My Mother's Cooking - Potato Pancakes
Potato Pancakes and Latkas
What are Potato Pancakes and Latkes?
What Is Maple Syrup?
MY MOTHER'S COOKING
Potato Pancakes and Latkes
When my mother made homemade potato pancakes it was almost always intended for our Friday night supper. Back in those days, the Catholic Church still required its members to abstain from meat on Fridays. Our family all liked potato pancakes and we probably would have eaten them more often if they weren’t so much work to make them.
As soon as I was old enough, it was my job to peel and grate the potatoes. Then my mother would finish making the batter and start frying them in oil. As soon as she got a few pancakes ahead, the rest of the family would sit down at the table and start eating. My mother would continue cooking them until we all got enough and finally, she would sit down and eat the last batch herself.
In the early years, we never had store bought syrup with our potato pancakes. My mother simply made simple syrup from sugar and water and added a little vanilla for flavor. We usually just had that and butter on our pancakes although occasionally my mother would open a jar of her homemade applesauce too. In later years, we could afford to buy syrup, but most of us still preferred her simple homemade syrup.
6 Large Russet Potatoes peeled and grated
½ Teaspoon Salt
2 to 3 Cups of Flour to make a batter which just pours and spreads easily
½ Cup of Oil or more
Preparation and Cooking Instructions:
- If possible, grate the potatoes using a box grater. A food processor will not give the pancakes the same texture.
- In a large bowl, mix the grated potatoes with the egg and salt and start adding flour one cup at a time while continuing to mix it with a large wooden spoon.
- Keep adding flour one cup at a time until you get a thick batter that can still be poured.
- Heat 1/3 of the oil in a large skillet and deposit four small ladles full of batter equally around the pan. When the first side is golden brown, flip them over and brown the other side.
- Drain on paper towels and serve them at once or keep them warm in a 200 F oven.
- Continue cooking the pancakes in batches, adding more oil as needed, until all of the batter is used up.
- I like to eat potato pancakes with pork sausages or bacon and some good strong coffee.
- You can use any syrup that you like, but I still make the one that my mother made.
My mother’s Simple Syrup
Most recipes for simple syrup call for equal parts of sugar and water but I like to add more sugar so that the syrup will be thicker.
1 Cup of Water
1 ½ Cups of Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
- In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar to a boil and gently simmer, while stirring, until all of the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
- This syrup should be served warm as it has a tendency to crystallize if chilled. However, it will liquefy again if re-heated.
Latkas are the Jewish name for savory fried potato patties that are commonly made in most northern and central European countries. In contrast to potato pancakes, they are usually made with shredded rather than grated potatoes and they contain grated onions and less flour. Instead of being eaten with syrup, they are generally eaten with sour cream or a little applesauce. Unfortunately, my mother never made them but numerous recipes are available if you are interested.
For additional ways to prepare potatoes, see the other sections of Chapter 6, which are listed below:
Chapter 6 – Potato Dishes
7. Potato Pancakes
How to make latkes
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