Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sweet Potato Latkes

Ah, home at last. Even though my first week back in Oklahoma was ridiculously hectic, I did get some time to cook. I made some banana bread, a delicious wilted spinach salad, and some gourmet Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies. But the project I was most excited for were the Sweet Potato Latkes from!

These latkes were everything I want in a cooking adventure: semi-complicated, kind of dangerous (what with the frying and all), yet ultimately unpretentious and delicious.

First, of course, I had to set the mood (choose what to watch on TV while I cooked). What better reintroduction to American culture than a marathon of My Super Sweet Sixteen on MTV?

With my entertainment taken care of, I was ready to dive in! But first, I needed to take a moment and appreciate the vast, VAST difference between our kitchen in London and my parents' kitchen.

Isn't it beautiful?

Curried Sweet Potato Latkes


1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. cumin
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 lg. eggs, beaten
1/2 c. milk
peanut oil for frying (about 1/2 cup)

We had everything on hand except for the sweet potatoes and peanut oil. Also, notice that, mysteriously, the only way I could buy sweet potatoes at Super Target was individually wrapped in plastic! Apparently you're supposed to microwave them in the plastic for the "perfect taste." Um, okay.

So, first I peeled the sweet potatoes (this might have been the hardest part of the whole recipe):

Next, I grated the potatoes. I was about to do this by hand when my mother, passing through the kitchen, made the brilliant suggestion that i use the food processor. Oh My God we have a food processor! THINGS ARE SO EASY HERE.

Aren't they pretty? Next, I mixed together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin and salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Next time I make these, I'll probably add more curry powder, cayenne pepper, and salt at this point, and maybe even a dash or two of tobasco to the finished batter. While the latkes turned out well, they weren't quite exciting enough, and I think ramping up the spices would do the trick.

Next, I added eggs and just a splash of milk to the dry ingredients to get a "stiff batter":

Then, I added the potatoes and mixed it all together. The batter should be moist but not too runny--you can add a little more milk if it seems to stiff at this point:

Now for the exciting part--frying! This was the first time I'd really fried something, and it was a thrilling experience. Heat 1/4 inch of peanut oil in a frying pan (I used a heavy cast-iron skillet) until barely smoking. Drop the batter in by tablespoons (I found the most efficient way to do this was to use one tablespoon to scoop the batter up, and another tablespoon to push the batter off into the oil). Flatten, and fry over medium-high heat several minutes on each side until golden. I ended up lessening the heat to medium-low because my latkes were burning too quickly on the outside. I'm sure the perfect temperature varies a lot depending on your stove.

Then, drain the latkes on paper towels on serve!

I was lucky to get a photo because these were gobbled up pretty quickly--they were good! They weren't quite great, though--I bet with they would be, though, with a little more salt and spice. We ate them with applesauce, although I bet a coconut-sour cream sauce would be really good with them, too.

Now, back to the cleaning, packing, and baking--I may have a Christmas cookie post up before too long!

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