Archive for the Category ◊ Rice and Potatoes ◊

24 Jul 2014 Curried Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Rice Pilaf

curriedmeatballs01

I have a love-hate relationship with America’s Test Kitchen (and their related publications, Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country).  I buy a LOT of their special interest publications. I like to read, and I enjoy reading recipes, and I like trying out new recipes. I like the pictures of each recipe and I like the all the notes that go along with each ATK recipe.  I have made some good things from ATK recipes, but I’ve made some not so good, too.  On the other hand, I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate that I cannot access any of the ATK recipes online without paying for them.  The only way around this is to get the name of the recipe you are interested in and Google it, or look on foodgawker or TasteSpotting for a hit, then go to a food blog, similar to this one, to get the actual recipe.  Compare this to Bon Appetit and Epicurious.  I subscribe to Bon Appetit, but even if I didn’t I could access all of their recipes for free on the Epicurious website, most of which have some wonderfully helpful comments.  I love being able to search Epicurious‘ recipe archives for any recipe they have published over the past years. I often find terrific recipes that way, searching on words such as “soup”,  “blueberries” and “brownies” and then scrolling through all the recipes with that key word. I don’t know why America’s Test Kitchen cannot do the same 😛

Anyways…, enough of my rant and onto my latest America’s Test Kitchen find!

The original recipe (by the same name) was from one of America’s Test Kitchen 30-minute Meals cookbooks.  The meatballs, although very simple with a very plain list of ingredients, are quite tasty and virtually perfect! I wanted to up the curry powder just a bit, but my offspring vetoed that idea,  saying they were good just as they are, so I left the meatball recipe alone (but I did “heap” the 1 T. of curry powder!).  I always make these meatballs with ground chicken, but I see no reason why ground turkey, ground beef, or ground lamb couldn’t be used. The 1 lb. of ground meat makes about 30-36 small meatballs.

I did change the pilaf recipe a quite bit, as ATK’s was much too bland. (Pilaf, by definition, contains rice cooked in broth, ATK version was cooked in water, and only got worse after that.) I substituted butter for vegetable oil, broth for the water and added a bit  more variety, and taste,  with additional veggies, herbs, and garnishes.  I also added a bit of salt and spice…, and the magical touch, a bay leaf and a long piece of lemon peel (both of which are fished out before serving).

I didn’t think it was true, but it was! I was able to make this, from start to finish, in 30-minutes…, AND it was a mighty tasty, spur-of-the-moment dinner!   Serve with a side of veggies, if you want, steamed broccoli would be good… 🙂

Curried Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Rice Pilaf

For Pilaf

  • 1 T butter (approx)
  • ½ -1 cup finely chopped onion (your favorite variety)
  • ½ -1 cup finely chopped mixed vegetables (celery, carrots, bell peppers…)
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 ¾ cups hot chicken broth (or water). OK to sub abut ¼ cup of liquid for ¼ cup white wine (another option: add one long strip of lemon, lime or orange peel-with no white pith attached, to the rice mixture when adding the liquid)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ -1 teaspoon salt (if your broth is salted, you might not need to add too much additional salt)
  • ½ – 1 cup chopped dried apricots or mixture of apricots and other dried fruits (raisins, cherries, cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds or other nuts (pistachios, pine nuts, chopped pecans)
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, parsley, basil, green onion, frozen peas, sautéed mushrooms or mint for last minute stir-in and garnish (choose one, maybe two…or three)

 For Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
  • ½ cup very finely minced raw onion (grated onion works well, too)
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (maybe a bit more…)
  • 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste

From start to finish: about 30 minutes

  1. In large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add chopped onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add rice and cook until mostly opaque, about 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in choice of mixed veggies
  5. Add broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from heat and let rice stand and steam until needed.
  6. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine chicken, onions, panko, cilantro, curry powder, salt and pepper. Mix with fork until well blended.  Don’t overwork the meat mixture.
  7. Using wet hands (or a small scoop), shape mixture into 1-inch meatballs. (Depending on size, of course, makes about 30-36 meatballs)
  8. Heat a bit of oil in a large frying pan until hot.
  9. Add meatballs and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes, shaking pan as needed.
  10. Cover the pan and steam meatballs over medium heat for an additional 5 minutes.
  11. Now turn your attention back to the rice. Take lid off the pan and gently fluff rice with a fork. Pick out the bay leaves and the optional lemon or orange peel.
  12. Add apricots/dried fruit mixture, toasted almonds/nuts and choice of stir ins to rice (reserve about 1 tablespoon, each, of nuts and green stir-ins). Stir to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients.
  13. Transfer pilaf to a serving platter, top pilaf with hot, browned meatballs, and then sprinkle the reserved 1 T. of  nuts and cilantro, parsley, mint or green onion over the top. Add a serving spoon and . . . .
  14. Dinner is ready! YUM!

curriedmeatballs02

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today 🙂  I hope that you make  and enjoy these and I hope they become a family favorite, as they have in my house!

09 Jan 2011 Oven Baked Fries

It seems as if it’s been a long since I posted anything.  The kids have been home, some of their friends have been here for varying hours and days, and my grandson has been staying here, so I have been focused on big batch cooking of tried-and-true family favorites.  The few new things I’ve made haven’t been Great or, if they have been, they’ve been devoured before I got my camera focused!  It’s been a mad-house around here!  Thank goodness they’ve all gone for three days.  I can post!

One of the family favorites I’ve made repeatedly over the last few weeks has been our oven baked fries.  My friend Mary first made these for me about 25 years ago.  I was so impressed to go over to her house for lunch and she had a basket of home baked fries on the table.  Not only were they a big hit with me, but they were also a big hit with our preschool daughters.

Since then, I’ve seen recipe after recipe for oven baked fries.  I think America’s Test Kitchen has one that calls for blanching the sliced potatoes in boiling water before baking.  I tried it, and it didn’t work any better than Mary’s way.  Another recipe had me sprinkling a lot of Kosher salt on the baking tray to lift the potatoes off the tray a bit and help with the browning.  That didn’t work magic either.  Here are my “secrets”, as passed onto me by Mary: use a mixture of butter and olive oil [1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil on one baking tray], use smallish potatoes of equal size and cut each into eight wedges.

Oven Baked Fries

  • Approx. 1 small Russet potato for each person
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter for each baking tray
  • Kosher salt and freshly grated pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Spend sometime picking the right potatoes.  Choose potatoes on the small size, and choose potatoes that are roughly the same size. Scrub the outside of the Russet Potatoes to remove all the dirt and soil then dry.

Place baking tray in preheated oven to get hot.

Cut each potato in half lengthwise, then half again, then half again.  You should have eight wedges from each potato.

Remove baking tray from oven.  Place olive oil and butter on baking tray and swirl until melted and evenly coating the bottom of the tray.

Place the potato wedges on the preheated baking tray on top of the melted butter and olive oil.  Make it easy on yourself and place all the wedges going to same direction in equally spaced rows.  You should be able to get all the wedges from 3 or 4 small potatoes onto one baking sheet.

Place tray in oven and bake at 425º for 20 minutes.

Remove tray from oven and turn over each wedge.  This is why you put all the wedges facing the same way.  Now you know which wedges you’ve turned and which you haven’t! Return tray to oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

After flipping, your wedges should look like this:

After baking both sides your wedges should look like this:

Check your fries. Do they look brown enough?  Are they cooked through? (Taste one, but be careful, it’s HOT).  If necessary, flip wedges one more time and return to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove potatoes to a paper towel lined platter to drain (if you wish). Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Remove fries to a serving bowl.  Serve hot with ketchup or leftover blue cheese dips.

For years I made these for our “family night”.  We watched a family-friendly video, ate Chicken Nuggets, home fries, and corn-on-the-cob or broccoli.  Fun times! Oh my goodness, I just realized my Oven Baked Chicken Nuggets recipe has not been transferred from my facebook “Polly, Julie. and Julia” page.  I’ll do that right now.  I hope that an Oven Baked Chicken Nugget and Fries  family dinner is in your future soon!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Hope to see you again tomorrow!

21 Nov 2010 Basil Mashed Potatoes

I hope you are going to the Farmer’s market this weekend.  I was there last week, and there were still large bunches of fresh basil for a dollar. Spend a dollar.  Buy a bunch of fresh basil. Get some potatoes, too (Yukon Golds or white boiling potatoes).  Then try this recipe for Basil Mashed Potatoes. Thank you, Ina!  I found this recipe in Ina Garten’s (The Barefoot Contessa) new cookbook, “How Easy is That?“.

This recipe is for a savory mashed potato side dish.  No gravy needed.  This is a versatile side dish that will pair nicely with any number of main dishes. Serve it with your next meatloaf, roast chicken, pork chop, salmon fillet… Next time I make Shepherd’s Pie, I am going to top it with these potatoes.  Won’t that dress up a casserole that can sometimes be a bit bland? Last week,  I made some rather boring vegetable soup.  It perked right up when I stirred in some leftover Basil Mashed Potatoes. You’ll be amazed with what 2 cups of fresh basil will do to 2 lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes.

Full disclosure: making mashed potatoes can really mess up a kitchen and dirty a lot of dishes.  Basil mashed potatoes dirties one or two more pots than regular mashed potatoes, but you don’t even have to think about making gravy…!

Basil Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes or white boiling potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ¼ to 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper (add to taste)
  • Directions

    1. Fill a small bowl with ice water and set aside.
    2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the basil leaves to the boiling water and cook for exactly 15 seconds.  Remove the basil from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge into the ice water.  Drain the basil and set aside.
    3. Add the peeled and quartered potatoes to the same pot of boiling, salted water.  Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Drain well.
    4. In a small pan over medium high heat, bring the half-and-half and Parmesan cheese to a simmer.
    5. Place the drained basil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Puree the basil, then slowly add the hot half-and-half and Parmesan mixture and process until smooth.
    6. Mash the drained potatoes.  Slowly add the hot basil cream and beat until smooth. TASTE.  Add salt and pepper as needed.
    7. Place mashed potatoes in serving bowl and sprinkle with a little extra grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve hot.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  So glad Ina was here with me!!!

    20 Nov 2010 Turkey Dressing/Stuffing

    Yesterday I went to Costco and Trader Joe’s.  Both places had samples of make-it-from-a-box turkey Dressing/Stuffing.  Did they think the samples would entice people to buy that stuff? What WAS it?  The texture was glue-y…, the taste was…, was…, there was no taste, it was just warm.  It’s no wonder we have a generation of kids who don’t like much more than hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, and soda.  If I were served that stuffing, I’d be longing for McDonald’s, too. C’mon, folks. We can do better than that.  I know I am preaching to the choir, but I was so taken aback at how horrible that boxed stuff was that I just can’t keep my mouth shut.

    Here’s my recipe for Dressing/Stuffing for turkey or chicken.  It’s evolved over the years.  Thirty plus of them. I’ve made Thanksgiving dinner for 30 consecutive years.  That’s right.  Thirty years.  No break.  Before that, my Dad used to make the stuffing when I was a kid.  It was always sage and onion.  He boiled the onions, then chopped them, mixed them with breadcrumbs, lots of powdered sage-sometimes too much, cooked turkey liver and pork  sausage, and then used the onion water to moisten the dressing before stuffing it into the bird.  When I was a teenager, my friend’s mother told me her secret, she said to use crackers instead of bread in the stuffing, so I did, and still do, most of the time.  I have tried making this dressing with cornbread too, but it didn’t work out very well.  I had cornbread mush.  It wasn’t very appetizing. One of these days I will try the cornbread again, because it should have worked. I must have done something wrong.

    My recipe is amazingly similar to my friend, Kayte’s, whose mother told me the cracker secret.  Kayte and I have been friends for over 40 years, but we had never compared stuffing recipes until she wrote hers down and shared it with our cookbook club. Kayte’s recipe evolved through the Irish women on her side of the family, mine evolved through English men, we overlapped a bit with the cracker tip, and we basically have the same recipe!  It’s a good one, too!

    This is an old school dressing. Nothing too fancy, but compared to those samples of that boxed stuff, it’s out-of-this-world!

    Advance Prep Tip:  Prepare and saute all  ingredients, then refrigerate (or freeze) until needed.  On Turkey Day, defrost if needed, and then just mix the prepared ingredients with the crushed crackers or toasted bread crumbs, stir in the fresh herbs, moisten with broth and eggs, and bake according to the directions below.

    Turkey Dressing (or Stuffing)

  • 1 1 lb. box saltine crackers with salt (or 1 lb. loaf sourdough bread or 2 baguettes, stale, cut into ¼ inch cubes, and toasted)
  • 2-4 tablespoons butter or  olive oil or vegetable oil, divided use
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • about 3 cups turkey or chicken stock, divided use
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, chopped (not sliced–mushrooms should be about the same size as the onions and celery)
  • 1 lb. pork sausage (Jimmy Dean’s Sage is my preferred sausage)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh sage plus 1 teaspoon dried sage (or 1 tablespoon dried sage), or to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ cup melted butter (or bacon fat), optional
  • Directions

    1. Crush the crackers and set aside.  Hints…you want crushed crackers, not cracker meal. I crush the crackers in their sleeve over a large bowl, and when the package bursts I let them fall into the bowl and use my fingers to crush any larger pieces.  Set crackers aside.  If you are using bread cubes, pour them into the large bowl, and set aside
    2. Heat 1-2 tablespoons butter or oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When hot, stir in chopped onion and saute until soft, about 8 minutes.  Stir in chopped celery, and saute for another 3 minutes or so.  Add 1 cup of hot stock to pan.  Stir to release any stuck on brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove mixture from pan and let cool.
    3. To same pan add a bit more oil, and the pork sausage.  Brown sausage over medium high heat and then set aside to drain on paper towels.
    4. Add more oil to hot pan, if necessary, and add chopped mushrooms.  Saute mushrooms until cooked.  Turn off heat and let mushrooms cool slightly.
    5. Add the onion/celery mixture, the drained sausage, the cooked mushrooms, and the grated apple to the cracker crumbs. Toss to combine. Stir in sage, parsley, and pepper. Adjust seasonings if necessary.
    6. In a separate bowl combine the beaten eggs with 2 cups of stock.  Pour this mixture over the crumb, meat, veggie mixture in the large bowl and stir to combine.  If needed, add a bit more stock for mixture to be uniformly moist and clumpy.
    7. Stuff turkey with dressing and bake according to directions on turkey package for your sized turkey OR pour mixture into a 9 x 13 inch pan**see NOTE below!. Drizzle with 1/4 cup melted butter and cover with foil.
    8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes the uncover and bake for an additional 12-20 minutes.  If dressing looks dry, stir and add another 1/2 to 1 cup broth.  When baked dressing should be puffy and have a nicely browned top crust

    **NOTE:  This year I am going to put some of the stuffing mixture into sauteed mushroom caps, and then bake for 20 minutes.  I will use the stuffed mushrooms to make a ring on the serving plate, and then mound additional stuffing in the middle of the plate.  Won’t that look nice?  I expect the stuffing aficionados in the family–that would be all of us!–to go wild over this.

    Enjoy!  Happy Thanksgiving!

    19 Oct 2010 Hasselback Potatoes

    Have you heard of these potatoes?  Have you ever had one?   Seen one?  Me neither.  I made, and tasted, my first Hasselback potatoes over the weekend, photographic proof above!   A Hasselback Potato is a  Swedish version of a baked potato.  It’s named after the restaurant where it was first served, Hasselbacken, in Stockholm…, in the 1700s (!).  LOL! There are pictures and recipes all over the Internet.  See the great photos here!  Was I truly the last person on the planet to learn of these?!   How on earth did I miss these for the  first 50 years of my life?  The Hasselback potatoes were fun and easy to make, looked intriguing on the plate and tasted very good.

    Use the recipe below as a guide.   Change it up a bit to match your tastes, and what you have on hand.  Some recipes call for peeling the potatoes, I left the skins on.  Some recipes use Russet potatoes, I used small Yukon Golds.  Some recipes call for sprinkling the potatoes with bread crumbs, I used Parmesan Cheese.  Some recipes called for paprika and salt, I used black pepper and salt. The quantities below are just a guide, increase or decrease depending on how many potatoes you are cooking.

    Hasselback Potatoes

    2-4 small Russet potatoes, or 6-12 small Yukon Gold potatoes (as many as you need for the number of people you are serving)
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    approx. 4 tablespoons melted butter
    1-2 teaspoons finely minced garlic (to taste)
    salt (table, Kosher, or sea), to taste
    freshly grated black pepper, to taste
    approx 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 400º.

    The first step is the trick to these potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices, but DO NOT cut all the way through the bottom of the potato. How to do this?  Put a pencil, a skewer or a chopstick on either side of the potato.  Slice an 1/4 intervals.  The knife will stop when it hits the pencil, skewer or chopstick and you won’t slice all the way through the potato! Brilliant!

    Melt the butter with the garlic and the olive oil.

    Drizzle the butter mixture over the potatoes.  Then use a pastry brush, or your fingers, to make sure the butter and the garlic drizzles down between each potato slice. (I put the potatoes in a bowl, poured the melted butter-oil-garlic mixture over them, then made sure the oil and garlic slid down each cut. )  Place potatoes on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Place potatoes in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake until done.  I baked small Yukon Golds for 25 minutes.  Bake a russet almost as long as you would bake a regular baked potato, 50 to 60 minutes.  Wait, you are not done yet.

    Remove potatoes from oven, brush with any remaining butter-oil-garlic mixture and then sprinkle with cheese.  Return to oven to melt cheese, another 5 minutes or so.  Now you are done 🙂

    Some people serve these with horseradish and herbed sour cream.  Why?  I didn’t think they needed any topping at all.

    BTW, my daughter  zapped the leftovers for her breakfast the following morning.  I stole a bite.  Yummy.

    Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  It’s always a pleasure.  Leave me a comment so I know you stopped by!

    14 Sep 2010 Baked Potato Soup

    I found this recipe in the crock pot cookbook “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman.  So, I tried this recipe in the crock pot.  When I was in the midst of it, I was thinking “WHY”?  Why cook potatoes for 5 hours in the crockpot, when they only take 20 minutes on stop of the stove?  It’s not like the crockpot did anything special to the potatoes, plus I still had to peel the potatoes, blend the soup, cook the bacon, chop the green onions and grate the cheese. Does cooking the potatoes for 5 hours in the crockpot make more sense than boiling them for 20 minutes?  I don’t think so.  I liked the soup though.  LOVED the soup, so I revised it to make on top of the stove (didn’t take much revising…).

    This soup starts with water! You don’t have to find 2 or 3 quarts of chicken stock to get started (which makes it economical, too).  Just boil five pounds of potatoes (one small $1.99 bag) in water until done.  Blend.  Then serve with baked potato toppings of butter, sour cream, grated cheese, chopped green onions, and crumbled bacon.  Soooo yummy. So easy!

    Baked Potato Soup

    5 pounds russet potatoes
    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
    1 cup half-and-half
    1/2 cup sour cream
    8 oz. bacon, cooked crisply, and crumbled (OK, so I used a bit more than 1/2 lb.)
    1 bunch green onions, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
    2-3 cups grated cheddar and jack cheese blend (to taste)

    Peel and dice the potatoes.  Cover with cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil.  Boil until potatoes are falling apart (cooked more than you would for mashed potatoes).  Depending on the size of your potatoes, this could take 20-40 minutes.  Turn the heat to low.  Add in butter and half-and-half.  Simmer until butter is melted, about another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Stir in sour cream.  With an immersion blender (the blender-on-a-stick thing), blend soup until creamy. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender.  Be careful, and don’t fill up blender more than half full.  Hot liquids tend to splash out when the blender is turned on).  Return soup to stove and turn on heat to medium.  Gradually blend in the grated cheese (to taste).  Stir in the chopped bacon and sliced green onions. Taste.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.  Serve hot. (I actually prefer this soup the second day.  I like to have the flavor of the green onions and bacon settle into the potatoes.)

    Mmmm. Make this your first soup of the season. It was mine!  I’m happy!