Adeena Sussman has become something of an Israeli star, in large part thanks to her slew of cookbooks and food writing. The U.S. native relocated to Tel Aviv nearly five years ago, eschewing New York bagels for Israeli babka and bourekas.
Her most recent cookbook, “Sababa,” teems with a large selection of Israeli fare, straight from Adeena’s kitchen. Sababa translates to “everything is awesome,” and her recipes are certainly an homage to that sentiment: a mix of bright, sunny dishes, many influenced by global cuisines and immigrant traditions.
Sababa, $23.99 on Amazon
Related Reading: What Is the Difference Between Potato Pancakes and Potato Latkes?
Since Hanukkah is approaching and Adeena’s cookbook boasts a recipe for crispy latkes, we picked her brain to figure out how to make the very best latkes for the holiday. Plus, she has a few suggestions for latke toppings—in case you’ve grown weary of the same old sour cream. Adeena plops sour cream and salmon roe on her latkes, along with homemade applesauce (without cinnamon). Plus: “A scoop of vanilla ice cream,” she says. “Don’t knock it till you try it.”
Read on for Adeena’s latke tips, then upgrade Hanukkah with a recipe for creamy green shakshuka with crispy latkes from “Sababa.” Adeena compares her green shakshuka to creamed spinach, which makes sense: the spinach is cooked down with half-and-half, crowned with just-cooked eggs, and paired with a side of crispy latkes, ready to mop up any excess egg yolk.
Adeena’s Tips for Making Crispy Latkes
Everything’s about timing when it comes to making latkes. You have to work fast to guarantee the potatoes don’t turn brown after they’ve been shredded, so Adeena recommends having everything out and ready before you actually start cooking.
Stick to the Basics
Don’t go out of your way for out-of-the-ordinary potatoes. Adeena maintains that she much prefers Russet or Idaho potatoes for latkes; they’re sturdy and firm, guaranteed to mold into patties and crisp up in oil.
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, $30 on Amazon
Remove Extra Water
One way to guarantee crispy latkes? Remove any excess water from the potatoes. Adeena suggests after grating the potatoes and onions to place them in a clean towel and wring out any extra water—we guarantee your latkes will be crispier than French fries.
Don’t Make the Latkes Too Big
While you may prefer big, round pancakes, latkes are much better when they’re on the smaller side. “A smaller latke is a crispier latke,” Adeena explains, suggesting that when you plop smaller latkes in the pan, you don’t have to worry about overcrowding the pan. When the latkes are too crowded, the oil temperature decreases which causes sogginess.
Recipe excerpted with permission from “Sababa” by Adeena Sussman, published by Avery, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Creamy Green Shakshuka with Crispy Latkes Recipe
I shop the shuk for produce the way some scour racks for clothes, poring over a table of greens for the frilliest kale, the chard with the loveliest shade of green, the spinach with the most beautiful tapered blossoms. I end up with arms so full that I get home and start cleaning and separating leaves from stems, eager to cook down the bounty so the rest can fit, albeit tightly, in the fridge. A great vehicle for this bounty is a skillet of green shakshuka, which always seems like a great idea in theory, but in practice has some technical issues: I wanted my green shakshuka base to hold together like a sauce the way its cousin, red shakshuka, does, almost becoming one with the eggs. I found my solution in an American steakhouse side: creamed spinach. By adding half-and-half to the cooked greens, it brings them together, taking on the earthy flavor of the vegetables while adding a little sweetness and creaminess. I took it a step further, making latkes that serve as the ideal landing spot for those golden yolks and sauce. You can make the sauce, cover it, move on to the latkes, and then, while they’re frying to a crisp, warm the sauce, add the eggs, and finish the shakshuka.
Creamy Green Shakshuka with Crispy Latkes
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 large onion, finely diced
- 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 pound (about 16 cups) roughly chopped stemmed mixed green leaves (such as kale, spinach, chard), from 1½ pounds unstemmed mixed greens
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup packed mixed fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, basil), finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, za’atar, or oregano
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeños
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more to taste
- ½ cup half-and-half (or ¾ cup if you’re feeling the creamed- spinach vibe)
- 8 large eggs
- 2 very large Russet potatoes (2 pounds), scrubbed
- 1 medium onion
- 1 large eggs
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- Set a rack in the top third of the oven.
- Make the shakshuka: In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, 9 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 1 more minute. Raise the heat to medium-high, then add the greens in batches, stirring as they wilt and release most of their liquid, 2 to 3 minutes per batch (you don’t want the greens to be completely dead, but they should have slumped and reduced in size significantly). Add the vegetable broth and cook until mostly absorbed. Stir in the mixed herbs, thyme, jalapeño, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Reduce the heat on the stove to medium-low, stir in the half-and-half, and simmer until the mixture unifies and thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes (at this point you can turn off the heat, cover the mixture, and make the latkes). Use a spoon to hollow out eight small wells for the eggs, and crack the eggs into the wells. Cook for 3 minutes, then transfer to the oven and cook until the whites are just opaque but the yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve over latkes.
- Make the latkes: Fill a large bowl with cold water. Using the large holes on the side of a box grater (or a food processor fitted with the shredder attachment), grate the potatoes and onions, transfer them to the water, and let them sit for 5 minutes. Place a clean kitchen towel on the counter near the sink. Pull the potatoes and onions out of the water, squeeze out as much water as you can back into the bowl, and let the water settle. Dump the potatoes and onions onto the towel, fold the towel over the mixture, and squeeze out and discard as much of the liquid as you can from the potatoes and onions. Gently drain the water out of the large bowl, tipping out all the water but leaving the white potato starch at the bottom. Add the squeezed potatoes and onions to the sludge in the bowl, then add the eggs, salt, and pepper and stir it all together.
- Meanwhile, heat ¼ cup of the vegetable oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat (don’t worry, they’ll still crisp, without burning). Two or three at a time, spoon the mixture into the pan ⅓ cup at a time into 4-inch-round, ½-inch-thick latkes, pressing down gently, and fry until each side is golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter and oil; drain latkes on paper towels. Serve with the green shakshuka.
Header image courtesy of Dan Perez.