Potato Gnocchi

January 22, 2009

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Potato dough is surprisingly easy to stir together … and gnocchi are the perfect cold weather comfort food. Serve these with everything from marinara sauce to pesto to fine olive oil and feta.

1 pound new potatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (2 ounces/50 grams)
1 tablespoon corn meal
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup tomato-basil sauce
grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley for garnish

In a saucepan or stockpot, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, cool, and peel the potatoes and put through a ricer on the smallest disk. Add the egg, flour, cornmeal, and oil and stir with a pastry fork until mixture forms a ball. Turn onto a floured surface and with a bench knife cut into quarters. Roll each quarter into a snake 1/2-inch in diameter. Cut into half-inch disks. In a large stockpot or chef’s pan, bring to a boil 3 quarts of salted water. One by one, drop the gnocchi into the water. When all rise to the top, skim them off and place in a warm bowl. Toss immediately with tomato sauce and serve sprinkled with Parmesan and parsley.
Makes 2 to 3 servings.

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Potato Cabbage Gratin

January 2, 2009

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Here’s a great way to warm your family on a cold winter’s night … It’s also easy to make. You can steam the cabbage while you simmer the potatoes. Buy a firm, fresh head and sprinkle it with lemon juice before you steam it to avoid the cabbage smell.

1 pound waxy potatoes (4 medium)
1 1/2 pounds cabbage (1 1/2 head)
juice of 1 lemon
1 pound onions (2 medium large)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 ounces log chèvre
4 ounces water
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unseasoned breadcrumbs, divided
grated whole nutmeg to taste
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

In the bottom of a 3- or 4-quart steamer pan, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Slice the cabbage into 2-inch wedges, place in the steamer basket and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes for the cabbage, 20 to 25 minutes for the potatoes. Drain, cool, and roughly chop each and set aside.

Slice the onions, thinly. In a large chef’s pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and add the onions. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and sweat until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a shallow 1 1/2-quart gratin and set aside.

In a small saucier over extremely low heat, combine the chèvre, water, and bay leaf. Stir with a whisk until melted.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, cabbage, and onions. Fold in the chèvre mixture and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.  Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Turn into the prepared gratin and top with the remaining breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon oil.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until browned.
Makes 4 servings.


Baked Potatoes with Cheesy Beer Topping

October 2, 2007

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Okay, what guy can’t bake a potato? Nuking is a no brainer. But potatoes taste a lot better—and I mean a lot!—if you bake them in a hot oven for an hour or so. The cool part of this recipe, though, is the topping. Cheese … beer … Hey! Who needs women when they have cheese and beer! Well, there’s Sam … HARRY

Buy baking potatoes all approximately the same size and shape. Scrub them with a stiff brush, dry them, and rub with olive oil. Cook them in a microwave according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or bake on the rack of a 400-degree F oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender when pricked with a fork. Remove to a plate and make a vertical cut in the top center from end to end, half the depth of the potato. Press in the ends to open for topping.

Cheesy-Beer Topping

8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, pressed
2/3 cup beer
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, garlic, beer, and sesame seeds. Cook, stirring frequently, until cheeses are melted. Remove from the heat and add the relish. Store in the refrigerator.
Makes 2 1/2 cups or enough for 6 baked potatoes.


Lentil-Potato Soup

September 29, 2007

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When I have a long, leisurely Saturday morning, there’s nothing I like better than making soup. You can’t rush a good soup. So, pour yourself a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine, put on some music or a weekend radio program, and relax. This creamy lentil-potato is just about the most comforting soup you’ll ever eat. SAM

PS You can use butter, of course, yum!, instead of oil. But do not use red lentils. They’re perfect for some things, but they don’t have the character you need for this soup.

Lentil-Potato Soup

1 cup small dried gray-green French lentils
6 cups cold water, divided
2 large onions thinly sliced, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 pound new potatoes (3 medium)
1/3 cup instant polenta
1 bay leaf
2 (2-inch) sprigs fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/3 cup dry sherry
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Pick through the lentils, rinse them, and place them in a stockpot with 3 cups of cold water and 1 thin slice of onion. Cover, bring them to a low boil, and simmer for 25 minutes or until soft. The onion helps the lentils hold their shape. If the lentils are not soft after 25 minutes, they are old and will never cook properly. Throw them away and start over with a different batch.

Meanwhile, in large chef’s pan over medium heat, sweat the onions in 1 tablespoon of oil until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

While the onions are sweating, place the whole potatoes in a small saucepan with cold water to cover. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Chop roughly and set aside.

Combine the lentils, along with any pot liqueur, the onions, potatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, the bay leaf, thyme, sherry, and remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan over high heat bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the polenta. Return to very low heat and cook until creamy, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil.

Stir the polenta into the soup and continue to simmer until creamy and reduced by 1 cup, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes.
Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.


Potato Biscuits

July 6, 2007

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This recipe calls for biscuit mix, and some people will tell you they never use biscuit mix. ‘Chacun à son goût,’ as the French like to say, which in Iowa farm country translates to ‘”Everybody to his own taste,” said the old woman as she kissed the cow.’ I can be as much a purist as the next person, but, I’ll tell you this: they’re missing out on some fine biscuits! SAM

1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup hot water
1/3 cup cold milk
3 cups biscuit mix
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water (if necessary)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, combine the potato flakes, sugar, butter, and hot water, mixing well with a fork. Add the cold water and biscuit mix, stirring until just blended. Add small amounts of cold water, if necessary, to form a soft dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 10 times and roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out the biscuits with a 2-inch cutter and place closely together on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Makes 2 dozen biscuits.


Roasted New Potatoes and Asparagus

June 27, 2007

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I’ve never been a fan of raw vegetables. I know there are people whose lives revolve around juicers and crudités, but—don’t scream at me—to my way of thinking, vegetables aren’t worth eating till you cook the moisture out of them and intensify the sugars. That’s where roasting comes in. With a 450-degree oven and fifteen or twenty minutes, you can perform miracles. SAM

1 pound new potatoes, quartered
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Arrange the potatoes and asparagus in a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper and pour over the vegetable mixture, tossing to coat. Roast, uncovered, on the upper shelf of the oven, for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and browned. Sprinkle with parsley and Romano cheese.
Makes 6 servings.


Scalloped Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary

June 7, 2007

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There’s nothing like a creamy potato casserole to make your troubles disappear. This one is a slight twist on an old, old French side dish, guaranteed to sooth the soul and lift the spirits. Soaking the potatoes in cold water removes starch, which allows them to soak up the cream, which makes them divinely creamy. This recipe is supposed to make two generous servings. Then, again, you might want to keep the whole thing for yourself. SAM

1 pound new white potatoes (3 to 4 medium)
1 clove garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon snipped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
1/2 pint heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 1-quart casserole and set aside.

Slice the potatoes 1/8 inch thick, soak for 5 minutes in cold water, rinse thoroughly, and spread out between paper towels to dry. Combine the garlic and olive oil. Layer the potatoes in the prepared casserole, seasoning each layer with the garlic mixture, rosemary, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pour the cream on top and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until liquid is absorbed and the potatoes are tender and browned.
Makes 2 servings.