I kind of like the idea of being called ‘saucy and sweet’. Better than ‘cranky and bitter’.
Well these potatoes are neither cranky n or bitter.
It is a fabulous dish to have even if its summer and too hot to bake. Hubby picked out the apple bits at the end because he said it tasted like apple pie and, being gluten free, that was something he really didn’t have any more.
It’s so easy, you don’t really need a recipe per say.
While everyone in my family enjoys eating fish, I would not say I am very good at cooking it. I prefer having it at restaurants. Maybe because we can all get the kind we like. To me halibut is bland, but my husband lives and dies by halibut. I love the flavor in salmon, but he raises his upper lip at it.
So I season the fish, whatever it is, grill it, usually on the stove top grill pan and we eat it. Mah…
But, season it, grill it and add mango avocado salsa and voila! Suddenly we are dancing the cha-cha and there is confetti in the air!
This is such an easy salsa, and even though it IS called a ‘salsa’, there is no heat in it, just wonderful fresh flavors. In fact, skip the fish and just give me a bowl of this salsa!
I will give you the salsa recipe, then a wonderful orange salad dressing recipe from the 2008 Season Best from the Pampered Chef, a great standby dressing with no sugar (I used a dab of honey) and no oil specifically, unless you count the mayo. And then I will show you my planked fish…
MANGO AND AVOCADO SALSA
1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 avocado, the same
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1/4 red onion, chopped fine.
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
Just dice up the fruits and set aside. In a bowl, whisk the lime juice, honey and salt. Add everything together, including the cilantro and that-is-it! Scoop it onto your plate and love it!
One variation was to used mango and peaches. I thought I might try mango, peaches and avocados, because we all know avocados make everything better.
I was digging around the barbecue, looking for this screen I thought we had for grilling fish, so the little devils wouldn’t fall through the grate. Guess what I found? Cedar planks!? I had no idea! Brand new.
So I got them out, soaked them for, well, all day, and used them to cook the fish.
I actually deboned the salmon so badly that I cooked the bones on a plank as well and scraped the fish off the bones after.
I have never had planked fish. Turns out I was missing something! It came out so moist and delicious, I was once again dancing the cha-cha.
I just laid out the fish on the planks of cedar. (After soaking for at least an hour.)
I preheated the barbecue with 2 of the 3 burners. When hot, I turned off one burner so just one was going and lay the planks out on the non-burner side. I was not aiming to start a bonfire or anything. Then I close the lid and kept one eye out on them.They looked strange, getting little puddles of fish juice on top. The Sea Bass did not turn dry and white like I expected, but moist and barely opaque. The salmon did not get as dry and dark either, but had a light, moist texture.
In other words, they were delicious!
Here is the recipe for the orange salad dressing, especially yummy with manderine oranges in the salad, and of course, avocado because…what? (“avocados make everything better”). I will give you the recipe as it is written, not as I made it, as I did not have stone ground mustard and did not add the sugar, but like I said, a small drizzle of honey.
There is a big, white, heavy cookbook called “the Silver Spoon” originally made in Italian for Italian mamas and was supposed to be a classic, along the lines of “The Betty Crocker Cookbook” or “The Fannie Farmer Cookbook” or “The Joy of Cooking” on this side of the pond. When it was finally translated into English, my husband bought me a copy assuring me that all the real Italian mamas had a dog-eared, wine stained copy of this on their shelves, along with a huge crucifix in each bedroom and an Alfa Romeo in each garage. (Although I suspect they are actually little dinky Fiats or even dinkier Smart Cars. Lets hope the Smart Cars are smarter than my supposed ‘Smart’ phone or I feel very sorry for them cause my phone is crap.)
Hobbes here must have partied hearty last night because he slept most of the day away.
I was trying to come up with yet another way to use some of these fresh tomatoes that are currently coming out my ears. I freeze lots of them for future sauce, but the little yellow ones I would rather use fresh. Seems kind of silly to freeze a billion little tiny yellow tomatoes. Maybe I could make yellow pico de gallo? Or yellow salsa and can it?
Anyway, I needed a side dish last night, so after looking at a few recipes, I pooled together what I had to make this pasta side dish with fresh tomatoes, as well as basil and parsley I had in the garden.The picture isn’t the best and I figure I was lucky to get even one out of it, we were so busy digging in. I had put a chicken on the rotisserie (one of my favorite summer appliances) and then sautéed some spinach with garlic, which takes all of 2 minutes-DONE! Continue reading “Fresh Tomato Pasta”→
Also called “Potatoes on the half shell” by some folk. Not me. But some.
These are not just ordinary. They are ‘nifty’ and I will tell you why.
In a minute.
First, do you not love twice baked potatoes? I have never met anyone who did not just love them. I have seen them for sale, wrapped up in cellophane in a deli’s window case. They are notoriously wonderful. Not just your everyday mashed potatoes. Those tend to be more watery. Not plain baked potatoes either, not that those are bad.
No, these are baked potatoes mashed with plenty good stuff. Oh, like milk and salt and pepper.
And bacon bits.
And green onions.
And sour cream.
Or cream cheese.
Or cheddar cheese. Definitely topped with some kind of cheese.
Anyway, all this came about because I got a Pampered Chef box in the mail today. Whoo-hoo! Love getting boxes from them. And these were free products from our new spring line that I had earned by just having 2 parties in Dec. (Who says I just had 2?) Thank you all my hosts! You are the bees knees!
Well, these spring products are not to be revealed until March, but I am going to give you a sneak peek at one nifty item that worked amazingly well. I think we bonded and are going to be great friends after this.
It’s just a little thing too. Its called a ‘Scoop Loop’ and I am afraid you cannot get it just yet. But soon my friends, soon.
Back to potatoes. Easy stuff this. Just bake your potatoes like usual. Depending on the size of your potato and if you microwave it or bake it. I suggest baking until you can squeeze it from the outside, with a good potholder of course, and it gives nicely. Then set it aside to cool, just a bit.
Now I usually lay the potato out the long way and slice some off the top, then scoop out the filling of dry fluffy potato and put it into a bowl.
But I went to dinner at a friend’s house and her potatoes were lined up like a bouquet in a baking pot. I loved it and decided to do mine likewise. (Although I think hers turned out prettier, my guys didn’t care a fig. They just dug in and wanted to eat them.)
This is what makes these so nifty. This and the cool tool I am using.
So I cut the potato in half, right through its belt line. Mr potato head! Then I scoop out the fluffy innards with this nifty new tool. Wow!
So easy. So clean. It just pulled out the potato in seconds. No, nanoseconds. Cleaned it out perfect. Into the pot went the potatoes. Then the salt, pepper, milk, sour cream, bacon bits, green onions, some cheddar. I think that’s it. But why stop there. You could put in um, bell pepper? Or ham? Roasted garlic? Or if you are in San Francisco you might put in chopped kale? Or roasted eggplant. I wouldn’t. But people from San Francisco might.
The point is, the potato is a blank canvas upon which you can add your favorite things. Or go easy with chicken broth instead of dairy. Or go wicked with blue cheese. Parmesan anyone? Black beans? But please, no quinoa. I have to draw the line somewhere.
Mash up the potato with all the goods, then spoon it back into the waiting potato shells. Top with more cheese and pop back into the oven until hot through and melty.
I decided to use my deep covered baker because I knew it would be deep enough and the lid would come in handy to keep the whole thing warm. Thats the beauty of stoneware. It keeps your food warm and fresh. I tucked a crushed piece of parchment in there to hold the little beauties up while they heated.
That way I can roast the asparagus in a hotter oven while I get the rest of dinner ready, and I know they won’t get cold.
It is St. Valentines day after all and I want dinner to be extra nice. I DO NOT want to go out to dinner on 1) a Friday night and 2) Valentines night. I will leave that to the young daters and proposers. We can go out to dinner another night and pretend. Besides, hubby has had a busy week and I am just getting back on my feet too.
So, where was I. Oh yeah. Potatoes and stuff. Like Chocolate chip cookies with walnut cookies for dessert. It was going to be chocolate cake, but after the cookies, I thought, just how many sweets do we need around here? (Okay, more…) Besides, I wanted to sit on the sofa and watch “While you were sleeping” with Sandra Bullock before she went into space and got bombarded with space debris! Yikes.
If you really do want to see this nifty new tool and the other new spring products in a sneak preview, there is only one way. We, some other consultants and I, are having a taste testing open house on Monday the 24 of Feb. We are making new recipes from the new Seasons Best and are inviting some people to come do a taste test for us. There will be new products to play with, kitchen tools to practice with. (Ever want to play with the Ultimate Mandolin? And get it right? Or the non-cutting can opener? Or the manual food processor?) There will be prizes of course. But you must know the secret knock. So I guess you will have to contact me. Email or call or Facebook. Then I can fill you in on the details.
Bring a friend/hubby/daughter/sister/pal, whatever. Of course, I will be there and I am your friend. But bring someone to talk to in the car. Someone to watch your back while you go sneaking on thirds of that dip I am bringing.
And no, you cannot take home my Scoop-loop, as much as you will fall in love with it, just-no.
In an effort to stay away from the 3 bad ‘whites’; flour, sugar, rice, I have decided to make our fried rice tonight with brown rice. Now ideally, I would make the rice ahead of time and chill it. Maybe some day I will plan that far ahead. For now, not so much.
But I made this rice and it came out, again, wonderful. I got the idea from Skinnytaste.com. How I found it I have no idea. One link leads to another leads to another and before you know it, you are in a Rip Van Winkle time vortex and 10 years have gone by.
This is how I made about 4 cups of brown rice ready for any meal.
Easy Brown Rice
Yield:about 4 cups
Here is an easy and sure fire way to make brown rice for fried rice or any meal.
Rinse the rice. Put the rice and water in a pot with the salt. Bring to a boil. Don’t put a lid full on it or it will boil over.
Simmer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, drain the rice for 10 seconds, then put the rice and whatever moisture was left over back in the pot, put a lid on it and let it steam for another 20 minutes. Taste for doneness. Thats it!
(another recipe has you simmer for 30 minutes, drain, the steam for 10. The results are the same, oddly enough.)
Okay, maybe not technically to die for. Sticky Toffee Pudding cake is to die for. But this, as a side dish, is pretty lip smacking. And Trader Joes does most of the work.
Here I am, slowing trying to convert my typical American diet to a more nourishing old-fashioned diet. It takes time. I figure by the time I’m too old to remember my own name, I should be eating pretty darn healthy. In the meantime, its baby steps. (She said as she sips her cherry water. 75% water, 25% pure cherry juice. Good, I hear, for pains, like arthritis. Never mind that I don’t have arthritis. I think. What is my name again?)
I know there was more to this post when I wrote it in my head earlier, but with “Back to the Future” blasting in the background I just can’t find the thoughts.
So I will get right to the food.
I never would have picked this up. I am a list person. Put things on my list and try not to deviate.
Hubby is definitely not a list person. He is a ‘cruise every aisle’ person. At a recent trip to Trader Joes, he wandered the aisles and look what he brought back: From the freezer section, a box with a medley of brown and red rice and barley. Just plain rice and barley. Good for soups, stews, side dishes. It comes with 3 bags. Just to be careful I made one. ‘Made one’ really means just heating it up but I wanted to snazzy it up a little. Well, what do I have on hand?
A shallot. Yes, I could dice some of that up. Ohh, we just bought some bacon. So I could cook up a couple of slices, crumble it and saute the rice in the bacon fat. (Okay, so it’s a 99% healthy side dish.)
Bacon, shallots, more bacon. Okay, a little turmeric, just because it’s good for you even if it doesn’t contribute much taste. Dice up some celery and sauté with shallots. Let’s not forget garlic of course. And some garlic salt too. So that’s what I did and it turned out easy, quick and we practically licked the plate.
Here is a pretty basic recipe for fresh or frozen green beans. Not for canned. You know what you can do with canned green beans? Nothing. Toss them in the trash and don’t ever make the mistake of buying them again.
But otherwise, these make a healthy and tasty side dish. Green bean season is almost, if not already here. This picture might be from when we grew them last year. You should cut them into bite size pieces though.
Tasty Green Beans
A simple and tasty green bean side dish.
1 lbgreen beans,fresh or frozen. You can use more if you need.
Fry the bacon until just crisp. Take out of the pan and set on paper towel. Keep the bacon fat in the skillet.
If you are using fresh green beans: Boil some water in a saucepan, about 2 cups of water. Drop green beans in boiling water, put the lid on and simmer/steam about 5 minutes. You might do this while the bacon is cooking.
If you are using frozen green beans, just rinse them until thawed. Drain the water off.
Saute the diced shallot (or onion) in the bacon fat. Add the garlic for the last minute. Now add the green beans and saute for just a few minutes, until the beans are hot and crisp tender.
Crumble up the bacon and toss into the beans. Add some good salt like Himalayan pink salt or fresh ground garlic salt. Serve up!
The wonderful thing about Tiggers, is Tiggers are wonderful things…
Oh-oh. Thats not what I started typing. The wonderful thing about quesadillas. Thats what I meant. Quesadillas.
And by the way, for you gringos out there like me, you do not hear the L’s in this word. It is pronounced like a Y.
It sounds like ‘case-a-dee-ya’.
But however you say it, it is a very versatile and filling lunch, side dish or appetizer.
When the kids were just kidletts, a quesadilla was a flour tortilla, folded in half with cheese inside and heated on a griddle or skillet. It still is sometimes.
But now we more often than not, make a more grown up version of quesadillas.
This version you see pictured above is such a one. They can be filled with just about anything, as long as some cheese is put in their to ‘glue’ it all together. We use black beans, diced chicken, salsa, beef, onions, peppers…the sky’s the limit.
Then there is the toppings. (My favorite part). Guacamole, sour cream, more cheese, salsa…
I have made them for breakfast (in my endless quest to keep everyone off cold cereal, which, by the way, I think I have finally achieved.) Also for after school snacks, lunches or side dishes to a Mexican meal instead of bread.
By the by, when I was an older kid, one of my favorite snacks was a flour tortilla, warmed up, spread with butter and salt, rolled up and eaten. Now I might use a multigrain tortilla with butter from pasture raised cows*, but still simple and sweet.
Here is one recipe for you newbies to get you started. While there are measurements, do not take them to heart too much. Use more or less cheese, more or less beans, as you like it. I particularly love Costcos peach mango salsa.
Although I am using butter on this particular quesadilla, you dont have to. Just heat in the skillet until the cheese gets melty, then flip. The butter just lends a crispness to it (and of course, wonderful butter flavor.)
*Some Costco’s now sell Kerrigold butter, which is from Ireland and is from pasture raised cows milk. I can finally afford it!
Yield:1 quesadilla (1 Servings)
Here is just one way to make this easy snack/dish/appetizer
get all your fillings handy. Drain and rinse the beans, have shredded cheese in a bowl nearby, etc.
Butter one side of 2 tortillas. Get out a skillet big enough to handle the size of the tortillas and heat on medium low.
Put tortilla in the skillet, butter side down, like a grilled cheese sandwich. Put in some of the cheese, scatter the beans and meat, then more cheese. Lay the 2nd tortilla butter side up.
Using a spatula, carefully check the underside of the quesadilla. When it looks like it is browning, carefully flip it over. This may mean using 2 spatulas. Or just shoving the beans and meat that fall out back into the quesadilla.
When the other side has browned, slide it onto a plate or cutting board. Let cool one minute, then cut into 4ths. Top with more cheese, a dollop of sour cream, guacamole and salsa. Eat it up!
I don’t know about you but sometimes I just get a hankering for a big mound of fluffy white mashed potatoes on my plate slathered with butter. They can be garlic mashed, or oh-oh! potatoes on the half shell which are mashed baked potatoes stuffed back in their shells and baked again (stopping to wipe up drool here).
There are potatoes mashed with milk and butter and others mashed with buttermilk.
Then there are these radicals who mix them with mashed carrots or turnips or something.
Just last night I had to make some to top the shepherd’s pie with. (Only I cheated, since I am cooking outdoors and used a box of dried, so that doesn’t count. Shh, don’t tell anyone.) I usually use whole real undehydrated potatoes because the water they cook in is great to use as the water in your bread recipes. Second only to using potatoes themselves in your bread. But that is my secret ingredient so I can’t talk about that right now.
Then there is the whole “how to mash them” thing. Do you just smash them with a potato masher? Do you whip them up with an electric hand mixer or do you use a potato ricer?
I say yes to them all. Whatever works for you. Whatever tools you have. Take off your shoes and dance in them with your toesies if that is your secret to success. (I can just picture you picking white potato from between your toes, eww.)
In this post I will share some recipes and tips for great spuds.
First, the way my grannie made them:
First, use Russet potatoes, or Yukon Gold. Not reds or little whites. They have too little starch in them to make good mashed potatoes. (but those little ones are great for potato salad or boiled potatoes because they hold their shape so well.)
Peel the potatoes, how many is up to you, dice up into about 1″ cubes, put in a saucepan and cover with water. Add lots of salt, (unless you plan on using it for bread, then a little less) put a lid on it and cook on high heat until it starts to boil. After that, tip the lid to release steam and turn down the heat so it doesn’t boil up all over the stove. Cook until a fork goes into them easily. Drain the potatoes in a colander or just use the lid of the pot to hold back the potato bits while the wonderful bread water goes whooshing down the drain.
Add some more salt, butter, again depending on how many you made. Lets say I am cooking 4 medium potatoes. I might put in a half a cube of butter. Then add the whole milk, just some for now and start beating with a hand electric mixer. Add more milk as needed to get them fluffy and soft, but not swimming in milk. Be careful because you can’t take it out once its in there. Don’t overmix or it will get gluey.
Now scoop them into a serving bowl and away you go. Its simple, old-fashioned and would make the mashed potato police shudder at using a hand mixer. But there you go.
Peel, dice the potatoes. Cook in chicken broth or part broth/part water. Add some cloves of garlic.
When mixing, add a big blob of cream cheese with the butter and milk. Mix the cooked garlic cloves right in with the potatoes. This is extra wonderful company potatoes. You might want to warm the butter and milk before mixing in to keep things warm.
Yet another mashed potato recipe:
This one with buttermilk. It took years for me to get over the squeemishness of putting buttermilk in potatoes. I love it in pancakes. Adore it in crumbcakes. Swoon at the thought of buttermilk bread. But for some reason I was afraid if I put buttermilk in mashed potatoes I would end up throwing the whole batch away because no one would like it.
Ha! Shows just how much I know.
We all loved it and the boys didn’t even notice a difference. So set your fears aside. This is spectacularly rich, creamy and flavorful. You will not be throwing this into the trash (or feeding it to the chickens or pigs).
Lets say you cook up 2 lbs. of russets or Yukon Gold potatoes until tender, add 6 Tbsp of melted and cooled butter to 2/3 cup of room temp. buttermilk. The butter helps keep the buttermilk from curdling at the high heat of the potatoes. Mash the potatoes first, then fold in the liquids, season with salt and pepper.
What does Americas Test Kitchen have to say?
(besides giving us the above recipe in one of their 2005 Cooks Illustrated magazines)
After making gallons of mashed potatoes in every conceivable way (including, I bet, the stomping method)
here are their conclusions:
That’s the best way to get the tastiest and fluffiest mashed potatoes.
Steam them in a colander over a large pot, like a Dutch oven, that has boiling water in it.
So first, put some water into a large pot, just enough so you can set the colander in it without the potatoes being in the water, and bring to a boil while you peel and cut up the potatoes. Put the potatoes in the colander and rinse them in cold water. This rinses off the starch that might make them too dense.
Put the colander into the Dutch oven or large pot with the boiling water and put on a lid. With less water it is important not to let it all steam out. Turn the heat down a little to keep it at a slow boil. Check to make sure it does not boil away, or add more boiling water if it does. So steam on a medium high heat.
Now here is their trick: After 10 minutes, take the colander of potatoes out and rinse them off until they are cooled, about 1-2 minutes! Them put them back in the steamer pot and cook until they are tender, about 10-15 minutes more.
The idea is by not being in the water, they do not absorb too much water and take away the flavor of the potato. By rinsing, its gets rid of some of the starch while leaving enough to fluff up nicely.
They suggest a potato ricer or food mill, neither of which I have. (In spite of my gajillion tools). Then they stir in warm milk, melted butter and salt and pepper. I think I want to run out and pick up a potato ricer right this minute! They are not expensive, under $20 for perfectly good ones. Or of course as much as $30 if you so desire.
And now my favorite potato: Twice baked:
Bake your russet potatoes the usual way. I wash them, poke them with a fork a few times and put in a 375 oven for about an hour, squeezing it with my mitted hand to see if it is soft yet. If not, put in for a few more minutes.
Remove from oven and set on cutting board. Now there are 2 ways you can do this next step. Either cut the potato in half (which is why this recipe is also called “potatoes on the half shell”) or slice off a bit of the top so you can scoop out the hot potato.
Either way, scoop out the potato (carefully, don’t burn yourself) into a large mixing bowl. You will treat this much the same as mashed potatoes, except they have not absorbed any water and are very potato tasty.
I usually add butter, milk, sour cream, cooked and crumbled bacon bits, grated cheddar cheese, salt and pepper and some diced scallions. Mix this all up and carefully scoop back into the potato skins. Lay these skins on a baking sheet (I like to line it with parchment for easy clean up). Add a little more shredded cheese on top and pop back into an oven to melt the cheese and reheat the potatoes. Potato nirvana!
These can be made ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for later. They are great to pull out and heat up for lunch. Or leave out the bacon and it is a meal (with maybe a salad) for your meatless nights. (around here that means Fridays).
I have dug through my photos and cannot find a picture of any twice baked potatoes. So if you make some, send me a picture and I will re-post this article with your snap in it (and your credit of course). If you send me a notice in the comments section I can send you my email address. (unless it is around here somewhere or you already know it.)
So there you have it. Some know how on potatoes, both the way grannie made them and the way we make them today. Feel free to add your comments on how you make them if it differs. I know there are a million more potato recipes out there and I just don’t have the room or the time right now.