I know I’m biased, but food has always been, and remains, the keystone of every culture. It brings people together, allowing families to share, to bond, and to pay homage those that came before them. Many of the recipes I share here, from pub food, to Spanish stews, to Asian noodles or vegetarian Indian curries are designed to bring people together around the table.
This effect is even more profound during times of celebration. Today, I honored the Hanukkah holiday, and in traditional PK fashion, made it my own. Dinner was a simple supper of really delicious (almost bordering on miraculous) potato latkes, given a twist with a coating of grated parsley root, carrot and onion, and a quick charred cinnamon applesauce, from one of the Kitchen’s chef crushes, Sam Mason. Served with a crispy Cava from Spain, the meal was festive, without being too heavy.
Anthony Bourdain has said that American cooking is whatever food is being made in American kitchens. I think if we embrace that variety in our own kitchens, food can help us learn.
Parsley Root Latkes and Charred Cinnamon Applesauce
1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 T butter
splash of milk
2 parsley roots, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
2 heaping tablespoons flour
salt, pepper, olive oil (both for its symbolic importance and its flavor)
In a small pot, cover the potatoes with heavily salted water and boil until soft. Drain, and mash with the butter and a bit of milk. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. (This is a perfect time to use leftover mashed potatoes.)
While the potatoes are cooking, with a box grater or using the shredding blade of a food processor, shred the parsley roots, carrots and onion. Place grated vegetables in a colander and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Mix with your hands to incorporate the salt. Allow to sit for five or ten minutes. In a clean kitchen towel, spread shredded vegetables evenly. Roll up the towel and twist to squeeze out excess liquid. Place vegetables in a small bowl, sprinkle with the flour, another generous pinch of salt, and add in the egg. Mix to coat the vegetables evenly.
In the palm of your hand, place a heaping tablespoon of the grated vegetable mixture and flatten to make a thin round. On top of the round, place a heaping teaspoon of mashed potatoes, spreading to almost the edge of the vegetable round. Place another heaping tablespoon of the grated vegetable mixture to cover the potato and finish the latke.
In a large nonstick pan, heat enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom of the pan over medium low heat. Add the latkes, taking care not to crowd the pan. Allow to brown before turning, approximately 8 to 10 minutes on each side.
Serve with sour cream and apple sauce.
Playlist included A Lack of Color, by Death Cab for Cutie. Seth Cohen once attempted to write a Chrismukkah song to this tune with the lyrics “Moses and Jesus, they both had beards.”