Every year about this time I get questions about how to prepare latkes. These crispy potato pancakes are the star dish for a Hanukkah party. This version combines the Idaho russet with diced apple. I knew it had to be good because applesauce and any potato pancake are a dangerously delicious combination. The starch and moisture in the russet potato help the pancakes keep their shape and fry crisply, while the apple adds a faintly sweet flavor. Try it with the following maple-flavored applesauce recipe. And remember, potato pancakes are a wonderful dish year-round.

I am a fan of this no-fail method that uses the food processor instead of grating the potatoes, onion and apple by hand. Just purée the eggs and onions in the food processor until fluffy and then pulse in the potato and apple chunks until they resemble finely grated potatoes. I usually test one in hot oil before I start cooking a batch to make sure that they are seasoned just right.

These potato pancakes can be enjoyed in other menus throughout the holiday season. I like to serve these for breakfast or brunch alongside an egg frittata or scrambled eggs. Consider these as part of a vegetarian entree served with puréed butternut squash and steamed green beans. They also make a great side dish with any grilled or roasted main course.

These fried potato rounds are always popular at my house. Anyone claiming they are dieting falls off the wagon — they can't resist the crispy outer crust with a dollop of sour cream and fresh applesauce. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you are having a crowd. I like to use a small ice cream scooper to drop the potato mixture into the hot oil. You can also use a ladle or large tablespoon.

Here are a few more tips to help you through the process:

• Wear old clothes when frying, since you will smell like fried oil when you are finished.

• Use vegetable oil.

• Use nonstick skillets for ease in turning the pancakes.

• Cook the pancakes on medium-high heat.

• Use a small ice cream scooper to drop the pancakes into the hot oil. You can also use a ladle or large tablespoon.

• Have a flat wire strainer nearby to collect any particles that stay in the oil; if the oil becomes too dirty, discard and begin again.

• Don't crowd the pan or the oil temperature will drop and the pancakes will be oily.

• Have a wide spatula for turning the pancakes.

• Place the pancakes on paper towels to remove any excess oil before serving.