10th Annual Latke Festival Recap & Recipes
By Sylvia Center Executive Director, Jennifer John
The 10th Annual Latke Festival celebrated the many joys of the potato pancake on Monday, December 3rd.
Over 500 guests and 14 celebrity judges tasted latkes that ranged from the traditional to the edgy. Everyone ate, drank, and grooved to DJed beats. Each guest received a wooden token to vote for the “People’s Choice” winner, while the judges decided “Best Creative Latke,” “Best Traditional Latke,” and “Best Overall Latke.” Guests had different strategies for tasting, with breaks for drinks or salad or doughnuts, depending on their mood.
The announcement of the winners was kicked off with a proclamation from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, presented by Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, Alicia Glen, declaring it “Latke Day” in the city. Then, New York legend Veselka took home “Best Traditional” and “People’s Choice” titles for their “Dima’s Sweet and Savory Short Rib Latke.” Three-time winner Benchmark won “Best Overall” for their “Hoppin’ John Latke,” and “Best Creative Latke” went to the “Falatke,” a falafel-inspired take from Kalushkat.
Net proceeds from the event will power programs that teach young New Yorkers how to enjoy, prepare and speak up for healthy food. In fact, The Sylvia Center brought a group of their ‘Cooks for Health’ students from the Williamsburg Community Center to compete with their “Latke-purria.” Their recipe was a take on the Puerto Rican snack, the alcapurria, which is traditionally made with yucca, plantains and taro. The students’ entry was stuffed with savory black beans and topped with greens, compliments of Aerofarms. While Sylvia Center students didn’t win a title for their delicious vegan recipe, they loved the opportunity to show off their cooking skills next to seasoned professionals.
Thank you to all of the restaurants that participated!
Big Daddy's Smokehouse
Bricolage / Pearl Street Caviar
BRINS Jam & Marmalade
Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
Feisty Flavors Catering
Garden Court Cafe
Little Red Kitchen Bakeshop
Mae Mae Cafe
Mike's Hot Honey
The Norm at Brooklyn Museum
Patina Restaurant Group
Burger and Lobster
Dutch Boy Burger
Shelsky's of Brooklyn
Veselka’s “Dima’s Sweet and Savory Short Rib Latke” Recipe (Winner of ‘Best Traditional Latke’ and ‘People’s Choice’)
5 large Idaho Potatoes
¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
Short Ribs with Prunes topping:
4lbs boneless Short Ribs
½ cup Honey
½ Red Wine
1 cup Dried Prunes
2lb dried Prunes
4 sticks Cinnamon
½ cup Honey
½ Red Wine
¼ Balsamic Vinegar
Procedures of Recipe:
Shred or grate 4 Idaho potatoes and one onion in a food processor.
Place in mixing bowl, add eggs, salt and pepper, mix well.
Spoon potato mixture into a sauté pan containing about !/2 inch of oil at 350 degrees.
Fry until golden brown on bottom, turn over and continuing frying until golden and remove to drain on paper towels. Set aside.
Shredded Short Ribs
Place ribs in a roasting pan with a coarsely chopped carrot and onion and roast at 450 degrees until browned. Add water, red wine, honey and salt and pepper, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for three hours until meat begins falling off the bone.
Allow meat to cool then pull apart with two forks. Add some of the cooking liquid back to the meat to obtain the desired consistency. Add finely chopped prunes.
Add 2 cups prunes, two cups water, cinnamon sticks and balsamic vinegar to a sauce pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove pits if necessary. Put through blender or food processor and liquify.
Spoon some of the short rib mixture onto a latke, spoon on some of the prune reduction
Mae Mae’s Beet Latke Recipe
1 medium Tomato, diced
1 Cucumber, diced
1 small Red Onion, diced
2 tbsp chopped fresh Mint
2 tbsp chopped fresh Cilantro
1 Lime, zested and juiced
1 tsp Lemon Verbena Oil
¾ cup Vegan Mayo
2 cups Matzah Meal
¼ cup Corn Starch
1 cup shredded Beets
1 cup shredded Yukon Gold Potatoes (squeeze out excess liquid)
2 tbsp grated White Onion
1 tbsp grated Garlic
1. Mix vegan mayo with chives and lemon verbena oil. Cover and set aside
2).Combine tomato, cucumber, red onion, mint, cilantro, lime juice, and
chopped lime zest- season with salt and pepper to taste
3. Combine the grated beets, Yukon gold potatoes, onions, garlic, matzah
meal, and cornstarch. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Let sit for 10 minutes to let the mixture absorb
5. Heat Canola oil in a sauté pan over medium heat
6. Add walnut-sized balls of the mixture into the pan- flatten into disks
with a spatula. Cook until crispy on first side then flip and crisp the other side. Drain on paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Sylvia Center’s “Latke-purria” Recipe
5 very green plantanos, peeled
1 pound taro root, peeled down to white flesh
1 pound yucca, peeled down to flesh
2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sazon (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon olive oil
For The Filling
1 large spanish onion, small dice
2 peppers, red and green, small dice
1 16-oz can black beans, rinsed & dried
2 teaspoons sazon
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste (1 teaspoon or less)
2 tablespoons capers or green onions, minced
1. Using the shredding blade on a food processor, shred platanos, taro, and yucca*. The platanos is what will be binding mix and should be crumbled and somewhat moist. Transfer starches to a bowl.
2. Add the sazon and olive oil, folding to incorporate into the dough, working with the hands if needed.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge while you make the filling. This dough can be made up to 48 hours in advance as long as it is chilled and kept away from air.
4. Rinse and dry the black beans. Crumble them either by hand or in a food processor– careful not to puree! It should be dry and chunky.
5. In a saute pan, add olive oil and sweat the onions until translucent. Add peppers and cook until tender. Add black beans, sazon, oregano, and garlic. Cook for about 2 mins and add the capers or olives. Remove from heat.
6. To form latkes, take a heaping tablespoon of the dough and flatten into the palm of your hand, or on an oiled surface such as plastic wrap. Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center and using your fingertips, roll the dough towards the center to cover filling. You may need to add some extra dough if you are struggling to connect the outside pieces. Once the filling is covered, flatten into a disc. Continue until dough is gone.
Assembled latkes should sit in the fridge to firm up before pan frying.
* leaving some shredded yucca or taro visible gives this recipe the latke look the students achieved in class.
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon achiote (annatto)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground pepper
Add all ingredients to a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulse until a fine consistency appears.
Sylvia’s Table Traditional Potato Latke Recipe
Ingredients For the Latkes:
1 medium Onion, chopped
4 Russet Potatoes, peeled and shredded by hand or food processor
3 tbsp Flour or Potato Starch
Salt and Pepper
Ingredients For the Toppings:
Applesauce (store-bought or homemade) or Sour Cream
1. Sauté the onion in about 2 tbsp of olive oil till soft but not browned. Set aside to cool.
2. Mix the grated potatoes, onions, flour and eggs together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then turn them into a colander set over a large bowl. Drape a damp dishcloth over the colander. When it seems that very little liquid is draining off the potatoes, after about 15 minutes, carefully pour off the water leaving the starch that has collected at the bottom of the bowl. Mix the starch back into the potatoes – this will help hold the latkes together as they cook.
3. Place a large skillet over a medium heat and pour in equal amounts of olive and canola oil to a depth of about 1 inch. The oil is hot enough when a tiny bit of the latke mixture sizzles when you drop it in.
4. I make small latkes, 3-4 inches across, scooping up a large tablespoon of batter into my palm and flattening it out before sliding it into the pan. The edges of the latke are very ragged and make me think of multi-clawed crabs! It takes only a few minutes for the latkes to brown. Then I gently flip them. As they come out of the pan, I move them onto a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.
Guideline for Yield: One potato will make about 2-3 latkes. One person will eat 3 latkes, depending on the size.
Photo Credit: ©Eric Vitale