Back to the Kitchen

January 9th, 2009

I managed to make something yummy to eat last night!  I think I’m pretty much back to normal, and am now not afraid of yogurt…because it turns out to not have been the yogurt.  Because now Z is sick.  So I guess I caught something somehow…that didn’t have any symptoms at all up until the actual sickness.  Weird.

A big, happy, DELICIOUS family.

A big, happy, DELICIOUS family.

I made some applesauce a few days ago and had planned to make some latkes a few days sooner.  They’d still be a little late for their appointed holiday even if I made them when I made the applesauce.  Oh well!

I followed the so-easy-I’ve-memorized-it-already recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and loved that Deb made them so tiny.  More crispy outsides that way, I think.  I don’t have a cast iron pan (funny story, I almost bought a nice, affordable, pre-seasoned one from the kickass cooking store in Portland, but I had parked a few blocks away and WAS NOT going to carry a pan that heavy all the way up those wacky Old Port streets…maybe this weekend I’ll get back there, though), so I used a regular frying pan and it worked fine.  I also didn’t have peanut oil but canola worked fine.  Since they’re small I was able to do them pretty much in two batches, but you do want to work quickly and just make sure you use someting with a low smoke point.

I also don’t have a food processor (though I reeeally want one), so I didn’t end up with the long strands of potato.  I just used my regular old grater.  Long potato strands are pretty nice, though.  Another thing I didn’t have was cheesecloth.  I used a strainer, and everything still ended up a bit watery…plus I had to pick bits of stringy onion matter out of the edge of the strainer this morning, even after a trip through the dishwasher.  I’ll try a cloth next time.

These are super easy either way, and so tasty that I definitely don’t mind that I missed Hannukah – I’ll make them again well before next winter!  Z wasn’t interested in the concept of latkes at first, not having had them before, but once he saw me pull up the recipe and smelled them cooking he was excited and ate a bunch, then came back for more a couple hours later.  Since these are small, they work great as a sort of hash brown-y breakfast component, and are tasty with ketchup or applesauce.

The applesauce I made is great, if you like spicy applesauce.  It was really an experiment to see how I could use up the five Macintosh apples getting soft in the fruit basket.  The latkes came when I knew I needed something to eat with the applesauce.

And now, the recipes.

Mini Latkes with Spicy Applesauce

The applesauce, though delicious, is ugly, so you can't see it too well.

The applesauce, though delicious, is ugly, so you can't see it too well.

Spicy Applesauce:

5 meidum-sized (slightly old) Macintosh apples, peeled and chopped

1 cinnamon stick, about 3-4″

Scant 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (you could use honey if you can’t get the real stuff)

Scant 1/4 cup water

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or more if you really like ginger, like I do)

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Place everything in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir to combine, cover and allow to simmer.  After about 10 minutes, gently stir the applesauce and check the consistency of the apples.    If you like your applesauce firm and chunky (which I do!), it’s probably ready at this point.  If you’d like softer apples or plan to puree the chunks using an immersion blender, let it cook for another 5-10 minutes.  Puree to desired consistency if you wish, then cover and set aside while you prepare the latkes.

Mini Latkes:

1 large russet or baking potato (about 1 lb.), peeled

1 small onion, peeled (I used half of a medium one)

1/4 cup flour

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp salt (I used kosher)

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Canola or peanut oil, for frying

Grate the potato and onion with a box grater, or shred in a food processor.  Place the grated vegetables into a strainer or bundle into some cheesecloth and squeeze as much liquid out as you can.  Allow to rest for a couple of minutes while you combine the egg, flour, salt and pepper.  Return to the potato mixture and squeeze again.  Once you have gotten all the moisture out that you can, add it to the egg mixture and stir until all the grated pieces are coated evenly.  Heat a couple Tbsp of oil in a heavy skillet (preferably seasoned cast iron, if you have it) and drop the latke batter in by packed tablespoons, flattening the backs with a wooden spoon.  Depending on the size of your skillet, you should be able to fit about 6 or 7 latkes in at a time…this should make for 2 batches.  Flip them after a couple of minutes (when golden brown on the cooked side).  Allow to cook a couple minutes more, and once golden brown on both sides, remove to a paper towel-lined dish.  Serve with the applesauce, or ketchup if that’s how you roll.

I’m excited to have the leftovers for lunch…after I work off the big bowl of cinnamon-brown sugar-raisin oatmeal I made earlier…and I have to work it off by shovelling.  Yuck.

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