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THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK: RECIPES FROM A NEW YORK KITCHEN

THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK: RECIPES FROM A NEW YORK KITCHEN

By Deb Perelman. Published by Square Peg, 2012.

 

I was deputy editor of The Sunday Times when I was 26 - rather a long time ago in the last century - and people were talking about the death of the book even then. There is a lot more angsting on the subject now, but I find it telling, interesting and ultimately uplifting that a very popular food blog - smitten kitchen - shows its success by being turned into an old-school book. And very delightful it is, too! There are lots of eminently do-able recipes in this book (like me, its author is untrained and uncheffy, so naturally I am favourably disposed) but the one I am most desperate to cook, is  the one below. Despite its title, I see no reason to restrict this potato cake with a fried egg on top to breakfast-time: it's singing Supper to me!

 

Big Breakfast Röstis

Just about everyone who makes breakfast has a version of breakfast potatoes, be they hash browns or home fries or röstis. And just about all cooks make them their very own way - the way they think potatoes should be - and though they may tolerate other breakfast-potato formats, they secretly always think that their personal method, the one they learned from their mama/that cafe/their friend the chef is the best.

Personally, I just want to eat röstis all year round, and not just during the eight nights of Hanukkah, when we eat potato cakes like these called latkes. The rösti, at its base, is the ideal breakfast potato - humble russets and everyday onions, shredded, mixed with the slimmest amounts of egg and flour, and fried until brown and crisp on both sides. Röstis hold together better than hash browns, which allows you to make them bigger. And the bigger they are, the more ideal base they become for the other perfect breakfast, a fried egg.

 

yield: four large (12cm) röstis

1 large baking potato (about 450g), peeled

1 small onion (about 120g), peeled

30g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon table salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

vegetable or olive oil, for frying

fried eggs, to serve (optional)

 

Preheat your oven to 120ºC/fan 100ºC/Gas ½. Line a baking sheet with foil, and keep in oven until needed.

In a food processor or on a box grater, coarsely shred the potato and onion. For longer, moplike strands, I prefer to lay the potato sideways in the chute of the food processor. Transfer the shredded mixture to a square of muslin or tea towel, and gather the ends to wring out as much water as possible. Let it stand for 2 minutes, then squeeze it out again.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and egg together. Stir in the potato-onion mixture until all the pieces are evenly coated.

In a small, heavy frying pan (cast-iron, if you have one), heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until it shimmers. Drop one-quarter of the potato mixture into the pan, and flatten with the back of a spoon to a 12cm round. Cook the rösti over moderate heat until the edges are golden, about 4 to 5 minutes; flip, and cook until golden on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes more.

Transfer rösti to the prepared baking sheet in the oven. Repeat process with remaining latke batter in three batches, creating a total of four large röstis, being sure to add more oil as needed and letting it fully reheat between pancakes. Keep röstis warm in oven until needed.

Serve röstis warm in four wedges with eggs or whole with a fried egg atop each.