Monday, October 06, 2008

People behind the Politics Meme

This week, James Bow’s People behind the Politics in the Cdn Blogsphere Meme is to post a favourite recipe.

One of innate problems I have with posting a recipe is because of how I learned to cook relies more on eye than an accurate measurements of ingredients. I learned to cook by living in my grandmother’s kitchen, and a subsequent lot of trial and error on my own. I do not think my grandmother ever cracked open a recipe book in her life. She had the uncanny ability to taste anything and then be able to reproduce it. She never owned ‘measuring’ cups or official measuring spoons but rather relied an odd selection of cups and spoons which represented this much or that much.

Growing-up, we never had take-out or store bought prepared food in the house and when I got older and wanted to take meals out of the house; I learned to censor my remarks to her. After taking a meal outside the home I would eat a ton of breath mints and douse myself in perfume before I walked through the door. If I slipped up and let out I ate dinner in a restaurant; I was interrogated for hours on what my friends and I ate. I bet CSIS could have learned a few techniques from her. Often those conversations would end with accusations of throwing good money down the drain and her despairing of me every being able to live anything other than hand to mouth.

My grandmother cooked for a minimum of 10 plus people for decades and cooking only became a problem when the household eventually sized down to just me, her and my grandfather. Three months after she died, my grandfather still hadn’t run out of meals from the freezer.

A great favourite was her latkes. She didn’t make them often because of the amount of time it took to grate the potatoes by hand in the quantities she needed, so we only had it on special occasions. I have scaled down her recipe here. Through the years, I have experimented and substituted matzo meal with flour, coarse cornmeal (only so-so results) and bread crumbs (Italian-style bread crumbs taste best).

6 to 8 medium white potatoes - peeled, grated & drained well (I cheat and use a food processor rather than using the coarse side of a grater)

3 eggs

1 large onion, chopped or grated (the onion is need to keep the potato mixture from changing colours and it gives a nice bite to the latkes)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

4 Tbsp matzo meal

vegetable oil for frying

Finely chop the onion and put to the side. Peal, wash, and grate the potatoes, adding bits of onion every for every half inch if you’re a purist. Otherwise just add onion to the potato mixture in the food processor and set the processor on a medium grate.

Beat eggs, then mix in the grated potatoes (use grater, coarse side), chopped onion, salt, pepper, and matzo meal. Drain remaining liquid.

Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan to a medium heat. Drop in the mixture by 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls. Flatten. Fry on both sides, adding more shortening as needed. Flip often until well done, with a browned, crispy surface on each side. Serve hot with sour cream and apple sauce.

I have tried various kinds of oil but the general consensus is the vegetable oil works best as it doesn’t add a flat or heavy taste oil taste to the latkes.

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