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Latkes + Hanukkah + Christmas

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Hi all........ yes, yes I know it isn't even Halloween and I'm talking about our winter holidays already but it just occurred to me that Christmas falls during Hanukkah this year. My husband is Jewish so we celebrate both holidays. We live 2 hours from my Mom and we always travel to her home on the 24th and then have a family Christmas Eve dinner. I have always been in charge of my mothers Christmas breakfast at her home. This year I would love to serve latkes at Christmas breakfast. Is there anyway I can prepare them ahead or am I going to have to get up at 4:00 o'clock in the morning to make sure I have latkes for breakfast. LOL...Happy Halloween

p.s. Below is a thread that sort of addresses this subject . It deals with the crowd but not with the fact that I have to travel the day before. I can't make and freeze them because they would defrost on the way to my my Mom's and I wouldn't be using them till the following morning.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459817

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  1. You can make them any time you want and then freeze them. Just heat them up in an oven and they are good to go. Even if they are defrosted they will be fine. Just sort of a strange thing to have for breakfast.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Mother of four

      M o'4 - strange? I don't think so, hash browns are on many b'fast menus and that's not so different.

      but I do agree cooking/freezing/defrosting ahead really isn't the issue, just don't mix up an uncooked batch and expect that to age well. (ya know what's really good? bits of tart diced apples mixed into the batter) I would give them plenty of time re-heating (just toss em on a cookie sheet in a medium oven for a while) to regain that nice crispy quality. a day or two after cooking spent in cooler and fridge won't kill them (yeah granted fresh off the griddle is the best but the holidays bring enough stress) do a trial run one of these weekends before.

      1. re: hill food

        Hill food that is a great idea. I will do a trial run. Luckily I have some in my freezer. I'll take them out of the freezer tomorrow morning for a few hours, then put them in the frig over night and cook them the next morning.

      2. re: Mother of four

        Thanks Mother of Four. LOL...they are not strange at all. My lacy latkes are like the best hash browns you could hope for :). They are especially delicious with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. Yummo.

        1. re: MsBees

          mmmm I think you just put a dish on my xmas / hanukah brunch menu.

          1. re: aletnes

            Great minds:) I love when these two holidays fall together.

          2. re: MsBees

            Thank you for saying that. I've never done it that way but have felt it would work very well for years. My husband's non-religious Jewish family just looks at me, astonished, when I bring it up, but it just seems logical. Especially if you have enough onion in the latkes. You're right. Brunch. A really nice brunch, perhaps with mimosas or maybe a kir royale.

            1. re: lemons

              Your Welcome. I've had latkes served that way at a number of restaurants. Often there is also salmon somewhere on the plate. They really are delicious!

              And yes brunch cocktails are a must.

            2. re: MsBees

              Just never entered my mind...always a dinner food, but something to think about! I do love them, just a process to make. Enjoy and a early happy holiday!! Hay, the decorations are already out in the stores! LOL!

              1. re: Mother of four

                although a topic for somewhere else - doesn't that just drive you up the wall? gee we're barely out of Columbus Day season and it's already the post-Michelmas sales.

                and I have to admit the idea of making latkes from scratch in the AM is indeed strange and beyond my ability. (where'd I put my bloody?)

                the process of freezer back to heat may change the starch structure. if it's gummy in the trial run you might play with the idea of baking and then tossing in a very little cornstarch and a quick saute (how I get my tofu crispy).

          3. If by 2 hours you mean by car, then place wrapped frozen latkes in a cooler and surround with ice packs. Fill voids with crumpled newspaper. They will still be frozen solid by the end of the trip.

            23 Replies
            1. re: momdgp

              Thanks momdgp. Another problem will probably be space in my Moms freezer. :(

              I tested freezing and recooking my lacy latkes yesterday. They were delicious but came out too dark after being in the oven. I need some help figuring out how to fix this problem and then will test again

              This is how I normally would cook them ; cook rounded T latkes on med-high, and occasionally lower to med heat, for 2 to 4 minutes a side and hold in a very low oven. But they brown so quickly on med high that I realized they would get too brown in the oven. So I lowered the heat and cooked them for less time.

              This is what I did so I could freeze them; Cooked rounded Tbs latkes in med hot pan for 1 1/2 minutes per side. I drained on a rack and patted off oil with paper towels before freezing them.
              I then cooked them from frozen state in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.

              My son said they could be a tad warmer and not so dark.

              I'm not sure if I should cook them for only a minute a side or lower the heat. But I'm nervous if I lower the heat they will become greasy.

              Also in order for them not to get too brown, but be warmed through, should I cook them from their frozen state at a lower temperature for a longer period of time, or for less time at a higher temp, or should defrost them before cooking?

              Last but not least does everyone subscribe to draining on a rack or paper towels. I drained them on a rack but still had to blot off the oil with paper towels.

              Thanks in advance for all of your help

              1. re: MsBees

                paper bags are the ideal draining surface.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  I agree and always used to use them. But then I found out they often treated them :( since I have been hesitant to use them

                  1. re: MsBees

                    well, I have done it this way for 40 years and don't plan to stop.

                    1. re: magiesmom

                      I know, I know. It really the best way. That is also how we always did it. It was only after family members in the food industry said they treat the bags so bugs etc wont get on and in them that I now use paper towels on the brown paper bags if I'm using them.I I've thought about buying a roll of brown craft paper to see how that works.

                      1. re: MsBees

                        you prefer the chlorine in the paper towels?
                        you can use cotton dish towels. a rack does not do it for me.

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          Cotton dishtowels, what a GREAT idea! I tried the rack but am still unconvinced. Maybe both would be good. My taste tester son did mention that the latkes weren't weren't greasy :::shrug:::

                  2. re: magiesmom

                    Last night, I tried draining them briefly on a wok rack sitting around the edge of the skillet. Then moved them to a sheet pan with some parchment on a low oven.

                    I don't know if it was the draining rack that did it or the fact that I used about 50% rice bran oil for frying, but these were some of my crispiest latkes ever.

                    1. re: will47

                      Yummo. What did you have them with ? LOL..I'm getting hungry :)

                      1. re: MsBees

                        Nothing too exciting... just applesauce and, since I don't eat dairy, "Vegan Gourmet" brand sour cream.

                  3. re: MsBees

                    When a rack should come into play is for keeping them warm in a low oven, or when you reheat them. Single layer on a rack over baking sheet does a great job of maintaining the crispiness.

                    As for paper towels and chlorine, Seventh Generation makes brown, unbleached paper towels, no chlorine or dioxin.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      Hi Caitlin. I've read many different way to reheat latkes one of which is a rack over a baking sheet. Have you done it that way before? What temp did you use? Did you go from frozen or refrigerated state?

                      I couldn't remember the name I used for cooking. Thanks again.

                      1. re: MsBees

                        When you make the latkes, keep a few to eat then and there, they are soooo much better fresh from the pan! If you have to re-freeze them, defrosted, then put into a hot oven has always worked for me. Don't fry them super dark though, 'cos they'll darken in the oven.

                        1. re: jtownfoodie

                          LOL...great minds and all > I'm going to fry them today and hubby and I will have some fresh with homemade apple sauce and a salad. I can't wait :)
                          I did a test batch the other day with a bunch of mini lacy latkes. I fried them over med heat for 1 1/2 minutes per side. But believe it or not I think even that was too long. Because after freezing them I put them straight from the freezer onto a baking sheet and into a hot 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Although they were really pretty good they did get a bit to dark and could have been a tad warmer. In todays test I'm going to only fry them a minute a side, freeze them and then try heating the latkes at 400 degrees. Do you think that if I froze them and then slightly defrosted before cooking they would still crisp up in a hot oven? I at least know then they would be warmer in the center. To be honest, I have read a number of suggestions. Some people heat them on racks, some people heat them after defrosting them and i've seen all different temperatures. By the time I'm done testing this latke recipe I'm not going to want to see another latke :)

                          1. re: MsBees

                            oh now don't say that. it may be a month or two, but you'll be back.

                            frozen - slower and lower, thawed a little faster and higher.

                            I wouldn't add anything more than a very light brush of butter or oil (if even that) on the cookie sheet or rack.

                            1. re: hill food

                              LOL...you are right. I really do love a good latke. Tomorrow I will be cooking and freezing latkes made with 16lbs of potatoes :)

                              That is great advice "frozen slower and lower, thawed higher and faster"

                              Thanks for your input :)))

                              1. re: MsBees

                                OK I think I've changed my mind here. The party is friday. The reason I was cooking the latkes ahead was so that everyone won't smell when they leave here :) .

                                What if I just cook them either today or tomorrow and refrigerate them instead of freezing them? Does it matter if I cook them today or tomorrow for friday?

                                Will they crisp up as well from the frig as they will from the freezer? And at what temp and for how long would you cook them from the frig? heat them on a rack or no rack? If I'm heating them on a rack I have to go buy bigger racks.

                                Thanks in advance.

                                1. re: MsBees

                                  They should keep fine in the fridge for a couple of days and crisp up fine.

                                  Yes, use a rack; they will be much crisper that way. I use a rack when I am just "holding" earlier batches of latkes in the oven on a low temp, to be served immediately.

                                  I would think that 350 degrees for 5 minutes or so would be sufficient, if taken from the fridge rather than the freezer. Perhaps even less time if you let them warm up to room temperature first. You don't want them to cook too long, or they will get burned.

                                  1. re: masha

                                    Marsha, Marsha, Marsha ::::wink::: I'm sorry but I couldn't resist, Great advice, thank you so much!

                                    Oh one other question. Should I still undercook them slightly so that they won't brown too much in the oven? Or do I not have to worry about that as much as I did when I tested them straight from the freezer?

                                    1. re: MsBees

                                      Maybe very slightly undercooked. (And its Masha. There is no R.)

                                      1. re: masha

                                        Thanks Masha and I'm sorry about the name. LOL...we could always pretend I have a really bad accent :))))

                                  2. re: MsBees

                                    This thread has lots of advice about holding and reheating: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459817

                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                      Thanks Caitlan :)

                                      There are so many methods!

                  4. Now I've done it!!! :::sigh::: I made a big batch of latke and drained them on paper bags and paper towels. Just as I was about to put them away I went into the basement to get a large container and discover a leak in the basement. After mopping it up I went back upstairs to put the latkes away. Unfortunately they had been sitting all that time on the paper :(. I put them away in a large container with layers of wax paper between. My intent was to reheat them on racks as others suggested but now I'm wondering if heating them directly on a pan may help them crisp more. What temp and method do you think will will be the best to recrisp my latkes ? Oh and I did undercook them slightly so that they wouldn't burn when reheating. Thanks :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MsBees

                      The rack promotes crisping by allowing the air to circulate on the underside of the latke, instead of having the latke directly on the pan. If they are at all soggy, that's all the more reason to use a rack.

                      1. re: masha

                        Cool Thanks Masha. You've been such great help. I really appreciate it.

                    2. I am reporting back. Over the last week I have made over 200 lacy latkes and used 2 different methods to drain them and 3 different methods to reheat them.

                      Draining;
                      -on a paper bag with a paper towel on top of the bag
                      -on a rack and then blotted them dry with a paper towel
                      Best method for crispest latkes was when cooked latkes went onto a rack right after taking them out of pan and then blotting them dry with a paper towel

                      Reheating;
                      - refrigerated version 1- reheated refrigerated latkes in a 375 degree convection oven, on racks over a sheet pan. After 10 min these still weren't crisp enough. This was my least favorite method.
                      -refrigerated version 2- reheated latkes in a 375 convection oven, directly on a sheet pan. After 8 to 10 minutes these came out much better than the rack method. This will be my go to method if I don't make them fresh or freeze them.
                      - some I flash froze and cooked in a 400 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. This was from one of my first attempts and I should have undercooked the latkes a bit more so they didn't get so dark. But I do think straight from the freezer is most successful.

                      The best latkes are fresh, but for large parties it is difficult and smelly to cook that many at the party. So from now on if I'm not doing fresh latkes I will either flash freeze and cook right from the freezer or from the frig directly on a sheet pan.

                      Also I'm not sure I like the refrigerator holding method of putting them between layers of waxed paper. That method would work fine if flash frozen. So i'm not sure how I will do it in the future.

                      I also would like to thank everyone for their help. You are a great group :)