Cooking with Maine Women Writers, part 4

Next in our series on Maine women food writers, we have Notes from a Maine Kitchen: Seasonally Inspired Recipes by Kathy Gunst.

Published in 2011, this book has a gorgeous cover and contains an abundance of recipes using local ingredients for each month of the year. December’s chapter finds her writing about holiday parties and includes this recipe for Mini Sweet Potato and Shallot Pancakes with Toppings.

This is a twist on traditional latkes, or potato pancakes, using sweet potatoes, which are so much less starchy, colorful, and healthier than plain old white ones. I like serving them on a platter with various toppings: a dollop of sour cream on one pancake, another with Roasted Apfelmus (Applesauce) [recipe in her cookbook], mango chutney, and apple chutney. Pick one or use them all.

Makes 16 two-inch pancakes; serves 4

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, about 1 ½ pounds
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup flour, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • toppings: sour cream, applesauce, mango chutney, and apple chutney

Using the largest opening on a cheese grater, grate the potatoes into a large bowl. Grate the shallots on the same large opening and mix with the potatoes. Add the eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and flour and stir well to fully incorporate all the ingredients.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over high heat. The oil should be at least 1-inch think. Let the oil get really hot. To test, add a small piece of grated potato – the oil should sizzle right up. Make a pancake from about 2 heaping tablespoons of batter, forming it into a pancake about 2 inches wide. Add the pancakes to the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and, using a slotted spoon, gently flip the pancake over. Cook for another 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining batter. You can keep the drained, cooked pancakes warm on a cookie sheet in the preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve hot with any or all of the toppings listed above.

Variations:

  • Use carrots instead of sweet potatoes and add a pinch of ground ginger instead of nutmeg. Serve with thick Greek-style yogurt.
  • Add ¼ cup minced chives or cilantro to the pancake batter and add very thinly sliced scallions instead of shallots.

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