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Recipes from the Congregation


My grandmother was literate in Yiddish, Russian, and Polish, but not English. However, she didn't use recipes in any language. Yet for as long as anyone can remember, her dishes were perfectly consistent in flavor, texture, appearance. I learned to cook grandma's food just by watching her do it for years. I was never allowed to help. I loved her blintzes and kugel, but a hot potato latke, in all its simplicity, was closest to heaven. My father also told serial bedtime stories about the Potato Latke Indians, which gave latkes a flavorful mythology as well.

Grandma Sonny's Potato Latkes

4-5 medium-sized potatoes, washed
1 small finely-chopped onion (optional)
1 beaten egg
pinch of salt
dash of pepper
1/2-1 cup matzoh meal
oil for frying (grandma used chicken fat, I use canola)

Grate the potatoes on a wire mesh grater, or on the surface of your grater that has holes so small that it's no good for carrots or cheese. (As an alternative, you can chop the potatoes and near-puree them in a blender you trust.) The product should be mealy-mushy, not like shredded hash browns. Set the potatoes aside in a bowl for 15 min., then pour off any water which separates. Add the onion, salt and pepper. Stir in the matzoh meal, using more or less to make a batter similar in consistency to oatmeal, not too watery, not too thick. Drop by tablespoonfuls into 1/4 inch of oil in a hot skillet. Grandma always made them small, no more than 2 inches across. Cook until brown and crispy on both sides. Serve hot with a little applesauce or sour cream. Enjoy.

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