Showing posts with label potatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label potatoes. Show all posts

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fennel Potato Mash

My love affair with fennel continues!  Sometimes a new recipe occurs to me because I lack the ingredients for what I wanted to make.  Sometimes it’s because I am feeling lazy and one dish that provides both the starch and vegetable for our meal appeals.  And other times, inspiration strikes when a search through the vegetable bin in my refrigerator turns up an ingredient I had forgotten I’d bought.  This particular dish resulted from all three.  An occurrence I liken to the confluence of the stars.  Because the resultant dish was delicious and fresh.  I hope you like it too.

About 10oz or 285g potatoes
2 medium bulbs fennel
2 generous tablespoons butter (or more, to taste)
1 3/4 oz or 50g freshly grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
Sea salt
Black pepper
Trim the tough green stalks off of the fennel bulbs.  Discard the tough stalks and mince the fronds.  Set aside.

Cut the hard root end off of the bulbs and slice them vertically.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters.   I missed taking a photo of this step but I think you can handle it.

Put the potatoes and the sliced fennel into a pot of water with a teaspoon of salt and heat to boiling on the stove.   Cook until the fennel and potatoes are both fork tender.

Remove from the heat and drain off the water.  With a potato masher, mash the potatoes and fennel until they are as smooth as you normally like your mashed potatoes, adding in the butter and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon it all into a serving dish.   Mix the Parmesan with the minced fennel fronds and scatter the mixture on top of the mashed potatoes and fennel.

Isn’t that pretty?  And it tastes good too!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Smothered Pork Chops with Potatoes

We have a game in my family that my mother instigated.  (And now you’ll know what a food obsessed family I come from.)  It began as a way to pass time on road trips but now and again it comes up in different settings or if a new person wants to join the discussion.  It’s a simple question:  If you knew you were dying, let’s say you are on death row, what would your final meal request be?  The rules are few.  1.  Money is no object.  2.  It doesn’t have to be a full meal.  You want to eat just ice cream?  No problem.  And  3.  You can order whatever you want, in whatever quantities, as long as you don’t list everything you’ve ever liked.  Try to narrow it down in the interest of discussion.

The rest of us change our minds regularly but my mother always has the same answer:  Potatoes.  Creamed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, hash browns, baked potatoes, baby new potatoes with butter and green onions, home fries, you get the picture.  The woman likes potatoes.  The funny thing is, whenever I am home or she is visiting, she doesn’t ask for potatoes.  She asks me to make smothered pork chops.  I made these a while back, unfortunately when my mom wasn’t with me, but I thought of her the whole time.  Smothered pork chops?  Check.  POTATOES?  Check.  I think she’d love this.  Maybe even for a final meal.

As it happens, right now, I am on a two-week holiday with my lovely mother.  And since today is Mothers’ Day, I thought this would be an appropriate time to post this dish.

What would your mother choose for her final meal?  What would you choose?  Discuss.

Ingredients for two people – you and Mom?  Or this is easily doubled or trebled.
2 thick pork chops (and if you are cooking for my mother, the fat around the rim is essential)
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 large onion
5-6 medium new potatoes

If your pork chops have the rim of fat with skin on the outside, cut through this in several places to stop the chops from curling up as you cook them.  It’s really hard to brown a curled chop evenly.

Sprinkle your chops liberally with salt and pepper.

Drizzle a little olive oil in your very hot pan and brown the chops well on each side.  According to my photo details, that took about four minutes for each side.

Meanwhile, peel and slice your onion thinly.

After the chops are browned on both sides, cover them with the sliced onions and add in just enough water to come up the sides of the chops.

Cover and cook for about 45- 50 minutes, checking and turning occasionally and adding a little bit more water if the pan looks like it's drying out.

Pork chops are funny.  You can either cook them till they are just done and they’ll be moist.  Or you can cook the bejezus out of them and they will be moist.  Anything in between and you will need a lot of gravy because the meat will be dry.  Smothering falls under method number two.  I thought it was a common term and way of cooking but I just looked it up and several sites, including Wikipedia,  say it is a Cajun or Creole method.  So I come by it honestly.  I thought everyone’s grandmother smothered everything. Who knew?

Now you can slice your potatoes (about 1/4 inch or 1/2 centimeter thick) and add them to the pan in an even layer.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and put the lid back on.

Cook until the potatoes are fork tender and the pork chops get a little sticky underneath but be careful not to let them burn.  You can add a little more water if you need to.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve along side some steamed vegetables or salad.


And Happy Mothers’ Day to you and/or your mother!

If I don’t answer comments right away, please know that I am still delighted when you leave them and will respond as soon as I have internet access again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Loaded Baked Potato Muffins #MuffinMonday

Imagine a loaded baked potato full of sharp cheddar and crispy bacon bits and sour cream and onion tops.  In a muffin.  No kidding.  I think this is my favorite muffin so far.  Have I said that before?  Probably.  But this time I really, really mean it.  I ate two back to back, standing at the kitchen counter.  And then I had to go sit down and clutch my chest.  So rich, so good.  Serve them with a salad and call them lunch.  Or dinner.  But make these muffins.

6 slices bacon
230g or 8 oz potato
Sea salt
Black pepper
Handful green onions
8 oz or 225g extra sharp cheddar
1 1/2 cups or 190g flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup or 180ml milk
1/2 cup or 120ml sour cream
1 egg
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil

Fry your bacon until it is crispy.   Set on paper towels to drain.  I use a single piece of paper towel on top of newspaper.  Keeps the ink off the bacon and doesn't waste a bunch of paper towels.

If your potato is thin-skinned, by all means, leave the peel on, otherwise peel it.  Then cut it into small squares.

Fry the potato pieces in the bacon grease until fork tender and nicely golden on all sides.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and liberally grease your 12-cup muffin pan.

Chop your green onions and bacon into little pieces and grate your cheddar cheese.

Set aside a little of each to use for topping later.

In a large mixing bowl, combine your flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.

Add in the grated cheese, bacon bits and green onions.  Stir well.

Add in the cooled potatoes and stir again.

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk your egg, milk, sour cream and oil.

Fold your liquids into the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter between the prepared cups in the muffin pan.

Top each with some of the reserved cheddar, onion tops and bacon bits.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are lovely and golden.

Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes then remove to a wire rack to continue cooling.  You may need to run a knife around the edges if the cheese is sticking to the pan.

These are fabulous warm and almost as good cold!


I’m on a touring holiday right now with my mom so if I don’t answer comments right away, please know that I am still delighted when you leave them and will respond as soon as I have internet access again. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Soupe au Pistou #CookforJulia

Soupe au Pistou is a classic vegetable soup with a topping of tomato pesto from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

Julia Child’s first television show was aired in February 1963, just 19 days after yours truly made my world debut.  And yet, this woman has influenced me in tangible ways.  First off, I have learned that fear of failure has no place in the kitchen.  As Julia said, “In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  Even as medical professionals were saying to avoid butter and eat lower fat margarine, I held to Julia’s belief that butter was not evil.  (And we were vindicated!)  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

I have learned to enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, at least on weekends.  I have learned to wing it, as if cameras were rolling, if something doesn’t go the way it should while cooking.  I have learned that we learn best by doing.  A quote from the famous fallen potato pancake episode:  “The only way you learn to flip things is just to flip them!”  Also, "every woman should have a blowtorch."  I agree, Julia, and I do!  

I have learned that a cook should never deprecate her own food.  Accept compliments graciously.  And most importantly, share.  Share food, share skills, share recipes.  Thank you, Julia Child, for doing just that.  We have been blessed by your generosity.  Long may your legacy continue!

In honor of Julia’s 100th birthday, folks worldwide are cooking her recipes and PBS, where you can still see her shows, is celebrating one of its biggest stars.  Head over to their site and check out the recipes and cook one in honor of a great lady. 

I’ve chosen a recipe from Julia’s first and most famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (mine is the 1971 edition) - a lovely summery vegetable soup finished with a sharp garlic tomato pistou that I believe honors her love of fresh produce cooked into the ultimate comfort food.   Who doesn’t feel better after a bowl of soup?

For the soup:
Good drizzle olive oil for sautéing vegetables
6 oz or 170g onions
7 oz or 200g carrots
10 oz or 280g potatoes
1 tablespoon salt (I used 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder and 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt.)
7 oz or 200g fresh green beans
14 oz or 400g can cannellini beans
1 oz or 30g spaghetti or vermicelli.  (I used tagliatelle.  Because that’s what I had.)
1 slice stale white bread
A few good grinds of fresh black pepper
Pinch of saffron

For the pistou:
4 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (I actually used 1 tablespoon dried oregano.  Can’t seem to find fresh basil this time of year in Egypt and because I love the fresh stuff, I’ve never bought dried basil.)
1 oz or 30g Parmesan cheese plus more for serving, if desired
1/4 cup or 60ml fruity olive oil

Peel your onions and dice them finely.  Drizzle a little olive oil in pot big enough to hold at least 5-quarts or 4.75 liters.  Put your onions in to sweat over a low heat while you peel and chop your carrots and potatoes.

Peel the carrots and cut them into small squares.  Pop them in the pot with the onions and give it a good stir.  Give the pot another drizzle of olive oil, if it looks dry. 

Peel the potatoes and cut them into small squares.  Add them to the onion pot and stir briefly.

Add in three quarts or just under three liters of water.  Season with the salt or the stock powder and salt, if desired.  Cook over a medium heat for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pistou.  Put your tomato paste into a mortar with your fresh or dried herb and four cloves of garlic.  Bash it about gently until the garlic is no longer visible.

Grate your Parmesan and add it to the mortar.  Mix thoroughly. 

Add enough olive oil to loosen it up a bit – about 1/4 cup or 60ml.   Set this aside.

Top and tail your green beans and cut them into short lengths.  Crush your pasta of choice into small pieces as well.

Crumble your stale bread slice or cut it into tiny pieces with a serrated knife and rinse your cannellini beans and leave in the colander to drain.  (Sorry - forgot to take a photo of the bread!)

When you are about 20 minutes from serving, add the green beans, cannellini beans and pasta to the pot.   Give it a good stir and let it cook for a few minutes.

Add the bread and stir.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  The bread will disintegrate and thicken the broth deliciously.  If it is too thick for your taste, add a little more water. 

Season with black pepper and the pinch of saffron.

Remove some of the broth with a ladle or measuring cup and add it into the tomato pistou.   Stir to loosen. 

Some green beans slipped in.  Not a big deal.  Just try to mix without mashing them. 

Reserve two or three teaspoons of pistou (for garnish when serving) and stir the rest of it into the soup.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if necessary.  The Parmesan may have added enough, but it is a good idea to check before serving.

Serve each bowl topped with a reserved 1/2 teaspoon of pistou and some extra grated Parmesan, if desired.   (At our house, extra Parmesan is compulsory.)

Enjoy!  Now give this a try or go to the PBS site and choose yourself a Julia recipe!  Or at the very least, open a bottle of wine and raise a toast.  To Julia!

You might be interested in these other Julia Child recipes I have made:

Rustic Potato Bread - because there is nothing more divine that the smell of bread baking and you can't beat this potato bread for a soft crumb and crunchy crust.  No bread pan required!

and Coq au Vin with Cornish Game Hens - Julia's classic French dish with little birds

and Cherry Clafoutis - Once again, a classic French dessert.  Cherries in a eggy batter, baked to fluffy perfection.