Friday, August 14, 2009

Perfect Potato Pancakes

Potato pancakes (aka: potato latkes) have held a special place in my heart ever since I first discovered them in a book my grandma gave to me when I was around 10 years old. Oddly enough, the recipe came from a food-based science experiment book, although I just preferred to think of it as a really fun cookbook.


After I found the recipe, Saturday after countless Saturday morning would pass, as I sat cross-legged on the kitchen floor, painstakingly peeling pounds of potatoes, my hands aching and covered in white starch. I'd categorically refuse to let anyone help me make the pancakes (even if it took so long that breakfast would ultimately turn into lunch). Because, you see, it was my recipe. From my really fun cookbook.

The truth is: there was something almost intoxicating about taking a humble potato and magically turning it - through scrubbing, peeling, grating, stirring, and finally, frying - into something beautiful, and savory, and utterly delicious. And although it clearly takes a fair amount of work to create the perfect potato pancakes, that's a fact that I've always appreciated.

Ya know that old saying about "all good things taking time?" Yea, it applies here, too.

Of course, you could always take the easy way out and use some kind of automatic peeler and a food processor to prep the potatoes (no judgment). Or you could even buy frozen potato pancakes or a boxed mix. But, doing things the old fashioned way has always worked best for me.

While I'd usually offer up my secrets at this point, since I've been making potato pancakes for so long - and basically go "by feel" these days - I can't quite share my personal recipe right now. However, I have tried this recipe, which is quite good with the addition of some minced garlic/garlic powder and a fair amount of diced onion thrown into the mix. Top it all of with a few shakes of salt and pepper, a smear of vegan butter, a dollop of vegan sour cream, and some chives (if you've got 'em), and you'll discover why potato pancakes are one of my oldest (and most delicious) friends!

22 comments:

  1. Awesome blog! I'll definitely be stopping back by to read through some of your backlogs.
    And your potato pancakes look pretty darn amazing... I like doing half potato half sweet potato when I make them!

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  2. Potato pancakes looks yummy! I also really like the layout of your blog. Very nice. Im hooked!

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  3. Oooh, those are gorgeous! Potato pancakes are one recipe that I cannot get right, no matter how hard I try. Every single channukah I burn a huge batch and end up eating the crusty bits with applesauce and soy sourcream.

    Cute story about the cookbook! :)

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  4. "There was something almost intoxicating about taking a humble potato and magically turning it - through scrubbing, peeling, grating, stirring, and finally, frying - into something beautiful, and savory, and utterly delicious."
    you said it perfectly! This is precisely the reason why I LOVE potatoes...it's so simple, yet so versatile into making amazing creations!

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  5. Mmmm.. my grandma used to make these when we would have big polish Christmas dinners. Then we would always have the leftovers for breakfast.

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  6. Those do look like perfect potato pancakes! Everything seems to be better when you do it by hand!

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  7. Whoa - instant craving....JD just make more of these and beam them over to me!

    It's a pain scrubbing them taters that's foh sure!

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  8. I can tell those pancakes are made with love!

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  9. Those look yummy! I haven't had latkes in years. Every time I've tried to make them in the past they didn't turn out well. Maybe I'll give it a try again soon, they are bound to come out right sooner or later.

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  10. I hadn't tried potato pancakes until about two years ago... and I loved them.

    I think I realized that the only thing I ever really liked about omelets were the toppings/fillings, which are way better on a potato pancake. Win-win.

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  11. I LOVE the story of how the Potato Pancakes came about and how you took so much pride in making them. The LOOK and sound delish!

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  12. oh man i'm so glad i found this blog!

    i haven't made potato pancakes in years!

    thanks for the inspiration!

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  13. oh my! the pancakes with sour cream and chives look divine!

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  14. These pancakes look so very inviting and tempting !

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  15. Oh my gosh that looks absolutely amazing! I can never get potato pancakes right. This gives me hope.

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  16. these look perfectly browned and crispy. Yum!

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  17. Oh, I love latkes! I think I ate them for the first time during primary school, probably at one of those "lets eat the food of other cultures to learn about them" days. I can't recall how much learning I did, but I definitely enjoyed the eating!

    I'm so glad I discovered your blog, it's gorgeous!

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  18. Step away from the computer & put down the camera... Join us at Chicago Gastro Bloggers! http://www.meetup.com/ChicagoGastroBloggers/

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  19. Those are perfect potato pancakes. They look delicious!

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  20. These look absolutely perfect! I haven't made potato pancakes in so long. I really should do that soon. I also like making them with zucchini and green onion.

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  21. I absolutely LOVE potato latkas!!! My jewish Grandma made them BEST! Nuff said! :D
    -A

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