Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's better than potatoes and cheese (and a PSA)?

Friends, I want to start today's post with a little PSA. Last weekend Mr. Panda and I were fortunate enough to attend the Blue Jeans Ball here in DC. This is an annual charity event to sponsor the Capital Area Foodbank , dedicated to fighting hunger here in the DC Metro area. It was a great night of delicious food and fun times with friends, but it also was an important reminder that wherever we are, nearby are those who don't have enough to eat. I'm happy to do what I can to promote the Foodbank's cause and help where I can. So check them out through the link above. Even if you can't donate money, think about donating time or even just spreading the word about hunger. If you don't live here in DC, check out a foodbank in your area. There probably is one, and they need your help. Thanks.

And now, onto the food.  In a roundabout way.

Did you know that I grew up in New York? Well, I did. I grew up on bagels, black and white cookies, knish and latkes. Surprisingly, I have never made any attempt to make any of those myself. When I found a recipe for latkes I thought "Hey now. Let's make those."

To make things even more delicious? These latkes are stuffed with brie. Oh my God.

For those of you going "huh?" every time I say the word latke- they're potato cakes. Generally made of shredded potato and quickly pan fried. Latkes have an association with Hannukah as well, being a traditional food for the holiday. I have a lot of fond memories of being invited over for friends' Hannukah celebrations and having homemade latkes with apple sauce.

The original recipe was honestly one of the most annoying ones I've ever worked from. If I'd noticed when I first bookmarked it that it was measured in handfulls and dashes, I'd likely have just passed it by. I'm really glad I didn't though, because these turned out to be pretty easy (even if I did end up using measuring cups).

You need:
5 baking potatoes
2 eggs
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup Brie cheese, cut into cubes
1 tsp baking powder
Milk (skim ok) by the tablespoon for adding
Salt & pepper
Vegetable oil for pan frying
Applesauce (optional but highly recommended)

Having never made these before, I'm not sure if the original recipe's stance on parboiling the potatoes is really as vital as she indicates. It worked though, so if I make these again I'll do it again.

Parboiled is a fun word

Once the potatoes have been boiled for about ten minutes, let them cool. I actually refrigerated them overnight. You're going to need to shred them next, once they've been peeled. Think about how you're going to shred them before you take this project on. Shredding potatoes is not a task to take on unless you have all the patience in the world, or a tool that will make the job easier for you. I actually used a cheese grater. It was a success! But I wish I had a good Mandoline Slicer, that would have been even better.

This one time I was demonstrating a mandoline when I worked at Le Creuset and I nearly sliced off my finger. But that's a whole other story. The point is just, use the hand guard if you're going to use a mandoline. Another PSA!

Once the potatoes have been grated, grate the onion and garlic into the same bowl and then mix it all up. Break the eggs into the mix, add the baking powder and stir till it all makes a fun gloopy sound. Add the milk 1/2 tablespoon at a time, mixing between milk additions. The mix should be wet, but there shouldn't be any pooling in the bowl, so go slowly with the milk adding. You can also add a little more flour if it becomes over-saturated. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper to taste.

In a deep pan get about 1/2 inch of oil good and hot. Add a tablespoon of the grated potato mix to the pan and flatten out with your spatula. Quickly press one of the cubes of Brie into the center of the potato, then just as quickly spoon another tablespoon of potato mix on top. Flatten again. Cook about 3 minutes on each side, then remove to a paper towel to drain some of the oil.

Caution: keep an eye on your oil. If you're doing more than one batch it's possible your oil will dry up, so add some more and let it heat up again if needed. Oh, and how do you know if your oil is hot enough? I sprinkle a few breadcrumbs into it and see if they sizzle. If they do, it's hot enough.

The result is a crispy on the outside, cheesy gooey on the inside potato pancake of goodness. I reheated these for dinner tonight and topped them for old time's sake with applesauce. The first bite I got was fried potato, Brie and apple. I think my heart actually skipped a beat, it was that good. It was all of my Long Island memories, but even better!

The sandwich is Costo chicken salad, Hawaiian sweet bread and oven baked bacon. Also yum.

No comments:

Post a Comment