Friday, December 7, 2007
A Latke Fun
When I was a kid, I used to get in trouble in school. It was never for being bad, or insubordinate, or for not doing my work. I got into trouble because I had too much time on my hands. You see, I loved school because I loved to learn--I always have. I'm a nerd at heart that loves to read, so I'd tear through the books we were assigned, always reading ahead and finishing all of my dittos early (remember those?). I would almost always run out of work to do during class, having usually finished my schoolwork for the whole week by Wednesday. My problems started when I would run out of work to do and start talking to my classmates. According to my teachers I was a distraction to the other children that were trying to finish their work, but what was I supposed to do?
It wasn't until the third grade when I was placed in Ms. Krauss's class that I got the answer. Instead of scolding me or punishing me when I'd done all the work I could, Ms. Krauss suggested that I write things down instead of chatting with my neighbor. She said that I could write a story, a letter, a poem, anything I wanted, so long as I didn't distract the people around me. I really took to writing and spent all of the free time I had reading and writing stories. My desk at school and my room at home were littered with composition books, and when I got older our house was always noisy with the sound of me at the typewriter.
But Ms. Krauss did more than just instill a love of writing in me. She also introduced me to the food that she made for her family to celebrate Chanukah. Among what she showed the class to make were latkes, a treat that I've loved and often made ever since she showed me how. I love any kind of pancake, but one made of potatoes is pure perfection. I didn't make the traditional latkes that I've always made, I actually started out with a recipe from Everyday Italian for Parmesan latkes and then totally changed it (big surprise). I kept the toppings traditional with sour cream and apple sauce, but changed the spice from Giada's basil, to one of my favorites, sage, because I love using it in the fall and winter.
Latkes are a really nice dish to make whether you're celebrating the holiday or not. I make them year round, which is not surprising since they're really a lot like a tortilla española without the egg. I loved the idea of making one big one and cutting it into little sour cream topped triangles, so I did take that from Giada's recipe. I think next time I'll play with adding in something like chorizo, or maybe a really delicious veggie. If I can bring myself to, I may tweak the toppings, but some things are sacred and I love the play between the slightly tart sour cream and sweet apple sauce. But until the next time, I'd like to dedicate this post to Ms. Krauss for believing that I could be much more than just a chatterbox. So, Chanuka Sameach everybody! Here's how to make the latke pictured above:
2 large Yukon gold potatoes, grated
1/2 a large onion or 1 small onion, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp ground sage or 1/2 cup chopped fresh sage
5 Tbsp olive oil
1. Warm 3 Tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until fragrant.
2. Meanwhile, squeeze any extra water out of the grated potatoes (you can do this in a paper towel or kitchen towel) and add them to the pan along with the cheese, sage and more salt and pepper. Make sure everything is well incorporated.
3. Using a spatula, press the mixture down into the pan so it's evenly distributed. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the bottom of the mixture is golden brown and easily moves in the pan (about 12 minutes).
4. Flip the pancake over (I just flipped it in the air, but I have a lot of practice) by lowering the heat and placing a heatsafe plate over the pancake and flipping it out of the pan. Add the remaining oil to the pan along with the pancake, uncooked side down. Turn the heat back up to high and cook until golden brown (another 12 minutes). Slide it out onto a platter and serve. Enjoy!