Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘Potato’

Bacon and Egg Potato Salad

I know what you are thinking!

Potato Salad?  This late in the season?  Really?  That’s the best you could come up with??”

Well actually….it is PERFECT season!

Because I needed a vehicle of SOME kind to display the fruit of my labours!!

If you’ve been following along, you know that I have been attempting to grow some things in my BALCONY GARDEN over the summer.   It hasn’t been too good of a year for most things, but one thing that grew very well was the crazy potato plant!

Potato plant

But this last week the Chef and I moved house and I was concerned about moving all of the plants, many of them already in ruin from leaving them unattended while we galavanted around Oregon.  But the potato plant was still okay.

However it was big and unruly and I thought that it might be time to harvest soon anyway.   So I hacked off the plant part and figured whatever was in there could handle the move.  ( We only moved about three blocks down the road so….)

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Everyone kept commenting about just how heavy the container was, but I just poo pooed it, knowing that the bottom was lined with rocks for drainage……..

So a couple of days ago, I took a break from unpacking boxes and HAD to have a look at what might be in the potato bin!

I grabbed what was left of the plant and yanked it out.   There was a few nice little, egg sized potatoes attached as well as some tiny grape sized ones.   But I wasn’t discouraged because I knew that sometimes the break off the stem.

So with my little shovel and my hand I started rooting around in the dirt……

What the……WHAT???

My potato

I pulled out a VERY big potato!!  Bigger than a softball!   And then another and another………I couldn’t believe it!!  Just grown in a recycling bin!  Who knew!!

My potatoes compared to FULL size dinner fork!!

I was SO pleased that I had to make something with them……..I wanted to taste their fresh picked goodness!!

So on the first day I roasted all the little ones.  

And today I made potato salad out of the big ones!

Here’s how I made it, but seriously…..I’m just trying to show off my fabulous potatoes!

Recipe:

  • a few potatoes fresh from your garden (or whatever)

Peel them and dice them in large cubes and boil or steam until tender in salted hot water

Meanwhile in a bowl add:

  • chopped up left over cooked bacon ( if you have some and what to use bacon)
  • 1 chopped green onion
  • 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2-3 tbsp of mayo or olive oil or a combo of both ( to taste)
  • Salt & pepper

Mix all that up in readiness of the potatoes being cooked.   Then drain and  toss the potatoes into the dressing.  Mix well but not too vigorously that you swish the potatoes.

Then add some chopped hard boiled egg if you so desire.

Sprinkle with a bit of paprika!!

Bacon and Egg Potato Salad!  Straight from the garden!

Eat while still warm!

Bacon and Egg Potato Salad fresh from the garden

Growing stuff – May 18th

Well things seem to be progressing along nicely in the balcony garden.

I planted some beans this week.   Those skinny French green beans.   Nothing has happened yet of course.

The poor Swiss chard still isn’t growing too fast.  But I did have a basket like cover over them to keep the birds off which I think was stunting their growth.  I have stuck a mini twirly doodle in the middle of them to see if that will help with the birds.

Swiss Chard

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The oregano plant is coming along very nicely all by itself.  The birds don’t seem to care for that, too strong I guess.

Oregano

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And the mint is slowly coming back.

Mint

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The latest batch of lettuce is doing well, but I have been bringing it inside when it is unsupervised, because the birds LOVE it!

Lettuce

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The tomatoes are doing VERY well.  But I admit I am babying them.   Putting them out during the day and bringing them in at night.

Tomato plants

I don’t know if you can tell by the picture, ( look right in the middle ) but I am seeing the start of the little flowers that will turn to tomato!

Tomato flower bud

I just love the way touching a tomato plant makes our fingers smell!

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Added a couple of flowers for colour and so the bees will visit and pollinate stuff.

This is the big planting weekend in Canada!  But be careful, I’ve seen they are calling for frost and SNOW in some places!! 

Weird weather this year!

Happy Victoria Day Weekend!  And happy planting!

Tuesday night soup

Tuesday night.   Dinner blahs, don’t really feel like cooking……but you gotta eat…..right?

Well let’s see what I can come up with.

I am picturing some potato salad.   I got some nice sized new potatoes on the weekend that have been calling my name.   I cut them into 8th and popped them in a pot of salted water to boil.

But then what?  Just potato salad?  What am I supposed to do with that?

Hmmmm…….

Well, I have already committed to the boiling potatoes.  So in a large bowl I made up a dressing.  I had some left over chopped red and green onion from the nachos, so I tossed that in the bowl with 1 clove of minced garlic.   Then a spoonful or two of Dijon mustard, a shot of soy sauce, about two tbsp of red wine vinegar and about 4 tbsp of olive oil and some fresh ground pepper.   Stirred it up with the whisk.

When the potatoes were done, instead of draining them, I fished them out with a slotted spoon and put them directly into the bowl and tossed them with the dressing.   Doing this while they are hot, helps the dressing stick and soak in.   Then I put the bowl aside till I decided what I was going to do.

Now I had this perfectly good potato water and I had left a few of the potato bits behind.   Hate to waste it, why not make a nice Tuesday night soup with it??

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know I am a big fan of “cleaning out the fridge” from time to time and seeing what I can come up with!  So here is what went into the soup:

  • a handful of red lentils
  • two handfuls of shaved cooked turkey
  • 1/2 of a big carrot in a small dice
  • 2 tbsp of left over chopped red and green onion
  • 2 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Bragg ( or soy sauce )
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • a shot or two of olive oil

Added all those together and brought it to a boil, cooking long enough for the red lentils to disintegrate and thicken the soup.

Then I added about 2 cups chopped kale and cooked for a few more minutes till the kale was good and wilted.

Just before serving, I hit it with a few shots of my favorite chipolte Tabasco sauce!!

Kale and turkey soup

So that was all good…..but I still had this potato salad.

And to be honest, the Chef gets panicky if he only gets soup for his dinner, so why not toss together a nice salad to go with it?

I lined a plate with some nice bib ( or also known as Boston) lettuce that I had.   Then in one corner a good helping of that potato salad.   In the other corner more of that shaved cooked turkey.  Then I added  some carrot curls and cucumber slices.

Then topped it with some  “craisins” , pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of a simple oil and balsamic dressing.

Tuesday night salad

Voila.   Tuesday night dinner!    AND I had some left over for my lunch the next day!

The Main Event

Finally we reached the big day.  The day of the big feast.

Like we haven’t already eaten enough to replenish our fat stores for winter!  But you know, tis the season to over indulge!  And now that it is mid January and the turkey hangovers have finally subsided, I thought it might be okay to discuss it again.

My relatives that we were visiting in California for Christmas are originally from Scotland, so some of their Christmas feast traditions are a little different from our North American ones.

Most notably is that they don’t use bread in their stuffing, or dressing or whatever you call the stuff you put inside the turkey.  They use sausage meat.

I remember years ago when I first reconnected with these relatives after they moved to California, I hadn’t seen them in years since I had visited Scotland.  So I was coming to stay with them for the holidays this particular year and so they told me later that their biggest fear about my visit was that, God forbid, I might be a vegetarian!  The horror!

So I wasn’t that startled by the sausage stuffing.  Although I did find the addition of Beef Wellington and black pudding a bit of a surprise.

The menu was as follows:

Appetizer

  • Seared scallop and black pudding with mustard dressing

Main course

  • Roast turkey with sausage stuffing
  • Roasted root vegetables – beets, carrot, parsnips, celeriac
  • Piped potato
  • Beef Wellington
  • Home made cranberry sauce
  • gravy

Dessert

  • Chocolate cake and ice cream
  • Fruit flan sponge cake

All followed by the mandatory “lie down”!!  Why oh why do we do it to ourselves??

For some reason I don’t have any pictures of the appetizer course.   Perhaps it was because there was a lot of commotion at that time what with getting people settled and getting the event under way.

But more likely it’s because I didn’t partake of that particular course.  I don’t eat scallops anymore because I am allergic to shell fish.  And even though a scallop is technically a mollusk and not a shellfish, I’m not willing to risk it.  And then the black pudding, well, click on it to see the pictures of it, or google it yourself and then decide if it is something you would eat……..

But those at the table who either knew what it was and love it or didn’t know what it was so they ate it, all enjoyed it very much.  Perhaps I just don’t know what I am missing!!

Then it was time for the main event, all set out, serve yourself style.  Which is always dangerous when you let to your own accord.

Time to load up our plates

Piped potato and roasted root vegetables

Turkey, white meat and dark

The infamous sausage stuffing

The beautiful Beef Wellington

Add some gravy and cranberry and you have the full meal deal!

 
 
And then when it seemed that we couldn’t possibly eat any more.  We ate some more.
 
 

Chocolate cake

Fruit flan sponge cake

 
 
 
 

A fine time was had by all

Stuffed Cabbage

I always try to do the more “labour intensive” dishes on a Sunday afternoon.  And now with the days being cooler and shorter I’ve been turning to the heartier things that I like to make.

This is one of my favorites.  I’ll admit it is “step heavy” but if you have the time, it is well worth it.

The recipe comes from Laura Caulder’s “French Food at Home” show and subsequent cookbook that I got for Christmas a couple of years ago.

As is usually the case, I tweaked it here and there for my own needs, but will direct you to Laura’s actual recipe so you have a fighting chance!

(Click HERE ) for Laura’s recipe.

 So start with boiling a big pot of water to blanch your cabbage in.  While that is coming to a boil, set out a good size cutting board or work surface and cover it with a clean dish towel and then cover that with about the same size as the towel of cheese cloth.   And then have about a foot long of butcher to cooking cord ready.   This will help when you are in the thick of it.      

Lay out cheese cloth

Cut the core out of the cabbage and gently pull the leaves off one by one and place them a few at a time in the boiling water and poke them under water with a spoon or something.  They really only need to be in for a few minutes till they are pliable.    Then take them out and put them in a bowl of really cold or iced water to stop the cooking.   Repeat till most of the cabbage is done except for the very middle, yellow looking part of the cabbage.  That will be chopped up and added to the filling as per the recipe.

Blanched cabbage

Then lay your cabbage leave out on another clean dish towel to dry off a bit while you make the filling.   Make the filling as per the recipe.  I have made it before without the bread if you are looking for a gluten-free option and it worked just fine.  

Cabbage filling

Once your filling is ready, you can start assembly.

Cabbage, filling, cabbage filling etc till you have used up your materials.

Start with largest leaves on bottom

Try and taper in as you stack the leaves

Then wrap er up real tight in the cheese cloth, that helps it keep a nice shape when you serve it.

Wrap it up good and tight

Laura says to put it in a wire basket or stand or whatever inside the pot, I didn’t.  Only because I didn’t like the idea of stuff leaching into the water.  So I just put it directly into the pot with liquid about half way up the side.  I used half chicken stock and half plain water.

Fill liquid to half way up

THEN, about half way through cooking, I added a little something extra.  I added some chopped cremini mushrooms and some quartered new potatoes.   As you will see this adds a complete meal feel to it.        

Take the cabbage package out when done and let it set awhile in a bowl.  Juice will run out of it so you don’t want it on the counter or just a plate.

Then as the recipe says, cook the liquid down a bit to concentrate the flavours and in my case make sure the mushrooms and potatoes are cooked.  I also added a couple of shots of Worcestershire sauce for good measure.

Once the cabbage has rested a while, put it on a cutting board, being sure to pour any escaped juice back into the soup pot!   Then cut off the cheese cloth and you should have a nice looking cabbage.

Stuffed cabbage

 

Cut it in half first and then in our case, each half in half, to make four servings.

Quarter cabbage

 Place the quarter in a bowl and then add some broth around it with the potato and mushroom and you have a DELIGHTFULLY warming hearty supper!

Stuffed cabbage with steamed new potato

It is worth every bit of effort!        

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Potato corn chowder

Well there isn’t exactly a Fall “nip” in the air around these parts just yet but the days are getting noticeably shorter which makes me turn to comforting foods.

I often feel that Fall and Winter are my preferred cooking seasons because I love hearty soups and stews and what I like to call “Slop on rice” type dishes.  Then again when Spring comes round I’m happy to start cooking lightly but…….out of sight out of mind……so for now my thoughts turn to hearty!

Corn is abundant right now and there are so many things you can do with it but today I made a nice hearty potato corn chowder!

Get out your dutch oven and chop up the usual suspects:

  •  1-2 peeled carrots diced
  •  1-2 ribs of celery diced
  •  1 medium onion diced
  • 1 medium peeled regular potato diced

add a splash of olive oil to the hot pan and then add chopped vegetables and cook till they are a bit “sweaty” looking.  Then add some flavouring such as:

  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of cumin
  • pinch of ground turmeric
  • pinch of smokie paprika

Or what ever other flavours you are inclined to use.

Cook all of that until it gets a bit of colour on it then add a few cups of stock of your choice or just plain water if you like.

If you have the time, let this stuff simmer until everything is nice and tender.  The longer you leave it the move the flavour develops.  This might not be true, but it adds to the romantic image of fall cooking.

When you getting pretty close to the eating part of the day we can do the next couple of steps.

In a separate pan add a little more olive oil and then add the kernels of a few ears of fresh corn ( you could use canned or frozen but seems silly in corn season!) and another peeled and diced potato. And keep tossing these around until they get a nice little brown on them.  Make sure your potato dice is small enough so the potato will cook!

Then we will add the cream or if you prefer my vegan friends, you can use almond milk instead.  ( actually that’s what I used cause I had lots)   Then we will take the hand blender to it and puree until super smooth.

You could use a blender if you like,  but I find that way too much trouble!

Then when it is nice and smooth turn the heat back on.  I guess I forgot to tell you to turn the heat off!  But if you turn off the heat and let it sit a little, it hurts WAY less if you get splashed!

So turn the heat back on and bring it up to a bubble, meanwhile your corn and potatoes are still getting their the “brown on” next door!

Then when everybody is warm and happy and you are ready to eat.  Add the corn and potato to the creamy soup, stir a little and VOILA!  Potato Corn Chowder!

Potato Corn Chowder

Now if that all seems like too much bother and too many pans and you don’t have an afternoon to mess with this, it would be perfectly reasonable to just toss this all in the same pot, cook it up and then “half blend” it so there is still some lumpy goodness to it.  It’s up to you.

Balcony garden update II

There has been a lot of turmoil on the balcony garden.

The cauliflowers were all lost, growing like mutants or just rotting.  Prehaps it was because they were living with the potatoes?  Hard to say.  Maybe I needed to tie them up into balls?  Maybe I was just letting them grow wild!

And then today I found  my ONE tomato with a bite out of it!  Someone must have thought it was good!

Tomato with bite out of it

But they won’t win!  We ate it anyway!  What’s a little bite between neighbours?  I just cut around it!

This tomato made beautiful sweet bruschetta!  Topped with a little fresh basil from the window sill!

Bruschetta from my tomato

Then my curiosity got the better of me and I could wait no longer to see what’s under that potato plant!  Well the smaller one anyway.  The one I kept hacking down to let the cauliflower grow!

I was a little disappointed on first pull.  Not too much came out. 

Potato extraction

 But then I dug around a little deeper and found a few choice nuggets!  I’m not all together convinced that there aren’t still some more down there but I didn’t have time to sift through all the dirt.

Freshly harvested potatoes

Considering I never actually planted any potatoes and the plant just had the will to live, I’m thinking anything I get is a bonus! I roasted them up with a few yam parts and they were all sweet and delish!

Roast potatoes and yam

I need to be patient with the other potato plant and let it keep going awhile but I don’t want them to rot.  Then again THIS plant was just part of the other one that I ripped out of the other box to help make room for the cauliflower, but then when I saw it had a bunch of tiny potatoes growing on it, I quickly replanted it!

Escaped potato plant

This is just one plant taking over the place!!

And then luckily after a rocky beginning of being half eaten to death by the birds, the chard and the lettuce have bounced back nicely!

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