Potato Kugel

Potato Kugel

Potatoes are a fresh vegetable, and they seriously deserve a place on your plate. You should know that one medium potato with the skin on is:

  1. naturally fat-free and sodium-free!
  2. has only 110 calories!
  3. Contains 45% of the daily value for vitamin C!
  4. Is packed with as much or more potassium (620 mg) than bananas, spinach, or broccoli!
  5. Provides 10 percent of the daily value of B6; and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc!

Of course all of that changes once we start adding the sour cream, the butter, and in the Ashkenazi tradition, make today’s recipe for potato kugel! Let’s not worry about the calories in this one and just enjoy! Besides, don’t you know that everything that you consume on Shabbos gets absorbed by the extra spirit that Hashem gives you during this holy time? All the joy, none of the guilt! Good Shabbos Everyone!

Ingredients:

5 large potatoes
1 small onion
5 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chicken soup mix
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 stick of margarine, melted
paprika

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a food processor or grater, shred the potatoes and onion. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, and pour into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle the top with a bit of paprika. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees, until browned and crisp on top and the kugel is set.

* Note: If doubling this recipe – Double all of the ingredients except for the margarine. Keept that at 1 stick (1/2 cup).

Gnocchi in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Gnocchi with Brown Butter Sage Sauce

If potatoes had a hero, it would be Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. Born in France in 1737, he is most remembered for being a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source for humans in France and throughout Europe.

While serving as a French Army pharmacist during the Seven Years’ War, he was captured by the Prussians and imprisoned. Forced to eat potatoes, known to him at that point only has hog feed, he began to experiment and see the value to this small stubby root.

As a way to get the public interested in the vegetable, he conducted a series of publicity stunts, including hosting dinners at which potato dishes featured prominently and guests included luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, giving bouquets of potato blossoms to the King and Queen, and surrounding his potato patch at Sablons with armed guards to suggest valuable goods — then instructing them to accept any and all bribes from civilians and withdrawing them at night so the greedy crowd could “steal” the potatoes.

I guess you could say his techniques worked, as potatoes are not only acceptable, and as more than just hog feed, but are a staple in kitchens around the world. Today’s recipe will show you how Italians make quick work out of a bag of spuds!

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:
6 large baking potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds), scrubbed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt + salt for boiling water
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

Brown Butter Sage Sauce:
¼ cup butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 sage leaves*
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

* Click here to learn how to clean sage.

Directions:

Gnocchi:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes and cook until tender but still firm, about 15-20 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, and peel. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then mash the potatoes with a fork, masher, or in a ricer. Place the mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl, and stir in the eggs and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Knead in enough flour to make a soft dough. If the dough is too dry, add some more oil, too moist, add some more flour.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a long rope. Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces. Take each piece and roll it against the back of fork, along the tines. This will give you’re the classic ribbed shape of the gnocchi dumpling.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Drop in gnocchi, one by one, and cook until they float to the top, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Sauce:
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, remove any foam that rises off of the butter. Let the butter start to get a little colour to it. Remove it from the heat, and add the olive oi. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the garlic, and cook until the garlic has softened and is beginning to turn golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the sage and salt for a few seconds, and then add the cooked gnocchi. Toss gently with ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and the pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese to serve.

Papas Arrugadas with Red & Green Mojo Sauce

Canarian Potatoes

The humble potato. Where would be without it? As a Jew just coming off of Passover, I can tell you I’d be lost without it! So in honour of our starchy, tuberous friend from the nightshade family, I dedicate this week to the ever versatile potato!

We’re going to be starting our international dedication with a recipe from the Canary Islands, which are Spanish territory just off the southern coast of Morocco. It is fitting to choose a recipe with Spanish roots, since the English word potato comes from the Spanish patata (the name used in Spain).  The Spanish say that patata is derived from the Taíno (native language of the people of the Caribbean) batata and the Quechua (native language of the people of the Andes) papa. So as you can see, even the name is international!

This recipe makes a great little appetizer if you’re serving a tapas style meal or hors d’oeuvres and wine, as something savoury to nibble on! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

For the green mojo sauce:
½ green bell pepper, cut into large pieces
½ cup cilantro or parsley leaves*
2 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

For the red mojo sauce:
4 garlic cloves, or to taste, crushed to a paste
¾ teaspoon pimentón picante, chile pepper, or cayenne
2 teaspoons pimentón dulce or sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
pinch of fine sea salt, or to taste

For the potatoes:
2 pounds small new potatoes (in their skins), washed
4 tablespoons coarse sea salt

* Click here to learn how to clean cliantro and parsely.

Directions:

To make the green mojo sauce:
Blend all the ingredients except the oil to a paste in the food processor. Gradually add the oil and blend to a light creamy consistency.

To make the red mojo sauce:
Mix the garlic with the pimentón, and cumin in a bowl, then beat in the olive oil and vinegar. Add salt to taste.

To cook the potatoes:
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan that holds them in one layer, and add just enough water to cover and the salt. If you have to boil the potatoes in two pans, do so, this way they each get the salty coating.

Bring the salty water to a boil and cook, uncovered, over medium heat, letting the water bubble for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender and the water has evaporated. Leave them over very low heat for a few minutes, moving them and turning them over in the dry pan, until they are wrinkled and covered with a fine powder of salt. Serve hot or warm, with one or both of the sauces.

Acadian Cod Pancakes (Newfoundland & Labrador)

Fish Cakes with Applesauce
Newfoundland and Labrador is Canada’s most easterly province, and is made up of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland portion of Labrador. In 1583 Newfoundland became England’s first North American possession when it was claimed by Sir Humphrey Gilbert for Queen Elizabeth. While Labrador was part of the Portuguese Empire (going back as far as 1500). The French formed a colony in Newfoundland in 1655, and went to war in the 1690’s, destroying nearly every English settlement on the island. The French however ceded their claims to the British and to the French possessions in Acadia (hello Acadian connection!) in 1713. For the next 150 years or so, the land goes back and forth between the French, the Spanish and the English… To be honest, it is all very confusing!

In the end however they became a part of Canada, and we are happy to have them! With all that history and culture, you know the food is going to have its roots steeped in some pretty interesting traditions! One of the biggest yields from this area though is its fish, particularly cod. Traditionally what was not sold right away was salted and preserved. Today, salt cod is still a popular ethnic ingredient. For today’s recipe though, we’re going to use the unsalted version, either fresh or frozen, to make Acadian Cod Pancakes. If you want to be a real Newfie, make sure to eat them with apple sauce! This recipe will make enough cakes for 6. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh or frozen cod fillets
6-8 potatoes, cooked and mashed (about 3 cups)
2 small onions, diced
¼ cup water
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of pepper
oil, for frying
apple sauce, for serving

Directions:

Peel and boil your potatoes, until cooked through, then drain and mash the potatoes, allowing them to cool enough to handle. Thaw your fish fillets if necessary, then break them apart and chop the fish very finely. In a small pan, cook the onions with the water, so that they become translucent, but do not brown. Once the onions have cooked through, set them aside and allow them to cool enough to be handled.

Beat the eggs so that they are well blended. In a large bowl mix together the fish, mashed potatoes, cooked onions, eggs, flour, parsley, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Make sure to combine the ingredients well. If you find the mixture is too loose, you can add a bit more flour. If you find the mixture to dry or not forming cakes well, you can add another egg.

Heat the cooking oil in a large non-stick pan, until very hot but not smoking. Using a ⅓ cup as a measure, form small cakes or patties. Place the cakes onto the pan in the hot oil. Do not over crowd your pan, or you will find it difficult to flip them. Fry the cakes for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. If you find your cakes browning too quickly, lower the heat. Flip the cakes over with a spatula, and then fry for another 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, remove the cakes to a piece of paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve the cakes hot with apple sauce for a true Newfie treat, or with cocktail or tartar sauce.

Rappie Pie (Nova Scotia)

Rappie Pie

Ahhh Nova Scotia, Latin for New Scotland, is the last of Canada’s Maritime Provinces, and is located almost exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole. While it is the second smallest province in Canada with a land mass of 55,284 square kilometres or 21,300 square miles, it is in fact the second most-densely populated province (behind PEI) with a population of just under 950,000. Speaking of its people, you have a vast mixture here between old Scot and French, with the colourful history of the Acadians thrown in for good measure. Like a lot of food in this part of Canada, it has French roots, as you will see with today’s recipe for Rappie Pie. The name Rappie Pie originates from the French word râper, which means to grate. Although râpure was a favourite dish among Acadians throughout South West Nova Scotia, it was not an easy dish to prepare for a large family. The grating and draining does take a pit out of a person, however the end result is delicious! This can definitely be a one-dish meal, or you could always serve the left over broth as a first course. This recipe will make enough pie for at least 6 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 large whole chicken
3 large chopped onions
2 ribs of celery
2 large whole carrots
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
chicken soup base (optional)
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can keep the chicken whole, or cut it into large pieces. Place the chicken into a large soup pot, along with the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf and thyme, and fill with just enough water to completely cover. Simmer the stock until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pot, as well as the celery and carrots, but leave the onions and the broth in the pot. Taste the broth; if it needs to be more “chicken-y” add some of the chicken soup base to the mix. Keep the broth warm, not too hot, but allow the meat to cool so that you can handle it. Remove the chicken meat from the bones, and cut it into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

For this recipe, you want to grate the potatoes, not shred. You can do this with a hand grater (and elbow grease) or by using a juicer that collects the pulp in a side compartment. Another method would be to purée the potatoes using the steel blade on a food processor. No matter what method you choose, you are going to want to remove as much (read ALL) the liquid from the potatoes.

Important note: Do not throw out the liquid drained from the potatoes! It has two purposes:

  1. You’re going to want to measure how much liquid you drained in the end, because you’re going to want to use that same amount of chicken broth to add the moisture back to the dish and;
  2. You’re going to want to save any of the starch that collects at the bottom of your measuring container (that whitish sludgy stuff) to add back you’re your strained potato mixture.

To remove the liquid, place the grated/puréed potatoes in a cotton bag (like a clean pillow case), a dish-towel or several layers of cheesecloth, and twist it until you have a tight package. The liquid will just pour off of it.

Using an equal amount of chicken broth to the amount of liquid you drained, blend the potatoes and broth liquid. You may want to do this in stages so that it gets very well mixed. Potato mixture consistency is correct when the spoon just slightly falls over when made to stand up in the mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add half of the potato mixture into a greased rectangular baking pan or a large casserole dish. Then layer on the cut up chicken, and top with remaining potato mixture. Bake for about 2 hours, or until top is uniformly brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting into and serving.

Potato Galette (PEI)

Potato Galette

So the little province with the big heart, and name, is Prince Edward Island. This small province (only 5660 square kilometres or 2190 square miles), is one of Canada’s three maritime provinces and sits in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. When I think of PEI though, two things come to mind. The Anne of Green Gables book series and Potatoes! For those of you that are not familiar, Anne of Green Gables is a book series published from 1908 through 1921 and written by PEI born author Lucy Maud Montgomery. The series pivoted around a young woman named Anne, and her adventures and family who all lived in PEI. The series became quite famous, and spawned movies and televisions series based on Anne’s character. The other PEI claim to fame that I mentioned is their potatoes! Known for its red soil, PEI grows a bounty of potatoes, and in fact produces 25% of all potatoes grown in Canada! So, when it came to a recipe to showcase PEI, how could I not choose a potato one?! Today’s galette, or pie, will make a yummy, cheesy side dish and will serve 8.

Ingredients:

5 pounds of peeled, thinly sliced PEI potatoes
½ cup olive oil
½ cup puréed onion (about 1 onion)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried basil
4 teaspoons salt (or less if desired)
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the herbs and let the mixture cool. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the potatoes very thin, using a mandolin if you have one. While you are slicing the potatoes, keep the cut ones in a large bowl with water. This will remove the excess starch from the potatoes and keep them from turning brownish/grey. Drain the sliced potatoes and dry them, then toss the potato slices with the cooled down onion mixture. Take a 9″ x 13″ pan, and rub or spray with oil. Combine the salt and pepper with the two cheeses. Place a layer of potato slices on bottom of pan. Sprinkle a layer of cheese mixture alternating with potatoes and finishing with cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and let bake for another 20 minutes, so that the cheese can become golden brown. Let cool. Cut into 8 pieces (1 across, 4 down) then cut squares in half to make 16 triangles.

Classic Tourtière (Quebec)

Tourtiere

Ahhh…. La belle province! The nickname for Quebec is “The beautiful province” and it is easy to see why. Quebec has a little bit of everything when it comes to its geography, and it has more culture than any one province has a right to! While most major cities are bilingual to an extent, the majority of Quebecois speak French as their daily language. But with French life, comes French food! And there is so much to choose from! Unfortunately, most of this tends to be not kosher, as there is a large amount of pork and shellfish in these dishes, along with the combinations of dairy and meat products (oh, but a REAL poutine would be so delicious!) However, I’ve taken a French classic, a Tourtière or meat pie, and given it a kosher twist, changing the pork to beef, and taking the lard and butter out of the pie crust. It may not be authentic, but I’m sure you’ll love it just the same! This pie will serve 6-8 people.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups cubed peeled potatoes (about 2 medium sized potatoes)
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 cups sliced mushrooms (about 1 pound of mushrooms)
¾ cup finely chopped celery (about 1 ½ stalks)
¾ cup chicken stock
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon dried savoury
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 Really Flaky Pastry (see below)
1 egg yolk

Directions:

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cover and cook potato until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and mash; set aside.

Meanwhile, in deep skillet, sauté the beef over medium-high heat, mashing with fork, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Drain off fat.

Add mushrooms, celery, stock, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, savoury, thyme, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until almost no liquid remains, about 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Mix in potatoes. Let cool.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 of the pastry discs to scant ¼ inch thickness. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in filling. Roll out remaining pastry. Brush pie rim with water; cover with top pastry and press edge to seal. Trim any excess dough from around the edges, and crimp them to create a tight seal.

If you like, you can use the leftover scraps of dough to cut out nice shapes to decorate the top of your pie. Mix egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of water. With a pastry brush (or your fingers) brush the egg wash over the top of the pie. Cut steam vents in the top of the pie. Bake in bottom third of a 400 degree oven until hot and golden brown, about 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Really Flaky Pastry:

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted margarine, cubed
½ cup cold Crisco or other vegetable shortening, cubed
1 egg
2 teaspoons vinegar
ice water

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk the flour together with the salt. Using a pastry blender/cutter or 2 knives, cut in the margarine and the vegetable shortening until the mixture forms coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

In liquid measuring cup beat the egg with the vinegar and add enough ice water to make ⅔ cup. Drizzle over the flour mixture, tossing with fork until ragged dough forms. Divide the dough in half, pressing each half into a disc shape. Wrap each disc tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. If you like you can make this dough up to 2 days in advance.

Chital Macher Muitha (Chital Fried Fish Dumplings)

Fish BallsIn the Calcutta or Kolkata region of India, Chital, also known as Clown Knife fish, is a popular fish used in many dishes. It is an interesting fish, in that it is carnivorous (meat eating) and often cannibalistic (eats its own kind). I’m not sure if it is in fact a kosher fish, but it is almost a moot point for those of us in North America, as it is very hard to get outside of certain specialty ethnic stores, and even then it’s frozen. Fresh, if it was kosher and possible to find, it’s apparently a nightmare to debone! Having said all that, I’m making this recipe less authentic by substituting Chital with any ground white fish. I’m sorry to all my Bengali enthusiasts out there, but sometimes, you have to make sacrifices in the name of food! All that being said, this recipe will serve 6 if served as a main entrée and can easily be cut in half for appetizer portions instead. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

3 ⅓ pounds ground fish (any white fish)
1 ¼ cups cooking oil
6 medium potatoes, peeled
4 large tomatoes
6 medium onions
4-5 inch piece of fresh ginger (or 4 ½ tablespoons ginger paste)
2-3 green chilies (optional)
12 cloves of garlic (of ¼ cup bottled minced garlic)
4-5 bay leaves
3 teaspoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons butter/olive oil (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
4 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons turmeric powder
1 ½ cups water
cilantro (for garnish)*

* Click here to learn how to clean cilantro.

Directions:

In a large pot, bring the potatoes to a boil and cook through. While the potatoes are cooking, dice the tomatoes and onions, and set them aside. In food processor or blender puree the ginger and garlic (separately) so that you get a paste formed from them. If you are using chilies in this recipe, you can puree them as well with either the ginger or garlic.

Once the potatoes are done, drain the potatoes and mash them to a smooth consistency. Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, mix them together with the ground fish, 2 ¼ tablespoons of the ginger paste, the garlic paste, ½ the diced onions and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt.

In a deep sauté pan, heat the oil to about 350-375 degrees, or that when a bit of the fish mixture is dropped in, it starts to fry and bubble immediately. Make small balls out the fish mixture, like you would a meat ball, and drop them one-by-one into the hot oil. Do not over crowd the balls, as the more balls in the oil at once, the lower the oil temperature will drop, and you’ll wind up with oily fish balls rather than nicely fried ones. It is best to fry them in batches. Once the balls turn nice and golden, remove them from the oil and set them aside on a paper towel to drain any excess oil.

After all the fish mixture has been fried, add the bay leaves and remaining onions to the left over oil and fry for 2 minutes. After 3-4 minutes add the diced tomato and stir for another 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining ginger paste, turmeric powder and cumin, combining it well and allow it to cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the water and salt to the mixture, and bring to a boil.

Once the sauce has come together, return the fried fish balls to the sauce, and let simmer for another 5 minutes. After that, add the butter or olive oil, if adding, and the garam masala powder. Taste for salt, and mix well. Serve the fish balls and sauce hot over white rice.

Fish Soup

Fish SoupThis is a nice alternative to chicken soup, and combines the fish course and soup course into one! All the flavour, half the work! This recipe will serve about 12 people.

Ingredients:

⅓ cup olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
2 large leeks, white part and most of the green part, sliced*
4 stalks celery
1 bulb fennel, quartered (save the fronds for garnish)*
6 cloves garlic
1 large bunch parsley*
2 red peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
Head and tail of a large salmon, tile fish, or any other big fish, quartered, loosely but securely wrapped in cheesecloth
2 (540ml) cans crushed tomatoes
8 cups water
2 large potatoes, cut in small cubes
1 cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon cayenne, or a little more to taste
Good pinch ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
2 good pinches saffron
8 cups fish, cubed, about 1” size (salmon, tile or snapper)

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these vegetables and herbs.

Directions:

In a food processor, coarsely grind the onions, leeks, celery, fennel, garlic, parsley and peppers. You can do this in batches if you have a smaller processor or you find the vegetables are becoming over processed.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil, and then add the vegetable mixture. Sauté the mixture until the onions and leeks become translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Mix often so that nothing sticks and burns.

Next, add the head and tail of the fish (in the cloth), along with the tomatoes, water, potatoes, wine, cloves, bay leaves and paprika. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecloth with the fish parts in it, and then add the chopped up fish meat and saffron to the pot. Allow the soup to cook another few minutes until the chopped fish has cooked through. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and then serve hot, garnished with a few fronds from the fennel.

Russian Beet and Potato Salad – Свекла и Картофельный салат

Beet and Potato SaladIngredients:

2 beets, peeled and diced
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
3 small dill pickles, diced
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt to taste
3 green onions, chopped

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook beets until tender, about 30 minutes. Bring a separate pot of water to a boil and cook potatoes and carrots until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain vegetables, and place in a large bowl.

Place the diced pickles in the bowl with beets, potatoes, and carrots. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt. Sprinkle with green onions. Chill completely before serving.