For our first wedding year anniversary I gave my husband a fancy swiss army knife. He gave me a magazine subscription. "I thought we were doing traditional anniversary gifts, " he said, "first year is paper." For our second anniversary I gave him a bathrobe; he gave me jewellery. "I thought we decided to do traditional anniversary gifts, " I said to him, "second year is cotton." Finally, for our third year we were in sync and gave each other traditional leather gifts. Fourth year was much more difficult. Old school guides suggested that year four is the year of flowers or fruit, however, modern interpretation of that year said that it was the year for appliances. After a few weeks of hints I finally got a Slow Cooker.
And not a moment too soon. Since my oven stopped working slow cooker got a lot of use. Up until a few weeks ago I did not realize how much I rely on the oven. I don't have a microwave, so leftovers get heated in the oven. I bake, I roast, I broil and toast. I make most of my main courses in the oven. I cook vegetables, fruit, and bread. I grill pita, make meatballs, warm stews. All of it in the oven, not on the stove.
So, for the past two weekends I've been slow cooking my food and trying to come up with ideas of what I could make on the stove that would be easy, convenient, and fast. These Potato Cakes popped into my head recently and I finally got a chance to make them. They are actually a traditional Russian dish called Zrazy. There are many different kinds of Zrazy, some are meat based, some are vegetarian, but the basic idea behind the name is that it is something stuffed. It could be meat roulades stuffed with eggs and fried. It could be fish cakes stuffed with dill pickles. Or, like in this case, it could be potato cakes stuffed with mushrooms. This recipe works really well with leftover mashed potatoes too. Mushrooms and onions are cooked slowly for at least 15-20 minutes until all the liquid evaporated and then a few more minutes to get some colour. Herbs are then added to the mixture. I love dill, it gives the filling summery brightness. Some flour is added to mashed potatoes to make a simple dough, then cakes are stuffed and pan-fried to get golden colour. Serve with some lemon, mustard or horseradish.
Vegan Potato Cakes stuffed with Mushrooms
9 cakes or more depanding on the size
Potatoes - 2 poundsBay leaf - 2Oil - 2 tablespoons, divided (or more as needed for pan-frying)Mushrooms - 1/2 poundOnion - 150 gDill - 10 gFlour - 1/2 cupSalt, pepper - to taste
- Wash, peel and dice potatoes.
- Boil the potatoes with bay leaf until fully cooked.
- While potatoes are cooking, heat one tablespoon of oil in a large pan.
- Dice the onion and coarsely chop mushrooms.
- Add the onion and mushrooms to the pan and cook on medium-low heat mixing occasionally until all the liquid evaporated. This will take about 15-20 minutes.
- Cook for another 5 minutes until mixture starts to brown.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Finally chop the dill, add it to the pan with mushrooms, mix and take off the heat.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them well and mash. Season to taste.
- Cool the potatoes.
- Add flour and mix well.
- Take about 2 tablespoons of potato dough and flatten into a disk, place one spoonful of mushroom mixture and cover with more potato dough. Form into a disk.
- Once all the potato cakes are assembled, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pan.
- Place potato cakes on the pan and fry about 5 minutes until they turn golden, flip and fry another 5 minutes until golden.
- Serve with leftover mushroom mixture if any left, some lemon juice, mustard or horseradish.
- You can omit flour or add less than the recipe calls for. I like flour as it makes the potatoes easier to handle, but it certainly isn't necessary.
- Filling can vary. You can add different herbs like thyme, for example, or parsley. Or add bell peppers.
- I have a really good non-stick pan, so the cakes don't stick too much, but if you are worried, add more oil to make sure that they don't stick. I know some readers had trouble with the frying part. Note, that quite often food will stick to the pan until it's actually done and only once it's properly cooked, it'll get released. In any case, please add oil as needed when frying the cakes. Also, they can be baked instead of fried.