potatoes

How Many Ways Can You Make Mashed Potatoes

I'm thinking mashed potatoes at the moment. Probably because Thanksgiving is coming. But really I don't need a holiday to think about this dish. I could eat mashed potatoes any time. Any day.

My mother used to make them using what she called "all-purpose" potatoes (or "Eastern" or "Maine"). She'd cook the spuds and use an old fashioned potato masher to get them smooth, then mix in the most fabulous goodies: butter, cream cheese or sour cream (sometimes both), milk and plenty of salt and pepper.

Life is good when you can eat like that.

Years later I read that many professional cooks prefer russet potatoes for mashing. I tried it, but frankly, my Mom's version is much better. So I stuck with all-purpose until Yukon Golds came along. Those make good mashed potatoes too, with the right texture and lots of flavor.

Still, there are other considerations when making mashed potatoes, besides the actual potatoes.

For example, maybe you don't want to include dairy ingredients. No problem. I've made awesome dairy-free mashed potatoes

Maybe you like a crust? Here's a recipe for you.

Other ingredients? Sure. You can mix in roasted garlic or spice the spuds up with horseradish, and lots more of course.

One of our family favorites was when my Mom mixed cooked spinach into the mashed potatoes. She called that "creamed spinach" and that's what I thought creamed spinach actually was until I got to college and discovered there weren't supposed to be potatoes in it. 

In Ireland, justifiably famous for its potato recipes, there's a dish called Colcannon (variation, Kailkenny), which is basically mashed potatoes mixed with cooked cabbage or kale. I'd say it's similar to my Mom's "creamed spinach." And it's just as good. It's also more colorful and pleasing to the eye than plain old mashed potatoes.

Colcannon, Kailkenny -- a terrific dish, especially as a side dish for your Thanksgiving turkey, vegetarian Thanksgiving or on some other day to accompany roasted salmon.

Colcannon/Kailkenny

  • 1 medium bunch kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 all-purpose or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk, approximately (dairy, soy or rice milk)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Wash the kale thoroughly, discarding any thick stems. Dry the leaves with paper towels or in a salad spinner. Chop the leaves coarsely. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the kale and stir to coat the leaves with the oil in the pan. Pour in the stock, cover the pan and cook, lifting the cover to stir the ingredients occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the kale has wilted. Remove the cover and cook for another minute or until the liquid in the pan has evaporated.

Cook the potatoes in a saucepan in lightly salted water for 15-20 minutes or until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a potato masher, fork or electric mixer or hand beater set on low speed. Add the butter or margarine in chunks and continue to mash until the mixture is free of lumps. Add the milk, salt, pepper and a few grindings of fresh nutmeg. Stir to distribute ingredients. Add more milk if you prefer a softer texture. Add the kale and stir it in.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

 

 

Ginormous Parsnips

We are a parsnip-eating family and I am always amazed when people say they've never tried one. Or that they once had a bite of one from some soup or other.

This is a vegetable that doesn't get its due.

It should.

Parsnips -- those white-ish, carrot-looking things -- are sweet. Kids and vegetable-haters of all kinds also usually like them (after you convince them to take a bite). 

And there is so much you can do with them. Make "fries." Roast them with garlic and herbs. Glaze them with Chermoula. Use it for soup

Slim parsnips make the best fries or other vegetable side dishes. But these ginormous ones can be woody. It's best to use them for soup or recipes that require longer cooking (and you'll have to remove the hard, inner core. Cut the parsnips in half, crosswise, then cut around the core; discard the core).

This Parsnip and Potato Puree can be dairy or dairy-free. It's a good choice for a vegetarian dinner or Meatless Monday dish. It's also a nice side dish for Thanksgiving dinner because it tastes good with turkey and other poultry.

Parsnip and Potato Puree

  • 1 pound parsnips, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 pound Yukon gold or all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 McIntosh or other crisp, tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk or unflavored soy milk, rice milk or coconut milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the parsnips and potatoes in lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes. Add the apples, lower the heat, and cook for another 5 minutes or until the parsnips and potatoes are tender. Drain the ingredients and return them to the pan. Add the butter and mash it into the other ingredients. Continue to mash, adding the milk gradually, until the ingredients form a smooth puree. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4–6 servings.

 

Crusted Mashed Potatoes

Prune or potato?  My mother, who was very funny, always said that when a woman gets old she becomes either a prune or a potato. You know, she gets thin, frail, fragile and wrinkled or, um, plump and not so frail or fragile (and not so wrinkled).  I like prunes. The dried plums and also some people I know who are senior citizens and slim, whom my mother would regard as prunes.  But potatoes! What can I say?! To me, there is nothing better than a potato, except maybe a cup of hot coffee, but that isn’t food.  Potato. Every kind, every way. That’s for me.   Women? Men? I don’t really care about their girth or lack thereof.  Give me a potato to eat and I’m happy.  Today, National Potato Lover’s Day, seems made for me, don’t you think?  I’m having potatoes with dinner.  These:      CRUSTED MASHED POTATOES      5 medium all-purpose potatoes such as Yukon Gold  1/4 cup olive oil  1 small onion, chopped  1 large clove garlic, chopped  3 tablespoons lemon juice  3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock  salt to taste  pinch or two of cayenne pepper  3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and cook them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until they are fork tender. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to brown. Set aside. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a ricer or potato masher until the lumps have disappeared. Add the vegetables and olive oil and stir them in gently. Stir in the lemon juice, stock, salt and the cayenne pepper. Place the mixture in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown.  Makes 6 servings   

Prune or potato?

My mother, who was very funny, always said that when a woman gets old she becomes either a prune or a potato. You know, she gets thin, frail, fragile and wrinkled or, um, plump and not so frail or fragile (and not so wrinkled).

I like prunes. The dried plums and also some people I know who are senior citizens and slim, whom my mother would regard as prunes.

But potatoes! What can I say?! To me, there is nothing better than a potato, except maybe a cup of hot coffee, but that isn’t food.

Potato. Every kind, every way. That’s for me. 

Women? Men? I don’t really care about their girth or lack thereof.

Give me a potato to eat and I’m happy.

Today, National Potato Lover’s Day, seems made for me, don’t you think?

I’m having potatoes with dinner.

These:

 

CRUSTED MASHED POTATOES

 

5 medium all-purpose potatoes such as Yukon Gold

1/4 cup olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock

salt to taste

pinch or two of cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and cook them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until they are fork tender. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to brown. Set aside. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a ricer or potato masher until the lumps have disappeared. Add the vegetables and olive oil and stir them in gently. Stir in the lemon juice, stock, salt and the cayenne pepper. Place the mixture in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown.

Makes 6 servings

 

Potato Latkes

What do you do when you have finished preparing potato latkes for a Hanukkah party and you’re sitting in your family room watching TV and your husband comes in with a handful of the latkes you just made and says “I’m taking a down payment on our Hanukkah party on Saturday night.”

And you’ve cleaned up the kitchen and everything and you thought you were done with latkes and the entire house smells from fried so you had to make a kitchen bouquet (1/4 cloves, 3 broken cinnamon sticks, tablespoon or so cardamom pods, orange peel, water) so that anyone who comes to the house even the next day (like the UPS delivery man or the guy who is coming to repair the oven) isn’t blasted with stale fried smell?

Why, you get up the next day and make more latkes. Otherwise there won’t be enough. Because I know what happens when people see potato latkes. You can’t eat just one.

And so I did.

These:

Potato Latkes

  • 4 large peeled baking potatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • vegetable oil for frying

 

Shred the potatoes in a food processor. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible (I put portions of the shreds in a kitchen towel and squeeze until they are practically dry). Place the shreds in a bowl. Immediately mix the eggs in (this helps keep the potatoes from browning). Add the potato starch, salt, pepper and baking powder. Heat about 1/4” vegetable oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Shape latkes by hand, squeezing liquid out if there is any, and place them in the hot oil, leaving space between each one so that they brown well and become crispy (if they are too close they will “steam” and become soggy). Press down on the latkes to keep them evenly shaped. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until the pancakes are golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Makes 12-15