Thursday, November 29, 2012

Easy quinoa fritters {gluten-free}

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I was not planning to make quinoa fritters for dinner. They were sort of an accident.

You see, yesterday I cooked quinoa for the first time. I know, I know - you think I'm nuts. Quinoa is one of the most fashionable grains of the 21st century. So sue me - I had a few bad quinoa experiences and was convinced I didn't like it.

But when I saw organic quinoa at Costco, I thought I'd give it one more try. And I'm glad I did. Because, in fact, I do like quinoa. I especially like the quinoa salad I made yesterday, where I dressed the warm quinoa with mustard, lemon juice and olive oil, and then added green onions, pomegranate arils, feta cheese and chopped toasted pecans. (Recipe coming soon, I promise.)

So the accidental fritters? Well, I made too much quinoa and needed to find another quinoa outlet. I decided to mix the quinoa with eggs, green onions, diced red bell peppers, and a bit of cheese and fry them in patties - very similar to the leftover rice pancakes I make from time to time.

I made these quinoa fritters for dinner tonight and my boys just inhaled them. I was hoping to have a few pancakes left over to pack in their lunches tomorrow. Not so much. They are really, really good. The quinoa gets very crispy and crunchy, and the overall texture of the pancakes stays very light. I highly recommend them.

One of my Facebook friends suggests that these quinoa fritters would work well for Hanukkah when you get sick of potato latkes (if that's even possible). And, by the way, these fritters are absolutely gluten-free.

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Easy quinoa fritters
Mix leftover cooked quinoa with eggs, vegetables and a bit of cheese and fry the mixture in olive oil, and you've got quinoa fritters - an excellent gluten-free side dish your family will love.
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 eggs eggs
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella or Monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed for frying
Mix the quinoa, eggs, green onions, bell pepper, and both cheeses in a large bowl until the mixture is thoroughly combined.Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Drop heaping tablespoons of the quinoa mixture into the hot pan; leave space between the fritters. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on a rack set over a sheet pan or on a plate lined with paper towels. Cook the rest of the fritters in batches, keeping the finished fritters warm in a low oven (200 degrees) if desired. Serve hot.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: about 12 fritters

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grandma Rose's Idaho® potato blintzes

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My Grandma Rose, may she rest in peace, made the best potato blintzes in the world.

The filling: soft mashed potatoes generously laced with sweet caramelized onions.

The pancakes: thin, but not too thin. Definitely not delicate like French crepes - Grandma Rose's blintz wrappers had some bite to them, some heft, some chew.

She'd wrap up the potato blintzes into little packages and pan-fry them in butter until each side was crisp and golden brown. She'd serve them with sour cream, maybe a dish of applesauce.

We never could get enough.

When the Idaho Potato Commission asked me to come up with some recipes using Idaho potatoes to celebrate Hanukkah, I thought immediately of Grandma Rose's potato blintzes. On Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, we eat fried foods to remind us of the oil that kept the candles burning in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem for a miraculous eight days. Potato latkes (pancakes) get most of the attention, but that's not the only way to celebrate Hanukkah.

Making potato blintzes is a multi-step process, but it's well worth the time. You can start with leftover mashed potatoes (hello, Thanksgiving) or even use Idaho dehydrated potato flakes (a miracle product if ever I saw one). Once you've got the wrappers made and the blintzes assembled, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before frying them off. Just lay them on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer and cover with plastic wrap - they'll be good as new once you pan-fry them.

My Grandma Rose has been gone 16 years, but one bite of her famous potato blintzes and I can feel her arms around me again. What about you - do you have a family recipe that brings your loved ones back to you?

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Grandma Rose's Idaho® potato blintzes
My Grandma Rose made the best potato blintzes in the world - crisp buttery pancake on the outside, soft mashed potatoes laced with caramelized onions on the inside. Top them with a dollop of sour cream before serving.
  • 2 pounds Idaho® potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (approximate)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • applesauce and/or sour cream (for serving)
Make the filling: Put the Idaho® potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until the potato chunks are tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and put them back in the hot, empty saucepan to dry for a few minutes.While the potatoes are boiling, heat 4 Tablespoons butter in a large skillet and add the onion. Cook until the onion is golden brown and very soft, about 15 minutes.Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork; it's okay if there are some lumps. Add the cooked onions, salt and pepper. Mix well, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set filling aside.Make the pancakes: Whisk together the flour, egg, water and salt. The batter should have the consistency of heavy cream; if it's too thick, whisk in a little more water.Heat a small (7-inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Melt a little knob of butter in the pan and swirl it around so the bottom of the skillet is lightly coated with the melted butter. When the butter stops foaming, ladle in about 2 Tablespoons of the batter, swirling the pan around so the batter coats the bottom of the skillet evenly. Cook the pancake about 45 seconds, until the edges are starting to curl up. Do not flip the pancake - you're cooking it on one side only. Slide the pancake onto a plate, cutting board or cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batter until all the pancakes are made. Wait to stack the pancakes until they are fully cooled or they will stick together.Assemble the blintzes: Place one pancake on a cutting board with the cooked side up. Dollop about 2 Tablespoons of the potato filling in a rectangular shape in the middle of the pancake. Now form the blintz by folding in two sides of the pancake over the short edges of the rectangular filling, folding up one long edge, and rolling until the other edge is under the filling and the whole package looks like a little burrito. Continue with the rest of the pancakes and filling. Note that the uncooked side of the pancake is on the outside of the blintzes; this is as it should be, since you will be cooking the blintzes again once they are formed.To serve, heat a little more butter in the skillet and place the formed blintzes in the skillet. Fry until golden on both sides and the filling is heated through. Serve immediately with applesauce or sour cream (or both).Time-saving tip: 4 cups Idaho® dehydrated potato flakes plus 2 cups boiling water may be substituted for the cooked and mashed potatoes in the filling. Mix together the potato flakes and the boiling water, then proceed with the recipe as directed. Blintzes can be formed up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, stored in a single layer and covered tightly with plastic wrap.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 12 blintzes (allow 2 per person)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Leftover turkey salad with dill and pomegranate

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Leftover roast turkey salad with lots of celery, fresh dill and pomegranate

I always make extra turkey for Thanksgiving. It's partly because I like leftover turkey (who doesn't?). But it's also because of the Thanksgiving Orphans.

There's nothing I hate more than hearing that a friend or acquaintance spent a holiday alone because he or she had nowhere to go. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I spent several holidays this way, and it was the most depressing experience I'd ever had. Which is why I now open my home to "orphans" whenever the holidays happen at my house. (We alternate years with my husband's family.)

I never seem to know until the last minute how many people will take me up on my offer, so I always order a big turkey and an extra turkey breast. Just in case, you know, a whole family of orphans turns up.

There are lots of ways to use leftover turkey - in soups, sandwiches, casseroles. But yesterday I was looking for something lighter and a little green. That's how this turkey salad with dill and pomegranate was born. The crunch of the celery and pomegranate arils cuts the richness of the turkey and mayonnaise-based dressing. And the fresh dill (plenty of it) wakes up the salad in a way only a fresh herb can do.

Note: The folks at POM Wonderful sent me a case of gorgeous fresh pomegranates (including the one used in this recipe) after I joined them on a tour of their San Joaquin Valley orchards and processing facilities. More on that soon; meantime, it's fresh pomegranate season, so look for their eye-catching displays at your local grocery store.

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Leftover turkey salad with fresh dill and pomegranate
This light salad will make short work of your leftover roast turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas. Don't skimp on the fresh dill.
  • 4 cups leftover roast turkey, pulled into shreds or small chunks by hand
  • 6 large stalks fresh celery, chopped
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh dill, chopped (fronds from 1 large bunch)
  • 1 1/2 cups pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 large lemon (juice and zest)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • sea salt to taste (optional)
To a large bowl, add the shredded turkey, celery, green onions, fresh dill, and pomegranate arils. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, and a good dose of freshly ground pepper. Pour the mayonnaise mixture over the ingredients in the large bowl and stir gently to combine. Taste and add salt if needed (it will depend on how salty your roast turkey was). Serve chilled.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8-10 servings

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Perfect roasted potatoes

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Most people make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. I do like mashed potatoes, but when it's my turn to make Thanksgiving dinner I sometimes opt for roasted potatoes instead of mashed.

Why roasted potatoes? I like the contrast between the chewy skin, creamy interior and crisp salty crust. I also find them easier than mashed potatoes because you aren't fussing with them at the last minute.

My roasted potatoes were only okay until I learned the secret of perfect roasted potatoes from Gisele Perez, owner of Small Pleasures Catering here in Los Angeles and a fellow food blogger at Pain Perdu. Here's the secret: After you cut them in half and toss them with olive oil and salt, you have to put them on the tray cut-side down. 

Duh. Can't believe I hadn't figured that out. (But thanks, Gisele, for improving my roasted potatoes forever.)

My favorite potatoes to use for this: Melissa's Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, which are just the right size and bake up perfectly. Any small potatoes will do, though. Costco sometimes has big bags of yellow, red and purple fingerling potatoes. Those work fine with this roasting method and are extremely pretty.

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Perfect roasted potatoes
There's a very simple secret to roasting these baby potatoes so they're crisp and chewy on the outside while the inside stays creamy and soft: Put them on the baking sheet cut-side down.
  • 1 pound baby yellow potatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or rub it with a thin film of olive oil.Wash the potatoes well and cut them in half lengthwise - you want the cut side to have as much surface area as possible. Put them in a big bowl and add the olive oil and salt. Toss well to make sure all of the potato surfaces are coated with the oil.Tip the potatoes onto the baking sheet and turn them over so they are all cut-side down. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake until the potatoes are soft, the skins are wrinkled and the cut sides of the potatoes are golden brown, 30-40 minutes. Pile the potatoes into a bowl and serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4-6 servings

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

20 foods I wish I could buy at Costco

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I am a loyal, dedicated, tireless Costco shopper. I truly love Costco. I hit Costco once or twice a month and buy most of our meat, fish, produce, canned goods and household cleaners there.

Between Costco, the farmers' market and the family-owned neighborhood market a few blocks from our house, I can get just about everything my family needs. But not everything. So, Costco purchasing team, here's my wish list. If you stock the things below, I guarantee I will buy them on just about every trip. And I bet a lot of other folks will too.
  1. Flour in smaller bags. I've tried the huge sacks and they just don't work for me. I bake a lot and probably go through at least a few pounds of flour a week. But I don't have the time to transfer 25 pounds of flour into smaller containers or zip-top bags. Have you thought about bundling a quartet of 5-pound bags together instead of selling one huge bag? I would buy those for sure. I've got plenty of room to store them in my extra Supermom refrigerator in the basement. 
  2. Sugar in smaller bags. Ditto.
  3. Wheat germ. I sprinkle wheat germ on oatmeal, use it to coat chicken and fish, add it to pancakes and bread dough and pizza. I really like wheat germ. A nice big 5-pound bag would be fantastic. Not the honey coated wheat germ, though - just the plain stuff.
  4. Take-and-bake pizzas that actually fit in my oven. I have to cut your pizzas in half to fit them in the oven, which means I can't bake them as you suggest directly on the rack. Also, a lot of the cheese runs off on the cut side. How about two smaller pizzas packaged together?
  5. Pork belly. It's a thing. 
  6. Freshly sliced cold cuts. The packaged turkey breast is dry and salty. The packaged roast beef tastes funny. The packaged ham is watery. Would it be so hard to devote a corner of that huge butcher room to slicing some cold cuts fresh?
  7. Kerrygold Naturally Softer butter. You had it for a while and my husband got addicted. Now it's gone and he's miserable. Please bring it back.
  8. Raw whole duck. You sell chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs, fish. How about throwing a few raw ducks into the mix? I'd settle for raw duck breast. 
  9. Fresh herbs. A mixed pack with parsley, cilantro, scallions, dill, tarragon, thyme and basil would fly off the shelves. I would buy it on every single trip.
  10. Tanimura and Antle Artisan Romaine. This is my new favorite lettuce - it's got the taste of romaine with a superior crunch and tightly packed heads like iceberg. You sell other Tanimura and Antle lettuce already. Ask them to add this one to the mix. 
  11. Really good thickly sliced bacon. I'm talking an artisan bacon, maybe applewood smoked, thickly cut. Sell it in the butcher section. It will fly off the shelves.
  12. Frozen all-butter puff pastry. The kind without chemicals. It's expensive but well worth it. You could demo it in store by wrapping it around sticks of smoked sausage or baking it with a little chocolate in the middle.
  13. Frozen pie crusts. Even the most avid home cooks sometimes need a leg up when it comes to pie crust. Find the best frozen one and stock it.
  14. High quality dark chocolate chips. The Nestle Toll House chocolate chips are okay, but I like mine darker and less sweet. Callebaut and Valrhona make nice ones. How about 2-pound bags?
  15. Unsweetened chocolate. Not the cheap "baking chocolate" I can get at the grocery store. I'm talking Belgian or French, preferably in little discs that melt easily. 
  16. Unsweetened cocoa powder. Again, not the cheap grocery store stuff - we foodies need something with oomph. I like Valrhona, but that's me. Yes, it's expensive, but I'm willing to pay.
  17. Whole wheat pasta. I love the six-bag bundles of Italian dry pasta, but I'm trying to feed my family whole grains as often as possible. Can't you do something similar with whole wheat pasta?
  18. Frozen chopped spinach. This is the one frozen vegetable I use all the time. If you don't want to put it in big bags, how about bundling six or eight standard-size boxes together?
  19. Frozen artichoke hearts. Ditto. The marinated artichoke hearts are phenomenal but sometimes I want the vegetable on its own.
  20. Donuts. You already sell muffins, bread, croissants, cake, cookies and pies in your bakery. Why not donuts? Glazed, chocolate glazed, chocolate old-fashioned, frosted with sprinkles, jelly get the idea. I'm pretty sure if you put a donut stand inside every Costco you'd see a big jump in revenues.
Thanks for listening, Costco. And let me know what I can do to help. I know people. I can hook you up.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Carrot halwa {Indian carrot pudding}, and the life of baby carrots

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Carrot halwa, a traditional Indian dessert

Disclosure: Grimmway Farms invited me to tour their fields and processing plant with a group of food bloggers and paid for our transportation, lodging and meals while we were there. I received no other payment for this post. All opinions and any factual errors are my own.

Baby carrots taste better than they used to.

I've been using baby carrots for cooking and baking for a while, as I did in the carrot halwa pictured above. In carrot halwa - a traditional Indian dessert of grated carrots simmered with milk, sugar and cardamom - the carrots really matter. The sweeter the carrots, the sweeter the pudding. Scroll to the very end of this post for my carrot halwa recipe.

So why do baby carrots taste better than they used to? Because, as I learned on a recent trip to Bakersfield to visit carrot giant Grimmway Farms, they've landed on a carrot that grows sweet, long and thin. They've changed their planting methods, too, and now sow the carrots densely in the fields. Long, thin carrots mean no woody cores and more "cuts" per carrot. Good for Grimmway (better yield) and good for us (better baby carrots).

Grimmway carrots, just out of the ground

Touring the Grimmway processing and packaging facility was fascinating. There's just no way to get your head around the quantity of carrots they deal with. They process big carrots into baby carrots, carrot puree, carrot juice, carrot chips, carrot sticks, etc. all year. Most of the carrots are grown in and around Bakersfield, but they have fields in southern California's high desert, in the high valleys between Bakersfield and Ojai, in the Imperial Valley east of San Diego.

Chances are if you've bought a bag of baby carrots at Costco or your local grocery store, Grimmway grew them. Big ag operations like Grimmway's are a good thing for one simple reason: More people in more places get to eat better food.

I won't lie: It was a little jarring to see just how many steps there are between the carrot growing in the field and the bag of baby carrots in the store. The carrots are trucked from the field to the processing facility, washed, sorted for size and shape, cured, cut, peeled, polished, weighed, sorted, bagged, and packed.

Taking the carrot from whole to baby is "adding value" - that is, doing things that consumers could do in their own kitchens but often choose not to. In other words, baby carrots are normal carrots with all the work taken out of them.

But the upshot is that people are eating more carrots than they used to. And that's a good thing.

A few random things I learned from Grimmway Farms:

  • When baby carrots are made, nothing goes to waste. The "culls" (carrots that aren't the right size or shape) become carrot juice, carrot puree, carrot sticks, carrot chips. The peels and carrot sludge left over from processing are sold for cattle feed. The tops are left in the field and turned under to enrich the soil. Even the dirt that's washed off the carrots gets trucked back to the fields.
  • Yes, baby carrots are washed in chlorinated water as they're processed. That is a GOOD THING. I almost lost a child to salmonella a while ago and I am here to tell you that food-borne pathogens are real and scary. Believe me, you want your carrots washed in chlorinated water. It's a lot less chlorinated than the pools you swim in. And pretty much every other vegetable you buy has been washed in it too. Again, let me repeat: This is a good thing.
  • If your baby carrots get a whitish rash on their surface, that's dehydration. Soak them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes and it will go away.
  • Even big farmers are still farmers. They love the smell of dirt. They hate getting dressed up. And their eyes light up when someone asks them geeky questions about yields and crop rotation.

Here are a few pictures from my Grimmway visit. Scroll past the pictures for the carrot halwa recipe.

Grimmway VP of marketing Bob Borda concentrating on the taste of a fresh carrot
The harvester lifts the carrots up by their greens, snaps off the tops, and tosses the carrots into a waiting truck (along with a lot of dirt)
Carrots getting washed upon arrival at the processing facility
Carrots after cutting but before peeling and "polishing"
Baby carrots, packaged and ready to go 
The historic and painstakingly restored Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, our home for the night
And here's my carrot halwa recipe - a simple, sweet, healthy dessert. What do you like to do with baby carrots?

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Carrot halwa {Indian carrot pudding}
A simple dessert featuring carrots. Using chopped baby carrots gives an even sweeter result. Serve warm with a slug of cream.
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 4 Tablespoons butter or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (whole or reduced fat; do not use skim milk)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Chop or grate the baby carrots in a food processor.In a saucepan, melt the butter or ghee and add the carrots. Cook the carrots in the butter about 5 minutes, until they start to soften and the color brightens. Add the milk, sugar and salt and cook on medium-low heat, stirring often, until the milk is mostly absorbed, about 1 hour. Add the cardamom, stir, and leave to cool and settle at least 1 hour.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6-8 servings

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Green bean casserole from scratch

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Thanks to Lynne Hemer of Cook & Be Merry for the beautiful photo

There are two kinds of families when it comes to Thanksgiving.

Some families are willing to experiment. I had one friend who used Thanksgiving as a culinary lab. Every year she made something different. Pumpkin soup yielded to chestnut soup turned into carrot soup. One year the stuffing had sausage, the next year oysters. I thought she was nuts and never understood how her family tolerated it.

Most people, in my experience, need their Thanksgiving tables to be just so. Turkey. Gravy. Mashed potatoes. Cranberry sauce. Pumpkin pie. Just the way Mom and Grandma made them. Nothing fancy. No surprises.

The one dish I have to have at Thanksgiving is green bean casserole. I love the creamy sauce wrapped around frenched green beans, the whole thing topped with canned french fried onions. My mom made it the old-fashioned way: canned cream of mushroom soup, frozen frenched green beans, french fried onions. The way it was intended to be. Processed, salty and convenient.

Over the years my tastes have changed. And so has my green bean casserole. Now I do everything from scratch - except for the french fried onions. I probably could fry my own, but I hate the mess of deep-frying. For this one application I can and do live with the canned french fried onions.

I brought this green bean casserole to the Food Bloggers Los Angeles pre-Thanksgiving celebration last weekend. It didn't last long. And, much to my surprise, no one complained about the canned french fried onions.

My secret weapon: Italian porcini bouillon cubes, which give the cream sauce an amazing depth of flavor. Look for them at specialty food stores that carry gourmet Italian ingredients.

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Green bean casserole from scratch (almost)
Fresh green beans, caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms in a homemade cream sauce make a much better green bean casserole than the classic 1950's canned soup version - even with the canned french fried onions.
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound crimini or white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Italian porcini bouillon cubes
  • 2 cups canned french fried onions, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the green beans and boil rapidly until softened but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Drain and let cool 20 minutes. When the beans are cool enough to handle, pull them apart lengthwise with your fingers (this is called frenching the beans). This step is optional but it helps the green beans meld with the cream sauce, so I recommend taking the time to do it.While the water is coming to a boil and the green beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook over medium-high heat until the onions are golden brown and the water from the mushrooms has evaporated completely. Put the green beans, mushrooms and onions into a large mixing bowl.In the same skillet used to cook the onions and mushrooms, melt the butter over medium-low heat and add the flour, stirring to make a paste. Cook the paste about 2 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Add the milk and whisk quickly to dissolve the butter-flour paste - it's important to do this thoroughly or there will be lumps. Crumble the porcini bouillon cubes into the cream sauce and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Pour the cream sauce over the vegetables in the mixing bowl.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.Add 1 cup of the canned french fried onions to the mixing bowl along with the salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Pour the green bean mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Bake the green bean casserole about 30 minutes, until the sauce bubbles up around the edges. Spread the remaining 1 cup of french fried onions on top of the casserole and bake another 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 servings

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pumpkin mashed potato pancakes

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Pumpkin mashed potato pancakes (photo: Dorothy Reinhold, Shockingly Delicious)

Mashed potatoes are one of my favorite things on earth.

I love mashed potatoes more than candy. I love mashed potatoes more than puppies. I love mashed potatoes more than my new leopard-print high heeled boots. I love mashed potatoes more than sex.

(Wait, I take that last one back.)

We rarely have leftover mashed potatoes in our house, but when we do I mix them with other delicious ingredients and fry them into pancakes. In this case, I mixed leftover mashed potatoes with caramelized onions, pumpkin puree and crumbled cooked bacon. They didn't last long.

For the record, these are not latkes. I took these pumpkin mashed potato pancakes to a recent meeting of Food Bloggers Los Angeles and my fellow food bloggers kept calling them latkes. Latkes start with shredded raw potatoes. These start with cooked mashed potatoes. Not latkes. But those are good too.

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Pumpkin mashed potato pancakes
Turn leftover mashed potatoes into a stellar side dish by adding caramelized onions, bacon and pumpkin puree.
  • 4 Tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (if your mashed potatoes are heavily salted, you may not need this)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
Heat 1 Tablespoon oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet. Add the onion and saute about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and golden brown.In a large bowl, mix together the cooked onions (don't bother washing the skillet), mashed potatoes, bacon, pumpkin puree, egg, salt and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined. Put the flour into a shallow bowl or on a plate - you'll use this to coat the pancakes before you fry them. Heat another 1 Tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Using your hands, form patties about 4 inches around and 1/2-inch thick. Dip both sides of each patty in the flour - the mixture will be loose, so do this carefully. Lay the pancakes in the frying pan and cook until golden brown on each side. Drain on a plate or platter lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining batter. You can keep the finished pancakes warm in a 250 degree oven while you cook the rest. Serve hot. These make an excellent side dish for Thanksgiving.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: about 12 4-inch pancakes