What makes a recipe great? In my head, there’s a list of ten things and eight of them are different ways of saying the first one, which is “It works.”
- It works.
- For everyone. In every kitchen.
- Without requiring an advanced cooking degree or preexisting mastery of obscure techniques.
- Or voodoo.
- Definitely not prayer.
- It explains what you need to do in the clearest language possible.
- It anticipates where most home cooks might struggle. If something is a game-changer — i.e. it will kill the recipe if you don’t adhere closely to a step — it will warn you.
- Did I mention that it needs to work? Because it doesn’t matter what you’re making or who gave you the recipe or how transcendent it was at the Michelin-starred restaurant that night, if the recipe printed in a publication intended for home cooks doesn’t work for most of us at home, it sucks as a recipe. It leads to bad meals, bad moods and take-out. A recipe flop is about the worst way to spend your limited free time. It is a 100% guarantee that you’re not going to feel like cooking next time you have a chance.
But once we get the 8-point plan sorted, there are two additional things that are less essential, but raise the simple act of food prep/nutrient dissemination to something special.
- It improves upon what you already thought you knew to expect from a dish, and/or does it in a way that you hadn’t considered before.
- It tempts you to make something you didn’t even know you wanted, just because it sounds so good.
For me, the last one is the elusive part and kind of the holy grail. Of course, the recipe has to work. Ideally, it’s going to add something new to the cooking conversation, and not just be a derivative of stuff already covered to death. But my favorite recipes are the ones that shake me from my cooking ennui, that make me want to drop everything and get in the kitchen; they take all drudgery out of the repetition of lunchboxes and weeknight dinners. An unexpectedly good dish from an unexpectedly good recipe can make the best of the worst (or creepiest) day.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week* as I’ve been reading through the new Genius Recipes cookbook from Food52’s Kristen Miglore. I’ve been a fan of the column from its 2011 inception, when it set out to highlight recipes that change the way we cook by involving an unexpectedly simple technique, debunking a kitchen myth, or applying a familiar ingredient in a new way. Narcissistically, I’ve enjoyed that the column is a natural kin to this site, as it has highlighted many recipes I’ve chosen to here as well for similar reasons, like Marion Cunningham’s Essential Raised Waffles, Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Ginger Fried Rice, The River Cafe’s Strawberry Lemon Sorbet, Moro’s Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini, Diana Kennedy’s Carnitas, which Homesick Texan’s version credits as inspiration, oh and (ahem) a recipe from the Smitten Kitchen itself, Mushroom Bourguignon. But the book doesn’t stop there, so if you’ve loved these recipes as much as we have over the years, you’ll equally enjoy the 80+ more featured I haven’t even gotten to yet.
Of all that tempted me, and there were many, I went for the simplest and most kid/husband-pleasing last night: Bert Greene’s Potato Scallion Cakes, to which I added kale, not, for once, because I was trying to coerce the kid into eating more greens but because I’m the one who’s fallen off the iron wagon. Greene was the New York Daily News longtime food columnist, cookbook author and he even had a gourmet take-out store in the Hamptons long before Ina Garten. This recipe showed up in 1984’s James Beard award-winning Greene on Greens as a simple way to give new life to leftover mashed potatoes, which tend to be floury and not especially pleasant to rewarm. These are their highest calling — a golden, crisp-edged flavorful fritter that would be as welcome with a crispy egg on top for breakfast at any time of the day, to a side dish for something more hearty (flank steak and kale salad for us, see above: iron!). Could you put cheese in them? Could you add more thinly shaved vegetables? Could you freeze them for future meals? Could you tuck them in a school lunchbox? Yes, yes, yes and yes, and you should.
* This Thursday: At 7 p.m., all 1.5 of me will be on a panel with Dorie Greenspan, Kristen Miglore and Michael Ruhlman discussing exactly this — what makes a recipe great — at the 92nd Street Y (Lexington Avenue at 92nd St) in celebration of the release of the Genius Recipes cookbook. If you’re around, I hope you can stop by and join the conversation. [This is a ticketed event. Details and ticket sales over here.]
One year ago: Avocado Cup Salads, Two Ways
Two years ago: Ramp Pizza
Three years ago: Pasta with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe
Four years ago: Crispy Potato Roast
Five years ago: Classic Cobb Salad and Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce
Six years ago: Cinnamon Swirl Buns and Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Black Pepper
Seven years ago: Caramelized Shallots and Peanut Sesame Noodles
Eight years ago: Black Bean Confetti Salad
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Homemade Harissa
1.5 Years Ago: Apple Slab Pie
2.5 Years Ago: Pear Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble
3.5 Years Ago: Butternut Squash Salad with Farro and Pepitas
Potato, Scallion and Kale Cakes
Adapted from Bert Greene’s Greene on Greens and Food52’s Genius Recipes
There are a lot of scallions in this recipe for such a small amount of mashed potatoes, and the original recipe has you cook them until tender in boiling water to reduce their bite. I did this because I like to follow a recipe to the letter when I make it for the first time, but if you’re undaunted by a sharper bite of scallion, you could skip this, or just use fewer scallions. I added a “handful” (I’m sorry, I didn’t even weigh it; I don’t know me either) of kale leaves, basically 3 lacinato leaves, stems removed and cut int very very thin slivers/chiffonade. I think a handful of any greens you have around would be lovely here, or another vegetable, if not too wet (some salted and drained zucchini, perhaps?). I don’t, unsurprisingly, keep a supply of leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge and made this from makeshift ones: 3 small/medium yukon gold potatoes, boiled until tender, and mashed/riced while warm with some butter and buttermilk and seasoning, less than I’d use if serving them solo. I let them cool before adding them to the batter.
Yield: About 14 to 15 pancakes
12 scallions (mine were very thin; I’d use fewer if yours are on the thick side)
1 handful kale leaves, rolled in a stack and sliced into very thin ribbons
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (I totally skipped this)
1/2 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt (use less if your mashed potatoes are already seasoned)
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs or panko (plain and lightweight)
1 1/2 cups cold leftover mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Clean and trim the scallions, leaving about 2 inches of green stems; I reserved the darker green tops for garnish and salad additions. Cook in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, wring out well, and chop finely. Place the scallions in a medium-sized bowl, add the kale, eggs, nutmeg (if using), salt, pepper, bread crumbs and potatoes and stir to combine. The batter will be loose and wet; this is just fine.
Heat the oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Use about 2 tablespoons batter (I used a cookie scoop that holds slightly less) per pancake, flattening them as they hit the pan. Cook until golden brown underneath, just a couple minutes, before flipping them and cooking them on the reverse side until golden and crisp as well. Drain on paper towels, but be gentle as they are still fragile. You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven while cooking off the rest of the batter, adding more oil as needed and letting pan cool between batches if it gets too hot.
Serve scattered with reserved scallion stems, if desired, topped with a crispy egg or alongside a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt. They also make a wonderful meal with a big salad. Leftovers keep well in the fridge for a few days
144 comments on potato scallion and kale cakes
These look delicious! And I’ve never been the first commenter on anything on here! Wee!!
These are so appealing to my pregnant self it’s ridiculous. Also, I was the one who suggested the date night recipe index category – thanks for following up (and so fast!); it’s always great to know you’re being heard :)
I appreciate how you highlight existing recipes from existing cookbooks. My family’s all time favorite spaghetti sauce is Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, and I found that thanks to you. This recipe looks great, but I’m not sure I would have really noticed it in a cookbook. Your thoughts make all the difference!
These look soooo good (another pregnant lady here)! How crucial do you think the eggs are here?
These look delicious! I, too, do not keep leftover mashed potatoes in my fridge. Any suggestions for a dairy-free way to prep the potatoes if making them fresh for this recipe? Also just wanted to say that I find your recipes meet all of your great recipe requirements above (especially #10!) – so thanks for the cooking inspiration!
These sound amazing! I can’t wait to make them and I’m totally on board with your 10 reasons.
Oh man, I had that cookbook for years, YEARS, I tell you, and I never once, not ever, used it. It sat in my vegetarian cookbook collection and every so often I would pick it up and flip through it, and then put it back down. This is all from memory now, but am I right in recalling that a ton of his recipes involved adding heavy cream to things and simmering or poaching? Of course doing just that now sounds splendid, but I just wasn’t feeling it at the time. Excuse me while I go kick myself.
These look great!
I have potatoes, scallions… and chard, so a little tweak but close enough and still tasty.
Love your 10 Reasons. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to replicate something and it turns out terrible… Maybe I should try voodoo! :) Recipes looks great, I might try using Coconut oil in there. Let me know if you think that’s a bad idea!?
I was literally just thinking about what I could do with our leftover mashed potatoes that might actually look like dinner tonight. Bonus that my kids might eat them!
Oh my goodness these look amazing – definitely need them for my next meal!
I have always been a lover of potato pancakes, but never thought to attempt them fom scratch (have been using bland box mix for ages). I feel like this just *might* be something my super picky 2.5 year old would actually try. Sounds do delicious!
This is a reply to Helene — for non-dairy mashed potatoes, olive oil (in place of butter) and coconut milk (the kind in the can, not the kind in the waxed cardboard containers) is my favorite. Especially good if you do half regular potatoes and half sweet potatoes (or yams, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days).
Now I need to run out and get this cookbook, now! I agree, a good recipe can make or break people’s faith in your word!
I really love this list of ten for recipes. As a food blogger and recipe tester; I really try to give every single detail to give my readers every chance of success. Nothing is worse or more disappointing than having a recipe that fails every time not matter how delicious it may be.
Also perfect timing with these cakes! I may not have kale but I think spinach will work here? I can see these with a bit of hot sauce and bacon too for a heartier meal.
Thanks Miss B! I’ll give that a try.
This looks so delish! and healthy to boot! Defo going to be trying out this recipe :)
Not only do these look crispy and delicious, they remind me of your twice baked potatoes with kale – a staple in our house. Can’t wait to try them!
These looks unbelievably delicious and comforting. We often cook leftover mashed potatoes this way but never thought to add kale. I also loved your rules of a recipe… I think that your obvious dedication to exactly those rules makes your recipes some of our favorites! Thank you!
I’m sure these are better pan fried – but as someone with limited pans and an insane fear of popping oil – any thoughts on baking these on some parchment paper instead?
Yum! I am definitely going to give these a try!
just to echo an earlier question- how crucial are the eggs- can they be relaxed by something?
Oh the yum
“It leads to bad meals, bad moods and take-out. A recipe flop is about the worst way to spend your limited free time.” Absolutely! Also, I love how many different ways you’ve thrown vegetables together and fried them up.
Yes to the crispy egg on top!
We try to eat as carb free as possible at dinner – what would you think of making a cauliflower “mashed potato” here in place of the potatoes? Too wet to fry?
“It explains what you need to do in the clearest language possible.”
This is why I love cooking your recipes. Without the details, I could see recipes for the same finished product and decide not to bother because I still have lots of questions.
Deb, you genius, you’ve invented colcannon fritters!
Yeah another cake recipe. I’ve been making a variety of fritters/cakes lately but baking them on parchment paper instead of frying. I flip them half way through and they’re nice and brown.
such a great combination!
N.O.T.H.I.N.G. makes me more unhappy than a flop in the kitchen! I mean really, am I NOT PERFECT or what? Love your blog!
Wonder how this would turn out with mashed sweet potatoes. I don’t tend to make much mashed potatoes but always want a fritter – always. Adding the sweet potatoes (or yams) would be a way to add some more vitamins, but I’m afraid it might add too much sweetness (don’t have a sweet tooth, but a killer “fat tooth”)
Are you ever coming to Atlanta?
I, too, get frustrated when a recipe fails but I must admit, I do learn from it so it’s not a complete waste! I just don’t want to do it too often. I know what you mean about something unexpectedly good coming from something you weren’t totally enthused about making. I just made a caramel frosted, layered spice cake at my dear husbands request. A cake that has never appealed to me because of its flavor. This thing turned out so well that I’m now so glad that did it. I think that maybe I was just finally ready to like the flavors of the spice combo. Lesson learned? What you dislike at one point in your life can change, so keep an open mind and try it again later.
Agree with Amy #29; this recipe reminded me of colcannon, frittered! Spounds delicious!
Deb, I have more spring onion than scallion these days. Would I need to boil that as well, or is it mild enough already?
That second photo is an absolute delight! You have the best “eye” anywhere ( that includes the West Coast which sometimes- but never always -gives you a little run for your money.) Keep these nice easy goodies coming, I second the motion for the fried (or poached?) egg on top! Yum.
A great summing up of why a recipe is attractive. These look like a delightful, easy, supper. That sounds like a cookbook that I want to look at.
These look amazing as does everything you post. Each time I duplicate one of your recipes I am thrilled. I truly love your recipes and your writing. Just had to tell you after all this time and say thanks!
And what a great way to finish up the kale (or the mashed potatoes)!
Deb, I enjoy this blog so much. Thank you.
These would be just perfect on their own or with eggs or with like…anything else! Totally smitten with THIS recipe!
So I bought some of these ingredients to make a fritatta-ish recipe from your cookbook, but I just might make these with them instead. With bacon. And spinach. And put some poached eggs on top. Or fried. Because an egg on top makes everything a better meal.
Thanks for your awesomeness always!
Because this is how my mind works… I’m thinking latke + scallion pancake + kale for good luck. Winner!
My grandfather used to make these, minus scallions and kale. I think it has Hungarian roots. Or at least a version of it does.
I never have leftover mashed potatoes – and then, I did! – and we ate them yesterday! Boo! My mom always made some kind of potato pancakes for us when we were kids and I’ve tried to replicate them several times and only failed. Thanks for sharing – I’ll definitely try them soon as I have kale and scallions currently.
And I think one of the most magical things about your site is that you always succeed at #10 on your list for me – I’ve made many things that seem very random, only because you made them sound so incredibly appetizing!! And I’ve never been disappointed with ANY of your recipes.
Hi Deb –
If you’re looking for an iron supplement that works, that doesn’t cause stomach problems, etc… try the VegLife Iron. It’s about $7 for a bottle of 100, and it works.
I’m vegan, and have low iron, and since taking this I’ve actually been able to donate blood again. :) So, it’s tested, it works, and no tummy issues.
Also, the tiniest little pill, ever.
(I just wasn’t ever able to get enough iron from food, and this supplement is greens based.)
We made these tonight and they were perfect! Thank you so much for another amazing recipe!
I think you just articulated why you are such an amazing and popular blogger. That ten point list is genius.
Seems like these cakes are screaming for a RAMP VAMP this time of year! Just dug my second forage today so thanks, yet again, for the inspiration, Deb.
My first forage went into ramp-kale pesto and the loveliest little toasts I’ve had in awhile, courtesy of the need to use up a few items from my kitchen. I sauteed up some chopped ramps, folded them warm into home made ricotta, schmeared this loveliness on crostini, and topped each with maple-glazed roasted butternut squash and a sprinkle of toasted sunflower seeds. It was the perfect straddle between winter and spring. All it needed was to be Debified into a proper recipe ;)
Yes, yes, yes! I’m bookmarking this one for winter when every other meal has mashed potatoes and I love a good potato cake. Thanks, Deb. :)
Holy crap I actually have everything needed, mashed potatoes, greens, scallions….all veggies bought at the farmers market. I feel like a rock star…..I’m easy to please.
We make these often but who keeps kale on hand? Forget the kale. I flavor the mashed potatoes with green onion and rendered chicken fat, lots of salt and pepper, no flour or bread crumb, also, I add onions which have been caramelized in the chicken fat. I paint the top of the patty with an egg wash. I then bake them on a cookie sheet at 375-degrees until the tops turn brown and blister up off the patty. This fried mashed potato patty goes back to my Russian born grandmother who made it for our nuclear family way back in the early 1940’s. I am the only family left now. I still make them without any bread or flour product for Passover as a potato course. They can be made as a patty or using a spring loaded ice cream scoop placed in cup cake papers, the kind with aluminum supports, and baked in muffin tins to help keep shape.
This is to Helene, comment #5. I don’t know your reasons for wanting this recipe to be dairy free, but if it is for lactose intolerance, I suggest full fat Lactaid or similar brand. You can cook with it just like ordinary milk. If that doesn’t help you, try plain dairy creamer. It shouldn’t affect the flavor of these fritters much.
Thank you for this! I have leftover collards and have been thinking about some sort of greens/potato frittata. I will try this – perhaps with a little Feta to stand up to the collards in all their collard-y-ness. I LOVE your blog and cookbook and am so happy to hear of your upcoming Human, too!
That’s a twist on Bubble and Squeak. There’s nothing like Bubble and Squeak the day after a Sunday Lunch.
Sounds deliciously simple. In Ireland we gently heat scallions through in hot milk before adding them to potato, Nicer than water!
@Stephanie!…..I’ll bet mashed celeriac would be amazing as a spud substitute!…I love the amount of scallion here…and the flavor of the two could really work in symbiosis methinks!!! I would steam the vegetable and de-wet with paper toweling or a clean torchon/kitchen cotton towel continue with Deb’s directions to the letter!
I love Food52’s Genius Recipes column as well. But I don’t think that just because a homecook, on his/her first try (or even second or third) in his/her own kitchen, couldn’t pull off a certain recipe, then that automatically makes it a bad recipe. Some things in cooking cannot translate into written words. It needs to be felt through experience. I think making bread is a perfect example. Different flour, humidity and such, and the hand-feel of things. And there are a lot of other foods out there, the success of which varies from the quality/nature of ingredients as well. It may require a few mistakes or trials for each cooks to adapt or perfect according to their resources or etc, but that doesn’t mean the original recipe sucks. A recipe cannot prevail all the variants in the cooking world, doesn’t matter if it’s simple or complicated. If people are just looking for mechanical instructions to follow after a 9~5 job, then what’s the love in there? Anyhow, just a thought :)
As a fellow blogger, I really appreciate this list of what makes a recipe great – I think somewhere in my subconscious I must have a list of criteria that I judge a recipe by… but I like yours, too!
P.S. You, Deb, have a particular gift for making *any* recipe sound good!! ;)
Sounds wonderful! We have kale and a surfeit of spring onions and a few small sad potatoes itching to be turned into mashed. Thanks for the idea!
Also, Deb, I ate cream of wheat every morning both times I was pregnant. Full of iron. Not the instant kind. With cinnamon toast. Yummy. My kids are 24 and 28 now. The memory still makes me smile.
Could I substitute chives for scallions? I have lots of chives up in the garden and have the rest of the ingredients on hand, but would have to drive 20 miles to the store for scallions, and I really want to make these for dinner tonight! Thanks for another great post!
Re, making this without eggs — I haven’t tried it but they do play an important role here in binding the recipe. But, still, if there’s an allergy, it might we worth trying. It might be more of a fried potato patty, but doesn’t mean it would taste bad. You also might not need the breadcrumbs; the eggs make the batter much more wet and the crumbs absorb some of this.
Baking these in the oven — Stu (#53) has some great tips for the oven. I’ve only fried them, however.
Janna, re chives for scallions — Absolutely, and if they’re thin and grassy, even less need to par-boil.
Carmen, re spring onion — Definitely makes sense. Not sure I’d boil them, but I think they can have a stronger flavor than scallions. Maybe chop and saute until softened first? Or, if you don’t mind the bite, just shave the bulb very thin, chop the stems and stir them in raw.
Stina, sweet potatoes — Yes, I think they’d work well here. Not even sure you’d need to enrich the “mash” first with butter/milk/etc. as mashed sweet potatoes are already pretty soft and rich.
Stephanie, re cauliflower — Yes, I think a mash of cauliflower might work well too, but it’s hard for me to say whether it would be too wet or soft or not without trying it. I have a cauliflower fritter recipe in the archives you might like, but it does have some flour in it. It’s mostly vegetable, however, more fritter than pancake.
Roz — I did a couple years ago for book tour! And hopefully again if I ever finish this next book. I also flew through there this weekend, but I suspect that doesn’t count. ;)
Mandy — I love your feedback and I largely agree. Bread-making is a keen example, because it gets much easier and intuitive the more you do it and it’s hard to convey everything you need in instructions. I guess, for me, these 10 are more like what I’m going for when I’m writing a recipe; they’re the pie-in-the-sky goal. I know that it’s not reasonable to expect that everyone is going to pull off every new recipe on the first try, but I think more often than not, it’s a failure of instructions. I’m always wondering what magical tip could have been inserted that would have saved my flopped attempt [“why didn’t you tell me the dough would be exceedingly sticky and that adding more flour would turn my loaf into a cracker, Alton Brown?!” I’ve yelled in my head more than once], or, if I’m getting bad feedback on a recipe, what one line could have saved many people bad moods.
Lisa — “tiniest pill, ever” was all I needed to read, thanks. I wholly admit that I’ve been terrible about consistently taking my monster vitamins (though, of course, much better since I found out I was anemic). I was last time too but all I wanted to eat was broccoli slaw for lunch so it never became an issue. This time, I have very few cravings, save avocado salads… anyway, hoping for a new green dish here next week, to keep me motivated. :)
Jeri — I had no idea cream of wheat was full of iron, thank you! I had the most wonderful bowl of it last year at Maialino, with a concord grape sauce swirled in (it was September) and have been looking for an excuse to step it up at home. Soon!
I love your cookbook, and your blog! I even
started to make bread because you make
every recipe sound so easy and delicious!
Can’t wait to try the mashed potato, kale
and scallion recipe! Have kale in my fridge
and wanted something new to do with it!
Wish I was in NY to attend the event at the Y.
Love your enthusiasm!! And everything you do!
Thanks again for it all !!!
Wow, is pretty much all I can say! What an inspired and thoughtful post, and that’s not even counting the recipe! Can’t wait to make it and I already know it will turn out great because it came from you!
Yum! Reminds me of a chive and potato waffle recipe I’m thinking I need to pull out and use now that our garlic chives have poked out of the soil again. (It also starts with mashed potatoes, which I never just have on hand.) Perhaps I’ll add some additional greens and make them more like these.
i love your list. it’s all so true, and definitely the bit about pushing someone to actually make the recipe. i admit i read a lot of recipes and never make any of them, because i have A Way Of Doing Things that i’m not inclined to change, or it would be too much of a pain for little reward, etc. you know all the reasons and excuses i’m sure. anyway, i can say that SK has that – i do actually make some of the recipes i bookmark! and i will make these little cakes.
boyperson occasionally requests “fish cakes” which his mother made for him as a kid. they are made using leftover mashed potatoes…and an onion, bell’s seasoning and…a can of tuna. i have to say, i’m way more into the idea of these scallion ones ;)
Hi, this looks fabulous. Do you have any suggestions in place of the bread crumbs to make this gluten free?
Sounds like my kind of recipe!:)
Have you seen Floradix for iron? I took it when pregnant and it really helped. It is a liquid, tastes like prune juice, which I think is much more enjoyable than those monster pills. Plus, it doesn’t cause constipation, like those pills can.
I just had some great potato pancakes at Bottega Louie in L.A. and have been craving them ever since. I will definitely give these a try! Thanks for sharing!
Love the kale, but is there ever such a thing as leftover mashed potatoes? Not in my house. Have you tried freshly grated potatoes with a bit more egg to bind the cake together? I believe this is a more German approach to the potato pancake.
I always enjoy your blog with your wonderful recipes and delightful repartee!
By the way, did you know that English Peas have lots of iron? And they’re pretty easy to sneak into recipes…maybe even into this one?
Noticing that you didn’t use your cast iron skillet here. Any reason? I usually have a really hard time with managing the temperature of my cast iron for most of your pancake/fritter recipes, but I know you usually sing the praises of cast iron, so I was surprised to not see it here.
As your Russian MIL may tell you, we often eat a variation of these with goulash or some kind of sauteed, saucey mushroom thing.
This reminds me of a recipe I just made from Bon Appetempt’s new book. Hers is Korean-style shrimp and scallion pancakes and uses tons of scallions that aren’t pre-soaked. Served with a soy sauce and rice vinegar dipping sauce. Delicious!!
Have you ever thought of creating a magazine? I have a limitless appetite for food-related writing, and always have great anticipation for my monthly Bon Appetite and Saveur, only to be 85% disappointed after diving into them. No so here at Smitten Kitchen. I’m much more interested in finding interesting, reliable recipes for my breakfast, lunch, and dinner than in what to order when I go to Tokyo. The latest installment of Bon Appetite made me realize that what I’m really looking for in my food magazine is a food blog that focuses on home cooking, but in paper form.
Abbie, I long ago dropped my subscription to Bon Appetit for the same reasons.
You are amazing! And you make great recipes!
As a vegetarian, I actually feel similarly about eating out. Something’s worth my money if it’s delicious and (1) I can’t make it at home or (2) never would have thought to make it at home and will try to replicate!
Hi Deb – I love your site and often try your recipes – thank you for this great resource! And, I really like to read your responses to reader’s comments that are in the shadowed box, as I often find them helpful. However, I think it would be A LOT easier to use if you referenced the comment you are responding to by the comment number, rather than the person’s name. It seems like it would be easier and more efficient. Thank you for your consideration :)
The comments about leftover mashed potatoes remind me of when my sister gave me her recipe for Champagne Risotto, using leftover champagne. Who has leftover champagne?
Hey Deb, They also make chewable gummy prenatals that actually aren’t that bad. You can get the name brand or the house brand at Target or on Amazon.
You had me at scallions. I love its aroma when cooking or as a garnish. Plus I have it in my veggie bin all the time. Potatoes and kale added to that and it becomes heavenly. Thanks for another great recipe, Deb!
Agree with @mango_queen, you had me at scallions! I don’t know if it is a recent phenomenon, but I love that flavor in a patty or pancake of any kind. It is absolutely delicious! These remind me of a South Indian dish that is similar in flavor profile, but uses ground lentils/beans instead of potatoes. Amazing! Thanks for this post!
I wholly agree with your criteria. Also, I think, food needs to look good. Because even if it’s delicious and easy to replicate, if it doesn’t look good, it isn’t going to attract any takers!
I love this recipe. I have kale in the fridge now, and while I try it to keep it healthy (baked or stirred into salads) I’m totally game to taste kale’s indulgent side. I think I will!
Looks like a great Mother’s Day Brunch menu item!
These look delicious.
Just made a sweet potato version with some curry powder and little cubes of paneer for dinner! Thanks for the inspiration to rescue me from boxed mac n’ cheese tonight.
What a delicious recipe. I am loving the zucchini pancakes at Whole Foods that I just reheat, so I can’t wait to try these. Just saw your adorable picture and taco recipe in Family Circle magazine–cute!
When I was pregnant and anemic, I ate liverwurst Every day for 4 months and it did the trick. And I even still liked it afterwards! I don’t know if you can find it without pork tho.
This recipe was a big hit with my family!
Janna (64) – I did substitute chives because they are growing in my garden. They were delicious and getting my 7 year old to pick served both as a good “helping with dinner” task for a kid who didn’t want to help AND made her not complain about the green in her pancakes since she thought she knew what it was :)
I served it with lightly buttered peas (for my 3 year old) and halved cherry tomatos with more chives, olive oil and salt.
As an infrequent commenter but regular reader, I’d like to add my criteria for an excellent recipe. For me, it has to both break me out of my routine AND has to be something that I can adapt to fit my own mood without disaster. These pancakes fit the bill– I used hot mashed potatos, chives instead of scallions, too few eggs and too much potato and I made them too big. But, the end point was so clearly described that I knew what I was aiming for and so none of my messing around created stress or ruined the meal. Thanks for the great ideas, Deb!
I have recently been enjoying Nigellas Feel Good Food avocado/spinach/pepita salad. It might be just what you’re looking for in the third trimester. Wash and set aside 4 C spinach, toast a handful of pumpkin seeds (pepitas), and in a small bowl, whisk zest and juice of a lime, a tablespoon or two of olive oil, salt and pepper. Gouge out an avocado with a spoon into the greens, throw in seeds and dressing, toss with your hands (important as to not squash all the avocado). If you can watch Nigella do it on YouTube, you can hear all the delicious sounds of avocado gouging and lime squeezing. She is a godess.
Oh, and she serves it with smoked salmon on the side, if you’re still going there. We’ve been eating it with bean tostadas, which would also up the iron.
I’ve been living and dying by Genius Recipes….mind consistently blown. These were on my list and I can’t wait to add kale to them!
On a par with her raised waffles, also from her Breakfast Book, Marian Cunningham’s buttermilk pancakes can’t be beat. Easy, light, delicious. With fresh blueberries in season; wonderful. Definitely another genius recipe from the same book.
Will make this right away! Whole Foods’ 1lb pack of washed baby kale for $6 has changed my life – there is now kale in all of my omlettes, soups, stir frys, etc, and would be perfect here!
I recently made this and it was amazing! For someone who is a vegetarian I am always looking for new and exciting recipes to spice things up. Being a veggie does limit me from a lot of things (like real burgers) so I use these ass veggie patties and it is amazing! The only thing I changed about this was that I added some quinoa into the mix as well.
A new way to eat kale…thanks for the recipe
Alin (100) do you think the quinoa could be used to take the place of the breadcrumbs and make this recipe gluten free?
I am just finishing up an end-of-the-month, use-whatever’s-in-the-fridge version of these fritters (spinach and finely chopped cooked broccoli with chives and onion flakes), and I can say that you definitely want two eggs. It’s very soft otherwise and will fall apart – but I think any binding substitute you’re used to using would do the trick. I took a gamble and used an egg and, ahem, a banana…it definitely tastes suspicious, but is so loaded with savory flavors that it’s still a great fried treat to last me until payday. I will definitely be 1) buying more eggs and 2) making many more mashed-potato-based fritters, so thank you Deb!
And probably no one should put a banana in their fritters. Unless they’re sweet fritters, in which case you need to invite me over.
Hi Deb, I made these last night using six spring onions from my garden. I would never have thought to use so many spring onions in a dish that they become a major ingredient. It worked really well. I didn’t par boil, and it was fine, in fact I think I could have used more!
Ok, I’m guessing this will ruin your perfect recipe but do you think leeks could work in this?
Wow! These look incredible. Perfect little lunch box addition :)
I hate to say it, because I was so excited about these, but they were an abject failure for me! I had leftover browned butter mashed potatoes (from the cookbook, yum) and followed the recipe exactly, and they completely fell apart on me in the skillet or while trying to flip / take them out. They were almost…. flaky, like they never got bound together. (This is not to say that they were not delicious as we scavenged up all the pieces, but still, not exactly the dinner we were hoping for.)
I’ve had great luck with potato pancakes and fritters in the past, including many of your recipes, Deb. But this one was a bust for me. I used regular panko and am now wondering if the larger texture of the crumbs prevented the mixture from ever binding up. Any other guesses out there?
Liz — These were definitely soft and fragile for me too, but I found if I used that good amount of oil and waited until they were truly brown underneath, they would stay together. I’m sorry it was such a flop for you. Oh, and I used panko too, and coarse panko, so I don’t think that was it.
Thank you for your response! Good to know it was not the crumbs causing the issue — thanks for the suggestions, I will try them next time I revisit the idea. For now, I have plans to make your trusty zucchini fritters tonight to ease the trauma ;) (again, it was delicious, delicious trauma)
I was so intrigued to see so many of “your” recipes in that cookbook! Big selling point for me :)
Moni / other gluten free friends–
Made these tonight with GF breadcrumbs that I made with Glutino bagel chips. Just throw a handful or two in the food processor and pulse until you’ve got crumbs. The bagel chips are super dry which is great for breadcrumbs. I use these in any recipe calling for breadcrumbs/panko and they work very well; I always make sure I have a box on hand for this purpose. Ian’s also makes a decent GF panko breading but it is hard to find, even in LA.
Moni, the quinoa would add bulk but not a lot of sticking power necessary for them to stay together, which the breadcrumbs provide. I hope this helps!
Also, I couldn’t help but add lardons to this. It gave them a great smokiness.
I’ve tried many of your recipes, Deb, and loved them all, but this is my first time commenting.
I tried a version of this recipe last night with sweet potatoes mashed with coconut milk and curry powder. I didn’t measure all the ingredients when I was making the mixture for the patties (lesson learned) and many of my patties broke apart. I think I really need that fish spatula you’ve mentioned. However, it was delicious. Loved adding the kale for some extra nutrition. Thank you!
This recipe is delicious! I grated some parmesan into the potato batter and topped them with fresh cilantro. Slam dunk!
The first potato cakes that I have made that haven’t fallen apart when frying. Love the addition of Kale. Sumptuous.
Oh my goodness. I’m eating these for breakfast with an egg and it is delicious. Also, we made them with watercress instead of kale and I think we are at a whole new level (especially since watercress is supposed to be the healthiest vegetable?). As always, this blog is amazing.
I made a more fish-cakey version of this delicious recipe for our packed lunches this week. They held together much better in the oven than fried: bake for 20 mins at 180C, then flip them over for another 10 minutes. I also couldn’t resist adding in a bit of tinned salmon. And I used sweet potato instead of normal, and spinach instead of kale. So basically they were Deb-inspired fish cakes. The full recipe’s on my blog.
I made these last night, but sadly they fell apart when flipping them over so I had potato scallion and kale cake crumbles for dinner instead :( I attempted to fix by adding a coious amount of breadcrumbs to the second batch but, alas, they still crumbled. Sigh.
Thanks for dinner, Deb! These were so good. I made fresh mashed potatoes and used leftover cooked kale and collards and they came together beautifully. And now I know what’s for breakfast tomorrow too.
There were amazing, thank you for another winner Deb! As a raw onion wimp, I sautéed my spring onions in some olive oil and pressed a clove of garlic in for good measure. Plus I couldn’t help but add a scant handful of grated parmigiano. Damn, lady, these were good! I ATE ALL OF THEM IN A HALF DAY! Thanks again.
Akk! Me again, the Australian – spring onions are scallions in Australia. I didn’t use the American bulb spring onion.
I freeze leftover mashed potatoes in little cubes (maybe 2 heaped Tbsp each?), and use them to make single serving silver dollar sized pancakes for my 2-year old. With one egg beaten in, and whatever leftover vegetables, meat, etc I have on hand, it makes about 8 or 9 silver dollar pancakes, and they make a nice change for her from a PB&J! She loves them.
Love these! Mine fell apart a bit, I think because my potatoes were actually too thick, which stopped them from forming a nice cake in the pan.
I had extra batter (I got tired of frying them on the stove :P), so I baked it the next day in a glass dish with a bit of cheese – so easy and it turned out amazing!
I just made a simplified version of these using what I had in the fridge/CSA box – lots of kale and caramelized onions in place of the scallions, and gluten free rice breadcrumbs since everyone I live with is intolerant. I skipped the eggs because I didn’t have any. They held together fine, I just let them brown nicely in a lot of oil on either side. I served them for brunch with a quick kumato salsa. A huge hit.
I made these today, post Xmas.
Finally, a use for all of those leftover mashed potatoes!
I had to improvise a bit: onions instead of scallions, spinach instead of kale.
They reminded me of my mother’s potoato cakes.
Thanks you for sharing the recipe.
I have now made these two nights on the trot (accompanied by two poached eggs each) as Mr StealthPenguin and I were suffering from meatoverload over the festive period. I used gluten free breadcrumbs and extra kale for more vitamins. They were a bit fragile but I used less oil in the pan than Deb said in the recipe so it didn’t cook the sides like in the pictures. However, together or not these were the most delicious thing I’ve eaten these holidays.
I’m now planning what to cook for NYE tomorrow and my husband genuinely looked heartbroken we weren’t having them a third time on the bounce. Definitely going to become a staple in our household, thank you!
Liz from #105 again… happy to say that I finally screwed up the courage to try this one again and managed a success! I think my error the first time was working with leftover potatoes that were a bit too thick, so I loosened these potatoes up with some more buttermilk and the recipe behaved beautifully. And deliciously! Just posting in case anyone else had fragile cake syndrome.
I made a double recipe of these last night, with the last of our turkey day mashed potatoes. I used the scallions raw, subbed spinach for kale, and added a handful of cilantro, but otherwise followed to a T. Perfection. I am going to freeze the leftovers for another day. Thanks for another great recipe, Deb. This is something I could do (have done in the past); and they would have been “fine”, but following a recipe for something like this, means they were “great!”.
I can’t explain why a humble mixture of mashed potato, scallion and kale taste so magnificent, but wow, do they ever. I served mine over a simple Caesar salad, and I couldn’t have asked for a better lunch!
Totally crumbled and fell apart in pan. I am an experienced fryer with fish for tacos etc. it’s dinner time and I got nothing! Love your recipes but this is deceptively hard.
These were so very delicious. I had to modify a bit due to what I had on hand – use half white sweet potato/half yukon gold; subbed beet greens for kale, and added a bit of sharp cheddar. SO GOOD! Thanks for sharing!
I just made these for dinner..yum! I sauteed the kale (2 handfuls instead of 1)with a gralic clove and olive oil(the type of kale we have here in France is quite “thick”…I wanted to soften it a bit). I also added a third egg at the end since my batter was a bit too thick. I didn’t have scallions so I used chives and also added a bit of grated Emmental cheese. These were delicious! Thanks for the great recipe!
This was super delicious and fast! I didn’t have breadcrumbs or panko so I used cornmeal and I think it was a yummy addition. I also probably went overboard on the kale and still, it was so crispy that it wasn’t too kale-y. Great recipe!
Another winner! Made these tonight with farmer’s market scallions and kale. I had leftover potatoes (from another Smitten Kitchen dish!) that I made into mashed. I took a clue from another comment that said these could be baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then flipped and baked for 10 more. Worked perfectly. None of the pancakes fell apart… Tasted great. Only regret was that I didn’t have any plain yogurt on hand to make into a lemon sauce to go on top.
Singing the green onions/scallions first in a very hot pan takes out the bite, sweetens, and doesn’t leave them water logged. This is a grilling trick I leaned from my son and have adopted for the indoors.
Exactly what I needed after having leftover mashed potatoes and creamed kale. I
Made them in my airfryer which took about 15 minutes per batch. They were amazing!!
The proportions of this are not quite right. With two eggs there needs to be much more of the dry ingredients. I added more potatoes and a bit more bread crumbs, but it was still too wet and the pancakes did not stick together. I ended up with mashed potatoes that were charred on some sections. Definitely would have been better with one egg and more bread crumbs.
I didn’t have any kale, so I used broccoli. And I didn’t have any scallions, so I grated some red onion. About to cook and it already smells marvelous!
These were delicious but I found it hard to flatten down the scoops of potato mixture. The mixture stuck to my spatula. Any hints to make this easier? Otherwise this was a wonderful mixture of ingredients.
Just a thought, maybe try spraying your spatula with nonstick cooking spray? Or just drizzle/rub some oil on it.
Maybe coat it with a little nonstick spray? Or if you’re not at risk of burning your hands (i.e. be careful!), wet your two fingers and gently pat it down.
I formed them in my (gloved) hands sprayed with cooking spray. Worked very well.
More than the sum of its parts!
Made these for Shrove Tuesday today. ****ing delcious, even though, believe it or not, I used the ::gasp:: full quarter-teaspoon, maybe a bit more, of nutmeg :)
We also love your winter squash pancakes, but we don’t like to make the same pancake recipe two mardis gras in a row
These were fantastic! I did not slice the kale thinly enough, note that it is important to do so. Sauteed the scallions quickly instead of blanching, which was fine. Excellent topped with sour cream. Maybe an alternative latke?
Love this recipe! I just made these with home grown kale, potatoes and scallions! Had some leftover roasted cauliflower and green beans in the fridge so I made a second batch. This recipe is definitely customizable!! Will keep it in my repertoire for sure!
This was easy to make and elevated our meal last night! Served with plain yogurt and definitely keeping it in our meal rotations.