Going out to eat is good – actually it’s great and I love it. I spend a majority of meals in my own kitchen preparing my own food, so I relish in the opportunity to have someone cook (and clean up!) for me instead. When Friday rolls around, I’m ready to have a nice meal and strong drink with Kevin at one of our favorite spots. The problem is, I’m one of those people that build a meal up until it’s almost impossible to live up to my high expectations. I read and re-read the menu online, torn between a million different things; and my taste buds are so perceptive, I can immediately tell when an ingredient is missing from the dish. More often than not, this leaves me – well, unsatisfied– and there’s nothing I hate more than feeling unfulfilled at a restaurant I’ve been looking forward to going to for days. It’s a horrible thing I do to myself, but I can’t help it.
This last weekend, I had brunch plans with some of my best girlfriends at a spot I’ve been wanted to try out. Of course, I did what I do, and I perused through the menu about a hundred times (before we got to the restaurant), still not able to make a decision. I looked up reviews and researched what other diner’s favorite dishes to date were. Yet, when I got to the restaurant, I still spent the better part of 20 minutes trying to figure out what to get.
I went against my gut (which is never good) and ordered a veggie Benedict that the server deemed “awesome.” Of course, I immediately became excited, expecting something as good as the Eggs Benedict or the home fries at The Donut Hole in Destin (My favorite breakfast spot on earth). Was it awesome? Eh. It was good, but awesome? No. The bread proportion to veggies and egg was just off. Easy to do, because the “veggies” that came on top of what was supposed to be a toasted English muffin were just a few lonesome leaves of spinach. Luckily, my girlfriends and I decided before ordering that we needed truffle fries to start our meal, so I didn’t leave the restaurant totally disappointed.
I kept thinking about my brunch when I got home (since you know, normal people do that), usually anything doused in hollandaise sauce makes me a happy girl. Was it that the benedict really wasn’t that good, or was I just sick of eating Eggs Benedict the same way – on a gigantic, soggy English muffin with subpar ingredients?
I think the latter. What I realized, is that maybe if I swapped out what I didn’t love – the soggy over-proportioned English muffin – it would create a whole new experience for me.
After a little contemplation on my part, I finally settled on a latke as the perfect vessel to showcase my perfectly poached egg and homemade hollandaise. The problem? I had never made a latke before. I’ve made potato pancakes before, but they are in no way, shape, or form the same thing. Latkes are light, crispy and thin – potato pancakes are heavy and well, cake-like. I think maybe, I’ve been hesitant to make them myself since I’ve heard they can be rather difficult. They’re either too crispy, or too wet, or not crispy enough… So what was once an experiment to turn tired Eggs Benedict into something new and exciting became an experiment to create the perfect latke.
Now, it’s my understanding that when it comes to latkes less is more – as in, don’t drown the potatoes in egg and flour – you want the potatoes to shine. I used one egg white and whipped her up until soft peaks formed, and then folded the potatoes in. I added some green onion for a little color and more prominent onion-y flavor – I would also add a little bit of chopped bacon, but I didn’t have any on hand at the time. A little flour, salt, pepper, grated onion and Dijon mustard were also folded into the mixture for a little extra kick of flavor, but again not overpowering the potatoes.
I formed the little guys into patties and fried away. What resulted was a crispy, delicious latke, which even I was impressed by. They were perfect in every way and perfect to serve Benedict style. The only downside is that these must be served right away. After sitting for longer than 30 minutes they begin to lose their crispy exterior and become reminiscent of the horribly soggy English muffin I had days before. If you love them as much as I did, it shouldn’t be a problem to snarf these up immediately after they’re cooked.
So for a little re-cap, here are the essential rules of latke making:
1. Whip your egg whites
2. Add as little flour as possible to bind the ingredients together
3. Serve right away
If you follow these easy steps, you can make perfect latkes too!
- 2 cups shredded russet potatoes (about 4 small or2 large)
- ¼ large onion, shredded
- 1 egg white
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 green onions, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon flour
- Pepper to taste
- 6 poached eggs
- 1 cup hollandaise
- Shred potatoes on the large grates of a handheld grater. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water until ready to use.
- Place egg white in the bottom of a very dry bowl; whisk egg white until soft peaks form.
- Remove potatoes from water and squeeze out all excess water, then place potatoes on a dry kitchen towel and press out any remaining water.
- Grate onion into potatoes and carefully add to egg white. Add Dijon, salt, green onion, flour, and a little pepper. Carefully fold in with a spatula until all ingredients are combined.
- Heat one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a large non-stick skillet of a medium-high heat. Using a ⅓ measuring cup, form into thin latkes. They should make about five or six, but if you want them bigger use a ½ cup. Place latkes into the hot pan and cook until brown on both sides and cooked through. About three to four minutes per side, depending on your stove. If need need, cook latkes in batches, using a tablespoon of olive and butter each time.
- Place one poached egg on each latke then top with a little hollandaise sauce, and sprinkle with chopped green onion.