Make wine in an Instant Pot

A fun fermentation experiment!

It amazes me what can become a viral sensation. I guess in this case, making wine in an Instant Pot is kind of appropriate, since the Ottawa-invented Instant Pot has become just that – both a viral and real life sensation. I have to admit I was skeptical when I was asked by CTV Morning Live to recreate blogger David Murphy’s wildly popular Instant Pot wine making experiment, but I was definitely game to give it a try. The biggest difference between his instructions and mine below are that I adapted the quantity of sugar to the size of bottled grape juice available in Canada (ours are 1.36 L whereas in the US they are 1.8 L bottles). You can buy winemaking yeast at numerous shops that sell wine making supplies; I’m sure it’s available online as well. Wondering what else you can do with bottled grape juice? Be sure to check out my grape jelly recipe at the bottom of this post.


  • 1.36 litre bottle of Welch’s 100% grape juice
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) granulated (white) sugar
  • 1/2 of a 5 gram packet Lalvin Bourgovin RC 212 Wine Yeast


  • Instant Pot (must be one with a Yogurt function)
  • Liquid laundry bleach to sterilize equipment
  • Clean towel
  • Measuring cup
  • Funnel (stainless steel is best)
  • Paper coffee filter
  • Ladle
  • 2 L canning jar with airlock lid OR packing tape and empty Welch’s juice bottle


  • Steam clean your Instant Pot to remove any food odors from the sealing ring. Do this by adding 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water to pot. Close lid, make sure vent is in closed position and press Steam. Let run for 3 minutes. Release pressure and wash sealing ring, lid and stainless steel liner in hot soapy water. Rinse well and let sealing ring air dry before reinserting in lid. This can be done ahead of time, and is a great thing to do periodically to your Instant Pot, especially if switching from savoury to sweet recipes.
  • Just before making wine, disinfect the Instant Pot’s stainless steel liner by combing 1 tablespoon of laundry bleach with 8 cups (2 L) of water. Wash the funnel you plan to use for this first stage in the same bleach/water mixture (dunk it right in the pot). Swirl around inside for 1 minute then pour out. Rinse liner and funnel with cold water and dry with a very clean towel.
  • Open the bottle of grape juice and pour one cup of juice into a clean measuring cup; set the cup aside. Put the funnel in the mouth of the juice bottle then pour the sugar into the bottle. Recap the bottle and shake it vigorously for about 2 minutes to dissolve the sugar.
  • Open your bottle of juice again, put the funnel back in and add 1/2 of the packet of red wine yeast Close the lid again and lightly shake back and forth inside of the bottle.
  • Once done, pour the juice from the bottle into your sanitized Instant Pot inner pot liner along with the reserved 1 cup of juice. Do NOT throw away your plastic juice bottle.
  • Close and lock the lid of your Instant Pot. Press the Yogurt button, and then press the Adjust button as many times as needed to have the “Less” light (on the display panel) illuminated. Using Less heat on the Yogurt function will keep the temperature steady at around 80F or 26.7C. This amount of heat will activate the yeast; if you set it any higher (warmer) you may kill the yeast.
  • Start with the pressure vent on the lid in the open position to let the wine breathe in the beginning. As the yeast and sugar work their magic, a lot of carbon dioxide will be produced so after 6 – 8 hours have elapsed, close the vent for 6 – 8 hours. Repeat the open/close cycle for the duration of the 48 hour initial fermentation period.
  • For two consecutive days, let the Instant Pot (on the “less” Yogurt cycle) run for 24 hours each day; you’ll need to restart the pot after the first 24 hour cycle (the maximum amount of time for this Instant Pot setting) has completed.
  • After your 48 hours has elapsed, it is time to transfer the early stage wine into a secondary fermentation container. Before you do this, follow the bleaching procedure above to sterilize the funnel, ladle and canning jar or plastic bottle.
  • Pour the wine through a coffee filter (to catch sediment at the bottom of the Instant Pot) – this is easiest if you set the filter a funnel to transfer it into a sterilized 2 litre canning jar with an airlock and special adapter lid. If you don’t have this equipment, you can just filter the young wine back into the plastic juice bottle. If using the juice bottle, make sure you only put the lid back on the bottle half way – don’t seal it tight or the pressure from the continually building carbon dioxide will blow the lid right off. You can use packing tape (per David’s instructions) to secure the cap loosely in place.
  • Place the jar or bottle in a dark, room temperature spot to finish its fermentation. The back of a kitchen cupboard that is not near the stove, microwave, fridge or dishwasher (all of which emit heat) is a good place.
  • It is ideal to let the wine sit for a month to finish fermenting, but you can start tasting after 8 days if you want to track how it changes over time.

The verdict: for $4.01 this was a really fun experiment that produced semi-palatable wine. I think it would be a fun way to play around with different flavours, especially if you wanted a wine to use in coolers, spritzers or sangria (hello, peach wine, anyone??).

HOT TIPS: If you’re not sold on wine making, there are a couple of other great uses for bottled grape juice, including making popsicles or adding it to smoothies. My favourite tasty thing to can make with bottled grape juice is delicious jelly – and it’s super easy too! Here’s how:

Easy grape jelly


  • 2 cups (500 mL) Welch’s 100% grape juice
  • 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) white sugar
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin


  • Wash four one cup (250 mL) jars in hot soapy water; rinse and transfer to a 200F oven to sterilize.
  • Put canning lids in a saucepan of boiling water and then set aside.
  • Bring the grape juice and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, stirring often.
  • Once it’s at a full rolling boil, add the pectin and as soon as it has returned to a rolling boil, set a timer for one minute. Stir mixture constantly while it finishes cooking.
  • Remove from heat after the one minute has elapsed and stir every 30 seconds or so for 4 minutes, with a large metal spoon, skimming off any foam that has accumulated.
  • Ladle into clean, hot jars and seal with canning lids. Refrigerate any jars that do not have a tight seal (centre of canning lid does not stay indented).


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Ten minute risotto another Instant Pot success!

Perfect texture and flavour in a fraction of the time!

Who knew it was possible to make perfect risotto in just ten minutes? It’s become a weeknight staple for us, either on its own or as the perfect accompaniment to grilled or poached fish. The same technique works in a pressure cooker; just put the pot on medium-high after adding stock and reduce heat to medium when it comes up to pressure. Feel free to vary the vegetables in this recipe to suit your preference, or consider a breakfast version with apples and cinnamon in place of the savoury elements!


  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) each chopped mushrooms and asparagus (optional)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) white wine
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups (875 – 1000 mL) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) grated parmesan, divided
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh thyme or parsley


  • Get all your ingredients prepped, measured, and ready to go.
  • Set Instant Pot to sauté and add the olive oil, onion, mushrooms and asparagus to the Instant Pot. Sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the rice and continue to stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add 3 1/2 cups of the stock, secure the lid andd close the pressure valve.
  • Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 6 minutes (set a timer). When cooking is complete, use the quick release method to depressurize the Instant Pot.
  • Open the Instant Pot and check the risotto. You want there to be some liquid remaining with the cooked rice and vegetables so add a bit more of the stock if needed then press the sauté button and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
  • Add the butter and half the parmesan. Stir, then taste and add a bit more salt if needed. Remove from heat and stir in and most of the thyme or parsley.
  • Serve the risotto in shallow soup bowls, topping each with remaining herbs and parmesan.

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course.


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Sweet Irish soda bread

Plain or toasted it’s a perfect breakfast treat!

This delicious, dense breakfast bread also goes by the amusing name of Spotted Dog, thanks to the raisins. Traditional Irish soda breads typically were made with fewer ingredients, out of necessity, but I’ve refreshed an old recipe to suit modern palates. There are as many variations of soda bread as there are leprechaun stories, but this is the one my family likes. Whether you enjoy it fresh out of the oven or lightly toasted, be sure to spread each slice generously with butter and jam for an authentic Irish taste experience.


  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (250 mL) white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk *
  • 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cinnamon **
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) raisins (sultanas or currants, or a blend)

* buttermilk substitute: 1 scant cup milk blended with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice or white vinegar

** cinnamon is not traditionally used in Irish soda bread, but it’s a very tasty addition here


  • Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
  • Line a 9 x 5 inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper; set aside.
  • Stir together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon (if using) and salt; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one), cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the buttermilk until the mixture is well blended.
  • Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture and stir until just blended. Fold in raisins.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the highest part of the loaf comes out clean.

Store the loaf, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days, or slice and freeze for  up to 3 months.

This original recipe, created by Paula Roy, was first published at

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Edible Science: Homemade Rock Candy

Sweet treats grown with just two ingredients!

Most kids would rather help in the kitchen if the end result is something sweet. While my big kids now tend to prefer savoury treats, when they were little they adored our candy making experiments. This fun project takes a few days to complete but is a fascinating way to spark discussions about how science and food intersect in so many ways. Kids (and grownups) will have a great time watching the crystals grow and, of course, sampling the finished product. It would be a great project for a school break or for homeschoolers. Kids can do most of this on their own but adults should help with creating the super hot sugar syrup and pouring it into the jars.


  • 2 cups water
  • 4 1/2 – 5 cups granulated sugar
  • Food colouring (optional but fun)

Equipment needed:

  • 4 Narrow jars or drinking glasses (250 mL regular mouth canning jars are great)
  • 8 Wooden skewers
  • 8 Clothes pegs


  • Clip wooden skewers into the clothes pegs and adjust as needed so that the pegs will rest across the top of the jars and a portion of the skewer will hang down inside. You can have two pegs / skewers per jar. You want the skewers to stay away from the sides of the jar and each other, and there should be about 1 inch of clearance between the skewer and the bottom of the jar.

  • Remove the clothes pegs and skewers peg from the jars and set aside.
  • Pour the water into a medium, heavy-duty pan and bring it to boil.
  • Pour 1 cup of sugar into the boiling water, stirring until it dissolves.
  • Keep adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until it dissolves. Stop adding sugar when no more will dissolve. This will take time and patience as it takes longer for the sugar to dissolve each time. Once no more sugar will dissolve, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes.
  • While the mixture is cooling, tilt the pot and dip the bottom portion of the skewers in the syrup then roll them in granulated sugar to put some ‘seeds’ on the sticks. This will help kick-start the sugar crystal growth.
  • Invert the coated skewers on the jars to let them dry thoroughly while the syrup continues to cool.
  • Remove the inverted skewers and add a generous amount of food colouring (10 drops for liquid colour) to the jars, leaving one natural for contrast, if desired. Stir gently to blend the food colouring.
  • Pour the sugar solution into the jars, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top.
  • Carefully add two skewers, coated side down, to each jar, resting the clothes pegs across the mouth of the jars. Be sure they are hanging straight down the middle without touching the sides or each other.

  • Put the jars in a safe place where they will not be disturbed but where you will be able to patiently watch the crystals grow over the next 7 days.
  • Crystals will also form on the bottom, sides and even the surface of the jars; this is normal. You will be able to easily shatter the solidified sugar layer on the top of the jar to extract the skewers when you are ready.

  • After 5 – 7 days, remove the skewers and place them in clean jars to drip and dry for an hour or two, then enjoy!

  • Any leftover candy can be covered with plastic wrap and stored.

What’s the science?

The solution you have made is a super-saturated solution, meaning the boiling water has absorbed more sugar than it would have absorbed at room temperature. As the solution cools, the water saturation point of the water will become lower, so the liquid will no longer be able to hold the amount of sugar. The dissolved sugar will be therefore be unable to stay in liquid form, and will instead crystalize on the skewer. If you have a magnifying glass or microscope, take a look at the crystals you’ve grown before you eat them!

Note: this original recipe, created by Paula Roy, first appeared at


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Instant Pot makes for faster, tastier corned beef

Super tender and flavourful brisket….with zero preservatives!

I have spent my entire adult life (up till about a week ago) wondering how corned beef got its name. I mean, there’s no corn in it (unlike peameal bacon, for example, which used to be coated with ground dried yellow peas, hence the name). As it turns out, this Irish-inspired dish gets its name from the corn-kernel sized chunks of salt that were traditionally used in its preparation. You can buy already-cured corned beef (made with regular sized salt) in many grocery stores, but it is super easy to cure it at home and a great way to avoid commercial preservatives. Nitrates are often used, partly to prevent the meat from taking on a perfectly safe but greyish hue when cooked; I used sliced, raw beet instead and it did the trick!

Unlike pastrami, which is cured and then smoked, corned beef brisket is typically boiled. For my experiment, I decided to cook the brisket in my Instant Pot and it came out just beautifully, and so much faster than boiling. A pressure cooker would do the job just as nicely. Rather than cooking cabbage and potatoes with the meat, as is often done, I highly recommend you prepare this amazing Colcannon, a traditional, delicious Irish dish that can be made ahead of time and reheats perfectly. These roasted carrots would be pretty awesome too.


To cure:

  • 3 – 4 pound (1.35 – 1.8 kg) beef brisket
  • 7 cups (1.75 L) cold water
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) coarse kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) each of coriander seeds, mustard seeds and black peppercorns
  • 10 each whole cloves and allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) thinly sliced fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried thyme
  • 2 large bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 small purple beet, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced

To cook:

  • 2 – 3 tablespoons (20 – 45 mL) olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 bottle or can of beer
  • 1 cup (250 mL) beef broth
  • Cold water to cover

For gravy:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) cold water


  • Put the meat in a sturdy zip lock bag. Add the water, salt, sugar, spices, beet and garlic. Seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible.
  • Jostle the bag to dissolve the salt and sugar then place it inside a second bag or in a casserole dish in case it leaks. Put in the fridge and let sit for 4 – 7 days, flipping over whenever you think of it (every 12 hours or so is great).
  • When ready to cook, rinse meat under cold running water to remove brine and seasonings. Cut into equal-sized pieces as needed to fit into your Instant Pot.
  • Preheat Instant Pot on “Saute” for a minute. Add 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive or vegetable oil then add meat (one piece at a time, if you’ve cut it) to hot oil and sear about 3 – 4 minutes per side until nicely browned, pressing down on the meat with a spatula if needed to ensure good contact with the pot. Remove the first piece (if more than one) and set aside. Add more oil if needed and sear the second piece of brisket then remove it as well.
  • NOTE: Because you will be cooking under pressure, make sure your Instant Pot will not be more than 2/3 full when you add the meat and liquid.
  • Place the steam rack inside the Instant Pot and put the meat on top of the rack. Pour beer and beef broth over the meat then add just enough water so that the meat is covered.
  • TIP: Can’t find your steam rack? Use any metal or silicone trivet that fits, or a couple of medium-sized carrots cut to the right length, to prop up the meat).
  • Close the lid and the vent valve on the lid. Press “Manual” then “Pressure” (twice if needed to get it to set on High) then keep pressing the “+” button until the screen displays 90 (minutes).
  • Let cook on high pressure for 90 minutes. Let steam release naturally for 10 minutes then carefully open the venting valve to let the pot finish depressurizing. The cooked meat can stay in the pot as is for up to 30 minutes to keep warm.
  • When ready to serve, place cooked corned beef on a cutting board and tent with foil. Remove steam rack from Instant Pot and set to “Saute”.
  • Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl then drizzle into the Instant Pot. Whisk as the mixture bubbles, heats and thickens. Cover pot and press “Keep Warm” while you carve the brisket.
  • Cut meat into 1/4 inch (.6 cm) slices – it will be ‘falling apart tender’ so cut the slices a little thicker if you need to.
  • Transfer the sliced meat to a serving platter then ladle the hot, thickened broth from the Instant Pot over top and serve immediately.

Serves 6 – 10 depending upon the size of your brisket.

Make delicious Corned Beef in your Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker!

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Colcannon (Irish potatoes and cabbage)

Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day…or any day!

Maybe it’s because my dad grew up on a potato farm in Prince Edward Island, or maybe it’s because potatoes are just so delicious, versatile and filling, but I absolutely adore these tasty tubers. While I also love other starchy things like pasta and rice, potatoes are definitely one of my very favourite comfort foods. I decided that in honour of St. Patrick’s Day, this year I’d try to refresh a recipe given to me by an Irish friend years ago. Colcannon is a popular Irish dish made from potatoes and greens – typically cabbage or kale – and there are myriad ways to prepare it. For my version, I chose red skinned potatoes, unpeeled, for extra fibre and nutrition, plus I and included parsley to add more vibrant green colour to the finished product. I also decided to prepare the Colcannon in individual serving dishes to ensure fair distribution and enjoyment of the melted butter. Lastly, I had a hunch that a quick trip under the broiler just before serving to crisp up the top would be a good idea; it also means the dish is nice and hot when you go to serve it. You’ll note some make-ahead instructions below. As for what to serve this with? We eat it on its own but it would be equally terrific with corned beef (check out my fantastic Instant Pot version), sausages, ham, roast chicken or fish.


  • 2 pounds (900 g) red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) kosher salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) butter, divided
  • 4 cups (1 L) shredded napa or savoy cabbage (about 1 small head)
  • 4 green onions, separated into white and green parts and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chicken broth or white wine
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped flat-leaf parsley


  • Place the potatoes and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium pot and just barely cover with cold water. Place lid on pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes feel tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 10 minutes.
  • While potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a broad, large saucepan placed over medium heat. Add the finely chopped white parts of the green onions to the pan along with the shredded cabbage. Sprinkle with remaining salt and the pepper and cook, stirring often, until cabbage has wilted and thicker pieces are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken stock or wine to cabbage and increase heat. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes until liquid has mostly evaporated. Remove from heat.
  • Drain the cooked potatoes and return them to their pot. Place over low heat, shaking pot, for 1 – 2 minutes until potatoes have dried out and look a bit floury. Remove from heat and mash coarsely with a potato masher. Add milk and mash to combine.
  • Preheat oven broiler to high.
  • Add the cooked cabbage to the mashed potatoes along with the parsley and all but 2 tablespoons of the minced green onion tops; fold to combine.
  • Transfer the potato and cabbage mixture to four two-cup (500 mL) ovenproof baking dishes (or one larger 2 quart dish). Smooth the tops then make a well or indentation in the centre.
  • Note that the dish can be made ahead to this point and covered with foil then refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Heat, still covered, in a 350F oven for 30 minutes prior to removing foil and broiling as described in the next step.
  • Broil for 4 – 5 minutes until the top is bubbly and getting a bit crispy. Remove from oven.
  • Divide remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) butter into four equal pieces and place one in the centre of each hot dish. Sprinkle with reserved sliced green onion tops and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Posted in dinner, Make Ahead, make-ahead, Vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Potato pancake poutine

A delicious twist on a Canadian classic!

As you might imagine, my taste testers are pretty happy with their roles in the Constantly Cooking kitchen. They are generous with their time and their suggestions, not all of which I choose to heed. Their tastes are also a little different than mine which is helpful when I am creating dishes like this that are not exactly in line with the lighter, fresher fare I tend to prefer. Upon tasting his first bite of this dish, my husband was heard to exclaim, “this might be the best thing I have ever eaten.” I don’t know about that, but I do know this is a super tasty and fun dish that would be really fun to prepare with kids or teens. The potato pancakes are light and crispy and can easily be cooked ahead of time then reheated. I prefer the easy-to-make homemade gravy explained below as it is less salty but you can easily substitute with purchased canned gravy or poutine sauce. You can also throw a little pulled pork on top if you really want to have some fun.


Potato pancakes

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each salt and pepper
  • canola oil

Poutine Topping

  • 5 tablespoons (22 mL) butter
  • 5 tablespoons (22 mL) flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) beef broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh cheese curds, in small pieces


  • Put potatoes and just enough cold water to cover in a medium saucepan. Cover the pot.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat so that the potatoes boil gently until just tender, about 10 – 12 minutes. They should yield to the pressure of a sharp knife tip but not be falling apart.
  • Drain the potatoes; let them cool out of the pot (just put them on the counter) for 20 minutes, then refrigerate until cold (at least 1 hour). When potatoes are cold, grate them with a box grater. Toss the grated potato with the salt and pepper. Potatoes can be made ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated.
  • While potatoes are cooling, make the gravy by melting the butter in a small pot placed over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the beef broth a few tablespoons at a time and keep whisking till you have a smooth liquid. Don’t worry if you end up with a few lumps; you can always strain the gravy before serving.
  • When ready to cook the potato pancakes, put about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of canola oil in a small bowl.
  • Preheat a griddle, panini press or large frying pan to medium-hot. When it is hot, dip a silicone brush in the canola oil and lightly grease the surface.
  • Preheat oven to 300F.
  • Scoop 1/4 cup (60 mL) portions of the potato mixture onto the hot cooking surface. The number of pancakes you can cook at one time depends upon the size of your cooking surface; don’t crowd them too much or they will be hard to flip, if necessary. Press down with a spatula then use the brush to lightly grease the tops of the potato pancakes.
  • Cook approximately 6 minutes per side. If using a panini press, close the lid after greasing the tops of the pancakes and start checking after 6 minutes – you want both sides to be golden and crispy.
  • Transfer cooked potato pancakes to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven while you cook the remaining pancakes. Pancakes can also be cooked ahead of time, refrigerated, and warmed in a 350F oven till hot.
  • Transfer pancakes to serving plates and top each with 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of cheese curds and a drizzle of gravy. Garnish with parsley or chopped green onions. Leftover gravy, if any, can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 6 months.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4 – 6.

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