I used to be really big into tradition – making the foods my mother made when I was growing up. After I became vegan, I veganized many of her old recipes which was great. But now, I am at the point of reimagining our old traditions to make them just as good, vegan, and sometimes easier.
The fact is that grating potatoes and onions either on a box grater or in the processor is big pain in the … knuckle. For Chanukah this year I decided to make mashed potato pancake latkes – a little different and truly delicious. I used cream cheese and aquafaba to keep them moist and scallions because they are mild and much easier to deal with than onions. And, a little lemon zest brightens these little cakes, which is optional because some kids don’t like that flavor. I still fried them (a) to keep part of the tradition alive and (b) because there is nothing better than a potato cake that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
I use a three tablespoon ice cream scooper to make my pancakes and keep everything uniform. Frying is a messy job but I prefer small batches. I use my small skillet to cook 4 a time, using 2 teaspoons of oil. And just like any pancakes, the first round never comes out as good as the later ones.
Makes about 12 latkes
2 really big Russet potatoes (or 4 little ones)
3 tablespoons vegan cream cheese (I used Kite Hill), room temperature
2 scallions (or green onions)
The zest of about 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons aquafaba (bean water)
Salt, a pinch
White pepper, a small pinch
High heat oil
Peel and cube the potatoes and place into a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are soft. Drain and then place back into the pot to dry.
Thinly slice the scallions and zest the lemon. Place into a mixing bowl along with the aquafaba and cream cheese. Add the potatoes and mash until smooth, a few lumps are okay. Season with a pinch of salt and a tiny pinch of white pepper.
Cover and refrigerate for an hour (or more.)
Line a baking sheet with a piece of wax paper and another with paper towels.
Use the ice cream scooper to scoop up the mixture and create a nicely shaped cake. Place on the wax paper.
Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet. When the oil is shimmering, gently place the first round of cakes onto the oil. Let it cook for a few good minutes to get the bottoms nice and brown.
Use very thin spatula to flip them over. Be gentle, they are soft in the middle. Use a second spatula for assistance.
Cook for a few good minutes on the other side until golden brown. Place on the paper towels to drain excess oil.
Let sit for a few minutes before serving. I think they are even better lukewarm! Dip them in applesauce or vegan sour cream. Enjoy!