Suzie’s Latkes

From the outside looking in, here’s a shot of my family gathered in my living room for Hanukkah. Our lighting table is by the front window for all passersby to see. What you can’t experience from this picture is… the scent of latkes filling the air!

Everyone in my family looks forward to “Suzie’s” Hanukkah party, not least of all because of my homemade latkes. I acquired the recipe years ago when my children were very young. Preparing them has become a family tradition.

For many years, my mother, Marika—born in Antwerp, Belgium, and affectionately called “Mimi” by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren—would come over about two weeks before Hanukkah. Together we would fry ten pounds of potatoes, making well over one hundred latkes! When she became too old to drive, I would pick her up and bring her over. One year there was a huge rain storm on our pre-planned latke-making day. The streets were flooded, but I was not deterred. How surprised my mother was when I showed up at her door to pick her up for latke duty!

Since mom has passed away and my children are now married with their own families, the tradition of making latkes in my home has continued—but with a replacement assistant: my husband, Jerry. Just like with mom, about two weeks before Hanukkah, he and I fry up about ten pounds of potatoes and make latkes. With Jerry, I had to come up with a special incentive: to convince him to spend the day frying latkes with me, I promise him a 10% eating allowance. That seems to work just fine for him!

The recipe isn’t that different from many, but I have perfected the method of preparation so that they can be made in advance, kept in the freezer if desired, and still be crispy on the night when they are re-heated.

Enjoy, and Happy Hanukkah!

Suzie’s Latkes
1-1/2 lb. russet potatoes
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons matzo meal
3 tablespoons finely grated onion
1 egg
Note: A food processor is essential for this preparation.
Hint: To avoid potatoes turning black, make a single batch at a time.

  • Peel potatoes and drop peeled potatoes into a bowl of ice water.
  • Mix baking powder, salt, pepper, and matzo meal. Set aside.
  • Finely grate onion using cutting blade of food processor. Set aside.
  • Coarsely shred potatoes using shredding blade of food processor.
  • After shredding, place potatoes in colander, run under cold water, and squeeze out excess liquid.
  • Add shredded potatoes, grated onion, dry ingredients, and egg to food processor bowl.
  • Using cutting blade of food processor, process ingredients for a few seconds until mixed. There should still be evidence of some potato shreds.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan, just enough to generously cover the bottom of the pan about 1/8-inch deep.
  • Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of potato mixture into hot oil. Press flat using a spatula, but don’t pack tightly.
  • Fry over moderate heat until medium-brown. Turn and brown other side of each latke.
  • Drain on brown paper bags or paper towels. Serve, eat, and enjoy, or…
  • After cooling slightly, freeze latkes on a cookie sheet in single layers. When frozen, place them in layers, separated by wax paper, in zipper freezer storage bags and store in freezer. When ready to use, preheat oven to 400° and heat in single layer on a cookie sheet until sizzling (about 10 minutes). Serve, eat, and enjoy!


Posted in Family History, Food and Wine, Holidays, Recipes and tagged , .

About Sue Urfrig

Native Angeleno and lifelong Westside resident Sue Urfrig has been a docent at the Skirball for a remarkable sixteen years. She is also Cabinet Chair (President) of Hadassah Southern California. In addition to traveling and reading, her favorite hobby is biking along the beach with her husband, Jerry. Once a week, they ride eighteen miles in one go!

3 thoughts on “Suzie’s Latkes

  1. When Sue and I worked together for Hadassah Southern California, I remember her taking time off from that volunteer job to cook these latkes…hundreds of them! That’s (re)dedication, Hanukkah’s lesson…

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