I always drew inside the lines, one of the reasons that I loved Paint by Number as a child. My coloring books were neat and orderly, and the colors I chose were dictated by convention, no blue haired girls or purple suns in sight. Although I took art classes all through high school, and worked hard on my portfolio, I wasn’t accepted by the one school I had hoped to attend, Parsons School of Design. I accepted the fact that although I might have had the skill, I didn’t have the creativity. For the most part, I am still that person. I rely on cookbooks, especially for baking, I sketch from photographs, I follow rules. So when my cousin Dottie asked me for a recipe for sweet potato latkes, I felt challenged. I didn’t see any point in looking up a recipe on-line and sending it to her, she could do that herself, so I decided to see what I could come up with.
I spent hours thinking about how to make the latkes, and the thought process went something like this. If I used my traditional latke recipe, which involves pulverizing the potatoes, then the result might be more like a sweet potato pancake. If I only used grated sweet potatoes, I was concerned that the latkes would be too lacy in texture, and not substantial enough to hold together. In the end I decided to combine both kinds of potatoes and both methods. Green onions replaced brown onions, and panko crumbs were used in place of matzoh meal.
The latkes came out light and fluffy and held together well, no small feat when frying anything that’s been shredded. After having eaten the first one plain, I thought it needed a little something to enhance the flavor of the sweet potato, so I drizzled some honey over the next one, and that gave the latke just the right amount of sweetness. I think I’ll serve them with some Tofutti sour cream as well.
I have no plans to toss out my cookbooks, and I will most likely always draw inside the lines, but the upcoming joint celebration of Thanksgiving and Chanukah offers a great opportunity to try new things. Just one more reason to be grateful. Dottie, what’s next?
Mini Sweet Potato Latkes
1 russet potato, peeled and pureed in food processor (do this last so the potato stays as white as possible)
1 sweet potato, finely grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup Panko crumbs
Place grated sweet potato in a large bowl and add eggs, salt, baking powder, panko crumbs, and green onions. Process white potato and stir in. Heat about 1 inch of oil in a large frying pan and using a spoon, drop small amounts of mixture into sizzling oil. Cook till golden and then flip. This made 21 mini latkes.