Fresh Pantry: Cardamom-Carrot Latkes

March 23, 2013

These scrumptious full of flavor Cardamom-Carrots Latkes are the perfect spring side dish or light meal. This recipe comes from March’s Fresh Pantry: Carrots e-book volume by award-winning author Amy Pennington. Fresh Pantry: Carrots ($2.99) features 16 recipes, each with a full-color photo, ranging from comfort foods like Winter Tacos and Carrot Biscuits, to the more complex Roasted Carrot & Sesame Yogurt and Fatty Roasted Carrots & Lemon Balm. Find an excerpt below from Amy's latest volume including the recipe for these Cardamom-Carrots Latkes. Also, check out her first two volumes: Winter Squash and Alliums.

CarrotsFresh Pantry: Carrots
Available now on Kindle and Amy's site.

When I told my friend Jason I was writing a carrot-centric cookbook, he turned up his nose. Impossible! He just thinks he doesn’t like carrots. I get it—they’re not the sexiest ingredient on earth. We rarely see carrots center stage, so people don’t often think of them as a delicious food. Instead, carrots are used primarily as a base layer, as building blocks in stocks and sauces—the foundation of many great recipes.
                                               
Me? I’ve always been a fan. My love affair with carrots started when I was a kid. I remember, at six or seven years old, sitting at the dining room table, happily dipping my carrot in a cup of water before eating it. I thought my secret technique sweetened them up. I’d delicately nibble off the outer meat, eventually exposing the sweet core and saving it for last, savoring every teensy bite.
                                               
As an adult committed to eating seasonally, I fell in love with carrots all over again several years ago after tiring of winter greens (which can be hardy and bitter) and starchy root vegetables like potatoes. During the winter months, I find myself craving sunshine on a plate, and carrots fit the bill. Of course, they don’t necessarily grow in winter—not much does—but they are root vegetables, like beets, and the cold ground acts as natural refrigeration over winter. Carrots are considered a winter-storage vegetable—one that holds well for a long time. My friend Lynda, a farmer, harvests her carrots in early November and stores them in a root cellar for winter eating. She plants enough so her supply lasts through early spring, when the first carrots can be sowed. A short gap in time from running out of carrots until harvesting spring carrots is a welcome reprieve. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
                                               
Carrots come in a multitude of sizes and colors. Winter-storage carrots are a quintessential carrot—long and bright orange. Don’t worry about knobby bits or turns in the surface, as most of this is removed when peeling (see “To Peel or Not to Peel”). That thick skin protects the sweet inner core. In March, it’s likely that you’ll be eating storage carrots, which may taste slightly bitter, but no matter—all of the recipes included here improve upon the flavor significantly.
                                               
Come mid- to late spring, the options increase. In recent years, carrot varieties have become more widely available, particularly at farmers markets. Look for the stubby Thumbelina (so named for its diminutive round shape) and the sweet, thin-skinned Nantes. You may also find a carrot bunch in a rainbow of colors—purple, yellow, red, or white. Though they are gorgeous in salads, I find the flavor of these a bit bitter and prefer regular-old orange carrots.

Cardamom–Carrot Latkes
Makes 12 to 16 latkes
           
Pulling from traditional Jewish latkes, these savory pancakes are a cross between a latke and a fritter. Equal parts potato and carrot are mixed with an abundant dose of onion, then scented substantially with freshly ground cardamom. Prepare these for a festive weekend breakfast, when you have a little more time in the kitchen. Consider doubling the batch—I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to eating them as a midnight snack, barefoot in the kitchen!
          
1 large russet potato, about 1 pound
3 green onions
1 large carrot, peeled
½ medium red onion
2 eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup stout beer
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

Using the largest setting of a box grater, grate the russet potatoes and immediately cover them completely with water, allowing them to soak for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, trim off the top 3 inches of the green onions and finely chop. Put them in a large bowl. Using the largest setting of a box grater, grate the carrot and the red onion. Add both to the green onions.
           
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, stout beer, cardamom, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add to the carrot–onion mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
           
To strain the grated potatoes, set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and line with cheesecloth or a thin linen towel. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes from the water to the strainer, reserving the water. Let the water sit, about 10 minutes, so the starch collects in the bottom of the bowl. When all the potatoes are transferred, pick up the linen and squeeze well to remove the excess water. Really clamp down on the potatoes—you want them as dry as possible. Add 1 cup of the potatoes to carrot–onion–egg–stout mixture and stir to combine.
           
Slowly, pour the water into the sink, being careful to leave behind the potato starch (this is the white paste that has collected in the bowl). Add the residual potato starch to the batter and stir to combine well.
           
Set the vegetable oil, about half-inch deep, over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Using a large spoon, drop in 3-inch-wide rounds of batter, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Stir the batter before shaping and frying each batch, as the liquid tends to pool at the bottom of the bowl. Cook the latkes until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn them over and cook the other side until golden brown, another 3 to 4 minutes.
           
Remove the latkes from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a layer of paper towels or a paper bag to drain. Once drained, arrange them on a platter and hold in a warmed oven. Continue cooking in this fashion until all the latkes are done. Serve immediately.

PANTRY NOTE: Any leftover batter will discolor and separate, so it’s best to cook all of the latkes in one go. Leftover latkes can be held in the fridge for a few days, wrapped in parchment, or frozen and heated up in the oven when desired.

 

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