Lots of people hate beets. I know the first few times I tried them, they tasted like dirt. Of course, that could have been because they were the canned, pickled kind... and those are gross. Plus, on top of often not being tasty, they are really intimidating to work with, tending to dye all available surfaces in your kitchen bright pinky red.
When treated correctly, though, beets can be a wonderful earthy vegetable, with a sweet flavor that is very different from other root vegetables. They are so, so good roasted! The first time I ever had beets and liked them, though, was in borscht from Mabenka, a Lithuanian restaurant on the South Side of Chicago. (I miss that restaurant so much.)
Borscht, really good borscht, is difficult to come by here in Austin. This is why every time the Soup Peddler puts it on his menu, we jump on it. (By the way, if you're in Austin and haven't signed up for the Soup Peddler, you really should do so! His soups are good, for the most part, and it's a great local business to support! Here's another post about a Soup Peddler soup.)
The Soup Peddler's version is vegetarian, and totally full of beety goodness. It also contains potatoes and cabbage, very Eastern European, and then a little Granny Smith apple for sweetness. It's very tasty.
So, what do you have with borscht?
That's a really easy question - you have potato pancakes. We didn't get to make these this year during Hanukkah, so I was jonesin'.
These potato pancakes a la Husbear are made with potatoes he baked and riced with this awesme ricer I got him for Christmas a couple of years ago. It's great for making gnocchi, too, and fluffy mashed potatoes.
He took the riced 'taters and added grated carrot (for sweetness), green onion (for onionyness), garlic he mashed into a paste with salt and the side of his knife in this awesome Italian technique, salt/pepper, nutmeg (for flavor, duh), a half of a thin sliced serrano (you need a little heat, right?) and panko and egg for binding.
This all got mashed together and formed into patties, which he pan-fried in cast iron in maybe an inch of oil.
These were some seriously tasty potato pancakes.
Then, serve with the traditional sides:
Sour cream and applesauce. Oooh, so good!
It's fun to have these Jewish-style meals - thanks Sr. Peddler, for giving us the nudge!