Countdown to Thanksgiving 3

Tim Lammers, a delightful anchorman at Fox News in Hartford, was very skeptical when I told him we were making mashed potatoes with turnips for the show last week. Turnips, as vegetables go, are not very pretty in their raw form, and many people put in them in the same category as Brussels sprouts (which we will be making later in the week as well!) He was surprised and delighted at just how delicious the potatoes tasted. As a bonus, we also prepared a roasted pear puree, which adds a lovely sweetness to mashed potatoes and cut the richness of the Thanksgiving meal. Here are all the recipes we made.

 

 

FINALPotatoes

 

 

Question of the day: What are your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes?

 

 

Mashed Potatoes and Turnips with Roasted Pear Puree

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 ripe bosc pears, peeled, quartered, cored
  • 1 basic mashed potato recipe (see below)
  • 1 pound turnips peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine honey, lemon juice, melted butter and pears in medium size bowl. Toss to coat evenly.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and place pear mixture in a baking dish so that all the fruit is in one layer.
  4. Roast pears for 30 minutes and then toss the pears in the juices.
  5. Continue roasting for about 30 minutes until the pears are very tender (this will vary depending on how ripe the pears are).
  6. Transfer pears with liquid to a food processor and puree until smooth or puree directly in the dish with an immersion blender. Set aside. (Pear puree can actually be made up to 2 days ahead).
  7. In the meantime, prepare basic mashed potato recipe. (See next recipe)
  8. Place turnips in a separate pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain.
  9. Puree turnips until smooth and combine with mashed potatoes.
  10. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Re-warm pear puree and serve together by placing the potato mixture in a serving bowl and swirling in the pear puree. Alternatively, serve separately, and let your guests determine how much puree they would like.

Basic Mashed Potatoes

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds russet potatoes peeled 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon or more of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. You want to make sure the potatoes are the same size so they cook evenly.
  2. Place the potatoes in cold water, bring to a boil, and then salt the water (the water should taste like the ocean in order for the potatoes to be properly seasoned). (Water should always be salted once the water is boiling. Otherwise, the salt will sink to the bottom and stick to the bottom of the pot.) Lower the temperature to a simmer and cook until a fork easily goes through the potatoes, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.
  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and “dry mash” without the milk or butter for 2 minutes over a low flame.
  4. Add the butter and gently mix into the potatoes without mashing (you don’t want to over mash the potatoes or they will be gluey).
  5. Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan and warm milk.
  6. Gradually add warm milk and cream to the pot and mix thoroughly.
  7. Add pepper and additional salt to taste. Mash potatoes until smooth or coarse, your preference.

Cozy Spuds for Chilly Days

One of the best things in life is when you get to try brand new dish or ingredient you didn’t even know existed. I was driving Gabrielle back to school for the fall semester (actually it was our second trip the week after labor day because Gabrielle can never fit all of her stuff in the Honda Odyssey in one trip!) and we decided to have a leisurely lunch in New York before saying goodbye. We set very simple but specific parameters for the meal. The restaurant had to be cozy and unpretentious. We didn’t care if it was famous at all, but it had to serve real food. So Gabrielle put our conditions into the magical search known as Google and out popped Petit Abeille. This tiny restaurant seats only about 20 people and it was a bit gritty and cramped, but the aroma of onions and fried things from the open kitchen made us feel like we were in our own kitchen. It smelled like home cooking, a rarity I’m afraid for most restaurants.

 

Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

There were many great things on the menu, including lot of offerings featuring real Belgian waffles, including one with fried chicken, which we naturally ordered.

 

Fried Chicken to Accompany Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

There were the usual omelet brunch yummies as well, but our eyes were especially drawn to the chalkboard, which explained a food we had never even kind of heard of.

 

Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

We ordered a second fried chicken with stoemp and it was heaven. I love fried chicken sometimes more than life, but I practically ignored my chicken and just inhaled the potatoes. What a brilliant idea and a damn nearly perfect fall food. You have potatoes, cream, butter, and root vegetables all working together to create a cozy rich feeling in your mouth and tummy. And the potatoes were properly salted too! Go Petit Abeille!

 

Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

Stoemp is a richer version of a similar dish from the Netherlands called Stamppot, which also consists of mashed potatoes, other vegetables (especially root ones), cream, butter bacon, onions or shallots, herbs and spices. You can use any combination of dairy fat, onions/shallots and vegetables you like, but I decided to use two vegetables – kale and spinach – that I don’t really love because I figured all the cream and butter and bacon would more than offset bitter or “good for you” taste from the vegetables.

 

Stoemp – Belgian Mashed Potatoes with Bacon, Spinach, Caramelized Onions and SO. MUCH. BUTTER. | The Road Home

 

I couldn’t wait to get home to work on my own version of stoemp, which was good the first time around, but needed more butter, bacon and cream. What doesn’t, really? Here’s my final version, with an added bonus. Most people don’t know this, but there is actually a science to making mashed potatoes. This recipe shows you how to make proper mashed spuds. Russet, Idaho and Yukon make the best mash because they are not waxy and are less likely to lump together. Here, we use russets because I think they yield the tastiest and smoothest mashed potato. You should also dry mash your potatoes first and coat them with some fat (usually butter) before adding milk and cream. It keeps the potatoes from getting gluey and weird as long as you don’t over mash and can live with some lumps.

 

 

Stoemp – Road Home Style

From: Heide Lang

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 strips bacon (local, if possible)
  • 1 large onion or two medium onions coarsely chopped
  • 4 pounds russet potatoes peeled
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 cup chopped fresh kale*
  • 1 teaspoon or more of salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a medium size saucepan and add the bacon. Cook until crisp over medium heat.
  2. Remove bacon from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.
  3. Crumble the bacon with your fingers when cool, and set aside.
  4. Drain all but 3 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan.
  5. Add the onions to the bacon fat and cook until they are brown and have caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  6. Add the kale and spinach to the onions and continue cooking until the vegetables are soft, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. You want to make sure the potatoes are the same size so they cook evenly.
  8. Place the potatoes in salted cold water* and bring to a boil. Lower temperature to a simmer and cook until a fork easily goes through the potatoes, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the potato.
  9. Drain the potatoes in a colander and “dry mash” without the milk or butter for two minutes over a low flame.
  10. Add the butter and gently mix into the potatoes without mashing (you don’t want to over mash the potatoes or they will be gluey).
  11. Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan and warm milk.
  12. Gradually add warm milk and cream to the pot and mix thoroughly.
  13. Mash potatoes until smooth or coarse, your preference.
  14. Mix in the bacon, vegetable mixture, salt and pepper until combined well.
  15. Stoemp is best served fresh, but may be made several hours ahead of time.

* You may also add any other root vegetable or greens you like.

    ** Add enough salt so that the water tastes like the ocean. You can always add more salt to the dish once it is assembled, but potatoes like everything else tastes MUCH better when properly cooked with salt during the process instead of after the fact.

      Baked Potato Nachos

      I should note before I go on, that this is recipe is not just for lazy students – it’s a festive and delicious grownup lunch, too. I just feel like I have to explain where this recipe comes from, and the truth is that it comes from necessity. As every student knows, Sunday is perhaps the furthest thing possible from a day of rest. It’s actually the day you recover from the fact that you put off your homework all week and have to get it all done before class begins tomorrow. And of course when you’re doing all that cramming, you just get hungrier and hungrier and so you’re put in a difficult position: extreme hunger, and no time to cook.

       

       

      Baked Potato Nachos quick/easy/addictive lunch or study snack! | The Road Home

       

       

      I’ve weighed the benefits of many snacks, but few things cut it just right. Ice cream is cold, creamy and delicious but takes too much self control not eat the whole pint. Seaweed has almost no calories, but there’s only so much seaweed a person can eat. Ramen is quick and filling but… ew. I needed to find something delicious, something quick, something filling and most importantly something that would wake me up. And I found that in the Baked Potato Nacho. It takes no more than 30 seconds to melt Cheddar on a half a spud, top it with Crema Mexicana (I know, classy, right?) and sliced Jalapeños, which are spicy enough to remind you not to fall asleep.* Best of all there is no whole pack to eat, because you’d have to consciously go make another one, and you’d be too smart to go do that! And the sky is the limit in terms of what you can put on them – tomatoes, olives, salsa, tabasco sauce, chipotle mayo or ground beef if you have time on your hands. Next time you’re desperate for a quick lunch check these out – they’re ever so… wait for it… appeeling! (Sorry).

       

      *30 seconds if you already have a baked potato. If you don’t, you will have to wait for one.

       

       

      How about you – what are (or were) your favorite study snacks? Let me know in the comments below!

      Baked Potato Nachos

      Ingredients:

      • 1 baked potato*/**
      • 2-3 oz Cheddar cheese, grated or broken into small pieces
      • 2 dollops of crema Mexicana*** or sour cream
      • 8-10 slices hot pickled jalapeños

      Directions:

      1. Cut your potato in half, and sprinkle cheddar evenly over the top.
      2. Microwave for about 30 seconds.
      3. Top with crema/sour cream, and evenly distribute the jalapeños
      4. You’re done. If that felt too easy, that’s because it was.

      (31) Crazy Nights

      The holidays are a busy time for everyone. So, since I was off in the city taking finals and everyone else was so caught up with, well, Christmas preparations, it’s easy to see how an eight-day holiday might be celebrated on the 31st rather than the 1st. To be honest, we did light the candles. And we said a prayer over them. And Francesca explained the importance of the Shammash (it’s a big helper, just like her) as Isabella blasted Candlelight. But I had an English final to write, and so we were forced to neglect the most important part of the Hanukkah celebrations. The potatoes sat lonely and unpeeled, the oil remained in its container, and there was no mess on the stove or the microplane. Yes, our grand Potato Pancake Plans had been foiled by the cruel march of time. It was a real snub to half my heritage.

      That night as I nestled all snug in my bed, visions of latkes danced in my head. And over the following weeks I couldn’t shake the sad feeling that something was missing from my December. The potatoes were calling to me. Honestly.

      .

      I need therapy.

      .

      But when New Years Eve finally rolled around and mommy was planning a menu for our quiet New Years evening of Munchies and Mad Men, I seized my opportunity. “Yes, of course I’ll grate the potatoes, Mommy!” I promised. “I’ll do the whole thing myself!” And so she agreed. Because I said I’d do it.

      .

      In my head I was a bit terrified. Grating is so labor intensive, and I have a slight fear of deep frying. But with the strength of the Maccabees behind me (they certainly didn’t have microplanes…) I charged on. And to my surprise and delight, it wasn’t that hard!

      .

      You do have to grate the potatoes on this setting.

      .

      And you’re *supposed* to grate the onions on this setting…

      .

      But you could also just put them in one of these…

      .

      And go until they look like this…

      .

      And so once you’re done with that, all you have to do is mix them with the potatoes, flour, egg and salt to get this beautiful batter.

      .

      And you get these heavenly Hanukkah (or rather New Years) miracles!

      .

      Obviously, you don’t have to be any part Jewish to fall in love with these. Pancakes this style are ubiquitous throughout Europe, and I like to think there’s nobody in this world who doesn’t love fried potatoes. They’re the finest form of simplicity, and they’re great all year round, particularly for celebrations. And yes they make a bit of a mess… but they’re entirely worth it.

      I hope you all had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Joyous New Year! We are so happy to have you all as readers, and we can’t wait to share even more with you in 2011.

       

      New Year Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

      From: Gabrielle Siegel, Adapted from Leah H. Leonard’s Jewish Cookery (1949)

      Ingredients:

      • 6 Medium Potatoes
      • 1 Medium Onion
      • 2 Eggs
      • 1/2 Cup Flour
      • 1 Teaspoon Salt
      • Vegetable oil

      Directions:

      1. Peel potatoes and grate into a large bowl.
      2. Squeeze out the liquid. This is very important. I speak from experience. Recent experience.
      3. Peel and finely grate the onion. Or just puree in an immersion blender.
      4. Add onion to potatoes, and mix in eggs, flour and salt, and stir to blend.
      5. Add enough oil to a wide, heavy frying pan to fully cover pancakes, and heat on high. Drop in a tiny bit of batter as the oil is heating. When the batter begins to sizzle, you know it’s hot enough.
      6. When oil is hot, lower stove temperature to medium-high, and drop in batter with a spoon to make pancakes approximately 1/2 inch thick, and 4 inches wide (give or take, it’s all a matter of personal preference)
      7. Fry, flipping every few minutes, until both sides are golden brown
      8. Lift out with spatula onto plate with paper towels on it. Pat dry and serve immediately.