Apple-Rosemary Potato Cakes

When I lived in New York City, one of my favorite Sunday morning things was to have breakfast at Zabar’s.  If you are not familiar, Zabar’s is a Jewish grocery store located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan owned by Saul and Stanley Zabar, older brothers to Eli Zabar, a man synonymous with Jewish New York cuisine. The Upper West store is the Zabar family's landmark and has a cafe attached.  If the image you have is of a quaint little corner café, that it’s not.  It’s small and crowded; there are no tables with flower buds or charming tiled floors but rather a setting equivalent to any public school cafeteria.

But there's a rhythm to the room, a certain only-in-NYC charm- a place where locals go for a quick breakfast and coffee.

Apple-Rosemary Potato Cakes

On one particular morning, I walked in to a line of about 9 deep, with a crowd behind me quickly building.  In front of me was an older couple, probably in their late 60’s, Southern tourists.  They crept their way to the counter, staring at the massive overhanging menu.

"What's a laht-key?" asked the woman to her husband.  She was clearly overwhelmed.  The woman behind the counter quickly interjected, "it's like a hash brown."

Clearly feeling the pressure to hurry up, she swiftly ordered them among a few other things.

Apple-Rosemary Potato Cakes

I landed a seat at the large communal table directly across from them.

"These. are. DIVINE."  I looked up- it was the latkes.  "Di-VINE," she repeated.

"Bill.  BILL.  Oh, Bill.  MmmmBilllll."  I was equally horrified and hopeful that she was going to have a When Harry Met Sally Katz's Deli moment.

However, I think that says it all.

Apple-Rosemary Potato Cakes
Apple-Rosemary Potato Cakes

Potato pancakes (aka latkes) are traditionally served on Jewish holidays but I often make them throughout the year.  They are divine, just as Mrs. Bill exclaimed.

Most people are used to a plain latke or ones with a little onion but the flavor combinations are endless.  Horseradish-dill, zucchini-basil, parsnip-thyme or in this case: apple-rosemary.

Apple-Rosemary Potato Cakes

These are pan-fried in olive oil and hold well in a 250 degree oven if made ahead of time.

INGREDIENTS: (makes about 15)

  • 2 large russet potatoes (1½ #)
  • 2 ea. Gala apples (about 14 oz.)
  • 1 small red onion, small chop (3/4 cup when chopped)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • olive oil for pan frying (about 1 cup)

-Have ready a box grater or food processor (with shredding attachment).
-Peel the potatoes and hold in water to prevent oxidation; peel the apples.
-Grate the potatoes and apples (on the large holes).
-Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the potatoes and apples and use paper towels to pat off excess moisture.
-Add the chopped red onion, eggs, flour, rosemary and salt and thoroughly combine.

To cook:

-In a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, add enough olive oil to fully coat the bottom of the pan.
-Using a ¼ cup measuring scoop, drop the batter into the hot oil and press down the mounds to create a flat disk.
-Fry until golden brown then flip and cook reverse side until golden brown, replenishing oil as necessary.
-Serve warm.