Potato pancakes!

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Hepcat
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2003/10/17 19:58:05 (permalink)

Potato pancakes!

It may be my ethnic heritage but periodically I have a craving for potato pancakes. By this I mean the real ones made from finely ground potatoes and fried on a really hot grill until the edges are crispy! These are best served with salt and sour cream and perhaps a side of fried bacon. Mmmm, mmmm, good!

The problem is that they're so tough to find! Apple Annie's in the Eaton Centre of downtown Toronto served truly excellent potato pancakes but they've been closed for almost twenty years. The "potato pancake" efforts of other pancake houses just send me into a savage rage! Smitty's basically serves up a large hash brown, very much like the little ones at McDonald's. Not bad but they don't have either the right texture or the right flavour. The Golden Griddle and other pancake joints like Jocko's on Highway #2 just west of Hamilton have served me their regular wheat flour pancake with a small amount of ground potatoes in the batter! I've on occasion been driven to punctuate my dissatisfaction with this type of outright fraud by busting up the kitchen!



I actually have to make the trek to some of the Polish restaurants on Roncesvalles Avenue to get potato pancakes when I really need a batch!

I mean what gives? Am I asking too much to expect potato pancakes when I order precisely that? Is my request/demand really that difficult?

Do any of the pancake houses in your area serve legitimate potato pancakes or do you have the same problem I do?

#1

52 Replies Related Threads

    seafarer john
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/10/17 21:48:19 (permalink)
    Hepcat: I feel your pain. You have to find a real Mom and Pop German Restaurant where Mom will cook them up as fast as you can eat them with sauerbraten gravy or smeared with butter, or with spicy apple sauce. We dont have one left in our neighborhood - if you find a good one let me know and I'll be on that ferry at the first opportunity
    #2
    kland01s
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/10/18 09:16:46 (permalink)
    Hepcat, this is something I've been wondering about for ages. I love potato pancakes,especially the ones my dear long departed mother made, lightly crisp. One place I go to only serves them once a month or so because "it's too much work" another place I go to has them regularly on the menu but always warns me that they will take extra time. My favorite is served at Alexander's in Elgin, Ill on Rte.31 at I-90. Lightly crisp with a hint of green onion and served with butter and sour cream. I always eat the apple sauce as desert. Fortunately it's about a 45 min. drive there so I save my arteries by only eating them once or twice a year, but it's a comfort to know they are there.
    #3
    Craig328
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/10/18 09:28:49 (permalink)
    Potato Pancakes are the easiest things to make.

    2 1/2 Lbs.. Potato finely grated or use blender method. Squeeze out excess water using clean towel.
    1 Large Sweet Onion finely chopped
    1/4 Cup Flour
    1 TSP Salt
    1/2 TSP Baking Powder
    Pepper to taste
    Fry in Oil or Lard
    #4
    seafarer john
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/10/18 11:52:59 (permalink)
    Kland01s: We drove thru that very intersection on our western tour just a year ago and in our ignorance were not aware of the delights available just off the Interstate. With the help of this web site we hope to avoid such major mistakes in the future.
    #5
    kland01s
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/10/18 12:20:18 (permalink)
    Sorry Craig, no flour in my potato pancakes, just the potato and a hint of green onion, made thin and grilled lightly crisp.

    seafarer, sorry we missed you on your passing though, next time stop in the beautiful Fox River Valley where we have many good roadfood places to eat. Alexanders is family run, the type where mom is the hostess and other family is either waiting on you or cooking. They are open breakfast to dinner and do a decent job of all of their food. It's about half way distance between my sister and me so it's a good spot to meet and catch up every now and then. Friends who work in the area consider it the spot for lunch or breakfast.
    #6
    Hepcat
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/10/19 20:50:27 (permalink)
    John!
    quote:
    We dont have one left in our neighborhood - if you find a good one let me know and I'll be on that ferry at the first opportunity.


    I usually end up taking the Bloor subway in Toronto to the Dundas West station to drop in at Pete's Hamburgers. Despite the name, this is a very down to earth Polish restaurant just a couple of doors south of Bloor Street on the west side of Dundas Street/Roncesvalles Ave. (the two streets run together on that block).

    Sometimes I order my potato pancakes with a side order of bacon but sometimes I order the potato pancake and goulash dish! This is a very filling dish since you get one very large potato pancake slathered with Hungarian style goulash!

    I have only two qualms. The first is that sometimes they serve a chintzy portion which of course is completely unacceptable to a man with a healthy appetite! I now warn them that I require a hearty portion! The second is that a Lithuanian fellow like me shouldn't have to resort to patronizing a Polish restaurant for his potato pancakes!


    #7
    ocdreamr
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/10/19 21:00:38 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by clothier

    quote:
    Originally posted by Craig328

    Potato Pancakes are the easiest things to make.

    2 1/2 Lbs.. Potato finely grated or use blender method. Squeeze out excess water using clean towel.
    1 Large Sweet Onion finely chopped
    1/4 Cup Flour
    1 TSP Salt
    1/2 TSP Baking Powder
    Pepper to taste
    Fry in Oil or Lard

    No offense, but my Bubbe would plotz if she saw your recipe. Try replacing the flour with matzo meal, and leave out the B.P. Also add at least 2 beaten eggs to that, and since lard was not on her list of approved foods, fry in either schmaltz (chicken fat), or if you have any lying around, goose fat.
    I usually mix chicken fat with vegtable oil.


    Here you are getting into the differences between potato pancakes & latkes, one is the German & the other the Jewish rendition of a traditional favorite. I was brought up on the German recipe that was handed down in my family for generations & it's similar to Craig's recipe.
    #8
    Hepcat
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/04 18:28:47 (permalink)
    Here are the ingredients to the recipe for potato pancakes from a Lithuanian recipe book:

    5-6 medium potatoes
    1-2 eggs
    1 tablespoon flour (optional)
    1/2 grated onion (optional)
    1 teaspoon salt
    oil for frying

    The recipe says to add the tablespoon of flour if fresh potatoes are used. Since I didn't know potatoes could be anything but fresh, I asked my cousin, who prides herself on her cooking, whether she puts flour in her potato pancake batter. Her reply was that she does when she's using moist potatoes. If she's using baking potatoes, which tend to be dry, then she doesn't use flour.

    Squeezing out the excess water/starch through a cheesecloth and frying on a very hot griddle are tricks used by all knowledgeable cooks though!




    #9
    ocdreamr
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/04 21:45:11 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Hepcat


    The recipe says to add the tablespoon of flour if fresh potatoes are used. Since I didn't know potatoes could be anything but fresh, I asked my cousin, who prides herself on her cooking, whether she puts flour in her potato pancake batter. Her reply was that she does when she's using moist potatoes. If she's using baking potatoes, which tend to be dry, then she doesn't use flour.


    The moist potatoes are fresh dug, when potatoes have been on the shelf a while they will be drier or as my mom would have said, mealier, producing more starch on their own.
    #10
    Argent
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/04 22:48:03 (permalink)
    Dose anyone have any history on potato pancakes. As potatos are New world , I was wondering how they became more of a european tradition.
    #11
    spadoman
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/05 05:25:58 (permalink)
    My family immigrated to America in the very early 1900's. My Grandfather on my Dad's side worked on the railroad with his brother and a few cousins who all came over from Italy at the same time.
    They were poor, potatoes were cheap, they ate a lot of them.
    I could only venture a guess, but I'd say because of this a lot of Europeans developed recipes for a flat fried potato cake.

    I love the darn things. The smaller and finer I can chop the onion, the better. I also like to make a boatload of bacon and fry the cakes in the bacon fat. I serve em' with sour cream and applesauce.
    #12
    EdSails
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/05 12:57:53 (permalink)
    One of my absolute favorites. I make them Jewish style, as mentioned by clothier-----after having made them in 500 plus quantities for various Hanukah functions I guess I'm qualified to talk about them. The only tip I can add to the recipes I've seen in this thread----I find it's nice to grate 2/3 of the potatoes but shred 1/3 of them-----just creates a different texture and actually seems to hold together better. Sour cream and applesauce and I'm happy!
    #13
    Hepcat
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/05 18:38:13 (permalink)
    quote:
    "I could only venture a guess, but I'd say because of this a lot of Europeans developed recipes for a flat fried potato cake." - Spadoman


    That's precisely it! I take it that potatoes weren't introduced to Lithuania until the early part of the nineteenth century but immediately became a staple of the peasants' diet because they were cheap.


    #14
    Maynerd
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/05 20:41:30 (permalink)
    Heehee, I just had some beauties at Wurstfest in New Braunfels,Texas this past weekend. They serve them with a side of applesauce and a sausage if you like.Almost worth another 260 mile drive for me to go back for the last weekend of the Wurstfest. They always had a long line at their booth though.
    They were grated and fried up on a grease soaked griddle. Yum!
    #15
    Mayhaw Man
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/05 21:53:26 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Hepcat

    Here are the ingredients to the recipe for potato pancakes from a Lithuanian recipe book:

    5-6 medium potatoes
    1-2 eggs
    1 tablespoon flour (optional)
    1/2 grated onion (optional)
    1 teaspoon salt
    oil for frying

    The recipe says to add the tablespoon of flour if fresh potatoes are used. Since I didn't know potatoes could be anything but fresh, I asked my cousin, who prides herself on her cooking, whether she puts flour in her potato pancake batter. Her reply was that she does when she's using moist potatoes. If she's using baking potatoes, which tend to be dry, then she doesn't use flour.

    Squeezing out the excess water/starch through a cheesecloth is a trick used by all knowledgeable cooks though!







    I used this recipe tonight. Served them with country ham and stilton omelettes (oh yeah, stinky cheese man strikes again!)

    It worked like a champ. Just for the record I used new potatoes (just because I had a ton left over from shrimp boil last week) and squished out the water. Worked great.

    Thanks for the recipe. I will do it again
    #16
    Hepcat
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/07 19:48:47 (permalink)
    quote:
    Thanks for the recipe. I will do it again!


    You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    #17
    Ort. Carlton.
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/07 20:47:22 (permalink)
    Hepcat,
    It's not like you find yourself traipsing off to Windsor every whipstitch, but - if you are ever there, I found a place online while looking for information on Tunnel BBQ. It's called Polish Restaurant Piast, and it's at 1194 Wyandotte St. East, right near the tunnel exit. The people have quite a website at http://come.to/piast/ that you might want to check out. It appears to be a place with much heart, and she's got a potato pancake recipe that my friend Lauren at The Normaltown Cafe swears she's going to make me guinea pig for when she tries it out... not to mention dill pickle soup. Gracious, I gain weight just thinking about it all....
    Ever-Slowly-Shrinkingly, Ort. Carlton in the Ever-Expanding Mindless Sprawl That Is Athens, Georgia.
    #18
    Hepcat
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/10 17:05:26 (permalink)
    Carlton!

    Thanks for the tip! I may very well take a jaunt to Windsor sometime before next summer. I visit my sister in London, Ontario every couple of months and Windsor is only about 110 miles away!

    What's interesting as well is that I visited Athens, Georgia for the rhythmic gymnastics competition of the 1996 Olympics!
    #19
    rumbelly
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/10 19:08:39 (permalink)
    Try the Swiss version named roesti.

    Boil starchy potatoes till almosted cooked through, cool them in their jackets and peel while still warm. Grate them and add chopped onions, finely chopped bacon, fresh thyme and salt and pepper. Fry them in small non-stick pans or on a greasy griddle with BUTTER till brown and crispy. Enjoy these puppies with mixed meats like schnitzel, various forms of sausages, Kassler(smoked pork loin), double smoked bacon etc. Side it with kraut and copious quantities of beer. Believe me you get the bed to yourself.

    Prosit!!
    #20
    ocdreamr
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/12 09:38:29 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by EdSails

    The only tip I can add to the recipes I've seen in this thread----I find it's nice to grate 2/3 of the potatoes but shred 1/3 of them-----just creates a different texture and actually seems to hold together better.


    Ed,
    This is similar to what I do. I shred my potatoes in the processor & remove a portion to the side, change the blade & add all the rest of the ingrediants to what is still in the processor & process until blended. I then stir this into the shredded potatoes on the side. As you say they hold together well & have more texture.

    Ocdreamr
    #21
    oldfrt
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/14 14:16:08 (permalink)
    I make em about the same as hepcat. The flour part I play by ear once I see how "wet" the batch is turning out.

    Another angle, which I love, is for breakfast. Make up a small batch, fry em, put three or four on a plate and lay 2 or 3 fried eggs on top! Side with sausage or bacon.

    When we have a taste for them we always make em at home! I grate them which usually the hardest part, second only to standing at the stove frying them for the family. As they come out of the pan they go right to someones plate who is ready for the next "load". I always end up eating last.

    Cooking them ahead of time and putting them in the oven to stay warm is not good. You loose all the "crispy" edges!

    Butter, sour cream, apple sauce, ,,,

    Don
    #22
    ocdreamr
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/15 23:01:38 (permalink)
    Thought you all might find this e:mail I just got from my sister on South Padre Island, TX interesting.

    " We are heading up to San Antonio and Fredericksburg on Thursday and Friday. We want to go back to Fredericksburg for the German Bakery and Restaurant. Had potato pancakes there for breakfast in August. My kids can't believe we are driving over 300 miles for breakfast. They don't know what they're missing."

    Don't know what's wrong with my niece & nephews, makes sense to me!
    #23
    kland01s
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/24 10:16:09 (permalink)
    Tried a new place for breakfast yesterday in Batavia, Il called Lumes on Fabayan Parkway in the Trader Joe's plaza. Every time I go to TJ's this place is packed so we thought we'd try it about 7:15am. I was pleased to see they had Potato Pancakes on the menu and tried them. They were, well, I'm not sure how to describe them, didn't taste very potatoey,there was some hint of green onion and they were kind of doughy in the middle. I am pretty sure they were deep fried because they were very crunchy on the outside. My partner had a veggie omlette which was light and fluffy but we decided that $16 was too much for breakfast. That was for no coffee or juice, just the omlette and the pancakes.
    #24
    Hillbilly
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2003/11/24 12:53:09 (permalink)
    We had excellent crisp potato pancakes with last Friday night's fish fry at "Turner's" in Milwaukee. We had to ask for them, though. FF's are standard, and the cakes were an extra $.90--but well worth it.
    The fish at these Friday night fish fries are much better than what I had eaten in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the past, but they don't come close to the fried flounder, catfish, trout or grouper served in the South. AND THESE FOLKS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF HUSPUPPIES!! I wager that they would be a major hit if a restaurant in this part of the world started putting a bowl on the table to go along with the fried fish.
    #25
    dickestep
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2007/03/27 07:53:21 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by rumbelly

    Try the Swiss version named roesti.

    Boil starchy potatoes till almosted cooked through, cool them in their jackets and peel while still warm. Grate them and add chopped onions, finely chopped bacon, fresh thyme and salt and pepper. Fry them in small non-stick pans or on a greasy griddle with BUTTER till brown and crispy. Enjoy these puppies with mixed meats like schnitzel, various forms of sausages, Kassler(smoked pork loin), double smoked bacon etc. Side it with kraut and copious quantities of beer. Believe me you get the bed to yourself.

    Prosit!!


    I had to call it to the attention of some friends in Switzerland they had not shared this with us. Kicking up these fine recipes!


    #26
    guacshorts
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2007/03/27 19:06:01 (permalink)
    will i offend anyone if i mention i have done similar according to the best recipes in this thread, BUT also experimented and usedyam instead of potato?

    oops!



    but to all of your credit, since this dish is not part of my heritage (think south american empanadas and mexican mole sauce for me) i never knew about the applesauce aspect of it.

    YUMM to that and THANKS to all of you!
    #27
    dickestep
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2007/03/28 08:12:54 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by guacshorts

    will i offend anyone if i mention i have done similar according to the best recipes in this thread, BUT also experimented and usedyam instead of potato?
    oops!

    but to all of your credit, since this dish is not part of my heritage (think south american empanadas and mexican mole sauce for me) i never knew about the applesauce aspect of it.
    YUMM to that and THANKS to all of you!

    That news certainly does not offend me. I'm visualizing the marvelous flavors that must be produced in frying shredded or riced yams in butter! I've fried sliced yams before and like them.
    #28
    jmckee
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2007/03/28 08:48:42 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by dickestep

    quote:
    Originally posted by guacshorts

    will i offend anyone if i mention i have done similar according to the best recipes in this thread, BUT also experimented and usedyam instead of potato?
    oops!

    but to all of your credit, since this dish is not part of my heritage (think south american empanadas and mexican mole sauce for me) i never knew about the applesauce aspect of it.
    YUMM to that and THANKS to all of you!

    That news certainly does not offend me. I'm visualizing the marvelous flavors that must be produced in frying shredded or riced yams in butter! I've fried sliced yams before and like them.


    Even better: Cut them and fry them like French fries; sprinkle with a combination of salt and sugar (about 2:1 ratio). Quel yum.
    #29
    genewj
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    RE: Potato pancakes! 2007/03/29 22:22:34 (permalink)
    my Jewish grandmother used to make them as a treat on saturday nite.
    I have her recipe and used it in one of our fine food restaurants on sundays..Couldn't keep enuf on the grill.
    #30
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