I wanted to share a childhood favorite recipe with Abby but knew I had to jazz up the original idea. Like most of my stories, she’s heard this one more than a few times and is still polite to listen…most of the time.
My “adopted” grandmother, Nana Ruth, would call my house after school and say she had made something nice for us. I would dart across the street to her house, burst inside and search her kitchen for the goods. They ranged from freshly baked bread still warm to my ultimate favorite…potato pancakes. The first time I had them, I ate the entire plate before my mother came home from work. My innocent blue eyes couldn’t talk me out of that. From then on Ruth sent two plates.
So recently I made them to the best of my memory…
“Yeah, they’re ok,” she said.
After a disappointing moment passed, I knew what she meant. After all of my years in kitchens, this couldn’t be my final offering. I was hanging onto a memory that had not changed with the times. The traditional recipe calls for potatoes, onion, egg and flour. I loved them, but they needed my own twist.
We ended up with a winner for an appetizer that we brought to a Super bowl party at Abby’s brother’s house. I think I explained the ingredients over a dozen times to everyone who asked what these flamboyant little creations were.
Potato Beet Pancakes
Makes about three dozen
3 medium potatoes, grated and placed in water (they will be strained when mixed)
3 small onions (tennis ball size) or 1 1/2 large onions (softball size)
2 carrots (not horse carrots, but slender carrots)
3 small beets or 1 huge beet
1/2 cup rice flour
salt and pepper
1-13 ounce can coconut milk (not lite)
2 tablespoons grated ginger
a small handful of chopped chives or sprouts
*You may hand grate all the ingredients, but we found it easier to use our food processor.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the potato and put through a food processor with a grater attachment. Place shredded potato in a large mixing bowl. Peel the beets and carrots, grate in the same manner, and add to the bowl with the potatoes. Follow this procedure for the onions as well. Wear gloves if you don’t want pink hands like Abby’s.
Season the potato mixture with about a tablespoon of salt and let stand for 5 minutes. Place a small handful of the mixture in the middle of an old kitchen towel you are ready to part with and wring it out as much as you can. You want as much water out as possible here. Work in batches. When done with each handful, place in a new mixing bowl. Add the eggs and rice flour and mix with your hands. Season with salt and pepper.
Form into a small, flat circle and place on lightly oiled silpat to cook for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
For the garnish, scoop out the thick top layer of the coconut milk and place into a stand mixer. Peel and microplane (or finely mince) the ginger and add to the mixer and turn on high. Scrape down the sides once to ensure you are incorporating all of the ingredients evenly. Use a spatula and place in a piping bag or use a small spoon to place a small amount on the cooled potato beet pancakes. Top with garnish of sprouts or chives and serve.