do not peel)
3/4 cups grated Swiss cheese
1 1/4 cups green onions, finely chopped (reserve some for garnish)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup flour
A few grinds black pepper
Canola oil for frying

Grate the potatoes with a hand grater over a bowl. Scoop the potatoes out onto a kitchen towel and wring out as much moisture as possible. Drain any leftover liquid out of the bowl and return potatoes to it. Add the remaining ingredients and gently mix. Taste for salt and pepper.

Heat approximately 1/4 inch of canola oil in a large fry pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, spoon potato mixture to form 4 inch patties (flatten slightly so they cook evenly). Do not crowd the latkes in the pan. After 3-4 minutes, carefully flip latkes and cook for another couple minutes on other side. You may have to adjust the heat if they are browning too quickly (you want to be sure they are cooking inside). Latkes should be golden brown and crispy outside and tender inside.

Remove latkes to a baking pan lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. Keep the pan in a warm oven while you fry the rest. Scatter with the reserved green onions and serve as soon as you are finished frying.


  1. These look delicious! Happy Hanukkah! Have fun in Australia! I have always wanted to go there.

  2. Those latkes look great - love the combo of cheese and green onions! Have a great trip - lucky you!

  3. I can imagine how delicious a latke would be with cheese! Yum!

    Have a FABULOUS time in Australia!!!

  4. These look so good, I've never thought of adding cheese to latkes!

  5. @Lauren
    Thank you, Lauren! We're really excited for our visit to Australia. I hope you're enjoying the holiday season! :)

  6. @Megan Ramaley
    Thanks so much, Megan! Have a wonderful holiday season!

  7. @Brooke
    Thank you, Brooke! We're excited for our family vacation - Australia's been on my list for quite some time, and visiting friends there will make the experience even more fun. I hope you're having a wonderful holiday season!

  8. @Lisa (this litttle piggy)
    Thank you so much, Lisa! The excitement is mounting in our house. Hope you are having a marvelous holiday season!

  9. Want them now! What is not to love about latkes??

  10. @Kate
    Thank you, Kate! Happy New Year to you!

  11. @Mairi@Toast
    I couldn't agree more, Mairi! Lots to love with latkes. :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.