“If you’ve got latkes, sour cream and applesauce, of course it’s gonna be great!” – Esther Weiner
These are the words I overheard Esther use to describe the success of last night’s Esther Fest program. But, of course all of us present know what made Esther Fest the place to be last night… our very own Esther Weiner, gift shop manager, latke chef extraordinaire and all around amazing person. Billed as “the most hilarious human on earth,” Esther, whose repertoire of jokes included classics about the Catskills and Borscht Belt as well as anecdotes from her own life, never disappoints. Even her husband, Morty, told a joke! It was certainly a family affair – Esther had the whole room smiling and laughing as she and her granddaughters fried up delicious latkes in honor of Chanukah.
This year as part of a fun twist, Esther invited audience participation, giving prizes to the Brews & Schmooze young adult audience members who shared Chanukah memories or could recount the facts of the epic battle commemorated during the holiday. Prizes included dreidels, chocolate gelt, and a car mezuzah. Car mezuzahs (available for purchase in the JMM gift shop) are just like the traditional mezuzahs affixed to doorposts, except they contain the traveler’s prayer and can be anchored to the inside of a car. And, as Esther informed us, they have saved her from many a close call. The grand prize winner was Jennie Gates Beckman for her rendition of the song, “I am a Latke.”
If you missed the program, you can catch a recording of Esther making latkes with WYPR’s Aaron Hankin tonight at 7:40pm and tomorrow, December 8th at 1:40pm. As promised last night, below you will find the recipe for Esther’s famous latkes:
4 medium potatoes, peeled, slice 1 potato in quarters lengthwise, cut 3 in cubes for your processor, keep in cold water
1 medium sweet onion – cut up
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp sugar (if potatoes taste slightly bitter)
3 tblsp flour
Vegetable oil for frying
Grate one potato with the grater blade in food processor, put in bowl, put the cubed potatoes in processor and whirl with cutting blade until just chopped, not too fine. Repeat until all the potatoes are grated. If watery, place potatoes in strainer and then in your mixing bowl.
Put eggs and onion in blender; whirl to combine, do not leave pieces of onion intact. Add to that potatoes in the bowl.
Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, baking soda and flour to thicken the batter slightly.
Heat oil in large skillet (or two smaller ones) until a drop of water tells you that oil is hot enough, it will bounce around the oil. Drop and drag one tblsp potato mixture for each pancake. The “dragging” with your spoon will leave little “strings” of potato to crisp and make the latkes a little thinner.
Fry crisp and golden brown on all sides.
Wishing you a happy Chanukah from everyone here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!