Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Potato Pancakes with Creme Fraiche, Smoked Fish & Caviar

1/2 cup creme fraiche, preferably Bellwether Farms brand
1 T snipped chives
1/2 lemon
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/4 russet potatoes
1 large egg, beaten
3 T all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup clarified butter [Heat a stick of butter in a small pan set over medium-low heat. When it is melted, use a thin spoon to remove any foam that rises to the surface.]
6 ounces smoked fish, like lox-style smoked salmon, sturgeon, trout, sliced
1 ounce caviar of choice
chive sprigs, for garnish

Preparing the creme fraiche:
Put the creme fraiche into a small bowl and stir to loosen it. Add the chives and squeeze just a little lemon juice near the edge of the bowl. Sprinkle 4 or 5 pinches of salt into the lemon juice and agitate the bowl to dissolve the salt. Add several turns of black pepper and stir until smooth. Taste and correct for salt and lemon; there should be just the slightest bit of tartness. Cover and set aside.

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Preparing the potato pancakes:
Peel the potato, rinse and pat dry with a clean tea towel. Using the large blade of a box grater, shred the potato into a medium bowl lined with the tea towel. Toss a teaspoon of salt with the shredded potatoes, gather the towel up and squeeze the shredded potato until no more moisture is released.

Put the potato in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with flour and baking powder and toss thoroughly. Add the beaten egg and toss again.

Cooking the potato pancakes:
Set a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat, add 2 generous tablespoons of clarified butter. When the butter is completely melted and beginning to bubble, drop a 2 tablespoon mound of potato batter into it and use a spatula to press it flat. Continue until the pan is filled, being careful not to crowd the pancakes. Cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, turn and cook until crisp and golden brown on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Transfer to absorbent paper and, working quickly, make the rest of the pancakes.

Makes 12 pancakes

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Assembling the dish:
Set 3 pancakes on each of 4 plates and top each with some of the smoked fish, a dollop of creme fraiche and a little caviar. Garnish with a chive sprig and serve immediately.

Serves 4


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