Salad Days and Latkes
Finally, its actually hot enough to be called summer in Berlin! Along with the rising temperature comes late nights and lazy days in the park, and that feeling of not wanting to eat anything too hot or substantial. My latest solution is to make big salads filled with the delicious cherries appearing in Kaiser's. My first try was to combine them with field greens and chopped kohlrabi. (If you don't know what it is, don't be worried: I thought it was fennel and got a strange surprise when it tasted more like a broccoli stalk mixed with jicama.) Yesterday I made an awesome huge salad for S. and I to eat in the park, this one featured cherries, avocado, carrots, field greens, and thin sliced onions tossed in a apple-cider vinegar based dressing. Who knew avocados and cherries went so naturally together? (Oder, "togesser" if you want to sound like a German.)
And even though hot food is a bit of annoyance in this weather, dinner requires something a bit more substantial. And although latkes (or "potato pancakes") are kind of associated with Hannukah season, I figured they are cheap to make and could be at home alongside a salad in the summertime as a light dinner. Not only that, but when you are on a budget its always handy to have a lot of recipes involving potatoes and carrots. Latkes are a little extra effort but scrumptious any time of year.
Here is my basic "recipe," without strict measurements. I want to point out that I omit any real binder here other than flour, but if you've never made them before you might find this a bit tricky. (The traditional recipe uses a few eggs.) I've seen other recipes using cornstarch or egg replacer and I imagine this might be easier for beginners, but if you don't have those ingredients on hand this always works for me!
Potato Carrot Latkes*
1.) Peel 2 carrots and a few potatoes (3-4). Grate them into a bowl using a hand-held grater. Now here comes my innovation: use a potato ricer to squeeze all of the excess liquid out of the grated veggies. This works because they aren't cooked and won't go totally through the ricer, but the pressure is perfect for squeezing out all the juice without using 50 paper towels to do it by hand.
2.) Add to the squeezed and grated veggies a small onion, diced tiny, and an equally tiny diced garlic clove. Toss with liberal salt and pepper.
3.) Sprinkle a good bit of flour and a few dashes cornstarch over the veggies, and mix with your hands. Add in more flour as necessary to coat the entire bowl, not so much that you can see the flour, but enough that you can form a small handful of the mixture into a ball that stays pretty well together.
4.) In a skillet, heat equal parts oil and margarine over medium heat, enough that margarine sizzles but not until oil is smoking. (You can also test a small clump to see if its ready, like you might with pancakes.)
5.) Drop in smallish balls of the veggie mix (about 3 at a time is good) and flatten into a thick disk using a spatula. Cook on first side for about 4 minutes, then flip to cook on other side another 2-3. Each pancake should be crispy and browned, and the time varies from batch to batch so keep an eye on them.
6.) After each set, the oil and margarine should be used up, so clean out any loose browned bits and replace oil and margarine for each new batch. Keep finished latkes in the oven on low heat until ready to serve.
7.) Serve with soy sour cream and applesauce, if ya got it!
*Potatoes and carrots are just the beginning- you can also use sweet potatoes, apples, beets, zuchinni... yum!
Song of the day: Cursive- Hymns for the Heathen