Showing posts with label Potatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Potatoes. Show all posts

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy Chanukah! or Hanukah! Adam and Maxine Rapoport's Potato Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

The other day
 I stumbled upon the latke line up for the Fourth Annual Latke Festival. I nearly boarded a plane and headed straight for LaGuardia airport. All those latkes, made by some of the best restaurants in New York. Oh, I wanted to be part of it. I wanted a little latke taste...
But (now) I live almost 1,800 miles from Brooklyn and flying in for a latke festival seems a bit extravagant. Maybe next year. 
Or better yet, I can organize a latke-swap right here in Denver. Who's in?
We could have all kinds of latkes. Sweet potato, leek, yam & carrot, curried latkes. Oh, and the toppings. We could really go crazy! 
But maybe I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself. Before taking on a more inventive latke menu maybe I should master the classic. 

I took out my most recent copy of Bon Appetit and there it was: the most perfect looking latke. The recipe was from Adam Rapoport's mother Maxine. Adam is the current editor of Bon Appetit magazine, so I figured it had to be good...
And it was. 
The latkes cooked evenly on both sides and they were perfectly crisp. Not a bit of sogginess or unwanted oiliness. I made the recipe just as it was written, minus the optional schmaltz. 
For those of you who don't know, schmaltz is rendered chicken fat. I have vivid memories of my father cutting fresh challah bread and slathering it with schmaltz. It was part of our family's Friday night shabbat ritual and it was a big treat in our house. But then around the mid-80s the truth about schmaltz came out-- it turned out rendered chicken fat wasn't exactly good for you. And just like that, my mother abruptly stopped serving it. I think it took my father years to recover emotionally; he really loved that schmaltz.
But anyway, back to the latkes. They are really simple to make and I have to tell you, they are the best latkes I've ever been able to make at home. 
So enjoy these classic latkes and have a very happy Chanukah!

Adam and Maxine's Famous Latkes

Russets are ideal for latkes. Their high starch content means you won't need flour to bind the pancakes. The result? More potato, and a crunchy (not cakey) texture.
(Courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine
Makes 24
3 pounds large russet potatoes (4-6)
1 medium Vidalia, yellow, or brown onions (about 2)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup fine plain dried breadcrumbs
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-4 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil

2 tablespoons (or more) schmaltz (chicken fat; optional)
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 325°. Peel potatoes. Using the large holes of a box grater or the grater disk on a food processor, grate potatoes and onions. {I use the box grater for the potatoes and the food processor grating dish for the onions.} Transfer to a large kitchen towel. Gather ends of towel; twist over sink and squeeze firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Open towel; toss mixture to loosen. Gather towel; wring out once more.

Whisk eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, baking powder, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Add potato mixture. Using your fingers, mix until well coated. (Latke mixture should be wet and thick, not soupy.)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Set a wire rack inside another large rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons schmaltz, if using, and 2 tablespoons oil (or 4 tablespoons oil if not using schmaltz; fat should measure about 1/8 inches) in a 12 inches nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into pan. If the fat sizzles around the edges, it's ready. (Do not let fat smoke.)

Working in batches and adding more schmaltz and oil to skillet as needed to maintain 1/8 inches fat, drop large spoonfuls of mixture into pan, pressing gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to flatten slightly. (If mixture becomes watery between batches, mix to incorporate; do not drain.)

Cook latkes, occasionally rotating pan for even browning, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 1/2-3 minutes per side. (If small pieces of potato floating in the oil start to burn, carefully strain out.)

Transfer latkes to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain, then transfer to prepared wire rack. Place sheet with latkes in oven to keep warm and crisp while cooking remaining latkes.

Serve warm latkes with applesauce and sour cream.

Here are some vegetarian options from the Fourth Annual Potato Latke Festival in Brooklyn: 

  • Potato Latke with Fontina, Apple, and Truffles from A Voce.
  • Potato, Yam & Carrot Latke with Honey, Preserved Lemons & Yogurt Sauce from Balaboosta
  • Potato Pancakes with Vanilla Applesauce and Schmaltzy Onions from Blue Ribbon Brooklyn
  • Laid Back Latke with Deviled Egg and Red Onion, Parsley and Black Olive Relish from Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
  • Spud Maccabee with Pickled Fennel Jam, Butternut Squash, and Crème Fraîche from The Farm on Adderley
  • Magic Mushroom Cakes: Traditional Potato Pancakes made with Mushrooms & Onions and topped with Porcini Mushroom Sauce and Cranberry-Apple Sauce from Norma's
  • Duo of Potato Latke with Balsamic Lemon Crème Fraiche, Fresh Shaved Black Truffles and Micro Green Salad from Veselka
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Market Inspiration: Swiss Rösti topped with Shakshuka

Last week I took the boys to the Denver Christkindl Market, a traditional German Christmas market that replicates the kind of markets that have existed in Germany and throughout parts of Western Europe for over 700 years. The month-long market (which ends on December, 22) is located at Skyline Park in Downtown Denver, right on 16th Street at Arapahoe. 
Vendors are selling German crafts (ornaments, biersteins, wood-carved toys, lace, nesting dolls, etc.) from traditional wooden stalls. 
And in addition to the crafts (which were quite beautiful), there's lots of great food: cinnamon pretzels, German pastries, crepes, and bratwurst, to name a few.... 
You can eat your culinary treats (and drink some Glühwein too) in a large tent at the end of the market. The tent is filled with picnic tables and benches, a bar, and a stage designated for musical performances.

One of my favorite food vendors at the market is Latke Love. They are serving traditional potato latkes (which I always considered quintessential Jewish food from Eastern Europe, but turns out also exists as a German dish called Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen). I got the classic: latkes topped with applesauce and cinnamon whipped cream. I'm also a big fan of their other vegetarian option, Oy Vey Caliente!- where latkes are piled high and topped with green chili and a poached egg. Delicious!(For the omnivores, there are meat options too.)  
Now many cuisines have potato latkes, they just go by a different name. 
In Germany the latke is called Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen. In Luxembourg you'd order Gromperekichelcher. Poles slather their placki ziemniaczane in sour cream. Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians call their potato pancake deruny or draniki. And the Swiss have Rösti, a very large potato pancake that's a lot like a latke, except it doesn't contain eggs or flour. 
There are variations on rösti: some recipes add herbs like rosemary and caraway seeds. Others add meat, eggs or cheese. But they are all basically grated potato, that's been pressed and fried in a pan. 
This rösti recipe, considered the definitive version, is from Restaurant Della Casa in Bern. It was first published in the January/February 1998 issue of Saveur magazine. And last month, in celebration of Saveur's 150th issue, they reprinted it under 150 Classic Recipes. (I also saw it on Lottie + Doof, one of my favorite food blogs.)
Rösti: Swiss Hash Browns (Courtesy of Saveur Magazine


2¼ lb. russet potatoes (about 3 large)
2 tbsp. lard or unsalted butter
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste


1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes, and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Peel potatoes, then refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Grate potatoes using the large holes on a cheese grater; set aside.

2. Heat butter (or lard) and oil in an 8" nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When lard has melted, add potatoes, sprinkle with salt, and mix well, coating potatoes with fat. Using a metal spatula, gently press potatoes, molding them to fit the skillet. Cook, shaking skillet occasionally, until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
3. Cover skillet with a large inverted plate, invert the rösti over onto plate, then slide it back into the skillet, cooked side up; cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, sprinkle with salt, and cut into wedges to serve. 

Now rösti is plenty delicious on its own, but I was feeling inspired by the latke toppings I'd seen at the market. I decided to top the potatoes with shakshuka, a fabulous dish whereby eggs are simmered in a spicy tomato sauce. 
I used a tried-and-true recipe that I've posted here, but  made a few adaptations:

  • Omitted the peppers and instead added a few pinches of red pepper flakes.
  • Omitted the fresh parsley and instead used a few pinches of dried parsley.
  • Used 1/2 a small onion and added one shallot, chopped.
  • Pulsed the sauce a few times with an immersion blender to give it more of a pomodoro-like consistency, which I thought would go better on top of the potatoes.

But get creative. Top the rösti with something you like. Or, you can do as Swiss purists do...and eat it like it's been eaten at Bern's Restaurant Della Casa for hundreds of years.
Happy holidays and happy eating! 
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Squash It! Ollin Farm and Lots of Seasonal (Squash) Fare

Producing real food is very hard work. And producing food on a scale that is larger than what you can get from a small garden in your backyard, well, that is a tremendous undertaking. 
Now I've never personally worked on a farm, but I did try to grow strawberries on my fire escape in Brooklyn one time...and let me tell you, it did not go well. I watered that strawberry plant and I made sure the soil had nutrients. I loved that plant and I gave her my all. In return for my efforts, my plant produced ONE pitiful looking strawberry. I had been dreaming of strawberry salads and fresh fruit smoothies. I don't know what I was thinking. That summer my dill and basil didn't fare much better. And that marked the end of my urban growing experience.
A bit of of time passed, and I found a new confidence. I'd done some reading, dog-eared some pages of Martha Stewart Living, and followed a handful of gardening blogs religiously. I planted two tomato plants, basil, cilantro, rosemary, mint and Italian parsley. 
My expectations were modest. 
It's been a few months since my initial planting. The tomato plants are growing, by there's nary a tomato in sight. The basil looks depressed and the cilantro is dead. The good news is my mint, rosemary and parsley are thriving. But it's not exactly what I would call season's bounty. I never even got to planting vegetables like spinach, chard, or squash. Farmers, you have my respect! 
Farming is seriously hard work. I found out all about it when I went to the Ollin Farm for their Squash Festival last weekend. The farm is in Longmont, Colorardo-- not too far from Boulder. It's in a really beautiful part of the country. (I first heard of the farm through this post on Boulder Locavore.)
Ollin Farm seems like a product of love. It is run by a husband-and-wife team, along with their children (and I believe a few other family members and some workers too). Kena is originally from Mexico City and her husband Mark is from Colorado. While they didn't have backgrounds in agriculture or farming, 5 years of hard work and lots of education have paid off- they have one of the nicest farms I've been to.
There was so much gorgeous looking produce at the festival. There were heirloom squashes, Ronde de Nice, Pattypans, zucchinis, summer squashes, herbs, beets and greens. Back to Basics Kitchen had a demonstration table that was full of delicious dishes-- all containing the ingredient of the day, squash! 
Thank you Ollin Farm for a great day. You've inspired me to try my hand (again) at small-time farming next summer...
{Recipes follow.} 
I don't know why I always refer to sheep as female. At any rate, this is Victor....
The Back to Basics Kitchen demonstration table. The Pesto Zucchini Noodles were delicious. They gave out recipe cards, but I misplaced mine. Sad face. 
Unfortunately for me, the visit to the chicken coop coincided with Otis's nap time and a slight meltdown ensued. He was positively certain that the chickens wanted to "eat him up." And there was crying. I tried to comfort him, but things started to go downhill...with a quickness! Theo, oblivious to the meltdown, was desperately trying to chase the poultry. 
These eggs were plucked right out of the hen house. It got me thinking...if we stay in Colorado, should we get chickens? I'm not sure what Omar (our elderly Rott) would think of that situation- it's chaotic enough around our parts. I'm not sure my husband would be on board either...but maybe?! 
Water drip technology is an efficient way to irrigate the crops. 
I picked up some deliciously amazing squash. Thank you Ollin Farm for a great day. 
See you for the Tomato Festival!
* * *
Zucchini and Potato Soup (Courtesy of Anna Thomas's Love Soup)
{In contrast to the soups I usually make, which have a very intense flavor, this soup is relatively mild -- but it is creamy (though creamless) and satisfying. You really need to adjust the salt and pepper here. That is key. Add a drizzle of olive oil and some crumbled feta before serving. Wanna really jazz it up? Add some sauteed zucchini blossoms. Next time I may add a pinch of cayenne or paprika.}
Serves 6-8
2 1/4 lbs. zucchini
2 large yellow onions
7 oz. Yukon Gold Potato
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
3 1/2 cups basic light vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
Optional Garnishes: fruity green olive oil, crumbled feta or queso fresco, sauteed zucchini blossoms
Wash and trim the zucchini, halve them lengthwise if they are thick, and slice them or cut them into 1-inch dice. Peel and coarsely chop the onions. Scrub and finely dice the potatoes.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, add the chopped onions and a pinch of salt, and sauté the onions over medium heat, stirring often, until they are soft and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine 2 cups of water, the vegetable broth, the potatoes, and a teaspoon of salt in a large soup pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer another 10 minutes.
When the onions are ready, add them to the soup pot, along with the chopped basil and parsley. Grind in an ample amount of black pepper and add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Taste, and add a pinch more salt or a little more lemon juice if needed.
The soup can be pureed, either in a blender or with an immersion blender. Be careful not to over process, as potatoes tend to become gummy when over-worked. Whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add some crumbled feta or queso fresco. Maybe some pan-fried zucchini blossoms? Enjoy! 

Other seasonal, squash recipes that I've posted:
Gina DePalma's Zucchini-Olive Oil Cake with Crunchy Lemon Glaze.
Elise of Simply Recipes' Mücver Patties
Love & Olive Oil's Zucchini Basil Soup (from Epicurious)

Recipes from the blogosphere that I'm making this week:
Roasted Zucchini, Black Bean and Goat Enchiladas from Sprouted Kitchen
Pattypan Squash Stuffed with Corn from Martha Rose Shulman, The New York Times
Stuffed Ronde de Nice from Megan Bucholz for Edible Front Range
Pan-fried Zucchini Blossoms with Ricotta and Garden Herbs from Food & Style Follow Me on Pinterest