Latke Party 2015, or, The Baking Powder Bafflement

Latkes!  I made five, even six, kinds for this year’s shapenote latke party (after three hours of singing about death, blood, and the baby Jesus, come to my house to eat latkes and light the menorah). Regular potato-onion; potato-onion gluten free (potato starch, no flour); butternut squash with sage, using gift sage from Dr. Jon; caraway tricolor red, orange, and white (red cabbage, carrots, potato with caraway and sesame seeds); chard with feta and parsley; plus totally vegan — that is, no egg — potato-radish (very fragile).  Thanks to the New York Times for inspiration for most of these. The chard-feta are an Ottolenghi recipe published in the Times (and made by me) last year; I simplified, leaving out the dill and cilantro (but adding some dill seed) to limit the number of half-bunches of herbs that would go bad in my fridge following the party.  The three-veg are also a revision, of a Melissa Clark recipe asking for broccoli stems where I used potato.  Broccoli is a dominant flavor and I didn’t want leftover broccoli florets any more than I did leftover cilantro.  I did include all of the flours (buckwheat, corn, oat bran, and all-purpose), even though I  doubt we could taste them. No doubt the broccoli version would have been good, though quite a different beast. Still, the squash and the tricolor both garnered particular expressions of delight.  I have to say it was a big success overall.  Can I say, though, that I don’t understand the purpose of baking powder in potato pancake recipes. It’s not like latkes need to rise like biscuits. Does it maybe make them stickier and more coherent? Anyone who can explain it, please chime in.

These sauces were offered: sour cream; yogurt; plain applesauce; cinnamon applesauce; cranberry applesauce; cranberry sauce; cherry jam.  Continuing the apparent theme, there was cranberry shrub to mix with prosecco and cranberry-apple cake upside-down cake (I dotted some dried cranberries on top too).

I have to thank Deb Perelman again for the revolutionary information that latkes can be made ahead and reheated.  I fried more or less a batch a day from Monday through Saturday, applesauce and cake on Sunday morning, and (the warm weather cooperating by allowing open windows) the smell of frying dwindled to a mere undertone by party time on Sunday afternoon.

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