Monday, March 28, 2011

Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

I recently received a message from my former classmate and fellow foodie, Kathleen. She was raving about the potatoes she made using olive oil instead of butter and cream. I thought this sounded like a FABULOUS idea especially for those who like mashed potatoes, but maybe can't do dairy. This was the email she sent me:

This is one of those dishes that I totally eyeball and NEVER MEASURE any of the ingredients. Ok, so all I do is boil my potatoes like you do for mashed potatoes. I prefer red potatoes. They hold together nicely, but give you a little "mash", too. Drain the potatoes once they're tender, add some olive oil (start with about 1/4 cup per enough potatoes to serve four or five people), add some dried thyme or herbes de provence (both are good, no worries if you don't have herbes de provence in the cupboard), garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper. Gently mix it all together. You don't want it "mashed", you want it mixed together well with some of it mashed to give you a lovely texture and consistency that is like a slight mash. If it needs some more oil to moisten it up a little, then add some more. The potatoes tend to absorb the oil a bit. But the flavor is superb!

Sounds fabulous, right? But when I made them, I added a little minced garlic and freshly cracked black pepper instead of the herbs. I also added some chicken broth to moisten the potatoes instead of adding extra oil. I also completely mashed mine by putting it through a potato ricer. (which is perfect when you don't want any lumps in your potatoes!).
I'll definitely be making these again!
Thanx Kath!!

 Btw, I know this isn't outlined as a recipe with an ingredient list and cooking directions, but it seems pretty straight forward to me. Clearly, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Does anyone know how or why cupcakes have become so popular lately? I mean, yes, they're awesome and fabulous and delicious and all that. But it's not like they're NEW, right? Still, any time I bake cupcakes, everyone goes crazy for them. Not only that, but we also now have couples who choose a cupcake tower instead of a wedding cake, we have cupcake reality TV competitions, and we have bakeries devoted entirely to cupcakes! Pretty cool, huh? Well, far be it from me to argue with cupcakes' recent surge in popularity. Personally, I LOVE a rich moist cupcake with a heaping swirl of icing on top.
  When I thought of doing a theme of potato recipes, I knew I wanted to include a sweet potato recipe, (since sweet potatoes are quite the super food), but I wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go with it. Something dessert? Something savory? Then I saw a magazine cover with a cupcake on the cover and there was my answer. To be quite honest, I'm not even sure where I got this recipe. I found it quite a while ago! Ah well, I guess it doesn't matter. What matters is how happy you'll be once you bite into one!  LOVE them! They kind of have a carrot cake vibe sans the carrots. OH! and the orange zest on top is key! It may seem like it's only a garnish, but it really adds just the right touch of flavor! It makes sense, since oranges and sweet potatoes get along so well together. So be sure to include it! I think I need to make another, right now....
I think you should too!!!
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups cooked mashed sweet potatoes,(canned or fresh)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
orange zest

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line 18 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set cups aside.
In medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Add sweet potatoes and vanilla, beating until combined. Add flour mixture; beat until combined (batter will be thick).
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 minute. Remove from pan and cool completely.
Pipe or spread with Cream Cheese Icing.  Sprinkle with orange zest. 

For a simple variation, try adding a 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract or a couple tablespoons of bourbon to your cream cheese icing.
Freeze unfrosted cupcakes in airtight containers up to 1 month.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage with Apples

It just wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without corned beef and cabbage, am I right? Now, I could take a corned beef brisket, throw it in a pot with some potatoes and cabbage, cover it with water, and then boil the hell out of it, but I've decided to go in a different direction.
 I wanted to cook it in a crock pot, (with potatoes and cabbage, of course), but I wanted a different spin. Then I thought of adding apples, because I usually add diced apples to sauerkraut or anything cabbage. So I used those ingredients as a springboard for my recipe search, switched a few things around, and now here we are!
 This recipe couldn't be easier because you just throw everything into the crock pot and turn it on.  And just wait until you taste it! It has that same sort of sweet and salty dynamic as ham and pineapple. Come to think of it, you could probably do this exact same recipe with ham and pineapple instead of corned beef and apples! SO yummy and so simple!!! Even if corned beef isn't high on your list of favorites, I think you should give it a try. This recipe just might change your mind. I'm just sayin'!

1 corned beef brisket (about 4 lbs)
4 cups apple juice (or cider)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbs mustard (any kind: brown, yellow, Dijon, even dry would work)
8-10 small potatoes (baby red, baby yukon gold, fingerling)
1 lb bag baby carrots
2 apples, peeled, cored, and thickly sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1/2 head green cabbage, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker (cut meat in half if necessary). Btw, if your brisket is packed with a seasoning packet, you can either discard it or save it for something else. Stir gently to mix. Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Remove meat and vegetables and some of the meat juices. Slice meat thinly across the grain. Serve with vegetables and a drizzle of the juice over the top.

If you don't have a crock pot, you need to stop what you're doing and go and buy one! In the mean time, you can make this recipe in the oven. Just place the everything in a large heavy pot or cast iron Dutch oven, then cover it and bake it in the oven at 350F for about 2 hours or until the meat is fall apart tender.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Alice's Irish Potatoes

Have you ever had an Irish Potato? For those of us who live in the Philadelphia tri-state area, Irish Potatoes are a yearly St. Patrick's Day tradition. They're as Irish as shamrocks and leprechauns! Well, actually, that's a complete lie. They're not Irish at all. Not only that, they're not even potatoes! They're these little decadent confections that only look like little potatoes. What do they have to do with Ireland? Well, many people believe the Irish Potato was created to commemorate the Irish Potato Famine of the mid 16th century. So there's your bit of trivia for the day.
  Whenever I decide to post a recipe, I always go on a search to find the RIGHT recipe. It always seems that everyone has a version of every classic recipe, so I read recipe after recipe until I find the RIGHT one. This time, however, I didn't have to search very far. I immediately thought of my dear friend Linda. She and I met a few years ago and we always have a lot of laughs together. Last year (or maybe it was the year before, I can't really remember), we were working together as we do every spring, and she brought a delightful sampling of the Irish Potatoes she had made. SO good! I could have eaten ALL of them. When I asked her about the recipe, she told me that it belonged to her very Irish Mother, Alice, who was commonly known as "The Irish Princess". Clearly, I had found the right recipe!
Well, Miss Alice, I humbly thank you! You must have been smiling down on us when Linda decided to share your recipe. And big huge thanx to Linda too!!

2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 lb butter
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 lb sweetened shredded coconut

Simply combine all ingredients except the cinnamon.
Form into small balls.
Roll in cinnamon.

Note from Joey: This is the recipe just as Linda gave it to me, but I found it was easiest to add the sugar last. This helps to insure that all the other ingredients will be well incorporated before the mixture becomes too thick to really mix well.

Joey's tips:
After you've finished making them, you can easily store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Oh, and here's a helpful hint: It's easier to roll the mixture into balls if you chill it for a little while. Just put the whole batch in the fridge until it firms up a little. Also, I think it helps them to look a little more like potatoes if they're not perfectly round. I like to roll them into round balls (or even little oval shapes), and then use my fingers to put a few dents in them here and there. Then roll them in cinnamon as usual. The dents wind up looking kind of like the eyes of the potato. Get it? And No, I'm not about to break into a chorus of "When Irish Eyes are Smiling"......