Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

Holiday Eats: A Brief History of the Latke

Posted: Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Latkes are golden lightly fired potato pancakes traditionally eaten for Hanukkah (at my house we eat them year round!) They are fried in oil to commemorate the Hanukkah miracles of one day’s oil lasting for eight days, and of the Jewish military victory over the Assyrians.

But why potato pancakes? Any food fried in oil could be equally symbolic. Donuts (sufganiyot) are another traditional Hanukkah food, and are more popular than latkes in Israel. In fact, potato latkes are a relatively recent invention. Potatoes didn’t even exist in Europe until approximately the mid-1500s. So why don’t we have jalapeno poppers or chicken tempura for Hanukkah?

Originally, dairy foods were connected with the festival of lights. This was due to the Book of Judith, which is not part of the official Hanukkah story. According to this book, Judith entertained an Assyrian general with wine and cheese–and when he passed out, she decapitated him with his own sword. This allowed the Jews to mount a successful surprise attack.

Medieval Jews across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East each had their own traditional dishes fried in oil, including chicken and dessert pastries. One of the most popular were Italian pancakes made of ricotta cheese.

As Jews migrated to eastern Europe, vegetable oils were harder to find. They fried with animal fat instead. To maintain kashrut, they could no longer use dairy products. Before potatoes arrived on the continent, latkes were often made with buckwheat.

But in the 1800 and 1900s, potatoes became a staple. Many European cultures have their own version of potato pancakes. And while the fried patties are good year round, they became the perfect way to commemorate Hanukkah.


Caroline Manuel

Tartiflette Recipe: a Classic Take on Cheesy Potatoes

Posted: Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Tartiflette is a French dish originating from the Savoie and Haute Savoie region of France. The name derives from the Savoyard word for potatoes, tartifles, a term also used in Provençal. The Savoyards first heard of tartiflette when it began to appear on the menus of restaurants in the ski stations, but some have even suggested that cheese makers created the recipe to sell more of their product. Whatever the case, a tartiflette’s success is heavily dependent on the quality of cheese used.


Serves 8

3 lbs new boiling potatoes, skin on

1 large onion, peeled & sliced

8 oz. thick bacon lardons (Oultons’s)

1 ½ cups white wine (L’Acadie Blanc)

¾ cup crème fraiche (stir together ½ sour cream and ½ heavy whipping cream, cover and let sit overnight a room temp)

2 rounds COLD ChampFleury Quebec cheese (cut in half and then slice horizontally to get 8 half moons of cheese)

3 tbsp Butter

1 peeled crushed garlic clove

Boil potatoes in salted water until slightly undercooked. Cool, peel and slice into ¼ inch thick slices and reserve. Sauté  bacon until brown; pour off fat leaving 3 TBSP; add onions  and cook slowly for about 10 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil and srape up any brown bits; reduce to 1 cup liquid and reserve mixture.

Butter a large casserole (cast iron),  rub with a crushed garlic clove and put in a layer of potatoes. Spoon ½ of the bacon mixture and ½ of the crème fraiche over the top and repeat with the remaining potatoes, bacon and crème. Place cheese slices over the top RIND SIDE UP and bake uncovered in a 400F oven for about 40 minutes until brown and bubbling.

Serve with a green salad.

Submitted by: Peter Jackson