Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Potato Recipes

I suppose the advantage of organizing the cookbook by food type is that when the food bank is given a crate full of potatoes, they could easily print out the potato section, and make copies available to anyone who goes home with potatoes.

Chris told me a depressing story of bok choy sitting at a food bank until most of it rotted, because so few of the patrons knew what to do with it.


Mashed Potatoes
(quick side dish)

You will need about one large potato per person. The potatoes may be mashed with the skin on, if you like it that way. If you leave the skin on, be sure to scrub the potatoes thoroughly under running water with a scrub brush. You may want to trim the eyes off of your potatoes even if you leave the skins on.

You can speed the cooking time by cutting the potatoes into pieces. The smaller you cut them, the faster they will cook.

Watch out – when boiling the potatoes in water, if your pot is very full, the water may suddenly boil over the top, due to the starch in the water. If your pot starts to boil over, reduce the heat and stir the pot.

about 1 large potato per person
salt and pepper to taste
(optional) milk, cream, or butter
(optional) garlic powder

Scrub and/or peel the potatoes. Slice them into medium chunks into a pot, and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil. In ten minutes or so, stick a fork into one of the potato chunks. When the fork slides easily into the potato, it is time to drain and mash.

Drain the potatoes using a colander, or by holding the potatoes in the pot with the lid while pouring the water in the sink. Add some salt and pepper, and a little of the optional milk, cream, or butter, and garlic powder. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Taste, and add more seasonings and optionals as necessary.

Serve as a side dish with gravy, ketchup, or butter.

Leftover mashed potatoes can be used to make Cheesy Potato Soup.

Cheesy Potato Soup
(quick meal)

This soup can be made from scratch, or can be made from leftover mashed potatoes. For one serving of soup, you will need:

1 large potato (or about a cup of mashed potatoes)
½ cup grated cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
(optional) milk, cream, chicken stock, beef stock, etc.
(optional) some cooked sausage, cooked chicken, or other leftover cooked meat, or ham
(optional) other herbs and spices
(optional) chopped vegetables

The basic soup is made by slicing the potato into rough chunks, covering with water (just like mashed potatoes), boiling until a fork easily slides through the potato, mashing with a potato masher, and then adding cheese and seasonings. If starting with mashed potatoes, add water to the mashed potatoes and heat until boiling; then add cheese and seasonings.

Using just potatoes, cheese, and seasonings, you can make a hearty soup. However, this recipe is a blank slate waiting for other things to be added to it! Here are some possible variations:
Italian Potato Soup. Start by browning the meat from one or two Italian sausages (squeeze the meat out of the casing like toothpaste, and discard the casing) and a chopped onion Put the cooked sausage and onion aside, and cook the potatoes. Drain off half of the potato water, mash, add grated parmesan cheese, and then add chicken stock until the desired consistency is reached. Add the sausage and onions, and Italian seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste.

Potato Soup with Carrots and Ham. Sauté some sliced carrots in the pan, then put the carrots aside while the potatoes cook. When the potatoes are done, drain off half of the water, mash, add cheddar cheese, add the carrots, add diced ham, and add milk until the desired consistency is reached. Salt and pepper to taste.

Potato and Greens Chicken Soup. Cook the potatoes in chicken stock, along with a few peeled cloves of garlic. Mash; add cheese, cooked chicken, and chopped greens. Salt and pepper to taste.

Home Fries
(quick breakfast or side dish)

You will need about 1 large potato per person.

1 large potato, diced
½ an onion, diced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel or thoroughly scrub your potato, then cut into bite-sized pieces. Cut the onion into pieces of about the same size. Heat the butter and oil in a pan on medium high heat until the butter melts; then add the potato and onion. Stir to coat with the butter and oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. (Go easy on the salt and pepper - you can always add more later.

Stir often, browning the potatoes, until they start to stick to the pan, at which point, turn down the heat to medium low. Continue to stir about once every 45 seconds. After about five minutes, test a piece of potato (by tasting it). When the desired tenderness is reached, remove the pan from the heat, add additional seasonings to taste, and serve.

Possible variations: add ham. Add curry spices. Add hot pepper flakes. Toss grated cheese on top when the potatoes are done cooking. Serve with Southern style gravy and sautéed greens, and call it a meal.

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