You Say Potato

“It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.” — Life, the Universe, and Everything, Douglas Adams

I know Douglas Adams discovered the meaning of life and all, but I just have to respectfully disagree with his potato philosophy. Right off the top of my head, I can think of several major problems that can be solved with potatoes, including, but not limited to:

1. What’s for dinner?
2. What’s for lunch?
3. And, what’s for breakfast?

Since this is the week of Hanuka, the solution to #1 is easy: Potato Pancakes (a.k.a. “Latkes”), the traditional Hanuka food, traditionally served with A Side of Applesauce. (Recipes follow.)

Since this is the first week of arctic temperatures (which, not surprisingly, only my Yeti-like dog is excited about), the solution to #2 is also easy: Stick-to-Your Ribs Salmon Chowder. Full disclosure here: I don’t eat meat, poultry, or shellfish, at all. Most of the time I follow a vegetarian diet. But occasionally I will eat some varieties of fish that have fins and scales (“kosher” fish), such as the salmon in my chowder. (Recipe follows.)

Since this week, like every week, it’s my mission to use up any leftovers lurking in the fridge, the solution to #3 might be, as it was last Sunday: Leftover Baked Potatoes, Diced and Pan-Fried in Olive Oil with Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, and Garlic Powder, till Crispy and Brown. (Recipe does not follow, since I just gave it to you.)

Potato Pancakes (a.k.a. “Latkes”)
makes 12 pancakes

whole lotta latkes

[1] Grate 1 med. peeled onion into a bowl. If you’re grating by hand (which is what I do), try not to grate, you know, your hand (which is what I try not to do).
Grate about 6 unpeeled med. Yukon Gold potatoes into the same bowl. Stir with each potato addition (because the onion magically keeps the potato from turning an unappetizing shade of brownish-gray).
Sprinkle some salt on the potato mixture and let sit for about 5 min. Then, lift out a handful of the mixture, squeeze the liquid out over the sink, and put it into a clean bowl. Lift, squeeze, repeat … etc.
Sprinkle 2 tbsp. whole-wheat flour on top of the squeezed-dry potato mixture. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. (Yes, you can taste the raw mixture.)
Add in 1 beaten egg and combine thoroughly.
Cover the bottom of a non-stick griddle with olive oil and heat it. I use an electric griddle ’cause it’s the best (thanks Mom!).
Scoop out 1/4 cupfuls of the potato mixture and put them on the hot oiled griddle. Flatten with a spatula.
[8] Cook the cakes over medium-high heat till they’re crispy brown on the bottom, then flip them over. Keep cooking till they’re crispy brown on both sides, and the insides are nice and soft.
[9] Watch them disappear.

A Side of Applesauce
Peel, core, and dice about 3 – 4 apples. Put them in a pot with about 1/4 cup apple juice (or water, if you don’t have any apple juice). Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer till the apples are soft. Turn off the heat and mash them with a potato masher till they’re the consistency you like (a little chunky is nice). If the mixture is too liquidy, turn the heat on low and simmer till some of the liquid cooks out. Serve warm with your potato pancakes.

Stick-to-Your-Ribs Salmon Chowder
makes 4 servings

come on in, the chowder's fine

[1] Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in a large soup pot. Add 1 med. peeled, chopped onion and 1 lg. peeled, shredded carrot. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
[2] Add 2 med. unpeeled, chopped Yukon Gold potatoes. Stir for 1 minute.
[3] Add 2 c. vegetable broth and 1 bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then cover and simmer for 20 min. or until potatoes are soft when you stick a fork in them.
[4] Turn off the heat. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Then remove about 1 1/2 c. of soup and puree it, using an immersion blender (which is what I use) or a regular blender. I don’t bother cooling the mixture before I use the immersion blender, but from what I’ve seen on T.V. cooking competitions, I think you do need to cool it if you’re using a regular blender, or else the top will blow off — uncool.
[5] Add the puree back to the pot.
[6] Stir in 1 1/2 c. corn kernels (frozen is AOK), about 6 – 8 oz. cooked salmon (you can use fresh cooked, canned, packaged, or smoked — whatever you like), anywhere from 1/2 – 1 c. skim milk (depending on the consistency of soup you like), and a generous handful of chopped, fresh parsley.
[7] Add salt, pepper, and a little dill weed (fresh or dried) to taste.
[8] Warm gently before serving. Or, portion the soup out into 4 containers, and heat one up for lunch each day.

p.s. Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap, but check out the stats for 1 medium Yukon Gold potato (my favorite variety, in case I didn’t make that clear): 100 calories, 0g fat, 3g fiber, 4g protein, 45% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C. Not too shabby …

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