Tag: Hannukah

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Well gang, tis the season, as they say. Portland is currently flooding, but onwards with the holiday preparations! Hanukkah has officially begun and Christmas is creeping closer. The time is now to pick out some great gifts for the food lovers on your list.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Someone in my family may or may not have a birthday dangerously close to Christmas, so of course their gifts get rolled into one bigger, better gift. After a little waffle fiasco at Thanksgiving (that had us texting the neighbors asking if anyone else had a waffle iron we could borrow), I figured it was the perfect gift. I’m a Belgian waffle fan myself (the little pockets are a little deeper and wider, meaning that they can hold more delicious toppings AND the waffles get a little crispier), and I know this family member is as well. It’s hard to know which one to buy, but I’m looking at this, this, this, and this.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Ok, are some of these products a little hokey? You bet. But are they also kind of silly and fun? Yep. I’ve got a friend who loves her garlic press, and I bet the Garject would go over quite well with her.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I used to work with the woman who owns Caravan Pacific, and I love pretty much everything that comes out of her studio. The beautiful spice jars and cutting boards can be bought over on Food52, and I think they’re really simple and lovely, and would look great on any kitchen counter.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

If you’re looking for something actually edible, I say find a local chocolate shop and go crazy. In Portland, it’s hard to say no to anything from Alma Chocolate, and if I was up in Seattle, I’d pick up some treats from Theo Chocolate (after a tour of course).

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

If your friends have more of a… booze tooth, shall we say, than a sweet tooth, might I suggest a gift certificate for a night out on the town? I love getting people gift certificates – it gets them out and about, maybe for a date night or catching up with a friend, and maybe even encourages them to try a new spot. Some of my favorite cocktails in town can be found at Rum Club, Free House, and Expatriate.

What are you getting your food-loving loved ones for the holidays?

Latkes (and Belated Happy Hannukah)

These latkes get 2 thumbs up.

Yes, I know. By the time this post gets published, Hannukah and the time for latkes will be over. But if there is anything I’ve learned from the past week, it is that latkes should not be a “once a year” dish. They make a great little side dish, or a base for eggs benedict, or even just a fried egg on a Saturday morning. This is especially true once you’ve found a recipe you really like. And I have. After doing some hunting around and even trying another recipe I found, I made the latkes from “Jerusalem,” a cookbook I have previously written about, by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Now this recipe is what made me really want this cookbook. I thought it was interesting that there weren’t onions in it, and I also had never tried latkes with parsnips, although I know it’s not an uncommon thing. And here’s what I liked about these: Not too salty (an issue with the first recipe I tried this season), I liked having the chive flavor in there (although I halved the chives, because one of the people I was cooking for doesn’t like them), and the parsnip and very dried out potato made it extra crispy. Also, the fact that you fry them in a combination of butter and oil didn’t hurt.

Potato & Parsnip Latkes


5 1/2 cups peeled and grated waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
2 3/4 cups peeled and grated parsnips
2/3 cup finely chopped chives
4 egg whites
2 Tbl corn starch
Butter and oil (preferably canola or sunflower) for frying
salt and pepper
sour cream and applesauce to serve


For all of the grating, I recommend the grater attachment for a food processor, but if you haven’t got one, a box grater will work just fine. Then maybe you’ll have done enough physical activity to justify the fried potato goodness you’re about to eat.

Squeeze the grated potato out in a clean dishtowel (make a little satchel, twist the ends, and squeeze!) into the sink. Some recipes reserve the juice, let it separate, and then add the starch back in. This one doesn’t call for it, but if you want to, go for it. After you’ve squeezed out the potato, spread it out on a clean kitchen towel to dry as completely as you have time for. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potato, parsnip, chives, egg whites, corn starch, 1 tsp salt, and as much pepper as you’d like.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and in the oven place a rimmed baking sheet with a cooling rack on it. Also prepare a plate or baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towel.

In a (preferably non-stick) pan, heat enough butter and oil so it’s ~1/4-1/2 inch deep over medium-high heat. To see if your oil is hot enough, drop in a little chunk of your potato mix. It should sizzle and bubble a bit without spitting violently. If it isn’t hot enough, take out the potatoes and keep heating and try again. When it is hot enough use a spoon to scoop about 2 Tbl portions of the potato mixture, squeeze out some of the juices, and shape into patties and carefully drop into the oil. Or, you can use my tried and true method: squeeze out the juices, drop into the oil, and then quickly use your spoon to spread and press the mixture into a patty. Fry for about 3 minutes a side, or until they are as dark/cooked as you like them, then flip and cook the other side. Remove from pan to the paper towels, then keep warm in the oven. Serve with sour cream, applesauce, and holiday cheer 😉 Enjoy!