Tag Archives: potatoes

The Humble Baked Potato … Gets Dressed Up

The classic baked potato with sour cream and butter. Delicious. But it can be so much more.

Like twice baked potato skins. Which I’m going to make too. In the meantime, here are some other toppings for that baked potato.

Broccoli and Cheddar Baked Potato – A simple bechamel (white sauce) becomes a mornay sauce when you stir cheese into it. Sharp/old cheddar cheese adds a nice punch but you can use whatever kind you prefer. Microwave some broccoli florettes just until tender, chop them up coarsely and then stir them into your cheese sauce.

The result … like having a bowl of cream of broccoli and potato  soup but with a lot more substance. Makes a tasty side dish to a pork chop or a piece of roasted chicken.

Dress up a pan of baked potatoes with various toppings for game day.

Chili Baked Potato – chili con carne, sour cream, shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese, green onion

I was going to make and post each of the toppings below but I got distracted by other things so I’m sending this out into the LJ/blogging world. I may make and post pictures at some point … but I’m not making any promises.

Other Baked Potato Toppings

1. Pulled Pork – bbq sauce, shredded pulled pork, coleslaw, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions
2. Breakfast Sausage and Gravy – pork sausage gravy
3. Tex-Mex – spiced meat (ground beef or turkey) mixture, salsa, queso fresco (or paneer cheese)

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Leek Duo … from the Sublime to the Ridiculous

The first time I ever tasted leeks was in soup made from a packet of “Knorr Cream of Leek”. It was creamy and subtly flavoured and became my ‘standard’ of a leek soup. This soup surpasses that in flavour, nutrition and, time wise, it’s not bad either.

Cream of Leek and Potato Soup

I didn’t use any thickeners (cream, cornstarch or flour) to make this soup, other than the two diced potatoes. Although I was tempted to use bacon fat to sautee the 1/2 cup of diced onions, one clove of minced garlic and one large sliced leek, I decided to use 2 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper to highlight the subtle flavours of the leeks. I wish I had had some home made chicken stock, but I didn’t, so I used a tablespoon of low sodium “Better than Bouillon” to 4 cups of water, which isn’t bad at all. The thickness of the soup was perfect for me, but if you find that as your soup cools, it gets too thick, you can thin it out with some extra chicken stock, or even just some water, in a pinch. Check for seasoning before serving, in that case.

I often make pizza dough from scratch but, having a package or two of flatbreads or flour tortillas, in the freezer, is convenient for quick, last minute meals.

Shiso Pesto, Roasted Leek and Paneer Flatbread Pizza

I ran across some tasty pizza topping ideas using leeks in my recent web search and adapted them to what I had on hand so the leeks sauteed in white wine and cream became leftover roasted leeks with a base of shiso pesto, from the freezer. And, instead of goat cheese, I crumbled some home made paneer cheese, also from the freezer, over the leeks. A sprinkle of green onion for a fresh touch was added, about half way through the baking process and, before serving, grated Parmesan cheese was sprinkled over the top.

Basic Corn Chowder … Chicken/Turkey or Bacon Variations

Just a quick info dump for those who aren’t familiar with chowders. A chowder is a hearty potato based soup which is often thickened with a flour roux and/or milk or cream.

For healthier alternatives, a puree of corn kernels or potatoes may be a good substitute thickener. Mixed seafood, fish or clams are seen in some versions, and there’s nothing as tasty as a chicken or turkey chowder with a decidedly southwestern or Tex-Mex twist with the addition of diced green chiles or a prepared chile verde. Ham and potato chowders are a great choice for meat lovers while for vegetarians, a vegetable stock base and the addition of roasted corn, sweet red peppers and even mushrooms, satisfy.

NOTE: For other chowders I’ve made in the past, search the ‘soup’ tag in LJ and for ‘chowders’ in the search bar at the bottom of the page in WordPress.

I set aside three bbq roasted corn on the cob a while ago and, after cutting off the kernels, added the cobs to the pot along with a mix of  chicken and turkey carcasses and made a very flavourful stock for the base of this chowder.

Basic Corn Chowder – serves 6-8

1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 cups vegetable stock, flavoured with corn cobs (or 4 cups of vegetable stock and 2 cups of milk, half and half or whipping cream)
3 cups roasted corn kernels, cut off the cob
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced (optional)
3-4 medium, potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes
salt and pepper to taste, start with 1 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper and adjust at the end

Flour Slurry

2 tbsp flour and 1/4 cup of cold water

Combine the flour and water in a small jar with a lid and shake until you get a smooth mixture.

Making the Chowder

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, saute the diced onion in the vegetable oil until it’s translucent. Add the diced celery and continue sauteing for a few more minutes until the onion just begins to get some colour around the edges but does not brown.

Add the diced potatoes, stock, corn kernels, thyme and salt and pepper to the pot, cover with a lid and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the slurry to the pot and continue to simmer for at least 5 minutes until the chowder is thickened. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

Serve.

Chowder Variations: For a chicken/turkey version, use a chicken or mixed poultry stock and add the shredded meat of choice (1-2 cups) along with the potatoes.

For a bacon version, use bacon fat instead of vegetable oil to saute the onions. Add about 1/2 cup of chopped crispy bacon to the pot of chowder just before serving and stir in to distribute evenly. If you prefer your bacon crunchy, sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of the bacon over each bowl as a last minute garnish.

COOKING TIP: Soup can be thickened at the BEGINNING of the cooking process by making a roux of equal parts oil/butter and flour and then adding the liquid. During the cooking process, the soup gradually thickens so care must be taken to stir to the bottom of the soup pot in case the flour settles and scorches. Or, it may be thickened at the END by adding a slurry of flour and cold water, mixed or shaken together in a small jar until no lumps remain, to the pot of soup, and letting it cook together for another 5-10 minutes until thickened. Another way to thicken soup, at the end of the cooking process, is to combine equal amounts of flour and softened butter to form a kind of paste (beurre manie or ‘kneaded butter’) and then add lumps of this mixture to the soup, stirring well so it dissolves and gradually thickens the soup.

Eight cups of corn and turkey chowder for the freezer

Kolbaszos Rakott Krumpli or Hungarian Scalloped Potatoes (Repost)

I know I’m doing a lot of Hungarian recipes lately but it turns out my Yugoslav-Romanian mom cooked several dishes which have both Romanian and Hungarian versions. This Polish sausage, hard boiled egg and potato casserole dish is a re-post of one from the early days of my LiveJournal, because it’s unlikely that new visitors (to my blog, to be honest) are going to scroll back through the LJ posts and run across it.

Here’s a screen cap of one of the assembly pictures from that post cause the original pictures are ‘somewhere’ on one of my many archive cd/dvd disks. The raw potatoes sliced much more neatly than the cooked ones I used below.

So, here’s a slightly modified version of “Kolbaszos Rakott Krumpli” or Hungarian Scalloped Potatoes

And a quick and dirty Hungarian language lesson:

Kolbaszos – sausage ie kielbasa or kolbasz
Rakott – pleated or layered
Krumpli – potatoes

Not the prettiest of dishes but you’ll honestly want to finish the entire casserole by yourself. It’s the ultimate comfort dish for an Eastern European. Maybe it will become yours too.

Kolbaszos Rakott Krumpli or Hungarian Scalloped Potatoes – serves 4

4-6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced across
1/2-1 lb kielbasa (or Polish) sausage, skin removed and sliced thinly
4-6 medium potatoes, boiled in the skin until tender, then peeled, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
~1/2 cup sour cream and ~1/2 cup milk **
salt (1 tsp) and pepper (1/2 tsp), to taste

** You can reduce the milk quite a bit if you don’t want to POUR the sour cream, salt and pepper mixture over the casserole but prefer to spoon it over each potato layer for seasoning. Since, my mom used raw sliced potatoes which were cooked in the milk, she had to use enough milk to almost cover the potatoes.

Lightly oil a large casserole dish as the milk really sticks.

Stir together the milk and sour cream until you get a smooth mixture. Add the salt and pepper and mix in as well.

Place an even layer of the potato slices on the bottom of the casserole dish, then add a layer of the sausage and then hard boiled egg slices. Repeat ending with the last of the potato slices. Pour the seasoned milk and sour cream mixture over the potatoes.

Bake tightly covered at 350 deg F for 1 hr. Remove the lid and continue baking until the potatoes on top are golden brown. (I know I should have baked it for another 15 minutes for a better picture … but I just couldn’t wait to dig in.)

Serve with a green salad.

NOTES: Some Hungarians saute one large sliced red onion in oil or butter, cool and mix it in with the sour cream before adding both to the casserole.

You may sprinkle bread crumbs over the bottom of the casserole dish before adding the first layer of potatoes. Hungarian paprika mixed with a bit of sour cream may be spooned over the top before baking. Or another sprinkling of bread crumbs if you like a crunchy top.

Polish sausage can be replaced with any smoked cooked sausage. If I was using a fresh sausage though, I’d put them on top of the casserole so they could cook and render the fat down into the potatoes. If you can get hold of dried Hungarian sausages, spicy or mild, slice and use those instead.

Cherry Dumplings (Potato Dough)

There’s a lot of overlap between Romanian and Hungarian dishes, which we learned when my brother married a Hungarian girl. Like these these potato dough dumplings that may be filled with sour/sweet plums or cherries. I had a pound of sweet cherries in the freezer so that’s what I went with. I used the ingredients and technique I found in a recipe online but reduced the amount of butter used and rewrote the instructions.

Cherry Dumplings

Cherry Dumplings – makes 30-32

Hungarian – cseresznyes gomboc
Romanian – galuste cu cirese

Potato Dumpling Dough
1 kg all purpose potatoes
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
400 gm (2 1/3 cups) all purpose flour, divided
1 large egg (55-60 gm), beaten slightly
1 tsp (5 ml) salt

Filling
680 g pitted sweet cherries (90-96 cherries)

Sauce
70 g (1 cup) dried breadcrumbs
200 g (~ 1 cup) unsalted butter (use half or less)
3 tsp (15 ml) ground cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp (30 ml) white sugar

Icing sugar, to serve (optional)

Scrub potatoes and bring to the boil in a large pot of salted water. Reduce heat to low and cook covered for 1 hour or until tender. A steak knife inserted into the potatoes should go in easily. Drain the potatoes and cool slightly, then, peel.

For the best texture, pass the cooked potatoes through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl. Otherwise, just use a potato masher. Add 2 cups of the flour, the softened butter, salt and the beaten egg to the bowl and, with a fork or your hand, combine into a smooth mixture. Turn out onto a floured working surface and gently knead just until you get a soft dough, adding flour as needed. Don’t overwork/handle the dough or it will become tough.

Divide the dough in half and then each half into 15 or 16 portions to get 30-32 balls.

Working with one ball at a time, flatten a bit and place 3 cherries inside. Fold the dough up over the cherries to enclose them and re-roll into a ball. Place dumplings on a floured tray. (At this point, you can place the tray in the freezer and when firm, place into a freezer bag and freeze for 2-4 weeks. Boil from frozen.)

Working in batches of 5 or 6, drop the dumplings into a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 6 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Remove and place onto a large tray while making the sauce.

Melt the butter in a large frying or saute pan over high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook for a couple of minutes or until light golden. Add the dumplings, shaking the pan, for 2 minutes or until well coated.

Combine the cinnamon and sugar, spoon over the dumplings in the pan and shake again to distribute over the dumplings.

Serve 2 to 3 dumplings per person and dust with icing sugar.

NOTE: For the plum version, use one small pitted plum per dumpling. If the plums are large, cut them in half.

Cooking Doldrums

ETA: A link back to a basic flan recipe was added as it’s been years since I posted it and it’s SO easy to make.

There are days when I wake up with the energy to do some cooking but no idea WHAT I should cook. It’s often hard to choose among several options with the items on hand. Sometimes, it takes googling to find variations of recipes when certain items aren’t available. It’s even more challenging when I have lots of leftovers in the fridge that I can re-imagine so I don’t HAVE to cook.

Right now, I’ve got an entire cooked steak, flour tortillas, a couple of avocados, eggs, and salsa in the fridge and leftover refried beans and basmati rice in the freezer. I think breakfast/lunch/dinner may be something Tex-Mex inspired.

On the other hand, I also have leftover hollandaise sauce, roasted potato wedges, asparagus and onion rings in the fridge. And frozen English muffins.

And then there’s the container of white bean, pasta and sausage soup that I made a couple of days ago (the rest are in the freezer) that I should be eating.

Help me. 🙂

Here’s what some of the leftovers are from. That’s some of the hollandaise in the little ramekin. And that was the last of three little vanilla flan I made with the two yolks from making the ‘brutti ma buoni’.

The leftovers are half of what you see below

PS: It’s chilly in the house so turning the oven on to cook is a GOOD thing.

Ham, Potato and Corn Chowder, Chicken Breast Duo and Honeycomb

It’s fall time again and with the nip in the air, and my kitchen, I’m planning more substantial cooking projects that will warm me up.

Like this ham, potato and corn chowder I found on someone’s blog. The ingredients are similar to a previous soup I’ve posted, other than using a roux to thicken it up to the consistency of a chowder. You can add whipping or half and half cream if you want to add richness to the dish. And don’t mind the extra calories.

In the meantime, however, I thawed out the last of the boneless, skinless chicken breasts from my freezer (1 pound in total) and turned them into chicken and kale pesto spaghetti

… and a fast and tasty marinated Middle Eastern dish on skewers called chicken tawook.

Both are dishes I’ve made before so no recipes.

I recently got a late afternoon craving for something sweet and whipped up this variation on a peanut brittle. Honeycomb is a nut free toffee in which, similar to a brittle, baking soda is added to a caramelized sugar mixture. The sugar used and, most importantly, the amounts of baking soda added vary. The extra baking soda used in the honeycomb creates lots of bubbles resulting in a sponge-like texture that shatters in your mouth as your crunch down on it. I started with a brittle recipe but added an additional teaspoon of baking soda. Next time, I’ll make a traditional honeycomb with brown sugar and molasses in place of the white sugar and corn syrup I used.

NOTE: DO NOT disturb your molten sugar mixture once you’ve poured it out onto your buttered or greased baking pan in order to even it out. You’re flattening out all of those lovely bubbles if you do so.

Cauliflower Duo – Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” and Aloo Gobi

I’ve mentioned my vegi-phobia over the years, so I never thought that I’d make a post about THIS.

I remember my mom dipping cauliflower florettes into seasoned flour and then beaten egg before shallow frying them. I don’t know what they tasted like, cause I never tried them. I HAVE had steamed cauliflower as part of the ‘mixed veg’ on my plate in restaurants, but they were soggy and flavourless. Not exactly something I ever wanted to replicate at home. But I recently ran across a spicy hot ‘vegetarian’ version of Buffalo chicken wings made with cauliflower florettes and couldn’t resist trying it out. It’s just a bit fiddly to prepare but crunchy enough to appeal texturally and with enough spice to satisfy anyone who likes things ‘hot’ hot.

The original recipe had a batter for the cauliflower made up of seasoned flour, milk and water, baked, turned and then basted with a hot sauce/melted butter. In the reviews, someone suggested adding the hot sauce to the batter itself as a substitute for some of the liquid. So that’s what I did. Because the hot sauce is absorbed by the cauliflower, a little hot sauce goes a lot farther without any wasted. The heat sneaks up on you so you may not be aware of it until later. Just a word to the wise.

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” – appetizer with a blue cheese and ranch dressing dip

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” – serves 2 as a side dish

1/2 medium sized head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florettes (~400 gm, 4 cups)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping

Pre-heat your oven to 425-450 deg F depending on whether or not it runs hot.

Generously oil a baking sheet. Or, if you prefer to cut back on the fat, line the sheet with parchment paper.

Add salt, pepper and spices to the flour. Whisk in the hot sauce and water until you get a smooth batter. You may want to add a bit more water to thin the batter enough to coat the florettes evenly.

Spread the florettes evenly over the baking sheet, one layer thick, and bake for 20-25 min. Turn over each florette and bake for another 20-25 minutes.

Watch carefully as, at the higher temperature, that extra 5 minutes may result in burned bits.

Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Indian cooking is quite complex. There are regional and religious variations. And, of course, familial preferences. So, when I went searching for a recipe for this dish which combines potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi), there were endless versions.

The first version I looked at used what many consider the Indian ‘trinity’ of onion, garlic and ginger paste … which is often the base for a wet preparation or masala along with peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes. The second version omitted all three and focussed on toasted whole spices as well as the ground form to give the dish flavour … in what was usually a dry preparation.

Prior preparation of the vegetables also varied. Potatoes and/or the cauliflower were sometimes parboiled or steamed separately until tender before adding them to the saute pan. Personal preference and convenience may dictate the method used.

The recipe below is my novice attempt at aloo gobi along with some variations. If you have leftover steamed cauliflower or baked potatoes, you can save yourself some work and use them instead of cooking everything from scratch.

Quick Aloo Gobi

Quick Aloo Gobi (Potato with Cauliflower) – serves 4 as a side dish

1 lb (400 gm) potatoes
1 lb (400 gm) cauliflower florettes
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 chopped green chile pepper
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp chile powder**
1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
salt to taste
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves for garnish

** I used 1 tbsp mulato/chipotle pepper puree cause I had it around but you might want to just use ground red chile pepper.

NOTE: You can also use a paste made up of garlic (1-2 cloves), ginger (1 tbsp grated) and onion (1/2 medium size) as a base for this dish. For a wet dish, you might want to add a couple of peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes with their juices and a bit of water to make a sort of sauce that you can serve over basmati rice. For a heartier dish, peas and/or carrots may be added along with the cauliflower.

Par-boil the potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry the cumin and mustard seeds for several minutes, until they begin to burst. Add the green chile (plus garlic, ginger, onion paste and pepper puree, if using) and fry for a few more minutes until the oil starts seeping away from the paste. (You’re drying it out by doing this.)

Add the cauliflower florettes and fry, stirring, for 5 minutes. (I added about 1/4 cup of water and put the lid on at this point so the cauliflower would ‘steam’ cook and not burn.)

Add the potatoes, the ground spices and salt and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. You’ll probably need more salt than you think as the potatoes and cauliflower soak it up. (A splash of water will help dissolve the salt and help it get absorbed by the potatoes and cauliflower.) Taste both the vegetables.

Garnish the aloo gobi with coriander and serve with tomato and onion salad and pickle for an Indian menu.

Pine Nut Brittle and a Break

I  think I’m going to take a bit of a break … not sure how long though so I’ll leave you with a quick candy recipe post. This will give anyone reading a chance to catch up on earlier posts which they may have missed (hint) and give ME a chance to come up with some ideas for what to make during my two months of summer break.

POSSIBLE projects are mostly rehashes of things I haven’t made in ages … like cannoli shells, potstickers, pastas (I’ve been meaning to try a beet puree for colouring), yaki onigiri. (I may add more ideas here as they come to me. Right now I’m too hungry to think clearly.)

I had a brittle craving a while ago, but the only nuts in the house were pine nuts from my freezer, so that’s what I went with. Not cheap to make compared to something like a peanut brittle, but OH SO GOOD.

Pine Nut Brittle

A very simple basic brittle recipe using equal amounts by weight of sugar (100 g /1/2 cup sugar, 100 gm/1 cup pine nuts, 1 tsp butter, a pinch of baking soda, a pinch of sea salt and a few finely minced fresh rosemary leaves).

I made a second batch in which I doubled the sugar and halved the nuts. It was good too and more economical on the nuts if that’s a concern. Here’s a picture of the two versions for comparison. At least I could spread out the 2nd batch of brittle more thinly on the sheet.

Meal Round-up

Breakfast of sourdough starter pancakes topped with macerated strawberries and maple syrup, eggs over easy and LOTS of bacon.

Various chicken dishes: a disappointing chicken kebab recipe which was transformed into a chicken shawarma wrap, a couple of ways to serve leftover shredded chicken mole

Leftover pea-meal bacon roast, mac and cheese and peas … all from the freezer

Potato salad with hardboiled eggs with my home made blender mayonnaise.

Fun Cooking … Roasts/Sides, Puddings, Condiments etc

As my LJ says, “Cooking is Fun … Really”.

You can make big flashy dishes like a rosemary and garlic rubbed boneless lamb shoulder roast ($4.99/lb)  …

… with roast veggies.

Or this bbq sauce glazed peameal bacon (Canadian bacon) roast  ($2.99/lb) …

… with sauteed spinach/pine nuts, baked potatoes/sliced onion and roasted asparagus.

But you can also make simple things like this rich and creamy home made blender mayonnaise without any artificial ingredients, to use in your egg, potato or tuna salads. It’s also a great base for an aioli with the addition of roasted and pureed garlic.

Or, a basic home made pudding like a classic chocolate, which I’ve posted in the past. (I’m reposting the recipe for convenience.) Spike it with rum, bourbon, whiskey or Grand Marnier or Cointreau for a grown up version.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding – serves 4

2 cups milk
3-4 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar (can increase from 1/4 to 1/3 cup if desired)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp good quality cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Scald 1 1/2 cups of milk in a heavy saucepan (look for tiny bubbles around the edge).

Mix together the cornstarch, sugar, salt and cocoa, add the remaining 1/2 cup milk, and stir until well blended.

Stir in the scalded milk and blend well. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and stir constantly over medium heat until thickened. Let the pudding boil for one minute while stirring briskly. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

Stir in the vanilla, spoon into serving dishes.

And a butterscotch pudding variation.

Butterscotch Pudding Variation – serves 3

1 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp vanilla

Scald 3/4 cup milk.

In a saucepan, whisk together brown sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolk. Stir in 1/4 cup of cold milk until smooth.

Whisk in the warmed milk, very slowly. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook until thickened. Let the pudding boil for one minute while stirring briskly. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and let cool for a few minutes.

Whisk in the butter, a cube or two at a time until melted.

Whisk in the vanilla and then spoon into serving dishes.

Even a watermelon lemonade when your seedless watermelon turns out not to be as sweet as you hoped.

And remember that spaghetti meat sauce made with leftover odds and ends like green peppers and sauteed mushrooms? I tossed it with some large pasta shells. You can dress up the dish with grated Romano cheese or down with some leftover sweet and milky home made paneer (Indian farmer’s cheese).