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Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

Making my own food is so satisfying.  I can control the quality of the basic ingredients that form a dish.  These pierogies were made with organic unbleached flour, real cheddar cheese (not that processed crap), red onions, organic potatoes, and chives from the front garden.  Back in junior high when I first learned the ways of the pierogi, we lived on a farm and grew a large portion of our own food.  If I could get the cement-like dirt in my yard to loosen up I could grow the potatoes and onions needed for this recipe.  All that I would need is a cheese purveyor and charcuterie for bacon.

I’ve noticed everyone makes their batch of tamales for the year (or few months) during the winter holiday season.  In Canada, it’s cold at least 80% of the year, so there is some leeway in the definition of “winter season”, nonetheless it’s a good time to gather and make homemade food to last through to spring.  My tamale is the pierogi.  If only I had a bigger freezer!

Traditional pierogies, at least in my family, were filled with potato and cheese.  There are all sorts of variations from blueberry, to cottage cheese, to mushroom.  Not a huge fan of the sweet blueberry version.  A perogie in my mind is savoury.  And bacon.  Lots of bacon involved.

Here is how I made my pierogies.

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1. Gather your ingredients and equipment:

  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • leftover mashed potato
  • sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • cooked bacon and onion, fine dice
  • fresh chives
  • round cookie cutter
  • pierogi press (kitchen toy, not essential but it makes pretty pierogies)
  • rolling-pin
  • tray covered in parchment or wax paper that fits in the freezer horizontally (check to be sure you have space!)
  • pastry mat or floured work surface
  • small dish of water

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2.  Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the water, eggs, oil in another bowl.

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3.  Pour the egg mixture in the flour.

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4. Stir until almost all the flour is absorbed, add more water a teaspoon at a time to reach a uniform dough.  Little hands can help, too!

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5.  Knead the dough for a couple of minutes.

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6.  Let the dough rest covered by the bowl or plastic wrap on the counter for at least 20 minutes.  Meanwhile mix the filling.  I prefer to have the “goodies” in one bowl (bacon, onion, half the cheese, and chives) and the potato in the other with half the cheese.  Make sure the potatoes are cold otherwise the cheese will melt and that doesn’t make for good pierogies.

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7.  Take a baseball-sized portion of the dough and roll out on the floured mat/countertop until it’s very thin.

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8.  Cut rounds of dough.

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9.  Place the dough on the pierogi press, stretch the edges if needed.

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10.  Fill the center with a bit of the bacon mixture and top off with potato.  There should be about a rounded teaspoon of filling total.  Watch out for pokey bacon pieces that pierce the belly of the pierogi!

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11.  Dip a finger in the water.

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12.  Rub the water around half the perimeter of the dough.

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13.  Squish…

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14.  There’s your pierogi!

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15.  Place the pierogies on the sheet pan and freeze.  Once frozen (20 minutes) transfer to freezer bags.  Use within 3 months for best results.  Repeat until you run out of filling or dough or patience.

Alright, that’s the hard part.  The easy part is cooking and enjoying all your hard work.  Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Drop your frozen pierogies in the water (not too many, don’t crowd the hot tub) and boil until they float to the top.  I give them an extra 30-45 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon.  If you want the full experience of the Canadian Perogie, fry those suckers in butter and top with bacon and caramelized onions, with a spoonful of sour cream.  Yeah baby. Effin heart attack on a plate!  I suggest serving 2 or 3 pierogies per person the first time you make this.  Let them develop the thirst for butter-coated potato cheddar pierogies before telling them how many are in the freezer.  More for you in the meantime, eh?

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  • yellow potatoes, cut into fries
  • Monterrey Jack cheese
  • bacon pieces
  • chives
  • sea salt and pepper

I made the fries in the oven (350º for about 20-25 min), which can be tricky.  Turn them over once the bottoms are lightly browned.  I also turn on the broiler on low at the very end to crisp the fries.  Plate the fries, add sea salt and pepper.  Top with slices of cheese and return to the broiler that has been turned off, just until melted.  Top with bacon and chives.  No deep-frying required!

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Instead of deep frying potato fries and heavily battered fish you can make fish and chips at home with just a few tablespoons of olive oil.

  • 1 lb firm white fish (cod)
  • Flour + salt + pepper + garlic powder
  • 1 egg + splash milk
  • panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large firm Russet potatoes or white potatoes
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder for the fries

Cut the potatoes into fries.  Fries go in a 425ºF oven on oiled foil-lined pan, turn after bottoms start to brown.

Cut the fish into fingers.  Dredge in the flour mixture, then the egg, then bread crumbs.  In a non-stick pan add little oil, lay fish strip directly on the hot oil, about a minute on each side.  Fish should be cooked through.

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A quick post to share my weeknight dinner plate.

  • broccoli with grated Gruyère cheese
  • peas
  • sauerkraut
  • 2 russet potatoes, mashed with about 2/3 cup Dill Ranch Dip
  • pork shoulder chops, bone-in, pan seared with Montreal Steak Spice
  • cream of chicken soup + gravy mix (McCormick’s) and 1/2 cup water to first deglaze the pan after the pork is done

And yes, pretty plates do make the food taste better.

Pork Chops with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

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A quick but very filling lunch of tacos, rice, and a type of curried veggies.  I went easy with the spices for the Aloo Gobi, Indian is still a learning curve for me but Aarti helps shorten the leap across the pond(s).

The pork was a small portion of shoulder that I reserved for lunch, it was tossed in fajita seasoning and sea salt.  I have a stash of chopped vegetables in the freezer so that

a) I don’t need to go shopping as often and

b) they won’t wilt and mold away because they were forgotten in the back of the fridge , or

c)  I can actually stock up on “fresh” foods when they go on sale. 

I pulled out a few slices of red pepper out of the freezer and tossed them in the pan with the pork after the first flip.  The tacos are very simple: pork, peppers, salsa on a whole wheat tortillas.

The Aloo Gobi is made with ginger, garlic, cumin, curry powder (which I substituted for turmeric), coriander, cauliflower, and potato.  Check out Aarti’s recipe here.  I would use a firmer potato, like reds, so they don’t break apart and go all fuzzy and stick to the pan.  I’m still battling with turmeric as it makes my whole face numb, so I used a little curry powder instead.  I also used just a little of the spices, I only had half of a huge head of cauliflower and two russet potatoes.  The dish smells wonderful and has the bright yellow tinge of color from the turmeric.  If only I had naan to go with it!

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Skipping lunch is never a good idea.  A banana can only get you so far into the afternoon before the hunger monster creeps up on you and jumps on your back! 

I was fighting with hunger monster as I bundled up to leave the office, kept him in the trunk of the car all the way home, and thought I was rid of it.  I opened the front door to our house, VROOOM! The monster had escaped the trunk, ran right between my legs, bounced off the dog and planted itself in the kitchen.  There was no avoiding it.  The monster latched on to me.  Little hunger monsters spawned from mine, little fuzzy orange tennis ball sized ones, they found refuge on Big Brother and Little Sister.  Oh no!  Consumed, I start pulling out every single container of left over food from the refrigerator.  Pasta, meatballs, pulled pork, cheese, sweet potato, plain potato, pico de gallo and ricotta.  Plates of pasta and meatballs with cheese were first dispersed to the kiddos. 

NOM NOM NOM        >POOF<

The children were freed from the little fuzzy orange tennis ball sized hunger monsters.  A growl started rumbling behind me.  It got louder, and louder, until the dog cowardly hid under the table.  Have to feed the hunger monster, and quick. 

Super Spud is here to save the day!

Open a baked potato and pile on ricotta cheese, pico de gallo (tomatoes, onion, peppers diced fine), pulled pork, cheese and then heat it up to melt the cheese.  A filling dinner to beat the hunger monster in less time than it took me to write this post!

 Photos are linked back to the source, the Fan Page for the Hunger Monster.

 

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On a cold winter day there’s nothing better than curling up with a good movie and a bowl of soup. Soup is also a good way to rescue the last few veggies at the bottom of the fridge before heading to the market for more. The kids can easily enjoy the softened carrots and cool broth.

Scones are something new for me. Big Brother will eat almost anything that is dipped into something else, and breads are on his “yes” list of offerings. I can get him to sit down 90 % of the time if bread and butter are mentioned.

We went to a friend’s house for brunch a couple of weeks ago. The lady of the house prepared homemade scones as a dessert after the meal. The little oblong triangles were sweet and fluffy inside, a perfect pairing for the fig jam I tried. My friend offered up the recipe and I’ve made a twist on her creation: Jalapeno-Cheese Scones.

I made two different soups out of the same base ingredients of potato, carrot, and celery. The first was Turkey Poblano Soup, where chicken substituted the turkey, deliciously I might add.

The second was a first attempt at Dill Pickle Soup. Dill Pickle Soup may not sound like the most appetizing thing on the planet, however, if you like pickles you just might like this soup. Since there was only one lonely pickle left in the jar, it wasn’t an overwhelming pickle flavour. Next time, I think I will use three pickles to see if that would border on insane. If you have a pregnant friend, she might take to this like a duck to water.

Dill Pickle Soup (#1)

  • 1 large kosher dill pickle, fine dice
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 good tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion granules (please use 1/2 of a real onion, I ran out so dried was used here, tastes OK but I suggest real onion)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp dill weed
  • 2 cups chicken or turkey stock

Start with the potatoes.  Cook the cubes in plain old water first, just until they think about softening.  Drain and set the potatoes aside for the moment. 

Make a roux with 2 tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Melt the butter over medium-low heat then sprinkle and whisk in the flour.  Add the salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and dill until you can smell the dill perfuming the kitchen.  Slowly pour the stock into the golden rue.  Whisk to dissolve.

Now add the par-boiled potatoes, carrots, pickle and celery.  Use a tea ball or sachet for the coriander and mustard seeds, submerge into the stock.  If you need to, add a half cup of water so that everybody is swimming nicely in the pot.  Simmer until the potatoes are falling apart but the carrots hold their shape.  Turn down the heat to low and add 3/4 cup whole milk (optional to make the soup creamy).

Estimated total recipe calories: 865 (with whole milk) 840 (with low-fat milk)  765 (without milk added).  Makes three lunch-sized servings.

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Basil Serrano Polenta with Smoked Pork Tenderloin

 

It’s the end of summer, at least we thought it was… It hit 99 degrees today.  So what better day to cook outdoors!  My dear hubby wanted to smoke something and started a fire for me to work with.  I had the foresight to prepare a tenderloin with a marinade sèche straight out of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by Julia Child (finally I could open up her book again!)  I will always use her recipe for pork because this was beyond delicious, it left you with a mouth-watering flavour of the pork plus my added twist of smoke.  Unbelievable! 

With the tenderloin, I made Polenta for the first time, on the BBQ as well.  Who needs plain boring polenta?  Not me! So I experimented a little: 

  • 2 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1 Serrano, into slivers

Bring the 2 3/4 cups of water to a boil, meanwhile mix the polenta, sea salt and cold water in a bowl.  Slowly add the polenta to the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly.  Once all of the polenta is in the pot, turn down the heat to low and stir in the onion and garlic powders.  Cover with a lid for a few minutes as it will splatter, and trust me it’s HOT.  Cook while stirring for 10-15 minutes.  When the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot, it’s ready to be poured out into a baking dish.  At this moment, add the basil and Serrano and mix it quickly to distribute them as evenly as you can. Let it cool for 30 minutes in the pan or pie tin to set up.  I used a pie tin because I knew it was going on to the grill, otherwise a baking dish is fine for the oven.  If you bake it off in the oven, it’s about 20 minutes at 350ºF.  On the grill, I covered the tin with foil and popped it on for about 30 minutes over indirect heat.  If you’re not sure it’s done, take out a small slice to see if the bottom is soggy, if it is, put it back for another 10 minutes, uncovered.  In the end it should hold it’s shape all on its own. 

I think the leftovers will be fried and garnished with parmesan cheese… mmm cheese… 

The potatoes you see on the plate were also prepared on the grill.  Super easy: quartered Yukon gold potatoes, halved Roma tomatoes, chucks of onion, about 4 whole cloves of garlic, nice bit of fresh rosemary, good tablespoon coriander seeds, same with sea salt, just enough oil to coat everything.  I had my 5-year-old help me by stirring everything in a huge bowl and grind fresh pepper over top.  Then we put the whole lot into a foil bag (just fold a large piece of foil like an envelope) and covered it with one more layer of foil (I tend to burn the potatoes on the grill since it’s outside and the doors are shut I can’t smell them when they start to char).  I start the potatoes on the heat then move them to the indirect heat once the foil is very hot and you hear them sizzle.  Since they are over indirect heat, they can stay on for the same amount of time as the meat, roughly an hour and a half.  Mind you, I had hot coals, no flame, for this time.  If you are using a gas grill, this amount of time would obliterate the veggies, so use your judgement according to what method you use!  There are lots of variations on potatoes-in-a-bag on the grill (oven works too), use flavours you like and veggies you like.  Heck, you could eliminate the potatoes all together and use bell peppers and squash!  They would be ready in about 20 minutes, or less.  

For the duration of summer, which lasts until Halloween around here, I would like to make it a point to smoke something every other weekend.  Once the grill is ready and the wood is chopped, you can smoke a lot of food with little effort if you plan ahead. 

Happy grilling 🙂

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Steak & Potatoes


Angus steak with black pepper, minced garlic, sea salt.
Pommes frites were left over BBQ potato wedges with rosemary and coriander, onion and garlic. Cut the wedges into thick slices and fry in a little olive oil.

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