Potato latkes are a traditional Hanukkah dish, and most often the warm, crispy fried pancakes are topped with sour cream or applesauce. Maybe this is the year to experiment with the garnishes that make them decidedly savory or sweet.
In recent years, we've seen many recipes that change up the pancake itself, substituting shredded russets with purple potatoes, carrots, parsnips, zucchini and even sweet potatoes. Seasonings range from curry to a cinnamon-sugar sprinkle.
This year, opt for the traditional pancake, but turn up the volume on the dollop on top. In fact, offer a few varieties for your guests and make sure to fry enough latkes, because it's likely everyone will want to try each topping. Another idea: Make them smaller and serve them as appetizers for a New Year's Eve party.
The eight-day festival of Hanukkah begins at sundown Tuesday. It's traditional to eat foods fried in oil during Hanukkah to symbolize the small amount of oil that miraculously lit the reclaimed temple in Jerusalem for eight days and nights in 165 B.C.
Consider one of the following toppings to dress up potato latkes, one for each night of Hanukkah:
Smoked salmon: Combine minced smoked salmon, minced red onion, rinsed, minced capers and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Place a spoonful on top of each latke and sprinkle with chopped fresh dill.
Fresh horseradish cream: To 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1/4 cup freshly grated horseradish, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dollop on hot latkes.
Deli-style: Top each latke with a small spoonful of warmed sauerkraut, a heap of shredded, warmed pastrami and a drizzle of bottled Russian or Thousand Island dressing. A holiday version of the Reuben sandwich.
Mushroom melange: Season sauteed quartered button mushroom with cumin, thyme and paprika and scoop onto hot latkes. (See accompanying recipe.)
Figgy latkes: Spoon jarred fig jam onto each latke, then top with chopped, toasted walnuts and crumbled blue cheese.
Greek style: Either buy tzatziki sauce or make your own by combining 1 cup of Greek-style plain yogurt, 1/4 cup grated seedless cucumber, 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic and fresh lemon juice, to taste. Spoon onto latkes then sprinkle with chopped fresh dill.
Pear compote with pear brandy: Spike cooked pears with pear brandy or Grand Marnier to give latkes an adult twist. Use compote warm or at room temperature. (See accompanying recipe.)
A bit of honey: Over hot latkes, layer thinly sliced fresh pears, crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of honey.
Information from the Associated Press was included in this report. Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8586.