Sunday, November 18, 2012

Potato and brussel sprout skillet cakes

We have entered a new era of the kitchen and the bicycle. I got inspired a few days ago to shift the main focus of this blog away from cooking other people's recipes to cooking my own. That's not to say I still won't cook other people's recipes, but I'm hoping to write about my own creations a bit more. Some of the recipes will probably be flops. But, failure or success, I'd like to document the trials and errors of my growth as a self-taught cook and baker. So, bare with me in this haphazard journey. I figure if the worst happens and I realize I have no natural abilities to create good recipes, it'll at least be interesting, and it will definitely be funny. I'm unemployed, give me a break.Whatever, you know. It's just life.

Before diving into food talk, I'd like to address the "bicycle" portion of this blog, as I feel its involvement in my life has become a little unclear. This is Greg Orangey looking fly:

I still enjoy my bicycle while erranding in my neighborhood. Specifically, I like taking the bike to the grocery store. I also use it to go to the post office, to go to the coffee shop, to get to my friend's house to babysit. I don't use it very often to get to the southern end of the valley to go to class, and I don't use it when I'm making my way up to the mountains. And often I'll take my car to the climbing gym at night. Ahh, there. I admitted it. Truth.

My goal is to ramp up my bicycle use again. Today I'd like to take it to the gym 4 miles away. Get over it, Laura. Stop being lazy. I remember when the prospect of 4 miles felt like a breeze. I'm going to make it feel like a breeze again. I'm going to buy more tubes for fixing random flats fast and leave my patch kit at home to repair those holes later. I think that would reduce the stress of flats a lot. I'll see if it helps. I've just been thinking that the bicycle portion of this blog really needs to live up to its name a little more.

Alright, now onto food.

What is this sitting atop a cutting board on a dirt-covered outdoor table? It's me trying to loosely follow modern-day food blog picture protocols (note the kitchen rag instead of a napkin, the presence of bamboo, cutlery, earthy-colored morning mug, interesting patterns in the background) to show off my newest food experimentation and... failing miserably. It is also what I cooked up a few days ago.

Originally I wanted to call them croquettes, because I assumed anything combined with mashed potato that's fried into cake form in a cast iron pan fell into croquette category. And then I researched a little bit and found out that real croquettes are traditionally breaded before they're fried. Also, they're usually in ball-form. I wanted to be french, I think.

These are really just savory pancakes, or skillet cakes.

The other morning, I had brussels sprout in my fridge, smashed potatoes. Went with it.

To make a brussel taste good, you simply have to believe in its potential. The same can be said for tofu (ugh) and kale (ughhh. I still eat it daily).

Raw brussels are combined with smashed potatoes, a few cloves of raw, minced garlic, red pepper, salt, black peppercorn, curry spice, and red pepper, a couple tablespoons of flour, one egg, and an extra egg white.

Heat a scant amount of olive oil in a skillet. This skillet was unnecessarily heavy on the olive oil. I found that when I used a tablespoon or so, it was enough to brown the cakes without them sticking, and less oiliness on the cakes ended up being preferable to oil-drenched ones at 8 in the morning.

Croquette or not, this is definitely a steamy stack.



So, the morals of this recipe are that it's kind of cool to make pancakes out of something other than flour, and it's also nice to make a savory pancake. Brussels sprout did fine in this recipe, but you could easily substitute in a less bitter vegetable. I imagine a bit of fennel would be nice with potato, as would other root vegetables like parsnip, turnip, beets, etc. You could also stick to the brassica family and do cauliflower, or broccoli. Right? Get some! 

The addition of the curry was fine, palatable, whatever, but I think fresh herbs would have been nicer with salt and pepper. The curry was good (because curry is just good) but masked the nice flavors of the potatoes and brussels a bit too much.

Here are estimates of the proportions I used for the batter:

2 cups of potatoes, boiled and smashed, with a bit of olive oil and salt
2 cups of brussels sprout, cut finely
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
salt and black peppercorn to taste
1 egg
1 egg white
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour

If the batter seems a bit wet, add a little more flour. Remember: Less oil in the pan.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Thomas! Hope your biking life is going well. Hope we cross paths again someday!

  2. I love the 'texture' of brussels...raw. Anything with mashed potatoes must be good. Loved the creativity in this recipe. Also, good hopes for your request for the 'digital.' :)

  3. Mom, I can tell it's you. I know that punctuation style. I'm hoping that means you're going to buy me a camera!!

  4. ha, laura - your blog's comments section is its own entertainment venue. veggie skillet cakes! good one. oh! AND. check out DSLRS for sale online this week and next. this is the time! you can get a decent one for not too too much. or have santa get you one for a discount.

  5. Chrystie, thanks. My point-and-shoot just BROKE on its own. Seriously. Pretty much right after I wrote that comment on facebook about wanting a digital camera.... Will look at the sales.