Occasionally, after a fly casting practice on the North Pond near Fullerton and Lake Shore Drive, I have walked a couple blocks north on Clark Street to Frances' Deli for a taste of their terrific potato pancakes and cheese blintzes. At home, I have been trying to make potato pancakes as good as the ones at Frances' without success until I discovered this recipe in the Bon Appetite Cookbook:
"Apple and celery root bring subtle sweetness to these potato pancakes. Since potatoes will discolor soon after they are grated (from exposure to oxygen); onions are added to mix their juices and prevent the discoloration. The key to great potato-pancake texture is squeezing out as much moisture as possible from the grated potatoes. Wrap them in a dish towel and squeeze hard, then do it again. The drier the potatoes, the crispier the potato pancakes. When frying the pancakes, press down a bit; that will help them brown and fry. [Serve these as a side dish, or turn them into an elegant appetizer by topping them with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, and chives.] Makes about 16.
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 /2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, peeled, quartered
1 2-inch cube peeled celery root (celeriac)
1 medium unpeeled Granny Smith apple, quartered, cored
1 large egg
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place baking sheet in oven. Place colander in large bowl. Line colander with kitchen towel. Using processor fitted with grating disk, coarsely grate potatoes, onion, celery root, and apple together. Transfer potato mixture to towel. Gather towel tightly around potato mixture and squeeze out as much liquid as possible into bowl; discard liquid. Place potato mixture, egg, green onion, marjoram, salt, and pepper in same bowl; toss to combine. Mix in flour.
Pour enough vegetable oil into heavy large skillet to cover bottom, and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop 1/4 cup pancake mixture into skillet for each pancake. Using bottom of metal spatula, flatten each mound to 3-inch round. Fry until cooked through and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels, then transfer pancakes to baking sheet in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining pancake mixture, leaving behind any liquid that collects in bottom of bowl."
My interpretation of Bon Appetite's recipe is pictured above along with some Mott's apple sauce, a dollop of sour cream, and a wedge of fresh Michigan melon wrapped in Prosciutto (Costco's, of course).