Monday, December 25, 2017


Potato pancakes.

The videos pretty much all say the same thing. They take a simple process and make it more difficult. Chef Bart messes his whole kitchen with bowls for everything separately, another video a 91 year old woman and her 70 year old son make them together. She puts the shredded potato in a 1/4 cup and he dumps them into the oil. A third says we're doing them all wrong by squeezing out the water from the potatoes, but she doesn't add any egg or onion. Oh yeah? Well your video has an annoying drumbeat through the whole thing, and that's doing a video all wrong. But she does use her processor twice, once to shred them, then again with the blades to slice the shreds for the right texture.

I didn't know that. I thought the hay-like texture was desirable. I never had these made by somebody else. My mother made potato pancakes from leftover mashed potatoes. Actually, she has good ideas and her potato pancakes look very good.

The Jewish recipes call for matzo. That's crumbs from ground up unleavened crackers. With eggs, and with residual potato starch, they're going for a paste to hold them together. Otherwise the latkes would be ordinary hashed browns. They're aiming for a crispy exterior and creamy interior.

I can use my cracker crumbs made from crackers. Breadsticks, actually. The sourdough ones are too thick and too heavy. I don't like them as breadsticks so I ground them to powder and crumbs. They're flavored with top hard cheese and with top bacon and with chipotle. Shame to throw them away. They will work very well for these pancakes in place of matzo.  But they cannot be considered Jewish. They're not kosher.

A woman grinds up vitamin C tablets for acid to keep the potatoes from oxidizing. Another uses lemon. Another uses vinegar. Seems any acid will do, cream of tartar, and I have two forms of powdered acid used for cheese-making, citric acid also used for flavoring, and acetic acid -- vinegar. I alway thought that was funny, like saying acid-acid.

Whatever. Seems as many approaches as there are cooks. My goal would be use as few bowls as possible. I don't like washing dishes.

But here's the thing. The people in the videos say, "Some people like them with sour cream and other people like them with applesauce."

Come on. Reach a little. You have a starch base, a platform, like an English muffin or like a bagel. A pile of rice, or mashed parsnip, to carry some flavorful component. One quick video that flies through the process ends with hands reaching in and taking these latkes revealing their text description and a whole world of ideas opens like magic.

Ha. They don't have shrimp and they don't have bacon. No sandwich ham. 

This whole board looks fantastic.

A good start. Any cheese would be great. 

The basil leaf and the sage leaf look great. While any herb will work equally well. All those leafy herbs (except bay) will work. I'm developing a real fondness for tarragon. And fennel and its fronds are both very nice. Celery and celery leaves work very well. And all of those micro greens too. Cucumber and cherry tomato. 

Harissa is a thick chile paste, and halumi is an unripened cheese with a high melting point that can be fried or grilled. Their sour cream and their smoked salmon both have capers on top. For salty dots. The cooks were thinking not so much what goes on potato, rather, what goes on hors d'oeuvre. 

I don't see any olives. 

Ever make your own applesauce? It's terribly difficult. Peeled apples into a processor, braaaaap. Done. Add a little lime to keep it fresh-looking. And you get to choose which apples to use.

Since applesauce is standard, then, thinking of the potato latke as toast, then any jam or preserve will work equally well.

Well, here's lunch sorted. 


edutcher said...

The margherita one looks good.

And I think the lemon was preserved, not pesreved.

Or something.

Chip Ahoy said...

Good eye.

ricpic said...

If I'd been a really good boy I'd get apple sauce and sour cream on my latkes. OMG.

Chip Ahoy said...

I think mine will have pork and beans. Sour cream and green onion. Some kind of preserves, like raspberry and apricot. Since they're similar to fries, then catsup. I also have avocado. And shrimp. And I have a small halibut. And I have like five different types of cheese. Also apples. Plus the aerogarden has taken off. Basil and chives are growing well. Mint and thyme and savory are lagging.

A friend came over and hung out for hours. I said, lets go get something to eat.

Eh, no thank you.

Lets cook something here. I'm surprisingly adept for a regular bloke.

Eh, no thank you.

I brought out from the refrigerator little clamshell tills of berries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries.

S-l-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-r-p. Gone. All four little containers.

So, got no berries. No cherry tomatoes. No olives. But I do have mushrooms. And I have zucchini and yellow squash. I could produce a sort of tapenade from that. I also have capers. And pickles.

I think with items on hand I can produce a board similar to this. Using one potato and my cheese breadstick crumbs in place of matzo. Watch. I'll post it on the other place. For fun.

Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

I think Latkas are delicious and easy to make. You can make them super simple or fancy, but you shouldn't over think them. They are a guilty pleasure...sorta like middle aged women watching Dirty Dancing.