Olia Hercules, chef and author of “Summer Kitchens: Recipes and Reminiscences from Every Corner of Ukraine,” is at home making potato cakes inspired by ones found near the border of Ukraine and Belarus. These potato cakes are uniquely leavened with the help of yeast, and are filled with a mixture of cannellini beans and feta cheese. Olia serves them with a simple garlic yogurt and a bit of chili paste.
Makes 6 potato cakes
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
for the bean and feta paste:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced
7 ounces|195 grams canned cannellini beans (half a 15-ounce can), drained
4 ounces|115 grams feta cheese, crumbled
handful of finely chopped dill
for the garlic yogurt:
½ cup + 2 tablespoons|145 grams yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced
for the potato cakes:
1 ¾ pounds|790 grams russet potatoes, peeled
1 onion, peeled
1 large egg, lightly beaten
about 6 tablespoons|65 grams all-purpose flour
scant 1 teaspoon fast-action dried yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
sea salt and black pepper
chili paste, to serveADVERTISEMENT
- For the bean and feta paste, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and a pinch of salt and cook until golden. Mash the beans and feta to a smooth paste, then mix in the onion and dill and set aside for later.
- For the garlic yogurt, simply mix the ingredients in a small bowl.
- For the potato cakes, grate the potatoes on the fine side of a box grater, then grate the onion on the coarse side. Put the grated potato and onion into a fine sieve set over a bowl and squeeze out some, but not all of the liquid, reserving it in the bowl.
- Put the sloppy potato and onion mix into another bowl and stir in the egg, flour, and yeast. Leave somewhere warm for at least 10 minutes, until slightly bubbly, then season with salt and pepper. The mixture should be the consistency of thick pancake batter – add some more flour if it seems too thin, or a little of the reserved potato liquid if it feels too thick.
- Now heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Moving quite swiftly, drop tablespoonfuls of the potato mixture into the pan, using the back of the spoon to spread out into circles about 4 inches in diameter. You should be able to cook about three at a time, but take care not to overcrowd the pan.
- As soon as they are in the pan, spoon some bean and feta paste onto each potato cake, then place another, smaller spoonful of the raw potato mixture on top, spreading it over the paste to seal. When the underside of the potato cakes is golden, carefully turn them, one by one, and cook on the other side for 2–3 minutes. You may need to flip them again and cook for another few minutes on each side to make sure they are hot right through.
- Serve with the garlic yogurt and a dab of chili paste.