At 13th Annual Latkepalooza, It’s Starch Madness



Chef Jeff Hudson based his latke on the Greek dish spanikopita, traditionally consisting of spinach, scallions, dill, feta cheese and wrapped in phyllo dough, that is served at his Center City Greek standard-bearer. His spani-latke will mimic that, just replacing the phyllo dough with potatoes and served with tzatziki.
He’s prepared this recipe for Latkepalooza for over a decade now, and he thinks the extra 10-second pan fry before serving really makes the latkes pop.
“We make more every year and we run out every year, so that’s a good sign,” he said. “For me, this is kind of the start of the holiday season. We have Thanksgiving, and then Latkepalooza comes along and then we get ready for the holidays.”
3 Tbsps. vegetable oil, plus more for frying
3 oz. spinach, stems removed, chopped (about 4 cups)
2 leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
4 scallions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1 lb. russet potatoes
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Freshly ground pepper
Tzatziki, for serving (optional)
Heat 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a colander set in a large bowl; refrigerate until cold, about 15 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture; set the spinach aside.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the leeks, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the scallions and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool.
Peel the potatoes and grate on the large holes of a box grater. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel, gather into a pouch and twist closed, then squeeze over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. Transfer to a large bowl; add the leek-scallion mixture, spinach, eggs, flour, dill, feta, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mix with your hands until combined.
Heat ½-inch vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350˚. Working in batches, scoop about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture into the pan for each latke and flatten with a spatula; fry until golden brown and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. (Return the oil to 350˚ between batches.) Serve with tzatziki.
Frankford Hall 
Chef Jason Goodman will be preparing the same latke he makes at the wildly popular German beer garden restaurant in Fishtown.
He’s always slightly refining it, but he uses the basic ingredients of flour and eggs, and just adds onion, chives, potatoes, salt and cooks them in clarified butter, which he said is a key for the flavoring.
“It’s more of a traditional potato pancake than a latke. I’m Jewish, so I grew up on latkes, but this is a little fluffier, a little more refined recipe than my grandma’s latkes,” he said.
7 lbs. potatoes
Juice of 1 ½ lemons
2.5 lbs. onions
5 eggs
2 ½ oz. flour
3 Tbsps. kosher salt
1 oz. chives, snipped
Shred potatoes into lemon juice. Shred onions. Mix potatoes into onions. Strain, reserving the liquid. Combine the strained potato mix with the remaining ingredients. Pour off strained liquid until only the starch remains. Add that to the mixture.
Form the mix into 2-ounce discs. Heat a sauté pan on high. When your pan is heated, add 2 ounces of clarified butter or vegetable oil. Add the mix one disc at a time. Brown on both sides. Remove from the heat and let cool on a wire rack or paper towel. Reheat with the same cooking method but on medium/high heat.
Imli Indian Kitchen 
Bimol Sarkar is from India and has been cooking Indian cuisine in Philadelphia for about 20 years. Currently awakening palates at this Passyunk Avenue spot, he wants to show people that potato pancakes be can a part of Indian food and also show them what Indian cuisine is all about.
“People think that Indian food is only spicy. A lot of people are scared, they think it’s hot but it’s not,” he said. “Once people eat my food, they’ll come to know Indian food isn’t that spicy.”
1¼ lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and shredded
Caster sugar
2 scallions, minced
½ tsp. baking soda
2 large egg whites
¼ tsp. fennel seeds
4 Tbsps. all-purpose flour
¼ Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsps. canola oil
Put potatoes in large bowl and add enough cold water to cover. Soak for 30 minutes, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375˚.
Stir together potatoes, sugar, scallions, baking soda, egg whites, fennel seeds, flour and salt in medium bowl until well combined. Divide mixture into 12 equal portions.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add four portions of potato mixture and flatten with wide spatula. Cook until golden, 3 minutes per side.
Transfer potato pancakes to oven and bake until cooked through (about 5 minutes).Serve with tamarind sauce.
Tria Tap Room
Todd Van Wagner grew up Jewish, and this recipe is based on advice from his own bubbe.
“Using fresh scallions really makes it pop, vinegar adds that nice acidity, and using apple cider vinegar pairs well with the apple sauce,” the chef of this Rittenhouse Square hot boite explained.
He will also tweak the recipe a little bit by stuffing latkes with a beer-braised short rib in the middle and topping it with fresh horseradish or applesauce with Jack’s Hard Cider. He’ll also make vegetarian latkes.
4 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and grated
8 oz. onions, grated
4 eggs
2 oz. scallions, sliced thin
2 lemons, juice only
1 oz. apple cider vinegar
1 oz. cornstarch
1 oz. salt
freshly ground pepper
And you can’t have a good Chanukah party without homemade apple sauce:
5 lbs. freshly picked local apples, peeled and diced
1 lemon, juice and zest
4 oz. apple cider vinegar
6 oz. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ Tbsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
½ tsp. clove
1 tsp. salt
2 oz. butter
2 oz. water
Grate potatoes and onions, strain off excess liquid. Mix in remaining ingredients. In a medium-high heat, sauté pan with frying oil, make small 1- to 2-ounce patties of the latke batter. Fry on each side for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown.
For the apple sauce, peel and chop apples. Add all ingredients to a large sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Whetstone Tavern 
Jeremy Nolen is not Jewish, but he said potato pancakes are common in his background in German cooking.
He makes about 300 to 400 potato pancakes a week in his Queen Village restaurant. His are also gluten-free.
“A lot of the stuff we do in the restaurant and I do is just kind of taking familiar traditional dishes and just kind of put my own spin on it, kind of making it a little bit different,” he said.
This recipe is taken from New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited by Jeremy and Jessica Noel.
2 Yukon gold potatoes
3 parsnips
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts, sliced
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ tsps. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground white pepper
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tbsps. potato starch or cornstarch, or more if needed
½ cup canola oil
½ cup unsalted butter
Sour cream, whisked to loosen, for serving
Apple sauce for serving
Peel the potatoes and shred them on the large holes of a box grater into a bowl of cold water. Peel and shred the parsnips the same way. Drain the potatoes and parsnips, rinse them with cold water, and then squeeze them with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible.
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, parsnips, green onions, eggs, salt, white pepper and nutmeg and mix well. Add the potato starch and stir to mix. The mixture should hold together while still being slightly loose. If the mixture is too crumbly, add more potato starch, small pinches at a time, until the mixture holds together.
In a large cast-iron or other heavy frying pan, heat the canola oil and butter over medium-high heat. While the fat is heating, form the potato mixture into cakes about 4 inches in diameter and ¼-inch thick. Carefully place the cakes in the hot fat, fitting as many as you can in the pan without crowding them. Using the back of a spoon or spatula, flatten the tops, then cook, turning once, until cooked through and nicely browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer them to a heatproof platter and keep them warm in a low oven. Cook the remaining cakes in the same way.
Serve the cakes hot, drizzled with sour cream and accompanied with applesauce.


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