Potato Pancakes

Latkes. Boxty. Croquettes. Potato pancakes. These little treats should be super easy, right? Shredded potatoes, an egg, a bit of flour, little s&p, no problem? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Raw potatoes can take an eternity to cook, especially if you fry them. I’ve attempted to make potato pancakes on numerous occasions with varied success. I’ve tried them with shredded, uncooked potatoes. I’ve made them with soaked shredded potatoes. I’ve made with with leftover mashed potatoes. I’ve made them with cheese & cream. I’ve made them after a failed attempt at hashbrowns. I’ve made them with apples. I’ve served them with kielbasa and basil eggs. This is a stupidly easy dish that is stupidly difficult to get right.

This recipe is the one that I will go with from now on. It used a mixture of cooked and shredded potatoes and it’s the only one that really works all the time with a texture that isn’t too mushy like mashed potatoes and isn’t too much like a sort-of-circle of half-cooked hasbrowns.

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Potato Pancakes
yields 6 – 3 inch diameter pancakes

needs:
2 potatoes, peeled, one chopped & one shredded
1 T. butter
1/4 c. minced onions
1 small clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper, to taste
2 T. sour cream (optional)
1 egg
1/3 c. flour
oil for frying
scallions & sour cream for optional garnish

To begin, heat a small saucepan of water to boiling. Place ONLY the chopped potato in the water, cooking for about 8 minutes or until fork tender. Once ready, place the shredded potato in the pot and cook for no more than 2 minutes. Remove from heat & strain the liquid.

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While the potatoes are cooking, you may saute onions & garlic in butter in a saucepan over medium heat until slightly browned.

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Next, combine saute mixture, potatoes, egg, flour, and sour cream in a mixing bowl.

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Mash with a fork, masher, or pastry blender until smooth.

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In a cast iron skillet or heavy frying pan, heat 1/4 inch oil over medium heat. Take a spoonful of the rather sticky potato dough and quickly flip in flour on both sides (the dough shouldn’t be really stiff).

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Place in hot oil and fry and flatten with your hands if you are a daredevil (like me)  or if you are a sensible person who doesn’t like to get burned, a spatula is a handy tool. Fry on both sides until golden.

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Remove from oil and place on a paper toweled plate to cool slightly. Garnish with sour cream, applesauce, or scallions.

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Naturally Sweet Maple Iced Coffee

I’m back! It’s almost summer time and I haven’t written in many moons. My deepest apologies. I have excuses but you are not here for my excuses! You are here for inspiring recipes and pretty photography, so I shall give you those instead.

One thing that I especially loathe about American food culture is how frequently fake/cheap ingredients are used. I strive to make everything I can from scratch 1) because it’s easy 2) because it’s fun and 3) because it’s infinitely more delicious than it’s faux-substitute. It’s iced & frozen coffee season which means the high fructose corn syrup is abound in those $4 plastic cups. I shall give you a cheap & delicious alternative.


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Iced Coffee

needs:
8 oz. cold brewed, or cooled coffee
1-2 T. real maple syrup
1 t. vanilla extract
2 t. half & half
ice

Fill a mason jar with ice. Pour in the half & half, vanilla, and maple syrup (1-2 T. depending on how sweet you like your drinks!). Add the coffee and stir with a spoon. Enjoy your natural, delicious, and cheap alternative naked or indulge with a little bit of whipped cream.

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Mini Bacon & Caramelized Onion Quiches

On Sunday mornings, I have very little that I need to accomplish besides reading the new Sunday Secrets & the new New York Times’ Modern Love article. As a child I was required to go to church, but now that I am older I have my own routine that satisfies my spirit, namely listening to peaceful music, drinking coffee, and not putting on a bra until at least noon. It’s glorious.

Last week, I bought some deli swiss cheese for sandwiches and never quite got through it all. I had roughly three pieces left after a desperate grilled cheese lunch and so why not make quiche?

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I can’t eat a whole quiche, even with friends. Best case scenario, everyone has a piece and then you still have half a pie plate that gets absolutely frightening after two days in the fridge. I have been eating Quinoa Almond Cereal all week, so I thought something warm & salty might be a nice change.

For this recipe, I am using my precious mini tart pans. They make me the happiest. They are so cute and precious and wonderful.

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Mini Bacon & Caramelized Onion Quiche (yields 2 mini quiches)

For the crust:

1/2 c. flour
a pinch of salt
3 T. cold butter
2 T. cold water

I see all these recipes using pre-made pie crusts & crescent rolls and all this nonsense. Do you know how cheap this recipe is? Try it!

To begin, combine flour & salt in a bowl. Cut the 3 T. butter into small pieces so it is easier to work in with the pastry blender. Blend in the butter until the flour resembles coarse grains. Create a well in  center to add your water and then gather into a ball. You all know this process now. We just did this exact thing with the cherry hand pies.

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Refrigerate dough for an hour or so. Again the lazy-put-it-in-the-freezer-for-15-minutes method works too depending on how quickly you need everything to come together in the morning.

Once cooled, roll out the dough on a pastry mat. Put down your pan as a pattern and cut about an inch extra around the sides. Make sure the dough is a little thinner than 1/8 inch thick. You don’t want any cracks! Place in the tart pan and gentle press against the sides evenly so that the crust is covering all the sides. Repeat so both of your tart pans have a crust.

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Place in fridge while the oven preheats to 400 degrees. When preheated, puncture the crusts with a fork and bake for 9-10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:

2 slices bacon, prepared & crumbled
1/4 small red onion, diced & caramelized
3 deli slices of swiss cheese, torn into small pieces
2 eggs
1/3 c. cream or half & half
pinches of salt & pepper

I just moved into this new apartment. The stove works much better than my last stove, so as I was preparing things, everything cooked much faster than I anticipated, so I don’t have good process photos for the filling preparation. That’s okay though. You totally don’t have to use my filling. You could use ham, spinach, parmesan, zucchini, tomatoes, or whatever you want. It’s all up to you and what you have in your fridge.

Anyways, dice your onions and saute them in a little splash of olive oil until fragrant, soft, and lightly browned. If you can multitask, fry/bake/microwave the bacon at the same time.

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Crumble the bacon once it has cooled, so you don’t burn your little fingers and set the ingredients aside.

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In a liquid measuring cup, measure 1/3 c. cream and crack open two eggs. Add your dashes of salt & pepper & whisk it all together until the eggs have broken evenly and you have a pretty light yellow liquid. (I did it the opposite way in the picture. Oops).

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In your now cooled crust, divide the dry ingredients evenly between the pans. Pour the egg mixture over the top until the pans are full or you reach the edge of your crust.

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Reduce oven temperature to 325 and place both quiches in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean. Place back on the baking rack to cool.

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Quinoa Almond ‘Cereal’

When I traveled to Denver, Colorado at the beginning of the summer, my friend Danielle prepared me this wonderful breakfast. It’s a breakfast that is light and delicious but filling and hearty for the start of a long day. I was surprised when I went to Denver how different the food culture was in comparison to Columbus. Many of the restaurants toted gluten-free and vegetarian options that are not-as-common in the Midwest.

Quinoa was a menu item that kept reappearing in my adventures in Denver in hearty dishes, pilaf-style sides, and as a substitute for toast. Obviously this is a versatile grain that seems to be a popular new trend. Yesterday, my friend in Vancouver said she made a quinoa salad with green & red peppers, cucumber, red & green onion, red cabbage, apples, cherries, cheese, & balsamic vinegar. I find that recipe to be a little overwhelming, but she was glowing with joy when she reported all her ingredients.

Anyways, this breakfast will make you feel like Jonathon Borofsky’s The Dancers under the beautiful blue of Denver’s summer sky (even in the winter time).

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Quinoa Almond Cereal

1/4 c. prepared quinoa
1/2 c. vanilla almond milk
2 dashes cinnamon
1/4 c. toasted raw almonds

To begin, prepare quinoa according to instructions printed on packaging. I made the recommended 1/2 c. dry quinoa to 1 cup of water so I could save time during my busier mornings this week.ImageWhile the quinoa is boiling & steaming, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grab a handful of almonds and place on a baking sheet. Put them in the oven for 6-8 minutes or until slightly browned & fragrant.

ImageWhen the quinoa is prepared, add two dashes of cinnamon and an optional drizzle of honey.

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Finally, pour a 1/2 c. of vanilla almond milk over the top & sprinkle on your toasted almonds! Yum! Enjoy your gluten-free alternative to traditional grain cereal!

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Autumn-Is-Here Pumpkin Muffins

The fall weather has breathed some cool air on a very humid Columbus and pumpkin, apple, and squash season is upon us! I am excited for warm concoctions and fall drinks and sweaters! This morning, I settled on a simple recipe adapted from our blogging crush, Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from the American club, in Kohler, Wisconsin via Gourmet Magazine. whoa. meta-adaptation.

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Pumpkin Muffins

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cake flour
1 t. baking powder
1 c. pumpkin puree (from can)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 free range eggs
1 t. pumpkin-pie spice
1 . white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

For topping:
2 t. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
(later) a few shakes of p. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Add both sugars and the pumpkin pie spice. In separate bowl, combine flours, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients until smooth. In a little bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.

In a muffin pan, fill each cup a little over 3/4th full with the mixture. Drop one or two pinches of cinnamon sugar on top of the not-yet-baked muffins. Set the timer for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven when muffins spring back when touched or a toothpick comes out clean. Place on a cooling rack for five minutes before removing from the pan. For an extra touch, scatter a bit of powdered sugar on top! Yum, bask in the early fall sunshine and enjoy your spiced treats!

Darling Madeleines

Madeleines were made famous by a passage in Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. I want to distance myself from the pretentious claim ‘I am baking a literary reference, don’t you see the significance?!’ and just tell you that I was looking up ‘tea party’ recipes and madeleines seemed to be the most enticing treat. It required an adventure! I had to actually seek out a scallop shell pan!

In the spirit of Proust however, I will share the passage:

“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. … Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it? … And suddenly the memory revealed itself.”

So there you. Maybe this recipe will call up all kinds of exciting involuntary memories for you as well.

Anyways, Madeleines are little french butter cakes that are served with tea. They are often flavored with lemon and feature a dense, soft inside with a very thin crust.

Petite Madeleines (as adapted from Bon Apeitit magazine)

2 free range eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 T. lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 T. unsalted butter, melted but cool
1 T. butter for pan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

With a mixer, beat eggs and sugar to combine. Don’t overmix. You will ruin everything. These are delicate little cookies. Be delicate. Add vanilla, lemon juice, peel, and salt until incorporated. Gradually add flour until blended. Finally, pour the melted butter in the mixture slowly. I find it useful to use a rubber spatula at this point to gently fold the butter in.

In the madeleine pan, rub the butter on each scallop shell. I know what you are thinking. Just use more butter for the pan. Don’t worry about it. These are butter cookies, after all. Gently spoon about one tablespoon of the mixture into shells. They don’t rise much so don’t worry about filling them too high.

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Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden on the edges. Cool in pan for 5ish minutes and gently remove with a spatula or butter knife. If you buttered the pan, this should be relatively easy

Finally, use a shaker or just your fingertips to add a light coating of powdered sugar to your treats. Serve with coffee or tea or munch on them between meals. 🙂 Go out and conjure up all those forgotten memories.

French Toast Logs

Happy Sunday! Sundays are great days for breakfast posts! My boyfriend and I were deliberating what to make this morning. I had a bit of a sweet tooth and he was leaning towards biscuits. We finally decided on an old favorite – french toast sticks. When he was just a little one (he says 3rd grade but I suspect he was a bit younger), he complained to his momma in typical little boy fashion “I don’t want just cereal and poptarts for breakfast!” As a result, he began his cooking career alongside his mum preparing a similar recipe to this one. Suffice to say, he is an old expert on the matter of french toast sticks.

We were debating on what to use for our bread. I had some stale country bread that I thought would be perfect, but we picked up a french baguette instead.

To begin, with a bread knife, cut the baguette in half longwise. Place the cut side face down, and cut the crust lengthwise again on both halves. You should have four long equal sections. Cut them horizontally to the length you would like. (We cut them into fours again). You should have 16 little logs ready to french toastify!

French Toast Batter

4 free range eggs
1/4 c. organic milk
2 T. organic cream
1 T. cinnamon
1 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla

Whisk all ingredients together in a shallow bowl. I always use a glass pie dish. Allow the logs to soak up the mixture on each side and transfer to hot skillet. Butter or spray your skillet just before adding the logs. Cook until brown on each side. I like to put the sticks in a warm oven until the bread supply has been exhausted so that everyone can eat together. You can feed your hungry wolves whenever you please.

After each stick has experienced the warmth of the skillet, stack your logs and serve!

 

Egg Pancakes & Blueberry Sauce

When my parents went out of town for a romantic weekend sans babies, my grandparents would come over and watch us little ones. It was usually in the fall, given the date of my parents wedding anniversary in late September. I have a lot of memories from that time including hunting for buckeyes along the roadside and cuddling with my grandparents. However, the memory which I will forever cherish is our yearly breakfast of, what my grandparents called, egg pancakes.

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An egg pancake refers to a slightly thicker version of a crepe. Whenever I taste the delicious combination of butter and maple syrup, I can’t separate it from the wonderful memory of my childhood visits with my grandparents. At that time, they used to accompany our pancakes with a pound of bacon. Before I was a vegetarian (and let’s be honest, I still do this with veggie bacon), I greedily rolled those little strips into breakfast versions of piggies in a blanket. The recipe is so easy and fast for mornings where you want something a bit heavier, but you don’t have a ton of time.

Egg Pancakes

1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. milk
1 free range egg
1 tsp. vegetable oil
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt

1-2 T. butter (for pan frying)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until smooth. The combination should be a little runnier than normal pancake batter because these are supposed to be big, thin cakes!

Melt 1/2 T. butter in the pan before pouring in the batter. You are going to smother butter on top of the cakes anyways, so you might as well use it for frying and allow it to caramelize on the edges, forming a light buttery crust.

Yields about four 6-8 inch cakes.

I made blueberry tarts the other day in my brand new tart pans, so I had some blueberries left over (the sorrow of baking and cooking solo means you always have half a pint of blueberries, half a pepper, or half a potato that gradually becomes scarier and scarier in its tupperware). Right. So. My blueberries have been patiently waiting for a purpose. I figured I might as well make a quick blueberry sauce to top off my yummy cakes.

Blueberry Sauce (the perfect amount for two!)

1 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen, it doesn’t matter)
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1.5 T. corn starch

In a saucepan on medium heat, combine water, blueberries, and sugar, occasionally stirring gently. While heating, combine 2 tablespoons of water with your corn starch in a separate bowl. Stir together until the starch is dissolved. Continue to heat the blueberry mixture until boiling (the blueberries should begin to break down). Add the lemon juice and corn starch liquid. Continue heating until your berries start to thicken to your desired consistency. Remove from heat. Serve over your pancakes.

I like to add a little maple syrup to mine, but the egg pancakes are perfectly yummy plain too. When I was young, I used to love them with syrup and melted marshmellows. My 23-year-old brother still eats his with melted chocolate chips. So yummy 🙂