Saturday, November 28, 2009
Late yesterday afternoon, we pulled into our driveway at the end of a 5 and 1/2 hour drive. Ahh, home. My sigh of relief lasted for a fraction of a second. My mind was racing, making a mental to-do list of the most efficient way to get everything unpacked and back to "normal" before bedtime. My 5 year old couldn't open the car door fast enough. It wasn't just the enthusiasm of being back on her own turf or the fact that she drank a full root beer at our lunchtime stop. You see, while we were away, the first snow had fallen and she could not wait to put her little footprints on it. Her "own turf" was covered in a blanket of glittery white and she wanted to explore the magically transformed landscape. We convinced her to come inside with the promise that we could go out and play once we'd all changed into warmer attire and the car was unloaded. I set about transferring our share of the Thanksgiving leftovers from cooler to refrigerator while my husband lugged the suitcases in from the car. I noticed that there was plenty of room for those leftovers. After all, we'd been away for a week and I hadn't gone to the grocery before we left. I briefly wondered what I'd make for dinner. Briefly, because before I could think too long and hard about dinner, my daughters were hopping around me, "Mommy! Mommy! Is it time to go out yet? Is it? Is it?!" "Look, mommy! I already got out the snow clothes!" It was true. They had dragged out snow pants, gloves, hats, scarves, and the boxes containing the brand spanking-new snow boots from their closets. All of this snow gear was piled in the middle of my family room floor with the kids running around it, yelling for me to help. It was at this moment that my husband appeared to lean down and kiss each of us goodbye. "Car's unloaded. I have to run into the office for a while." He really did need to run to work, that was the whole reason that we made the trip back a couple of days early rather than stay through the weekend. As my husband exited to the garage, I turned my attention back to stuffing tiny feet into boots and little fingers into gloves. While wrestling everyone into their snow clothes, my phone kept ringing with calls to make sure that we made it home intact and the Black Friday shoppers inquiring about our Christmas lists. Once everyone was sufficiently clothed against the elements and I had referred my dad to my husband's work phone for a conversation about "sweet deals" on flat screen televisions, we all ran out into the snow/mud (most of the snow had melted) to work out the pent up energy from nearly 6 hours in the car. I completely forgot to think about what to make for dinner...until about an hour later when my oldest looked up at me, her cheeks bright pink from the cold, and declared, "I'm hungry!" My toddler chimed in, "Yeah, eat! Eat!" Apparently, she wasn't full enough from all of the snow she'd been shovelling into her mouth.
What is it they say? Necessity is the mother of invention? Well, I certainly didn't invent the potato pancake...I think that most of us have a version of this recipe... but I did come up with this version from the few ingredients that I found in my pantry and fridge. I used leftover mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner (I used this recipe for Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes found at My Tasty Treasures. They were awesome!), finely chopped onion, Mexican 4-cheese blend shredded cheese (it's all that I had), an egg, flour, milk, salt and pepper. The next time that I make these I'd love to try them with some fresh chives and crispy bacon mixed in or even sprinkled on top. Maybe with some smoked Gouda or sharp white cheddar? As far as we girls were concerned, they were the perfect dinner, crisp from being fried in butter on the outside, soft and cheesy on the inside, topped with sour cream and served with steaming hot cocoa to warm us from our romp in the first snow of the season.
2 cups cold leftover mashed potatoes
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped or grated
1/4 to 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice
2 tablespoons milk
seasoned salt or kosher salt and pepper, to taste
butter or oil for frying
sour cream for topping
Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in griddle pan or large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Drop potato cakes by heaping 1/4 cupfuls onto skillet. Flatten slightly with spatula. Cook until golden brown on bottom and then flip and cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove from skillet and keep warm while you fry the next batch. Serve with sour cream.
A couple of notes:
I had to live and learn a little with this one. First, I had to adjust the amount of flour. I began with 2 tablespoons, but my cakes didn't really hold together well and were difficult to flip. This is probably because the potatoes weren't super stiff to begin with. They were prepared with butter and whipping cream and cream cheese for a yummy Thanksgiving dinner mashed potato. If you find this to be the case, add a little more flour. Second, I started out with way too much butter in the pan. I guess I was still coming off of my Thanksgiving butter high and thought "the more butter, the better". You really want just enough butter on the griddle to keep those cakes from sticking. My first cakes were swimming in butter, making them a) difficult to flip because they were just soaking up that butter and gettin' gooey and b) greasy! I had to soak up the excess butter with a paper towel. So this is finally an instance when it comes to butter (the perspective of a healthy eater aside)where less IS more.
Once I got all of the kinks worked out, they were really a quick and easy meal. Totally delicious and satisfying.