Tag: Potato Pancakes

Ingredient | Potato

Domesticated and cultivated in the highlands of Peru thousands of years ago, the potato (papa to the Incas) made its appearance in Europe with the Spanish in the 16th century (1539), quickly spreading throughout western and northern Europe to become a field crop despite resistance from the peasantry in Germany and Russia, where potato production would eventually become the highest in Europe and the world.

The tradition of boiling potatoes whole in their skins and serving them with butter or buttermilk is gradually dying out. A dish made from mashed potatoes and buttermilk was called THE STIFFNER in the west of Ireland, but it is now a rare sight on a plate. PURÉE DE POMMES DE TERRE, baked potato mashed with butter and milk, is hardly seen anymore.

ROAST POTATOES have managed to survive, largely as an accompaniment to roast meat dinners in Britain. In eastern Europe and Russia potatoes were boiled and roasted in animal fats – goose, duck, etc – a tradition that is still holding out, despite health concerns.

MASHED or PUREED POTATOES remain popular. You can still go into a shop in south London and order a plate of JELLIED EEL or PIE, POTATO MASH and PARSLEY SAUCE. Mashed potatoes and carrots, and spiced with nutmeg, called STOEMP in the Netherlands and Belgium, is a clever interpretation of an early food tradition brought into the region by the Spanish. In Ireland kale and potatoes are mashed together to make COLCANNON. The potato and garbanzo (chickpea) pate called TOPIK made in Armenia is having a makeover.

They were added to stews and soups. IRISH STEW, initially with mutton, potatoes and onions, now with lamb, potatoes, onions and seasonings, has also survived the test of time. In the Alpine regions of Austria and Italy BOZNER HERRENGRÖSTL, a potato and veal stew, has done the same. Less so in Scotland with STOVIES, a stew made with potatoes and onions and leftover meat.

SODD is a spicy meat and potato soup in Norway. Potato is an essential ingredient in SEAFOOD CHOWDER. KÄSE UND KARTOFFEL SUPPE is always on the menu in Germany and neighbouring countries. In Scotland CULLEN SKINK is smoked haddock, potato and onion soup.

MEAT and POTATO PIES are not as popular as they once were in the north of England because the recipe is being lost with the generations. In Slovenia they make a wonderful potato pasty called IDRIJSKI ZLIKROFI. And back in England the CORNISH PASTY, made with beef, onion, potato and swede, is managing to hold its own against fast-food competition. Potato is a main ingredient in the Swiss mountain dish called CHOLERA, which also contains apples or pears, cheese and onions.

FRENCH FRIES, aka CHIPS, appeared on Paris streets in the mid-19th century and soon became synonymous with street fried fish.

In England the two were combined to become FISH AND CHIPS.

In Switzerland the tradition of grating raw potatoes and baking them on hot griddles to make RÖSTI can be traced to the Zurich region in the 17th century. MALUNS are toasted potato lumps in Switzerland, served for breakfast.

In Italy they were prepared pureed with flour and blanched in hot water to make GNOCCHI. Potato dumplings are still popular in northern and central Europe. In Austria dumplings made with apricot and potato are called MARILLENKNÖDEL.

Northern and central European countries got into the habit of making POTATO PANCAKES but it was the Spanish who made the TORTILLA, potato omelette, an essential element of the frying pan or griddle.

Slowly dying out is the tradition of making POTATO CAKES on a griddle. Once common across northern Europe, it is only in southern Europe, in Andorra, the Basque Country and Catalonia that it is still popular, albeit as the bacon, cabbage and potato cakes known as TRINXAT

Baked in the oven they became the base for POTATO GRATIN. Various ingredients, from anchovy to cheese and bacon, go into these baked dishes, such as TARTIFLETTE in France.

KÖTTBULLAR, meatballs in Sweden, are made with potato and meat – beef, pork or veal.

Then there is KARTOFFELSALAT, served hot and cold in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. A good potato salad is still a mystery to be solved, because those who know the secret are reluctant to share it.

In many countries they were the base ingredient to make raw alcohol (poteen and vodka).

High in carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins.


Potato Varieties


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Traditional Potato Dishes


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Culinary Connections | Russia Lithuania Slovakia

Potato Pancakes

Kartofel’nyy Blin

This is the standard Russian version of the potato pancake, more like a fritter than a pancake.
500g floury potatoes, peeled, grated small, drained
150g onions, chopped small
2 eggs
45g flour
45ml kefir
Salt, large pinch
Oil, for frying.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly.
Using an oiled tablespoon transfer onto hot oil in a frying pan, cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes, turn once.

Bulvinių Blynų/Bulviniai Blynai

This traditional Lithuanian version generally omits the flour and kefir, and uses less egg.
500 g floury potatoes, peeled, grated small, 
150 g onions, chopped small
1 egg
Salt, pinch
Black pepper, freshly ground, pinch
Oil, for frying
Combine potatoes, onions, egg and seasonings in a large bowl, mix thoroughly.
Fry a heaped tablespoon of the mixture over a high heat, about a minute.
Turn, fry for a minute, reduce heat to low.
Fry over a low heat, five minutes each side.
Serve with sour cream.

Kėdainių Blynai

Named after the Lithuanian town on the Nevėžis river, this meat-filled potato pancake is a very old recipe, and still a popular dish.
1 kg floury potatoes, peeled, grated small, 
300 g pork mince
150 g onion, chopped small
2 eggs
Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch
Salt, pinch
Oil, for frying
Mix potatoes and onions with eggs and salt in a large bowl, set aside.
In a separate bowl combine meat and seasonings.
Begin to fry five heaped tablespoons of potato mixture in oil in a large frying pan over a high heat.
Top each potato pile with a level tablespoon of meat mixture.
Turn heat to medium.
Finish with another heaped tablespoon of potato mixture on top of the meat mixture, press down with a spatula.
Turn heat high, carefully turn pancakes, fry for two minutes, reduce heat to low.
Transfer to a tray, bake in a 140°C oven for ten minutes.
Serve with mushroom and sour cream sauce.

Zemiakové Placky

This is the aromatic Slovakian version.
1 kg floury potatoes, peeled, grated small, 
180 g flour
60 ml milk
1 egg
5 cloves garlic, crushed
15 g salt
10 g marjoram
Black pepper, freshly ground, large pinch
Oil, for frying
Mix potatoes and garlic with egg and salt  in a large bowl, work in flour and milk, season with marjoram and pepper, set aside.

Fry in small batches over medium heat until golden brown, about 15 minutes, turning once.