best latkes ever

latkes

I know everyone and their mother probably has a recipe for potato pancakes, but I recently discovered a new method for making them and it’s SO GOOD. And since Hanukkah, that celebration of fried food, begins tomorrow, it seemed like a fine time to mention it.

onion & taters

The secret is onion – quite a lot of onion, too. Really, it makes a huge difference! Mitchell Davis, author of the very useful book Kitchen Sense, attributes the technique to his mother, and I was amazed the first time I tried it. You grate the onion alternately with the potato so its juices coat the potato shreds and keep them from browning. Then it all gets mixed together with egg and matzo meal and fried slowly, producing a savory pancake with a perfectly crunchy outside and a soft sweet interior. I’ve made them two or three times now, and they are the very best latkes I’ve ever eaten. A little horseradish creme fraiche doesn’t hurt, either.

And by the way, today marks the end of another National Blog Posting Month – I made it all 30 days! Daily posting is not likely to continue, but we’ll see where inspiration leads me. As always, thanks for reading!

Recipe after the jump…

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Thanksgiving 2010

the hill

We went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving this year.

It was very cold.

icicles

But there was coffee. And coffeecake.

And later, Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house. My mother and I made the pies. Everything was fantastic.

eggplant dip

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persimmon

persimmon

My parents often buy persimmons in the winter, which for some reason we never do. I took advantage of the opportunity to shoot a few images of this one. I love both the color of the fruit and the texture of the sepals, making it hard to decide whether I like it better in color or black and white. Which do you prefer?

persimmon

Katie Katurday

Katie

This week’s Caturday features my parents’ cat Katie, now a media celebrity after her photo appeared in the Wenatchee World last week, as well as her status as Miss September in my Cats 2011 calendar, on sale now at Qoop. We are informed she has rather a swelled head about it all.

the negroni

negroni

No matter how many odd original cocktails we try, sometimes you just can’t do better than the classics. A plain gin martini, served cold and up. A Manhattan with good vermouth. Or a Negroni.

In some ways the Negroni is the perfect holiday cocktail. It’s easy to make, being equal parts gin, campari and vermouth. It can be served up or on the rocks. The campari gives it a festive color, and its bitterness cuts through salty and fatty foods beautifully – I once made gougeres and stuffed them with bits of truffled salami, and after washing them down with Negronis can hardly imagine a better pairing. The drink acts as a digestif, settling the stomach and readying it for more eating. Sounds like Thanksgiving weekend to me.

Negroni

  • 3/4 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz campari
  • 3/4 oz sweet (or dry) vermouth
  • lemon or orange rind

Stir the first three ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail or rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon or orange twist.

goat curry

spices

maple leaf

It’s been very wintry around here the last few days, with snow and temperatures rapidly heading downward from freezing. We’ve been doing a lot of cooking with spices, ginger and chiles to take the edge off, like the udon and shrimp in Thai-spiced broth we had last night, or the Parsi goat curry the night before.

goat meat

We were so excited when we found frozen halal goat meat at a small Indian grocery in Everett. We’ve thought about sourcing goat locally, but haven’t actually cooked with it before, so this seemed like a good opportunity to try it. When we thawed it out and took a look, though, it appeared that someone with a bandsaw had randomly passed a whole goat through the blade and tossed the chunks in a bag – I couldn’t tell what parts we had to work with, and there were odd pieces of bone everywhere. Oh, well, we were going to be braising it anyway.

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Ka Won

Korean BBQ

We had completely run out of udon and soba, not a tenable state of affairs for our kitchen. We decided to make a run down to 99 Ranch Market in Edmonds to restock our Asian food pantry, and as long as we were down there, go out for Korean BBQ. We enlisted a pair of friends to help us out with dinner, which turned out to be a very good thing.

We went to Ka Won, a place I picked more or less at random but which was supposed to have good banchan. It was a great night to sit at one of the barbecue tables, as it was clammy and cold outside and the warmth from the grill was very welcome. With the waitress’ assistance, we ordered a barbecue set meal with black pig, beef rib and squid, plus an order of fatty brisket with mushrooms. We sat and drank warm tea and cold beer for a little while, then the food began to arrive.

the spread

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jungle cat

jungle cat

The greenhouse window behind our kitchen sink used to have shelves in it. I’d start seedlings and transplants there, and left the space under the shelf free for the cats to sun themselves. Then I needed to move my jade plant to a new location, as it had completely outgrown its prior space, so we took out the shelves to make room. The cats still sun themselves in the space, but now they can pretend to be fierce jungle panthers peering through the foliage. I think they like it.