Tag Archives: potatoes

Cod in Parchment

A friend brought up a good point the other day.  This is a horrible time of the year to have to give something up for Lent.  Winter has us feeling defeated — with almost a foot of snow the other day after spring started to tease us.  Illness has us down — I’ve been sick with a cold virus (which led to a sinus infection, bronchitis, and an ear infection) for three weeks.  And maybe it’s not the time of the year, but politics and the news have me feeling pretty low.  I attempt to not get too political here (I had some pseudo-stalkers who didn’t like my politics on my old blog), but let’s just say that Republican governors who think it’s a good idea to propose 50% funding cuts to public universities are on my shit list.  Some people invest and innovate through a down turn.  Here in Pennsylvania, we slash, burn, and build more prisons.

Part of the cuts to our university have the potential to decimate our College of Agriculture.  This comes at a time when research on feeding the world using sustainable methods is more important than ever.  So I guess if I were to give up something for Lent (which I won’t because I’m a heathen), it would certainly not be the college that represents, and innovates in the top industry in our state.

Beyond, I think about my grandfather, who grew up on a farm and had a tractor business.  He never went to college.  And yet, through the availability of state-funded and regionalized public higher education, he was able to put my dad through college.   My dad started out as a teacher and went on to become a local businessman which allowed him to put me through college and a masters degree program at public, land grant institutions.  My siblings and I (and all of our spouses) graduated from public universities. My husband and I work at a public university (me not so much anymore).  My in-laws taught at a public university.  My mom, sister, and sister-in-law have degrees in education from public universities — my sister is a teacher at a public school and my sister-in-law works at a public university.   Without subsidized public higher education, where would we be?  I am not saying that any one of us is changing the world.  But I do know that we are educated citizens and productive members of society who contribute in positive ways.

And I might not remember how to conjugate all of the French verbs, but I do know that being exposed to the academy changed my worldview in a profound way.  At a time of economic and global turmoil, we need more, not fewer, educated citizens who are capable of challenging their own worldviews.  Education did not get us into this budget mess — our funding has been steady or decreasing for years.  But we realize that education will have to accept cuts to move forward.  Let’s just make sure that we are not cutting off our nose simply to spite our face.

“Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail.  What you gain at one end you lose at the other.  It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail.  It won’t fatten the dog.”  ~Mark Twain

Cod in Parchment

Since I was knee deep in education, rather than food, I should add that this is a perfect dish for those giving up meat for Lent.  It is also great for kids, as each person can customize what is in their packet and the surprise factor of opening it up at the table is always popular.  Feel free to use other flavorings, vegetables, or anything you have on hand!

Serves 4-6

1 1/3 pounds of Wild Cod (or similar mild white fish)
1 potato, peeled and sliced paper thin
1/2 of a large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 of a lemon, thinly sliced (remaining half used for juice and zest)
1/2 of a large carrot, grated or in ribbons using a vegetable peeler
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
6-8 large green olives, sliced
4-6 sprigs of fresh oregano, stemmed and chopped
Parchment Paper
4-6 T white wine

Herb Butter:
4 T butter
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
3/4 t salt
1/2 t Smoked Paprika
Freshly Ground Pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cut fish into 4-6 somewhat equal servings.  Cut parchment paper into 4-6 pieces that are roughly 13 inches by 13 inches.

2.  Make herb butter by combining butter, zest, garlic, salt, Smoked Paprika, and pepper.  Set aside.

3.  Take one square of parchment and make the first layer with several slices of the paper-thin potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with a piece of fish seasoned with salt and pepper, then a few onions, some tomato slices, carrot ribbons, and a dollop of the herb butter. Place one or two lemon slices on top of that along with some chopped fresh oregano and a few green olives.  Drizzle with a bit of lemon juice and about 1 T white wine (per packet).  Gather up parchment into a purse, attempting to avoid any gaping holes for steam to escape.  Tightly tie the packets shut with kitchen twine and place on a baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining fish.

4.  Bake packets for about 18-20 minutes until you see them starting to bubble a bit. (You can cheat and open one up if you are unsure if they are done.)  Place each packet on a plate and open at the table.

Smoky Scalloped Potatoes with Sausage

I’m thinking there is a guide to parenthood somewhere that I forgot to read.  Before I had kids, I imagined parenting to be similar to, um, living — except with children.  And I know that sounds simplistic and parenting is much harder than just living, but I guess I imagined that I would continue to do things that I enjoy, rather than things that I do not.  This isn’t making much sense, is it?

You see, there is an entire underbelly to our culture that I truthfully had no idea existed until I had children.  Festivals.  Apparently, once you procreate, there is an unwritten rule that you must both enjoy and faithfully attend all festivals occurring within a 50 mile radius of your home.  These can include, but are not limited to, Fun Fests, Fall Fests, Arts Fests, Music Fests, Octoberfests (those I enjoy more), Jazz Fests, Spring Fests, Renaissance Fests (sometimes called Fairs), Apple Fests, Maple Syrup Fests, Strawberry Fests, Ice Cream Fests, Chili Fests, Winter Fests, First Night Fests, and Random Nature Event Fests.  Corollary events can include Carnivals, Public Easter Egg Hunts, Holiday Plays and Pageants, Santa Parades, and Bug Fairs.

And let me just make myself clear.  I do not particularly like festivals.  Maybe it’s the walking around aimlessly saying “Look kids, a donkey!”  Or maybe it’s the whiny kids who are generally just looking for the funnel cake stand.  And refuse to STFU until they get a funnel cake.  Or maybe it’s the same old Lion’s Club food truck.  Or maybe it’s for the simple reason that NONE OF THESE FESTIVALS SERVE BEER.

For example, this recipe for Smoky Scalloped Potatoes with Sausage could inspire an entire festival.  There would be crafts for the kids that included painting a potato.  There would be some sort of Scalloped Potato cook-off.  And a potato peeling competition.  That sounds fun, doesn’t it?  And don’t forget about the food vendors.  There will most assuredly be kettle corn, funnel cakes, and french fries.  And some sort of random animal to visit — llamas, donkeys, reindeer, or horses (of course) are logical choices.  I can’t wait to spend my entire Saturday afternoon at the Scalloped Potato Festival, now that you mention it.

Actually, I made these scalloped potatoes the other afternoon when we were skipping out on some random festival in our area.  It’s been fall (season of lots of festivals!), so I have already forgotten which one it was.  It is a wonderful, easy dinner for a cold night with its simple but delicious flavors.  The smoked sausage bastes the potatoes as they cook and you won’t believe how few ingredients you need.  I questioned the idea of scalloped potatoes without cheese, but this really works.  And made with 2% milk (which I did), it isn’t nearly the calorie and fat hog that some scalloped potato recipes are.

And I must mention that this is my dad’s recipe.  And I’m pretty sure he hates festivals too.  That afternoon, I cooked and sipped a glass of wine while the kids played school (after helping me peel the potatoes).  Donkey rides kick some ass, but this is more of what I imagined motherhood to be.

Smoky Scalloped Potatoes with Sausage

Serves 6 as a main dish

6-7 medium potatoes, peeled
1 lb. smoked sausage (very important to get high quality, local smoked sausage for the best flavor)
Flour (1/2 T per layer)
Butter (about 1 T per layer)
Salt and Pepper
2 cups of 2% milk (approximately)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Slice potatoes thinly. Slice smoked sausage into thin rounds (or chunks, however you like it).

3.  Butter a 9 inch by 13 inch glass pan.

4.  In the greased pan, make one layer of potatoes.  Sprinkle 1/2 T of flour over the potatoes and season well with salt and pepper.  Break 1 T of butter into little pieces and scatter it over the potatoes.  Top potato layer with slices of smoked sausage.

5.  Repeat by layering potato slices, flour, butter, salt and pepper, and smoked sausage.  Your top layer should be potatoes.  (I made three layers of potatoes, with two layers of sausage in between).  On your final layer of potatoes, sprinkle with 1/2 T of flour, additional salt and pepper, and 1 T of butter (in small pieces).

6.  Pour milk over top the potatoes until you can start to see it come up the edge — it should be about 2 or 2 1/2 cups.  Using a metal spatula, press the potato layers down into the milk, so the milk mixes in well.

7.  Bake uncovered for about 1 hour and 30 minutes (mine took more like 1 hr. and 40 minutes).  Every 20 minutes or so, press the layers down with the back of a metal spatula again so the top layer gets saturated.  The potatoes are done when the milk is absorbed and the top is very golden brown.  Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. (Helpful hint:  you may want to put a baking sheet underneath your baking pan, as the milk tends to bubble and make a mess of your oven.)

Curried Chick Pea and Red Potato Hash

Does anyone remember that show “Ready, Set, Cook?”  Basically it was a game show where you got a box of random ingredients and had to make dinner out of it.  Some of the cooking reality shows use a similar premise now, but I liked this show because the professionals had to work with regular people to get the meal prepared.  Plus it was a great way to spend thirty minutes running on the treadmill.  I still generally watch cooking shows while on the treadmill — not sure if that is incentive or punishment.

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But I do love the challenge of taking very disparate items and somehow bringing them together into a coherent dish.  Certainly some of the dishes turn out a lot better than others, but it is always a fun experiment.  Before we went away on vacation, I was cooking like crazy to use everything in the refrigerator up.  In this case, I had new potatoes, garlic scapes (the green flower shoot from the garlic), green onions, parsley, and lots of eggs.  I settled on a “hash” sort of thing and I was not disappointed.  I love putting a slight twist on a very traditional approach and it was a delicious vegetarian entree.  I served it with sauteed snow peas and a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

You should definitely add a hash like this to your weeknight cooking repertoire — it is super flexible, quick, healthy, and uses up lots of odds and ends.  And the kids really loved it too… Feel free to spice it up if your crew is spice tolerant.

Curried Chick Pea and Red Potato Hash

Serves 4-6

1 qt. of red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 garlic scapes (could substitute with 1 or 2 chopped garlic cloves), chopped
4 green onions, green and white parts chopped
2 t fresh ginger, chopped
3 T olive oil
1 t curry powder
1/2 t garam masala (a spice mixture generally made of cumin, cardamom, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, pepper)
1/4 t turmeric
1 t salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 can of chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of water
2 T parsley or cilantro, chopped
4-6 eggs

1.  Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Saute the white part of the chopped green onions, garlic scapes, ginger, 1/2 t of curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, 1/2 t of salt, and freshly ground pepper for about five minutes.

2.  Add in chopped potatoes and cook for about 10-15 minutes until potatoes are beginning to brown and soften.  Add more oil if the potatoes stick too much.

3.  Add in chick peas and 1/2 cup of water and scrape up any browned bits sticking to bottom of pan.   Cover with lid and let cook about 10 more minutes until potatoes are fully cooked.

4. Meanwhile, in a separate pan fry or poach eggs.  (Best cooked over easy with a nice runny yolk…)

5.  When ready to serve, add to hash pan the additional 1/2 t of salt (or to taste), freshly ground pepper to taste, 1/2 t of curry powder, the green parts of the green onions, and 2 T of parsley or cilantro.  Mix well to incorporate.

6.  To serve, place a fried or poached egg on top of a portion of the curried chick pea and potato hash and garnish with additional herbs or green onions.

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Grilled Pork, Mashed Potatoes with Chervil, Applesauce, and Sauteed Collards

My intent with the “Farmer’s Market Dinner” category is to highlight a meal made almost entirely with local ingredients.  Clearly this is a not a 100% promise, but more of an intent to use as many local ingredients as possible.  Tonight’s meal was made from local pork tenderloin sourced at my winter’s farmers market, mashed potatoes and chervil from my CSA, applesauce from CSA with both local apples and honey, and collard greens from the CSA as well.  I am not churning my own butter or pressing my own olive oil (yet…. ; ) ) so there are still quite a few grocery store ingredients.

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If you are in a colder climate and don’t have access to a winter CSA or market, this is definitely more difficult this time of year, but you might be surprised.  Search your area on localharvest.org for access to all sorts of local food opportunities — you might be shocked at what you actually have available to you.

The other thing to mention about these meals is that they are more procedures than recipes.  Try to be creative with what you have available to you and go from there.

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Grilled Pork, Mashed Potatoes with Chervil, Homemade Applesauce, and Sauteed Collard Greens

The Pork:
2 pork tenderloins, trimmed of any silver skin
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
1 t salt
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped fresh rosemary (if you have it)

The Potatoes:
4-6 medium potatoes
Fresh chervil (or other herbs, or skip it)
Milk
Butter

The Applesauce:
6 apples (any kind will do, or a variety is even better)
Cinnamon Stick (or ground cinnamon)
Pinch of salt
2 T water
1 T honey
1 T butter

The Greens:
Large Bunch of Collard Greens (other greens such as spinach, kale, or chard would work nicely too)
1 t chopped garlic
1 t honey
2 t olive oil
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Prep:

1.  Make a marinade for pork with 1/2 cup olive oil, chopped garlic, zest of one lemon, rosemary, and salt and pepper.  Place pork in marinade and set aside.  (Preheat grill or start charcoal)

2.  Peel potatoes, cut into chunks, and place in large saucepan with plenty of cold water and a healthy pinch of salt.

3.  Peel, core, and chunk apples and place in medium saucepan with salt, cinammon stick, water, and  honey.

4.  Wash and stem greens (you will want to remove all of the stem from these more hearty greens).  Smoosh them all into a big ball or roll them up and chop into shreds.

Method

Pork:  When grill is ready (we grill using charcoal with indirect heat, if using gas I’m thinking about medium heat and away from flames), cook pork for about 20 minutes until done — but not overcooked!  Since we use local, organic pork and trust our farmers, we feel fine cooking it until about 145 degrees and letting it rest while it comes up a few degrees.  This keeps it moist, but certainly not rare at all.  But, cook it to your desired temperature based on your pork and your preferences.  You can also just bake this in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees if you like.   

Potatoes:  When you put pork on the grill, turn on potatoes and water to high heat so they come to a boil.  Reduce heat on potatoes to medium and cook for 15 minutes until very soft, but not completely falling apart.  Drain water from potatoes and throw in a healthy pour of milk (start with 1/2 cup and add more as needed to make a nice, creamy mash) and a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Mash and season with salt and pepper.  When ready to serve, stir in chopped chervil or other herbs.  Just taste them to make sure they are good — a little extra salt, milk, and butter usually is the key to tasty mashed potatoes.  And you can also use cream if you like…

Apples:   When you put pork on grill, turn on apples to medium heat until apples begin to simmer.  Reduce apples to low heat and cook for 15-20 minutes until very soft.  Stir to break up large apple pieces until desired consistency (could puree if you like, but I can’t be bothered).  Keep warm until pork is ready.  Remove cinnamon stick.

Collards:  When pork is about half way done, in a saute pan over medium heat add a splash of olive oil and chopped garlic for greens.  Add greens and saute until wilted and tender (about ten minutes).  You may need to add a little water if the greens stick.  Season with salt, pepper, and honey and taste to be sure.  If your greens are extra bitter, you may need a little extra honey.

 

Slice pork into medallions and serve with mashed potatoes, applesauce, and sauteed greens.

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Sauteed Pork Tenderloin with Shredded Brussel Sprouts and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

This dinner was inspired by our winter farmer’s market.  It was made of entirely local ingredients in the middle of winter in Pennsylvania.  Many communities obviously don’t have winter markets, but I am fortunate enough to have both a winter farm share and a weekly winter market.  The choices are more limited — but I can pretty much always count on getting local, pasture-raised meats, potatoes, root vegetables, brussel sprouts or cabbages, apples, and more.  It certainly is difficult to make local ingredients the basis of every meal during a northeast winter, but it definitely feels good when you can.  And it makes me long for summer when nearly every dinner is local.

And before you shrug this off and say… “Brussel sprouts?  My kids would never eat them!”, let me introduce you to a great method that my kids (and many other brussel sprout haters) not only tolerate, but enjoy. And like many of these types of meals, this is more method than recipe, use what you have and get creative.dsc_5154

The Potatoes
I used fingerlings and small sweet potatoes, but any kind will do — takes about 5o minutes, so start this first.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Wash the potatoes and either slice in half and cut into 1/2-3/4 inch chunks.
  2. Line a metal roasting pan with parchment paper so they won’t stick. Add potatoes — don’t overload the pan or they won’t brown.
  3. Toss the potatoes with several tablespoons of olive oil, a hefty pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper.  I usually add chopped fresh rosemary, but dried woul be fine also.
  4. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes until they are brown and crispy.  It may take more or less time depending on how hot your oven actually is and how many potatoes are in the pan.  Stir every 10-15 minutes to make sure they brown evenly.  Toss with a little extra sea salt before serving.  BTW, if the rest of your meal isn’t ready, just turn the oven off, let it cool a few minutes, and put the potatoes back in to keep warm.

The Pork
I usually do two pork tenderloins for our family of four — takes about fifteen minutes, so start this when potatoes have about that much time left.

  1. Remove pork from packaging and cut off any visible silver skin.
  2. Slice horizontally into 1 1/2 to 2 inch medallions (think mini filet mignons)
  3. Flatten slightly.
  4. In a bowl, mix a cup of flour and a bit of salt and pepper.  Dredge each medallion into the flour mixture and shake off excess.
  5. Melt a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan.  (If the meat starts to stick or it looks like there isn’t enough fat in there, just add a bit more).
  6. Add pork to saute pan and let brown for a few minutes on the first side.  It should be golden and release easily.  (if it sticks a lot, it probably isn’t done).  Flip all the pieces over and saute for a few minutes on the other side.
  7. Remove pork to plate and deglaze saute pan with about one cup of sherry or marsala and scrape up any browned bits.
  8. Add pork back to pan, cover, and simmer for about 7-10 more minutes until pork is done (flipping the pieces over halfway to utilize the browned flour on the exterior to thicken the sauce).  You’re at home, so feel free to cut into a piece to see if it’s done.  We feel pretty confident leaving our pork a bit pink in the middle because we know our farmers — your choice, but don’t cook it to death or it will be dry and tough.
  9. Serve with a bit of the sauce ladled over the pork.  If you want to make this a little more special, you can add a few tablespoons of cream to the sauce.

The Brussel Sprouts
I cooked about two pints for our family of four — takes only 5-7 minutes, so do this last while pork is simmering.

  1. Wash them and remove any dark or discolored leaves.  Trim the stem end.
  2. This is a great task for a food processor if you have one.  But I’ve done it with a knife — it just takes more time.  If using a processor, put your slicing disk in place, turn it on, and start putting the brussel sprouts in the feed tube.  They will all be sliced in minutes flat, leaving you extra time to clean the damn thing.  If using a knife, just thinly slice the sprouts into shreds.
  3. Melt some butter (about 1/2 tablespoon, more or less based on how many sprouts you have) in a large saute pan over medium heat and saute the brussel sprouts for a few minutes until they start to wilt.
  4. I like to add a bit of lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, a bit more butter, and salt and pepper.  Cook a few more minutes until just tender.  Don’t overcook them!  This is one of those dishes that you just need to taste and season until it’s good.  Actually that’s the secret of a lot of cooking!