Tag Archives: Potatoes

A Once-A-Year Hanukkah Treat: Potato Latkes

Tuesday was the first night of Hanukkah and we celebrated with some golden, crispy potato latkes. The first time I ever tasted a latke (pronounced lot kuh) was at David’s parent’s house, many years ago.  Just like matzo ball soup at Passover, I was quickly hooked on this new delight made during Hanukkah.  You have probably seen recipes using sweet potatoes or zucchini, but in our house they are made the old-fashioned way.  David is a latke purist (I get it, there are some things I like to keep traditional too) so my tried and true recipe is just grated potatoes and onions, eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper.  For more flavor, I use a package of matzo ball mix in place of plain matzo meal and a lot of onion.  In my food book, a plate of latkes wouldn’t be complete without some sour cream and applesauce to dunk the scrumptious potato disks; they are crispy on the outside but nice and moist on the inside.  To szoosh them up, I like to garnish the latkes with some fresh dill and chives.

Don your apron and open your windows or turn on your exhaust fan for this delectable once-a-year treat.  Oil is symbolic with this holiday so don’t shy away from frying (click here for more information about Hanukkah).  I use canola oil and less than a quarter of an inch deep in the pan.   The trick for crispy latkes is hot oil that stays consistently hot, so you may have to adjust your heat source a few times.  When the edges turn golden brown they are ready to turn.

To keep the cooked latkes warm while finishing frying the rest, store in a 200° F oven on a platter. There is no better surprise than to open your refrigerator the next day and find some latkes waiting for you (Boston Cream pie would be nice too), so I always make extra. This batch makes about 18 latkes and we were surprised that we ate 10 of them by the end of dinner! Any leftovers should be refrigerated in a sealed container – reheat in a 300° F oven or toast in a toaster oven.  They freeze well; just don’t microwave them because they will get rubbery. They are also delightful for breakfast or lunch!
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas from David & Melissa! 

And a belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Holly Bergman!!!

Eat well and share the love! 

Potato Latkes
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies plus leftovers, makes about 18 latkes

4 medium-large russet potatoes, peeled
1 large onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 package matzo ball mix
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-cracked pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Sour Cream
Optional Sides:
Sliced cucumber

Heat oven to 200 degrees F (to keep latkes warm while frying) and place an oven-proof platter on the middle rack.

Add about 1/8 inch of canola oil to a large skillet.  Turn heat to medium-high; when the surface of the oil lightly ripples it is ready.   Test oil by adding a small piece of batter; if it browns on each side within a minute, it’s ready.

While the oil is heating, make the batter.  Grate potatoes and onion into a large bowl.  Add beaten eggs and mix well, making sure all the potatoes are coated.  Add matzo ball mix, salt and pepper and mix well.

When the oil is hot, add batter by spoonful (about 1/3 cup) into oil and flatten out with the back of spatula.  Cook for about 5 minutes per side, until golden brown, and gently turn latkes away from you.  If needed slightly increase heat source to maintain consistent hot oil.

When both sides are golden brown, transfer latkes to a sheet pan lined with paper towels.  Spoon more batter into oil and repeat process.  Transfer the cooked latkes to the platter in the oven to keep warm.

Serve latkes hot with fresh chopped dill and chives, and a pinch of salt.  Serve with a side of a dollop of sour cream and applesauce. 

Optional sides: sliced cucumbers and olives.

Pictures from our recent weekend trip to visit Beth and Steve in Chicago.  Sorry we missed you, Sara!

New England Clam Chowder

A good bowl of New England clam chowder never fails to brighten my day and it’s a fun surprise when I find it on a restaurant menu.  For me, it’s a feel-good soup – right up there with Adele’s Matzo Ball Soup and Minestrone.  The base is rich from the clams and clam juice, and made even better with potatoes, milk, cream and bacon.  There are so many ways to make this chowder and I wanted to create an easy recipe that I could whip up at home; I started experimenting several months ago and bombed the first batch by adding carrots, too many potatoes and too much bacon, adding sherry (yuck!) and seasoning it with fine herbs.  But I wasn’t giving up, I wrote down the recipe in my little binder, kept refining it and made a few discoveries: using clam juice in the broth gives it instant flavor, a little half & half makes it extra creamy and a pinch of sugar brings all the flavors together.  So here you have it, the well-tested version from my kitchen.

The recipe is simplified by using canned chopped clams – my grocery store carries some that are wild-caught in the U.S., so my pantry is always stocked for instant dinner options.  For more flavor, I roast the potatoes with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper rather than boiling them.  Russets were used in this batch (peeled and cubed and then slightly smashed after cooking) which worked great, but my favorites are the baby Dutch potatoes because they have thin skins, cook quickly and have a creamy flavor.  The soup starts with some rendered bacon lardons (bacon pieces cut into ¼ inch wide strips), sautéed onions, celery and fresh thyme, some garlic and sugar and then finished with clams, clam juice, milk and roux.  It’s a fairly simple recipe for such a delicious bowl of soup.

Oyster crackers are a classic finish to the chowder; they taste like a saltine cracker but with lots more flavor and crunch.  I like to garnish  with a few dashes of Tabasco sauce for a subtle kick, and some chopped fresh chives for a bit of color.  I hope this New England clam chowder recipe brightens your table and becomes a favorite in your own kitchen.

New England Clam Chowder
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves two foodies, makes about 6 cups

1 ½ medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼ inch cubes
OR 1 ½ cups baby gold potatoes (large handful, roast whole)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh-cracked pepper
3 slices bacon, cut into lardons (¼ inch thick strips)
¾ cup finely diced onion (about half of large onion)
2 celery stalks, finely diced (about ½ cup)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (about 4 stems)
½ of a small clove garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cans (6.5 oz. each) chopped clams plus their juice
(1) 8 oz. jar (1 cup) clam juice
2 ½ cups milk (1 %)
½ cup half & half
Roux: 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and 4 tablespoons flour
Tabasco Sauce or Hot Sauce
Oyster crackers
Fresh chives, chopped

Roast the potatoes:
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F or toaster oven to 300 degrees F.  Add the potatoes to an oven-proof dish and toss with a few teaspoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Cook for 25 to 35 minutes until just knife tender.  Let cool a few minutes and lightly smash; if using baby Dutch potatoes, cut into slices or cubes.

In a Dutch oven or large stock pot over medium heat, cook the bacon pieces until crispy and browned.  Turn off the heat and transfer bacon to plate lined with paper towel; remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pan.  Let bacon cool and set aside 1 teaspoon for garnish. 

Return pan to medium heat and sauté the onions and celery with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh thyme, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper until soft and translucent, about 15 minutes.  Add the garlic and sugar and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the canned clams and their juice, clam juice, milk, half & half, roasted potatoes, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and the cooked bacon pieces; let simmer on medium for 15 minutes, stirring often.   

Make the roux: melt the butter in a ramekin (or small glass bowl) in the microwave on 10 second increments until melted.  Add the flour and whisk in with a fork. Add roux to the soup and stir well to dissolve. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until chowder thickens, stirring often. 

Serve chowder hot and garnish with Tabasco sauce, oyster crackers, extra bacon pieces and chopped fresh chives.

  • Bacon lardons: make it easy by using your kitchen shears and cut the bacon strips directly into the skillet
  • Be sure to keep the chowder at a low simmer so the clams don’t get tough

Leftovers from St. Patrick’s Day: Corned Beef Hash

Need an idea for what to do with your leftovers from St. Patrick’s Day?  Try this Corned Beef Hash recipe.  It is such a delicious treat for breakfast, or even dinner.  One of my favorite food indulgences (okay, I have many) are fried potatoes of any kind, including hash browns.  I really enjoy the recipe for Corned Beef with Roasted Vegetables from my earlier post and this is a savory extension of that meal.  Each of the flavors meld together (the roasted carrots and onions add a wonderful sweetness) and both sides of the hash develop a crispy crust.  This is different from hash browns because of all the added goodies and the whole potato pieces; hash browns are typically grated and mixed with eggs and onions, like potato latkes.  But like hash browns, the mixture is firmly pressed into the pan and left to cook a bit for a crispy outside.

The only vegetable I don’t use from the St. Patrick’s Day meal is the cabbage so be sure to eat it up at dinner.  When you cook the hash I recommend using a cast iron skillet or a well seasoned pan to make sure you get a crispy crust; non-stick pans won’t do that for you.   The nice thing about a cast iron skillet is that you don’t have to use as high of a heat because it conducts and retains the heat extremely well, and because it’s well-seasoned, the potatoes won’t stick.  The recipe calls for some of the cooking liquid because it has lots of flavor, but chicken or vegetable stock would work too.  The trick is to make sure the potato mixture is moist so it stays together when cooked.

As for the eggs, I will let you choose – prepare them your favorite way.  I know it’s unusual for a foodie but I confess: I can’t stand runny eggs, make them over hard and crispy for me, please!  I have given up on ordering eggs at restaurants because they are never done enough for me and the server usually looks at me weird when I place the order.  As you can see from the picture, we both like our eggs cooked differently.
For even more flavor, add a little of the lime horseradish sauce from dinner to eat with the corned beef hash!

(pronounced ‘slawn-cha’)  – a common Irish toast meaning Health! and is the equivalent to Cheers!

Corned Beef Hash   (click on link for a printable version of recipe)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves 2 foodies

2 cups roasted potatoes pieces
2 ¼ cups diced corned beef, cut into small cubes
½ to 3/4 cup cooking liquid from corned beef, or chicken broth
1/3 cup roasted onions
½ medium yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
2 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish
2 tablespoons diced roasted carrots (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Add potatoes to large bowl and mash with potato masher or the back of a measuring cup so three-fourths of the potatoes are broken up.  Add the corned beef, 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, roasted onions, diced onions, mustard, pepper, parsley and carrots (if using) – mix well with a spoon.  If the mixture is too dry, add more liquid; you want just enough so the mixture stays together.

Heat a cast iron skillet or well-seasoned pan (not non-stick) over medium to medium high heat and melt 1 ½ tablespoons of butter.  When melted, add the potato/corned beef mixture and stir around in the butter.  Press down firmly with the back of a spatula to form a flat layer.  Let cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, moving the skillet back and forth every so often to help form a nice crust.  Invert the potatoes onto a large plate or round sheet pan and melt remaining 1 ½ tablespoon of butter in skillet.  (Don’t worry if the shape doesn’t hold together.  You can fix it when it goes back in the pan.)  Slide the potatoes back into pan, browned side up.  Press down firmly and cook another 8 to 10 minutes until bottom is brown and crispy.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with your favorite style eggs.