WRITTEN ON December 16th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Appetizer, Dinner, Fruit, Holiday, Potato

One of my first pieces of “real” mail upon moving to the Big Apple was an invitation to come to the Park Avenue Synagogue for an evening of discussion about the state of our Jewry.  It was gorgeous, almost like a wedding invitation, on heavy card stock with embossed blue print.  It even had that fancy yet worthless little piece if tissue paper in between the invitation and directions to the temple.  Hey, I was new in the city.  I was looking to meet people.  I love a good party.  The one problem?  I’m not, in fact, Jewish.

I have no clue how I came to be on the mailing list for the Park Avenue Synagogue.  Somehow they’ve managed to find me at every address I’ve kept in the city (and don’t go thinking I’m one of those responsible people who goes to the Post Office and fills out a forwarding address card. I’m a leave no trace kind of tenant).  Finally, this past year, at my fourth address, they sent me yet another lovely invitation.  This time I just felt too guilty to ignore it.  I called and spoke to a very sweet elderly woman who seemed rather surprised when I explained that while I was very glad to be included, they were wasting their money on me.

I have to say I was a little sad, hanging up the phone. Unlike Groucho Marx, I actually would be a member of any club that would have me.  It was bittersweet.  I’d come to count on them finding me each time I changed my address.  There was something oddly comforting in it.

Last night, in honor of Choose-Your-Own-Heritage week, and as a tribute to the fine folks at PAS, I made one of my favorite Jewish holiday delicacies.  Latkes with homemade apple sauce.  They are crispy, salty-sweet, and oh so comforting.

So what if I ate them while watching A Christmas Story?  This is New York.  Home to some of the most warm hearted, open minded people I’ve ever known, contrary to popular belief.  Why not embrace a little bit of everyone’s happy memories and traditions?  After all, in a big, nutty city like this, it helps to know there’s always a door that’s open, even if you can’t stay for long.

8 crazy latkes

8 crazy latkes

Latkes and Applesauce (makes about 8 small latkes)
For the applesauce:
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled cored and diced
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes until soft but still with a bit of texture.

For Latkes:
1 1/2 cups (about 1 large or two medium sized) shredded baking potato (see below)
1/2 small onion
2 tbsp flour
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
Canola oil for frying
On a box grater, grate onion half into a medium bowl.  Grate potato on same box grater into a clean tea towel.  Salt potato shreds.  Wrap towel around potato shreds, squeeze out excess water over sink.  Add potato to bowl, along with flour, salt, pepper and egg.  Combine.  In a heavy cast iron pan, pour oil about 1 inch up sides.  Heat until bubbling but not smoking.  Using your hands, form 1 tbsp scoops of latke mixture into pancakes.  Slide them carefully into hot oil.  Fry until golden all over, about 3 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels, salt immediately.  Serve warm with sour cream and applesauce.

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