Sunday, August 20, 2006

To Grandmother's House We Go

My mom and I went to visit my grandmother this weekend. Every morning at Grandma's starts with a hearty breakfast - scrambled eggs, sausage links, red potatoes cooked with onion and thick slices of Jersey tomato sprinkled with salt and pepper.

We also went to visit my aunt, uncle and cousin while we were in town. My aunt knows how much I love her sandwich ring, so she made one for lunch.

Savory Sandwich Ring

2 packages (11 oz each) refrigerated French bread dough
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon each: dried oregano and dried basil
8 ounces thinly sliced deli meat such as salami, turkey, ham or roast beef
4 ounces thinly sliced cheese such as Muenster, Swiss or American
2 cups chopped lettuce
6 tablespoons Italian dressing, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dough seam side down on 15" round baking stone. Join ends of dough together to form a large ring. Cut six to eight diagonal slashes on top of the dough; lightly spray with vegetable oil. Press garlic over dough and spread evenly. Sprinkle with herbs and bake 26-30 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from baking stone and cool completely.

To assemble: cut bread in half horizontally. Arrange meat and cheese evenly over bottom half of bread. Top with lettuce, drizzle with 2 tablespoons Italian dressing. Top with onion, bell pepper and tomato and brush cut side of bread with remaining dressing. Replace top half, cut into wedges and serve.

This was a low-key weekend, so we cooked dinner at home on Saturday. My grandmother has been making latkes (or potato pancakes) for years and since I've been craving them recently, I asked her to show me how she makes them.

First we assembled all the ingredients: large red potatoes (any potato will work fine), flour, eggs, salt, baking soda and minced onion. Like a Chinese stir-fry, latkes are something you need to fry and then eat quickly. A cold latke just isn't very tasty.

Peel the potatoes (2 large ones makes 20-30 small pancakes. We used 4 large ones and had 42 small pancakes), cut them into small cubes and put the cubes in ice water. Put half the potatoes in the blender with one egg. Blend and add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda. Blend again and then put into a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and add those to the bowl. Add 3 heaping tablespoons of flour and about 3 tablespoons of minced onion (or however much you like) and stir to combine.

My grandmother used to make these using a box grater but now, for convenience sake, she uses the blender. The resulting pancake doesn't have the same texture as the old ones, but the flavor is still there. You could make this recipe using the grater, but instead of cubing the potatoes, you'd grate them over the large holes of the box grater and then mix in the rest of the ingredients.

The resulting mixture looks like a bit like gruel. Not so appetizing, but trust me on this one, OK?

Heat about a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet. Add the batter in heaping spoonfuls and fry until the edges start to turn golden brown. Flip them over so they brown on the other side and then drain them on a papertowel-lined plate.

I like to eat my latkes with sour cream and applesauce. The tang of the sour cream is a nice balance to the sweetness of the latke and the tart applesauce.

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  1. OMG - I love these things! My mom would make them and I'd be snacking on them while they were cooling on the paper plate. I eat them with sour cream and applesauce too. Delicious!

  2. Hi Jessy and welcome to my blog. :) Latkes are definitely a family favorite.


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