Some years ago, I took a cookbook by Edna Staebler out of the library. Called “Food That Really Schmecks,” it was a collection of Mennonite recipes from Ontario Communities. As much an anthropological book as a cookbook, it imparted lots of information about Mennonite traditional life and about the food that has arisen from their culture.
Mennonites are hard working farm folk, engaged in physical labour throughout the course of almost every day. Their food reflects this. It contains lots of fresh produce, meat, and dairy and it is often high in calories; suitable for recharging tired bodies that have been hard-used all day.
Because Mennonites try very hard to be self reliant within their communities, Mennonite recipes don’t contain exotic spices and have very few ingredients that might need to be purchased elsewhere.
Because thrift is considered a virtue, very little food goes to waste. Farm wives often cook in quantity and leftovers are planned for; incorporated into other dishes.
One of the recipes in Ms. Staebler’s book was for “potato scones.” They were not scones as those of us of British origin think of them but were, rather, a kind of pancake in which mashed potatoes were bound with a little flour and leavened with egg and baking powder. Served with butter or gravy, they make an excellent side dish. Served with butter and honey or jam, they make a filling breakfast.
I’ve been making potato scones ever since I found the recipe, and varying them along the way. They are a perfect vehicle for a small amount of leftover meat and an excellent way to use up small quantities of leftover vegetables. Topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce, they make an outstanding eggs benedict.
I’ll be making a version of potato scones for supper tonight because I want to use up one of the chicken breasts from the rotisserie chicken I purchased on Wednesday. If you’d like to try them too, here’s the recipe.
To make Chicken and Potato Cakes, you’ll need:
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup diced onion
- 1 cup mashed potato
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup finely diced or shredded cooked chicken
- Canola oil
Sauté the onion in a little canola oil until it’s tender and translucent. Set it aside.
Beat the egg and then mix it into the mashed potato.
Mix together the flour and baking powder and then mix the flour mixture into the potato mixture.
Add the diced chicken and sautéed onion and stir to mix them through the dough.
Heat equal amounts of canola oil and butter in the pan you used to sauté the onion. (I use about a Tablespoon of each for each batch of cakes I cook.) When the butter has melted but has not yet begun to brown, drop heaping Tablespoonfuls of the scone dough into the fat. Use the back of the spoon to flatten them to about 1/3 inch thick. Don’t crowd the pan. I usually cook three or four at a time.
Cook the scones until they’re browned on the bottom, then flip them and brown the other side.
Keep the finished scones in a warm oven while you cook off the rest of the dough. Wipe the pan out between each batch so that the butter doesn’t burn.
I serve Chicken and Potato cakes with apple butter. They’re also very good with butter, sour cream, or chicken gravy. I would imagine that the leftovers could be frozen but we’ve never tried. We just use them up the following day for either breakfast or lunch.