potatoes

Hot Potato

Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to…

Did you know how healthy potatoes are? I’m not talking about diced, shredded and fried (although undeniably Delicious). I’m referring to the low-cal (about 110 calories in 1 medium) naturally gluten-free vegetable with more potassium than a banana, 45% of your daily intake of vitamin C, 10% of vitamin B6, zero fat, zero cholesterol that contains essential minerals like magnesium and zinc to mention a few. We all know the story: eat your potato while drinking a glass of milk and live forever! Or at least avoid scurvy. But seriously, with necessary blood aids like iron and much needed digestive assistance from fiber (of which sadly our diets are greatly deprived), it just might be what the doctor ordered. That is of course baked- to maintain the most nutrients. (Save the sticks of butter and cups of cream for special occasions 😉 ) And if I may, please make sure you buy organic- not crazy hi-bred weird GMO who knows what they are potatoes, because I can’t vouch for those.

Serves 4-6

2 1/2 pounds -about 10-12 medium Potatoes (Russet, Idaho, Golden, Red…)

1/4 cup Olive Oil

1-2 Tbsp Course Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375°. Wash, scrub and rinse the potatoes. Remove any eyes or blemishes that you don’t want to eat. Dry the potatoes completely with a towel. Brush on the olive oil (a little goes a long way) or get messy and use your hands to cover the skins. Generously sprinkle the potatoes with the course salt. (Do not be afraid of this- the Kosher course salt is not as “salty” as fine salt. If you are using regular table salt, go easier obviously… I trust your judgement.)

Place potatoes on a baking sheet. I like to cover the sheet with Silpat or parchment paper for easier clean-up. Bake for an hour (sometimes 15-20 minutes more if using large potatoes) until skin is crispy and inside of potato is tender. Eat just like this, or with a pat of butter and a little salt and pepper, or with a dollop of sour cream (or plain yogurt if you’re eating clean) or crumbled bacon if you’re feeling wild. I’ll stop. You know what you like.

For more information on the healthiness of potatoes along with recipe ideas check out potatogoodness.com or an interesting article on the health benefits at livescience.com.

Bangers and Smash

Simple rustic food is a mainstay in our home. As much as I love to delve into a new recipe with all of my mise en place, sometimes I need to be practical. But that doesn’t mean I have to skimp on fun or flavor! I’ve recently become a fan of “smashed” potatoes. They’re like a twice baked potato, without some of the hassle. You know I love to play; here’s my take on an English (British) classic.

Serves 6-8 people (and can easily be adjusted for size of crowd)

As organic as possible:

8 large Red skin potatoes

1/2 Tbsp salt

1/4 cup Garlic-infused olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp coarse Kosher or sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground Black pepper

1 Tbsp olive oil

8 chicken or veal sausages

Scrub and trim any blemishes off of the potatoes. Place in a large pot and cover with water, over by an inch or two. Add the 1/2 tablespoon of salt and bring to boil. Boil approximately 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.

In the mean time, preheat the oven to 375°. When potatoes are ready, using tongs or a slotted spoon remove the potatoes from the water and place on a baking sheet, spacing them out for room to grow. Use a flat bottomed glass (or the like) and smash the potatoes until spread out about an inch thick. Drizzle potatoes with garlic-infused olive oil evenly, sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper and Parmesan. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and starts to brown.

While potatoes are baking, in a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Place sausages in the skillet and cook about 15 minutes, flipping once about half way through. Serve with love to ladies and chaps alike.

 

Easy Peasy Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is such classic comfort food. It’s hearty, warm and flavorful. On a chilly day it’s like a beacon of cozy. There are many variations, and really you can layer on any vegetables you want. As far as I’m concerned there is really no wrong way… But if you know how to boil potatoes and want it easy, here you go!

As organic as possible:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup onion, diced (1 small onion)

2 lbs ground beef (we like 90/10 lean)

10 crackers, crushed (saltine style or butter)

2 1/2 tsp salt (divided)

1 tsp black pepper (divided)

2-3 Tbsp season salt

2 cans creamed corn

3 lbs potatoes red skin potatoes, washed, halved and quartered to boiling size (2″ or so). If you use another potato, no worries, just peel first.

1 cup heavy cream

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup milk (give or take)

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large pot cover potatoes with water and start boiling, cook until fork tender. In the meantime in a large skillet, warm oil on medium heat. When runny and hot add onion and let cook a minute or two. Add beef, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. (Side note: I’m a big fan of seasoning meat initially as it cooks, and again later… it’s tradition.) Cook until browned, drain and add season salt and crackers, toss around until evenly distributed. Taste for seasoning! It’s got to be good enough to eat on its own, salt and pepper as necessary. Then spoon meat mixture evenly on the bottom of a 13 x 9 casserole dish. Next cover meat mixture with creamed corn. (Another side note: if you are not a fan of creamed corn, don’t worry, it won’t taste like creamed corn.) Set aside.

Check potatoes for tenderness and drain when ready. Add butter and cream, mash. Add milk as necessary until desired (slightly spreadable) consistency. Add remaining salt and pepper. Taste! Season as needed to taste delicious on their own. Then layer on top of corn and meat mixture, spread evenly. If you’d like sprinkle lightly with a little of the season salt for color. Bake for 35 minutes, until potatoes just start to brown and dish is heated through. Serve lovingly.

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GG’s Beef Stew

This is a family heirloom. My mother has memories of her grandma making this stew. She tells me, and now my children, almost every time we eat it, “I used to smell this stew when I would get off the bus. Grandma would have the windows open and I knew… And I would run to the house. We would eat it with buttered bread and a big glass of milk.” So I can think of no better introduction or suggestion. We always make it in big batches, so I tried to break it down into a 1 pot portion. (And therefore can be easily doubled… or quadrupled.) It’s a hearty stew and we have always enjoyed the rustic (large) bites of meat and veggies. I hope you do too!

As organic as possible (my addition)

2 – 2 1/2 lbs chuck roast (stew meat), trimmed and cut into 1″ (or so) cubes

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 lbs Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ (or so) cubes

1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ (or so) pieces

3-4 celery stalks, cut into about 1″ (or so) pieces

2-3 large onions, peeled and quartered

2 large cans whole stewed tomatoes, halved and quartered in the can with a knife (it’s tradition)

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp salt, to taste

1 tsp black pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp sugar

1 stick butter

Place meat in a pot (dutch oven) with about 1 1/2 quarts of salted and peppered water. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Allow to simmer until tender, about 30-45 minutes, depending on cut. Skim off and discard the froth. Throw everything (except sugar and butter) into the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, add butter and sugar. Simmer until veggies are tender, about 45 mins to an hour (if you can wait that long). Salt and pepper to taste.

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Open your windows to let out the aroma, and serve with buttered white bread and milk- optional, but highly recommended.

The Chef’s Potato Salad

Almost everyone I know grew up eating potato salad. It’s has to be as American (or German) as BBQ’s and potlucks. The recipe for potato salad is as diverse as the individual making it. Grainy mustard? Boiled eggs? Bacon? Red skin, yellow or Idaho? This recipe from the chef is cool, creamy and delicious! If you want a perfect side dish at your next gathering, here it is.

4 lbs Potatoes (your choice!), peeled, boiled (tender but firm) and chopped into spoonful size pieces
1 ½ Medium onions, diced
3 Celery stalks, diced
5 boiled eggs, roughly chopped
2 cups Mayonnaise
½ cup Miracle Whip
2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp Salt
1 ½ tsp Pepper

Place potatoes, onions, celery stalks, and eggs in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combing mayo, Miracle Whip (for a little tang!), vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour the mayo dressing on top of the chopped foods and gently toss until all is coated. Place in the refrigerator and allow flavors to combine for at least a few hours and preferably overnight. Taste for seasonings and serve chilled.