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These latkes put a colorful twist on holiday favorite

Recipe: Sweet potato latkes, served with applesauce and sour cream

Pair sweet potato latkes with the traditional applesauce and sour cream.

Pair sweet potato latkes with the traditional applesauce and sour cream. Debbie Arrington

Happy Hanukkah! My favorite food of this holiday season: Latkes.

Fried in oil, latkes are an edible nod to Hanukkah’s origin story. In Jerusalem’s Holy Temple, lamp oil that was not supposed to last more than one night miraculously stretched to eight nights.

Latkes in a pan with oil
Fry the latkes in 1/4-inch of vegetable oil.

The purest olive oil was used for the temple’s lamp. For my sweet potato latkes, I prefer vegetable oil. This twist on traditional potato latkes uses bright orange sweet potatoes for more color (and antioxidants – these fried potatoes are good for you). I serve them with my homegrown applesauce and sour cream.

Sweet potato latkes also make a savory appetizer. Instead of applesauce, top with sour cream or crème fraiche and a little caviar.

Sweet potato latkes

Makes about 12

Ingredients:

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled

½ yellow onion

¼ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 eggs

Vegetable oil for frying

Applesauce (optional)

Sour cream (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with paper towels or parchment paper. Set aside.

Grate sweet potatoes, either by hand or with a food processor. Soak grated sweet potatoes in a large bowl of salted water (about 1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 quart water) while assembling the other ingredients.

Grate onion. Wrap in a paper towel and press much as water as possible out of the grated onion. Put grated onion in a large bowl.

Drain grated sweet potatoes in a sieve, pressing out the water. Add sweet potatoes to onion in the bowl; toss to combine.

In a small bowl or cup, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add to sweet potato mixture.

Lightly beat eggs and add to the sweet potato mixture.

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. It should cover the bottom of the pan about ¼ inch deep.

Using two wooden spoons, scoop about ¼ cup of sweet potato mixture and drop into hot oil. With the back of the spoon, gently flatten the scoops into patties. Repeat as room allows in the pan without overcrowding.

Latkes on baking sheet
Keep latkes warm in a low oven until all are fried.

Fry each patty until golden brown on each side and crispy on the edges, turning once; about 5 to 7 minutes total per patty. As the latkes finish cooking, remove them from the pan and set on the prepared baking sheet. Keep the latkes warm in the oven until all of them are fried.

Serve immediately with applesauce and sour cream, if desired.

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Garden Checklist for week of June 16

Summer officially starts Thursday. The good news: No triple-digits – at least until next weekend.

* Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden, with tomatoes and squash enjoying the heat. Deep-water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal or rock phosphate can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.

* Generally, tomatoes need deep watering two to three times a week, but don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, melons, radishes, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

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