Many of us grew up thinking it was sacrilegious to make latkes with anything but brown potatoes, yellow onions, white eggs, black pepper, kosher salt and matzah meal, but high-profile chefs and audacious matriarchs are changing colors and sometimes not using potatoes at all.

No matter how far afield they go, however, everyone claims to treasure a great-grandmother’s basic Lithuanian, Latvian or Ukrainian latke recipe.

Who can wait for that luscious first bite of the crispy potato latkes we’re used to?

Using a recipe transported from the Old Country, our ancestors produced perfect potato shreds on sturdy box graters, threw them into ice water with a little aspirin to protect their whiteness, and squeezed them with their bare hands within an inch of their life to meld the ingredients and evaporate the juice, then piled the mixture into a tablespoon and carefully dropped the pancakes into hot oil, where they spat and sputtered until they were golden brown, when they were triumphantly lifted out — creamy on the inside, wispy and crispy on the outside.

Because Chanukah lasts eight days, we can honor Great-Grandma — and our anxious taste buds — on the first night, then take her basic recipe and experiment on the remaining seven.

Jeffrey Nathan, chef/owner of Abigael’s kosher restaurant in Manhattan, said, “It’s all about the science.

“Russets and Yukon Golds have the same high starch content, so you need less flour to bind the latke together. The less flour, the richer the potato flavor, and that’s what we all want.”

Nathan favors the Yukon’s earthy flavor and creamy texture, and, of course, there’s that beautiful golden color. But they’re also considerably more expensive, so save them for intimate get-togethers or mix them with Russets, he said.

If you want to add vegetables such as zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, yams or parsnips, you need to adjust the starch accordingly, Nathan said. He recommends using three-quarters potatoes as a base and one-quarter of the other vegetables. When adding yams or parsnips, use no more than 50 percent of them because these root vegetables have almost no starch content, and the latkes won’t get crispy.

Draining latkes on paper towels is important.

A Riff on the Traditional

Michael McNally, chef/owner of London Grill in Philadelphia, loves adding various ingredients to his Russet-based batter, especially rutabaga, parsnip and celeriac. His Italian-influenced latkes contain zucchini, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan and a dollop of tomato sauce.

Although Laura Frankel, the executive chef and head of food services at the Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and Cafe at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago, likes her latkes traditional, she is fond of the Sephardic Italian favorite arancini di farro, a croquette made from the ancient grain. It’s more like a fritter and stays crispy for hours.

New York chef David Ruggerio makes Indian-influenced latkes by adding sweet potatoes and carrots to the Yukon base, then dropping currants and Indian spices into the batter.

Frankel tasted a Venezuelan-influenced latke filled with macadamia nuts and fried in palm oil at the James Beard House. It was delicious, she said. When asked what she thought about adding mushrooms, she frowned and said: “A latke with a mushroom is like a truffle in a matzah ball. I wouldn’t fry a mushroom until it got crisp, and I wouldn’t bury a truffle in mounds of matzah meal.”

Sweet and Savory Toppings

Frankel sets up a latke bar of toppings such as apple chutney, smoked salmon dip with caviar, Kalamata tapenade and roasted pepper sauce, along with the expected but still beloved applesauce and sour cream.

She prefers making appetizer-size latkes, about 1½-inch rounds, so that guests can taste a different flavor with each bite.

McNally is forever coming up with new toppings, such as pear butter made with fresh pears, lemon juice and butte. He also loves drizzling truffle oil over most of his creations.

Philadelphia chef Matthew Levin makes his own crème fraiche and a twist on traditional applesauce: three-apple spiced applesauce with Hendrick’s gin. Like many of the chefs, he prefers experimenting with toppings rather than filling the latke with divergent ingredients.

When Ruggerio was in Napa, Calif., he had latkes topped with creamy, locally produced goat cheese and fresh, crisp apples and drizzled with rich honey, such as pine, acacia and chestnut. He said latkes in Burlington, Vt., topped with pure maple syrup were delightful.

That’s a stretch, even for me, the renegade traditionalist, which is what I think all chefs are at heart.

Sweet Potato Latkes

From Michael McNally

Serves 6 to 8

4 large sweet potatoes (3 pounds), peeled

1 large onion (1 pound) halved

4 large eggs

1 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1½ cups oil (combination of canola and olive oil) for frying

Grate the potatoes and onions on a box grater. Add the eggs, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg, and mix well. Heat the oil in a cast-iron pan. With a measuring cup, scoop out 1/3 cup of the mixture and form it into a pancake. Slide the pancake into the hot oil, and cook 8 to 10 minutes on each side.

Mom’s Latkes

From Matthew Levin’s mother, Judi Simms

Makes 25 to 30 latkes

5 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled

1 Spanish onion

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

Sea salt and white pepper to taste

5 to 7 tablespoons potato starch

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Grape seed oil for frying

On a box grater, shred potatoes and onions together. Combine that mixture with the eggs and egg yolks, salt and pepper, potato starch, and flour. In a cast-iron pan, pour oil about 1/8 inch up the sides of the pan. When the oil is 375 degrees, shape the latkes with a tablespoon and drop each one carefully into the oil. Fry until the latkes are well browned and crisp on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.

Spiced Apple and Gin Puree

From Matthew Levin

Serves 12

10 Gala apples, cored, peeled and cut into large chunks

10 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled and cut into large chunks

10 Macintosh apples, cored, peeled and cut into large chunks

½ cup Muscovado sugar

1 cup Hendrick’s gin

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise, ground

3 allspice berries, ground

1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

To a nonreactive saucepan, add all the ingredients except the gin. Sweat the apples until they’re soft, then deglaze with half the gin. Continue cooking until most of the liquid is reduced. Remove the cinnamon sticks and puree them in a blender until you reach the desired consistency, as smooth or chunky as you wish. Chill the puree for 2 hours. Just before serving, add the other half of the gin. Serve immediately.

Arancini di Farro

From “Jewish Cooking for All Seasons” (John Wiley & Sons) by Laura Frankel

Farro is available at Italian and other specialty food markets and online.

½ pound farro (about 2 cups) rinsed to remove loose husks

4 to 6 cups water or vegetable stock

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for sprinkling if desired

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

3 large eggs, beaten

2 cups fresh, untoasted bread crumbs

Extra-virgin olive oil

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the farro, water or stock, and salt, and boil for 15 minutes. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook until the farro is tender, thick and creamy, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the farro seems too hard, add more water and continue cooking until soft. Remove the pan from the heat. Place the farro in a shallow dish and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Cover and refrigerate until cold. In a medium bowl, place the ricotta, parsley and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. With a tablespoon, scoop out the farro and shape into small balls. Push a small indentation into each ball. Spoon a small amount of the cheese mixture into the farro, then close the opening. Place the eggs on a large, shallow plate. Season the bread crumbs with salt and pepper and place them on another shallow plate. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, pour 2 inches of vegetable oil and heat to approximately 350 degrees. Dip a farro ball into the eggs, then roll it into the bread crumbs. When you have coated 6 to 8 balls, place them in the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Move the balls to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle the arancini with parsley if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Purple or Blue Latkes

With Apple Pear Relish and Winter Cider Drizzle

From Jeff Nathan

Makes 16 latkes

1 blue or purple potato (about 6 ounces)

2 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 to 6 ounces)

1 medium Spanish onion

4 tablespoons potato starch

1 large egg

¼ teaspoon hot sauce

½ teaspoon granulated garlic

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

Canola oil for frying

Using a box grater or food processor, alternately shred the potatoes and onion into a large bowl, producing about 4 cups of shredded potato and onion. Sprinkle in the potato starch. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg. Stir in the hot sauce, granulated garlic, salt, pepper, cilantro and olive oil. Pour the egg mixture into the potatoes. Using your hands, thoroughly combine all the ingredients. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Using a quarter-cup measure, carefully place the latke mixture into the hot oil. Using the back of a tablespoon, pat down the batter to make large, thin latkes. Do not crowd the pan. Fry on both sides until golden. Remove the latkes from the pan and drain them on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Continue until all the latke batter is used. Serve the latkes with the Apple-Pear Relish and Winter Cider Drizzle (below).

Apple-Pear Relish

From Jeffrey Nathan

Makes 1½ cups

¼ cup dried cranberries

1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)

2 tablespoons apple cider

2 teaspoons New Mexican chili powder

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 Fuji apple, cut into eighths, stemmed and seeded

1 Bartlett pear

½ medium red onion

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Place the cranberries in a small container and cover them with hot water. Set aside and allow to plump for at least 20 minutes. Drain and discard the water. Roughly chop the roasted pepper into a small dice and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, lime juice and apple cider. Add the chili powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. Place the fruit, plumped cranberries and red onion in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the chopped fruit to the bowl and stir to coat the fruit in the spiced apple liquids. Add the chopped poblano pepper, cilantro and olive oil. Using a rubber spatula, stir well to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.

Winter Cider Drizzle

From Jeffrey Nathan

Makes ½ cup

1 cup apple cider

1 tablespoon light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon honey

In a small sauce pot, combine all ingredients. Over a low-medium flame, heat to a simmer to reduce by half. Remove from the fire and allow to cool. Drizzle over the fruit relish and latkes.

Carrot-Yam Latkes

From Oakland, Calif., cooking teacher and caterer Jean Brady

Makes eight 4-to-5-inch pancakes

1 onion (5 ounces)

1 Russet potato (9 ounces), peel left intact

1 small yam (5 ounces), peeled

1 small carrot (3 ounces), peeled

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Safflower or canola oil to fry

With a hand grater or the fine grating disc of a food processor, grate together the onion, potato, yam and carrot. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for 20 minutes. Squeeze moisture from the mixture. Sprinkle in the flour, nutmeg and cilantro. Add the eggs and stir just until thoroughly combined. Place a heavy, 12-inch skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Pour 1/8 inch of oil into the pan and heat until the oil is hot enough to brown a bread cube quickly. Using a large spoon, carefully place the batter into the pan. With the back of the spoon, flatten each pancake so it is very thin. Do not crowd the pancakes. Work slowly, being careful not to splash hot oil on yourself. Fry the pancakes for about 7 minutes on each side, raising or lowering the heat to get the pancakes brown and crunchy. Line a platter with several layers of paper toweling. Using a slotted spatula, remove the pancakes to the platter. Repeat the frying, adding additional oil to the pan if necessary. Serve immediately.

Potato, Zucchini and Carrot Latkes

From Jean Brady

Makes eight latkes

1 red potato (5 ounces)

1-2 Russets (total of 13 ounces)

1 small zucchini (4 ounces), seeded

1 small carrot (3 ounces)

½ onion (3 ounces)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon chopped tarragon

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Safflower or canola oil to fry

With a hand grater or the fine grating disc of a food processor, grate the potatoes, zucchini, carrot and onion together. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic. Allow the mixture to sit for 20 minutes. Squeeze moisture from the mixture. Sprinkle in the flour, tarragon and parsley. Add the eggs and stir until just thoroughly combined. Place a heavy, 12-inch skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Pour 1/8 inch of oil into the pan. When the oil is hot, carefully place the batter into the pan. With the back of a spoon, flatten each pancake so it is very thin. Do not crowd the pancakes. Fry the pancakes for about 7 minutes on each side, raising or lowering the heat to get the pancakes brown and crunchy. Line a platter with several layers of paper toweling. Using a slotted spatula, remove the pancakes to the platter. Repeat the frying, adding additional oil to the pan if necessary. Serve immediately.

Mashed Golden Potato Pancakes

From Jean Brady

Makes six 5-to-6-inch pancakes

4 Yukon Gold potatoes (total of 24 ounces)

3 tablespoons butter plus more to fry cakes

2 tablespoons cream

2/3 cup milk or a bit more

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon white truffle oil or best olive oil, plus some to drizzle at table

1 bunch chives, finely sliced, plus some to garnish

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 large shallot, minced

4 large chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

Set the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the potatoes until soft, and cool just enough to handle. Remove the skins. With a potato masher, mash them until lump-free. Add 2 tablespoons butter, the cream, milk, egg yolks, truffle oil, chives, salt and pepper. Heat a large, shallow skillet. With the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, sauté the shallots and mushrooms until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes, and combine them with the mashed potato mixture. If the mixture seems too thick to easily form cakes, add a bit more milk. Use immediately, or chill for up to two days, bringing to room temperature before cooking. Form into 6 patties. Place a heavy, 12-inch skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Melt enough butter to cover the bottom of the pan. Fry the cakes over medium heat in two batches until golden and crunchy on both sides. Drizzle with more truffle oil, and garnish with long, wispy chives. Serve immediately.