Fall memories

Nov 7th, 2006

The signs of fall are with us again. Burning leaves, higher than usual tides, horizontal rain and apples fermenting on the ground in our back yard (unfortunately I cannot keep up with the clean up). All combined, they remind us that its time to break out the rain gear and put on a pot of soup.

I’m not sure whether it’s the shorter days or high winds, but with this change in temperature I often revert back to childhood memories growing up in the Midwest (Cleveland, Ohio). I enjoyed the efforts of my Italian father and Jewish mother in the kitchen. Both my parents were good at preparing recipes from their roots and I often remember their playful banter about the proper way to make the sauce or how big the matzoah ball should be – yes both in the same meal!

One specific treat that has a special place for in my heart is my mothers’ potato pancakes. Food smells always made me quicken my step as I walked through the door after school and the scent of caramelizing onions with potatoes could never be ignored.

My mom, Phyllis – loved to cook. She would often greet us with soups – mushroom barley, chicken noodle, matzoah ball, borscht or kreplach (noodles stuffed with meat). She also loved to bake and her cinnamon swirl bread which was made with challah dough (egg bread base) was award winning form her kid’s perspective.

Nothing was more fulfilling however than her potato pancakes. She would use matzoah meal instead of flour and smaltz (chicken fat) instead of vegetable oil. If we were lucky, she topped them with her homemade apple sauce and smoked whitefish. I am not sure how all this sounds to you, but it was a feast for us.

Today Lenore and I enjoy this recipe with a few twists and of course a crisp white wine. I must be feeling a little nostalgic since this is about to appear on my menus. Hopefully our guests will feel the same way I do – of course today we smoke the fish in house – not that I have much choice…the closest deli is about 500 miles away….enjoy- ciao Bob!

4 large yukon gold potatoes
1 egg
1 TBS sea salt
dash pepper
1 TBS matzoah meal
2 TBS grated onion
½ tsp baking powder

4 qts water
1 qt soy sauce
2 cups light brown sugar
½ cup sea salt
7# sable fish

Method: peel and grate potatoes; mix in remaining ingredients; place a large spoonful in 475F vegetable oil or smaltz; brown well and drain on paper towels.

Whitefish method: combine water, soy, sugar and salt; mix well to dissolve; cut fish into 6” pieces; place in brine for 70 minutes; remove when complete; rinse and pat dry; place on rack and refrigerate 24 hours to continue curing; smoke with desired wood chips until cooked through; remove and refrigerate 24 hours before using or freezing.

Chive crème fraiche: 1 cup heavy cream, ½ cup sour cream, 3 TBS minced chives – Method: combine cream and sour cream into a bowl and blend well; cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours; finished product will become thick; refrigerate and fold in chives at service.

*Garnish with applesauce and micro greens.