Archive for the ‘Serendipity’ Category

Mashed potato latkes

November 30, 2013

Every year when Hanukkah comes around, I pick a night to make latkes and a brisket. And every year, I swear I will not only make latkes for Hanukkah.

Similarly, a lot of people go crazy about selecting, preparing and serving a turkey for Thanksgiving and never think about it again the rest of the year.

This year, with Thanksgiving falling on the first day of the Feast of Lights, I was concerned about when I might make my latkes. Even with a scaled back crowd attending dinner this year, I knew realistically we wouldn’t be done with the leftovers until at least half-way through Hanukkah.

The first night after Thanksgiving, we finished up the leftover ravioli and sauce and meatballs and sausage. On Saturday night, we set our sights on some turkey, the end of the dressing, green beans, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes.

MASHED POTATOES! 

Why not repurpose those leftover mashed potatoes into latkes. I could still spoon some of the gravy over them. Or top them with cranberry sauce.  Of course a dollop of sour cream is always nice.

What a great idea! And so easy to do.  They turned out great! Crisp exterior with a fluffy interior. 

The convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah that occurred this year won’t happen again for 70,000 years.

Don’t wait that long to try this recipe. mplatkes

Mashed Potato Latkes

  •          Leftover mashed potatoes (approximately 2 cups) at room temperature
  •          1 large egg
  •          ½ to 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  •          Vegetable oil

In a large bowl, sprinkle about ¼ cup of the flour over the potatoes.  Add the egg and work into the flour and potatoes. Add just enough additional flour to form a cohesive dough that is just stiff enough to be workable. Don’t overdo it.

Pour oil into a 10 or 12 inch skillet (cast iron is perfect for this) to a depth of about ½ an inch. Heat the oil over a medium flame until it sizzles when a small piece of the dough is dropped into it. (About 7 minutes).

Grease a ¼ cup measuring cup with Pam or a similar spray oil. Fill with the dough mixture and drop into the hot oil. Flatten the dough slightly with a spoon. Do this three more times. Do not overcrowd the pan.  Cook until browned, four to five minutes, flip and cook for another four or five minutes.

Remove the latkes from the skillet and set on paper towel lined platter to drain. Cover to keep them warm. You may want to lightly salt and pepper them to taste. Repeat until you have used up the dough.  Serve warm with sour cream and applesauce (or the Thanksgiving leftovers).

Makes 8 – 10 potato pancakes.

Chopped?

July 31, 2011

The real life application of the “reality television” conceit.

Years ago…before there was The Food Network; before “reality TV” took over the networks, broadcast and cable, there was real life.

Years ago, I found myself home alone on a Saturday night. The wife was away for the weekend visiting with her parents at their then full-time residence in Pennsylvania‘s Poconos (Note: “the Poconos” are often referred to as mountains but, in truth, they are just a time-worn and eroded plateau.  Or so my geologic-oriented friends tell me). As dinner time came, I started rummaging around in the kitchen and pantry to find something to prepare for my evening meal.  The result of my in-house foraging was a smoked oyster risotto.  But that is a story for another day.

Today’s installment is about a similar situation but with just a little more planning and that includes using what was on hand with one quick trip to the market.

My in laws have long since relocated to the far reaches of Montgomery County, PA.  It’s about an hour’s drive from our home in Trenton.  They’ve been dealing with some health issues and my wife went out today to stay with them for about a week.  Thinking about dinner tonight, I decided to grab some sort of seafood…a lovely 3/4 pound tuna steak.

After yesterday’s trip to the local farmers’ market I had on hand at the house some Jersey peaches, moderately hot banana peppers, tomatoes and a very interesting spanish spice mix called “pinchito” seasoning.  There was also a handful of locally grown romano beans.

This put me in mind of a meal I had on one of our trips to the Florida Keys…a kingfish steak with a mango/habanero salsa.

I fired up the grill and took one of the peaches, cut it in half and removed the pit. I washed off one of the banana peppers. Once the grill was hot, I put the peach halves…flesh side down, and the chile on the grill.

In the meantime, I rinsed the tuna steak and dried it then dusted it with some pinchitos seasoning that I bought from La Tienda.  Both sides.

When I could smell the peach caramelizing, I flipped it over.  I also turned the pepper so it would char all over. While they roasted, I diced up a tomato and tossed it into a bowl.

Once the skin of the peach was charred and the pepper roasted, I took them off the grill and put my cast iron skillet on to heat.

I skinned the peach halves and rough chopped them.  The pepper I skinned and removed the top, seeds and membranes.  That also got chopped and tossed into the bowl with the peach, tomato and a splash of “juice” left over from a container of salsa from the mexican stall at the market.  Stir and let sit.

Now the pan was smoking hot.  I added a little olive oil and then,, once the oil was hot,  laid the tuna into the pan.  Two minutes a side and dinner was ready.

I plated up the tuna steak, topped it with some of the salsa and added the beans which I had prepared earlier (boiled in salted water for 4 minutes, drained tossed with salt, pepper and peperoncino and a drizzle of garlic/rosemary infused olive oil then placed in the fridge to chill).

The wine cellar is a little light on whites right now, but I had this bottle of Nissely Classic White (2008) from a wine tour of Lancaster County we had taken last year.  Dinner was served.

It filled the belly and brought some contentment even though my beloved spouse was gone on the eve of our 24th wedding anniversary.

Bourbon caramelized onions

April 5, 2011

I was running around like crazy and needed to figure out what to have for dinner.  Aha! Onion Soup!  (Specifically, this recipe for Soupe à l’oignon gratinée) Perfect!

I didn’t think we had any onions at home so stopped at the market to pick some up.  Not sure how many I needed, I called home and asked Ann.  Unfortunately, she was busy and couldn’t put her hands on the recipe quickly enough, so I just bought a whole mess of onions and headed home.

Turned out, we did have onions on hand…nearly enough to make the soup.  Now we had a surplus and had to figure out what to do with them.

Ann suggested I make up a batch of my bourbon caramelized onions.  Why not?  They keep well (I freeze small batches) and they are great on burgers (grill season is nearly upon us) or pizza’s/focaccia.

Here’s what I do:

Thinly slice a couple of medium to large onions (any regular old onion will do: red, white, yellow).  In a large skillet over medium flame, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom to not more than 1/4 inch depth.  Melt in two or three tablespoons of unsalted butter.  Add the sliced onions (they should sizzle but not splatter) and stir to coat evenly with the oil/butter.*

Keep an eye on the onions and stir every couple of minutes so they don’t stick.  The water will cook out of the onion slices and they will soften.  Reduce the heat when the onions start to take on some color and keep stirring occasionally.

When the onions have turned a rich color (past golden…on towards mahogany), and have become nutty and sweet tasting, remove from pan and place into a bowl.  This can take 25 minutes or so. Return the pan to the stove and carefully pour in a 1/4 cup of good bourbon (Maker’s Mark is particularly suited for this).  Stir to loosen and dissolve the goodness left in the bottom of the pan.  Continue stirring until the alcohol has burned off and the bourbon has reduced and thickened.  Pour over onions in the bowl and stir to blend.

*Some recipes suggest seasoning the onions with salt, pepper and/or sugar.  You can. I don’t.

Ok. This is bad.

September 16, 2010

Pepper dogs

Even before “Chopped” appeared on the Food Network, I was familiar with the concept of trying to make something to eat out of whatever was at hand. 

I mean, really, haven’t we all done this?  Ok, maybe not with a cash prize at stake, but we’ve all rooted around in our pantries and fridges to scavenge the makings of a snack or a meal.

There was one solo weekend years ago when I discovered a box of arborio rice, several bottles of clam juice and a tin of smoked oysters on the shelf in the pantry.  Voila!  The resulting risotto was quite nice, thank you very much.

Yesterday I found myself a little extra hungry at lunch time.  There was an open package of Ball Park All Beef franks in the fridge,  a couple of hot italian banana type peppers, a small piece of cheddar cheese from Bobolink Farm (recently relocated to Milford from Vernon, NJ) and some hot dog buns.

I removed the stem, seeds and ribs from the peppers and split them.  Tucked the hot dogs inside them an nuked them for two minutes.  A little mustard on the buns, a slice of cheese and the franks swaddled in peppers.

Say what you will, I liked it!

And for dessert…

September 7, 2010

We were cruising the Trenton Farmer’s Market on Sunday and I was a little surprised to find Vitella and Sons (Italian deli) open. On the counter they had a couple of pints of fresh figs…presumably left over from the production of their wonderful fig salad.

I bought a box and brought them home.

Most went into a Fig upside down cake I made for a Labor Day brunch we had been invited to.

The few that were left over were tonight’s dessert.

I quartered the figs, arranged them on a small plate with a dab of mascarpone on each one and drizzeled some local honey over them.

I poured a few fingers of tawny port.

Voila! Dessert!