Savory Pancakes Are Perfect Holiday Hors D’Oeuvres

December 23 00:00 2003 Print This Article

With Christmas and Hanukkah less than one week apart this year, I am thinking about dishes I can serve for both holidays. Looking at traditional Christmas dishes, I notice that most are closely tied to one country, like bche de Nol, the French, log-shaped cake, or Mexican buuelos, balls of sweet, fried dough. In Italy and Greece, savory seafood stews are commonly served on Christmas Eve.

For Hanukkah, however, one dish stands out universally, particularly for families with Northern and Eastern Europe roots. Latkes, thin pancakes fried in oil, are synonymous with this eight-day holiday. My Russian grandmother made them, as most people do, from grated potatoes. They are also made using other vegetables, including zucchini, sweet potatoes, and string beans.

Latkes started me thinking about other pancakes with festive associations. Immediately came to mind blini, the little Russian pancakes served drenched in melted butter and topped with caviar, sour cream, or smoked fish. The butter adds far too much fat, and making these yeast-leavened pancakes takes hours, as they must rise three times. But what about a pancake that is between a blini and a latke, one that is perfect topped with a dab of sour cream for Hanukkah or smoked salmon for Christmas and New Years entertaining.

As with the making of blini, latkes have their own ingredients and techniques, but these pancakes are delicious sauted in healthful canola oil. Flour, mixed in vigorously, helps these thin pancakes stick together. Combining wild rice with grated potato adds an earthy flavor similar to buckwheat. So one can call these delicious pancakes either latkes or lean blini.

Wild Rice and Potato Latkes

Makes 4 servings.

  • 1/4 cup wild rice
  • 1 medium (10 oz.) Russet potato, peeled and finely shredded
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of ground black pepper
  • Canola oil spray
  • 2 tsp. canola oil, divided
  1. Cook rice in 1 1/2 cups water until completely tender throughout the kernel, about 1 hour or more. Drain rice in colander and let sit until it is dry to the touch, about 15 minutes. Place warm rice in a mixing bowl.
  2. Using paper towels, squeeze as much moisture as possible from potato, a handful at a time and transfer to the bowl with the rice. With a fork, mix in the egg and scallions. Sprinkle with flour and mix in. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray until well coated. Place over medium-high heat. Place walnut-sized spoonfuls of the mixture in the pan, one at a time, pressing each firmly with the back of a fork to make thin, 2-inch pancakes with lacy edges. Space latkes 2 inches apart. When lightly browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, gently turn latkes and brown on the other side, about 2 minutes. When done, transfer to a warm plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining mixture, re-spraying pan before adding more pancakes.
  4. Serve immediately. If desired, arrange thin strips of smoked salmon on each pancake, forming an "x," and dab with low-fat sour cream; or, top them with a dollop of sour cream and a dab of lumpfish caviar.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
179 calories,
4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat),
32 g. carbohydrate,
5 g. protein,
3 g. dietary fiber,
315 mg. sodium

Source: AICR

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