16 December 2010


I know Hanukkah is over, but too bad. Latkes are awesome all year long! This recipe makes a lotta latkes but feel free to halve it if you aren't making them for a party or aren't a fatso. You can freeze extras and reheat them in a toaster oven.

2 lbs baking potatoes (about 3 large potatoes)
1 medium yellow or white onion
1/2 cup matzo meal (or flour or breadcrumbs)
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp potato starch (optional, see below)
oil for frying (for tips, also see below)
apple sauce and sour cream for serving

1. Grate the potatoes into a fine strainer over a large bowl. They will start to drain into the bowl, and you want to rinse them with a little water when you're done grating (if they've oxidized and turned red, rinse them till they are white), but catch all the water in the bowl! Squeeze out as much water as you can by pressing on the potatoes and remember, save all the drained liquid!
2. After you've pressed out a lot of the water, pour the potatoes onto a large cheesecloth or paper towels. Squeeze the potatoes until they're pretty dry. You might need to do this with a fresh towel 2 or 3 times.
3. Pour the mostly dry potatoes into another large bowl. Grate the onion into the bowl.
4. Slowly pour the rinsed potato water down the sink. When it's mostly poured out, you will notice a white substance at the bottom of the bowl. This is potato starch! Potato starch is one of the secrets to delicious latkes. It helps give them a good texture. Pour as much of the water out as you can while keeping as much of the starch. It's ok to have a little extra water. Scrape the potato starch into the bowl with the potatoes and onion.
5. Add matzo meal, extra potato starch (if you're using it, it's not necessary and if you don't already own it, it's probably not worth buying just for this use, but it's great for baking so I always have it in my kitchen), salt, pepper and eggs. Mix well. Allow the mix to rest for at least 10 minutes. Some more water will come out of the potatoes, but just leave it there.
6. Heat your fat in a large flat pan over medium heat. My mom swears by duck fat, which is kind of gross to think about but if you ever cook whole ducks, it's easy enough to save the fat that melts out in a jar (hey, some people save their bacon fat, so no judging!) and it will keep in your fridge for months. If you don't want to use that, peanut oil is the best vegetable oil for latkes. It has a really rich flavor and is really saturated/unhealthy/delicious. You can also use olive oil, which would be preferable to canola, but it doesn't matter that much. Don't use butter, it just doesn't work well. Probably something about the flame point or whatever.
7. Put a small piece of potato in the oil. When it turns golden brown, the oil is ready. Make balls of potato mix and gently place them in the oil. Flatten them with your hands or a spatula. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other size. Remove from oil and allow them to drain on paper towels. Replenish the oil as necessary, but make sure it has heated up before adding the potatoes!
8. Serve immediately with sour cream and apple sauce.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I first made this cake because I didn't have any flour. But now I make it all the time because it's the easiest cake ever and it tastes really fancy. I probably shouldn't tell anyone that because they will be less impressed with my skills and will just make it themselves. But who cares! This cake is quite rich, be warned! But it's soooo good!

This cake is great because you can modify its flavor. I've made it with Kahlua and instant coffee, and with cayenne and cinnamon. You could make it with mint or orange (or orange liqueur) or any alcohol or fruit flavor you want, really! You can add more cocoa (or unsweetened chocolate) to make it richer or change the amount of sugar to your liking. I'd recommend starting with it as is and then playing with it.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 oz. semi sweet baking chocolate or 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla
powdered sugar and/or cocoa for dusting

Optional Ingredients (don't use all of them together! just choose a flavor family and go with it)
1 Tbsp instant coffee and 2 Tbsp Kahlua
2 tsp cinnamon and 1 pinch (less than 1/8 tsp) cayenne pepper
1 tsp mint extract
1-2 Tbsp liqueur of your choice (suggestions: Contreau, Amaretto, Rum, Brandy, Bourbon... whatever your vice is, really!)

1. Preheat your oven to 325 and grease and flour a 8 inch round pan. Don't use a 9 inch pan. This cake is already thin!
2. Over very low heat or a double boiler, melt the butter or chocolate. Use a pan/pot large enough for everything in the recipe so you don't have more dishes to wash! Once melted, remove from heat.
3. Add the remaining ingredients. Taste the batter to make sure you like the flavors. They will likely cook out a little, but cayenne won't! I've put too much cayenne in because I couldn't taste it in the batter and then the cake was too spicy!
4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing it to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Dust with cocoa powder or powdered sugar if you'd like! This also goes quite well with unsweetened or very lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries!