Wednesday, May 2, 2012

0 Potato Pancakes, Draniki, Kartoffelpuffer or Latkes

I'm sorry I'm so late with updating my blog. Until last week I used a mobile modem to access the internet and my carrier was down for an entire week. They probably would have repaired their service sooner had they listened to their customers that complained their service was down (approximately 6,000 people) – instead they told everyone that there was no problem with their system and that it was the customer's problem. After speaking with several local residents and finding out that we were all suffering from the same problem and all getting the same run around, I called and spoke with several customer service reps, finally escalating the call to a supervisor. The company (Virgin Mobile, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sprint) finally sent in an engineering request and service was restored within a couple of hours.  Also, I discovered (after so many phone calls) that they outsources their customer service to India, that didn't help matters, when I have a technical problem I need to speak to someone that has deep understanding of the language that I speak, not someone that has a rudimentary capability and reads from a script. After getting the problem resolved I went to the local cable company and had internet installed from them. I'm now back up and running – thanks for sticking with me!

So, potato pancakes – what are they and where did they come from? They are a fried pancake made from either mashed or grated potatoes with flour and egg, they are usually seasoned with onions, garlic and/or other spices. They are another one of those dishes that can be found around the world including India and Korea, although they are mostly found in Northern/Central Europe. They are probably most famously known as Latkes and eaten by Jews during Hanukkah.

Potato pancakes are another dish that you can get creative with. As I mentioned in a previous article they are a good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. You can try making them from sweet potatoes, or you can add a variety of vegetables to them, try adding scallions, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms or cauliflower. You can add fruit to them like blueberries or apples or you can even add cheese to them! You can top them with sour cream, caviar, salmon, applesauce, cheese, guacamole, salsa or powdered sugar. Just decide if you want sweet or savory and go for it!

Traditional Latkes
6 medium potatoes*
1 onion, chopped fine
3 Tbl flour or matzo meal
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp parsley
2 Tbl olive oil

Grate potatoes either with a food grater or in a food processor. Put grated potatoes in a large collander or sieve, rinse with cold water, drain and squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Beat the eggs, salt and parsley together, mix with potatoes, onions and flour. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Make each pancake from about a ¼ c of mixture dropped into the skillet, flatten slightly, lower heat and fry until one side is browned, turn over and fry until the other side is brown. Serve hot.

* You can also use left over mashed potatoes – adjust other ingredients accordingly. I usually use whatever potatoes I have left, ¼ – ½ chopped onion, 1 egg, a little parsley and enough flour to hold them together.

Latkes can be made in advance and frozen. Heat in a 300 degree oven on a cookie sheet until heated throughout. If you decide to try adding any of the ingredients mentioned above, make sure that you chop or grate them as well or the pancakes will fall apart.

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