The Family Table: When Dad Made His Latkes, Even 100 Wasn’t Enough

Readers share their treasured recipes
By The Family Table
The Family Table
The Family Table
November 25, 2021 Updated: November 25, 2021

Submitted by Sandra Banas, Brunswick, Maine

My dad used to make these latkes every year at Hanukkah. He said he got the recipe from his momma, who made them in a coal-fired stove in her big kitchen in Burlington, Vermont.

Dad was a wonderful cook who found joy and relaxation in the kitchen, and my mom, my two sisters, and I were pleased to be the recipients of his creations. Later in his life, Dad went to my sister’s house to make the latkes, often standing in her kitchen, grating, mixing, and frying possibly 100 or so, depending on how many people were coming to dinner that evening. We always told my dad that the only problem with his latkes was that there never seemed to be enough!

Dad taught all of his girls the nuances of making latkes so we, in turn, could recreate the experience with our own families. Before he died at age 93, we put together a family cookbook of popular recipes, so that we would have them written down and explained with details and photographs. All of his grandchildren have one of these cookbooks, so they can relive our same childhood meals in their kitchens.

Dad makes latkes
The author’s late father frying latkes in his kitchen. (Courtesy of Sandra Banas)

Dad’s Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

Hand grate 1 potato for each person who will be dining (any kind, but russets may be best, peeled or with peels optional). Add 1 egg for every 2 to 3 diners. Grate 1 small onion for every 2 to 3 diners. Add salt, pepper, and oil. The mixture should be liquid, but not too loose. Add flour and baking powder. It will probably take 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder to hold the mixture together without making it too stiff.

Ladle 2 or 3 tablespoons of the mixture onto a well-greased griddle or skillet and fry until the edges get brown and the tops become quite dry. Turn and complete frying until brown. Remove to a plate with a paper towel to blot the oil. Keep warm on a baking sheet in the oven until serving. Best if eaten immediately. Serve with sour cream and homemade applesauce.

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