If you want to avoid opening Pandora’s Box, DO NOT make crepes!!! You do NOT want to pry the lid off of that disastrous, ancient container especially if you’re a Polka who left her mother ship close to a decade ago.
Before I explain, I want you to think of the food from your early years, those home made meals, rich, comforting, and cooked with love from recipes passed on from mother to daughter. What food image fills your mouth with saliva? What memory of a family meal makes you want to reach for a phone and check in with your folks? Is it spaghetti and meatballs buried beneath a thick tomato sauce with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped basil on top? Is it a juicy burger on that perfectly toasted bun, with a loud CRUNCH of a pickle and a drop of ketchup running down your chin? Is it a deep-fried chicken or chicken gumbo, southern style? Is it a slice of pepperoni pizza on a thin crust? Can you taste it? Smell it? Is it all coming back to you now?
I’ll tell you about my trip.
Once in a blue moon I get home sick. I fool myself thinking: “A few crepes will do me good! They will sooth away that temporary nostalgia!” Bullpucky!* That’s how my tangle with the Pandora’s Box begins. One disaster leads to another and then, when I’m done with one dish “just like mother used to make”, I instantly start to crave more crazy things “just like mother used to make”. Images of bowls filled with steaming cheese pierogis chase potato dumplings showered with melted lard and bits of bacon across the inside of my skull.
Oh, Mother! It’s the Abyss and Heaven at once – both lure me inside. I hear the whispers… “Smell it, lick it, bite!”
In my mind’s eye I see myself pouring a ladleful of brown sauce over Polish meatballs and young potatoes lounge on a plate like sunbathing hot bodies on Brazilian beaches. Everything is sprinkled with fresh dill. I lose all sense of time and space as I swim through a rainbow of soups – from cauliflower, to tomato, to sour kraut, to beet, to split pea, to mushroom-barley, to chicken noodle.
Until a sudden memory of soulful Potato Pancakes with sour cream on the side makes me poke my head out of the fragrant steam beaming from the pot of soup, and I sigh… Oh, Granny, where are you?
At that point the fight is over. I can resist no longer. A quick email to my sister Kinga in Poland asking for the recipe announces my surrender. I wave a White Flag.
After having tested and tasted the goods, and satisfying my screaming craving, I pass it on to your hands.
– 1.5 lbs of potatoes
– 1 carrot
– 1 onion
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup of whole-wheat flour
– 1 tbsp of kosher salt
– 1 tsp of black pepper
– 1 pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
– 0.5 cup of chopped fresh dill (Agi’s twist, optional)
Grind peeled potatoes, onion and carrot, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well in a large bowl. Heat a skillet, grease lightly with cooking oil, scoop a large spoonful of the batter and spread it flat on the skillet. You should be able to fit 3-4 pancakes at once. Once the batter sets, flip those golden brown babies over with a spatula and fry for another 1-2 minutes. They are best served hot, but they proved to be a great picnic food as well.
Since sour cream is a no-no in my kitchen these days, I rumbled through my brain looking for a substitute to complement my Potato Pancakes. “Eureka!” I shouted at once and started whipping out Tzatziki Sauce while thanking all the Greek gods I could recount.
In the heat of the moment, I didn’t bother double-checking the actual recipe. Hence, I merely followed my starving hunch:
– 1 small cup of Greek-style yogurt, non-fat
– half of hothouse cucumber, seeded and unpeeled, ground or finely diced, excess water squeezed out
– juice of half lemon (seeds out)
– 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely minced
– big handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
– small tomato, diced (Agi’s twist, and a way to save an over-salted sauce, aha!)
– good pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let it cool in a refrigerator before you serve it as a topping of your Potato Pancakes.
I’m off to the gym
* My sweet white boy from Texas really does teach me all kinds of new things every day.