It’s turned a bit nippy of late and in addition to big, roaring fires, woolly socks (hand-knitted, naturally) and fleecy jumpers, what a body needs is calories to keep it warm. Forget starting a diet, (that’s a New Year’s resolution for the breaking), what you want is comfort food with lots of carbs. The obvious candidate for the basis of a warming carb-fest is the humble potato, but if your immediate thoughts turn to chips or mash, then think again.
Personally, I can think of nothing better to fit the bill than Latkes (aka Placki Kartoflane). These coarse potato pancakes are quick, easy and made with wholesome ingredients; they’re even vegetarian. They’re tasty enough to eat on their own (with an extra sprinkle of sea salt) or you can serve them with a dip, like salsa or sour cream. You can serve them as a side dish, instead of chips or mash. They even work served sweet with a sprinkle of sugar. What’s not to like?
My preference is to make them with a variety of vegetables. I can’t be doing with grating onions and all the weeping that entails, but I do like a bit of white cabbage for added texture and crunch and I am very partial to sweet potato. Today, I added carrot as well and next time I may well try some beetroot, though that could prove both messy and too wet – we shall see 🙂
Anyway, here’s my version of Vegetable Latkes:
1 medium spud
1 small sweet potato
1 handful finely chopped white cabbage (or a small onion)
1 small carrot (optional)
1-3 tbsp plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
sunflower oil for frying
Coarsely grate the potato and squeeze out excess liquid with your hands, then place in a bowl. You can sop up extra moisture with kitchen paper. Add the cabbage and grate the other veg into the bowl, taking care to ensure that the mixure is not too wet. Add a tablespoon or two of flour (the quantity you need will depend on how much grated veg you end up with) and your seasoning, then mix well so that the flour coats the veg mix. Add a lightly beaten egg (or two). If you’re not sure how much flour and egg to use, start with less and then add more if needed. The final mixture will resemble coleslaw, (though not the cheap kind that is mostly mayo) and if you press it with a spoon the bits of veg will show a tendency to stick together, but are otherwise still fairly loose. There should be no obvious liquid.
Heat the pan on a medium-high setting, then add enough oil for shallow frying (2-3tbsps). Drop dollops of the veg mixture in and flatten into pancakes. There will be lots of lovely sticky out bits around the edges and these will brown and crisp nicely, indicating when it is time to turn the latkes. (If the Latkes show a tendency to disintegrate, you need to bind them with more flour and egg.) They need about a minute on either side, much the same as ordinary pancakes. Drain on kitchen paper and eat hot.
Warning: I have observed that these can be hazardously moreish. Follow these simple rules to keep the ‘elfs of safety happy:
1. Do not make too much mix if you are eating alone. You will eat it all.
2. If you are not eating alone, serve immediately (onto someone else’s plate).
3. Try to avoid eating them all while they are draining and you are cooking the next batch.