Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Potato Salad

Just in time for all the upcoming summer cookouts—such as the 4th of July—next on the perfect potato recipe agenda is making the perfect potato salad.
The perfect potato salad will be super creamy with the perfect potatoes creamed with the perfect dressing and combined wit just the right amounts of boiled eggs, sweet onion, sweet pickle relish, celery, and anything else you might like to add.
The following potato salad recipe is very simple to make and will make sure that the potato salad that you serve at all the upcoming summer festivities with be truly delicious and the perfect accompaniment to your hamburger, grilled ribs, and anything else on the menu.
(Before we even get started though, let me remind you that you need to make your potato salad ahead of time so that the flavors can all meld together.

 

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What kind of potatoes should I use…and how many?

You will need about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds,…about six,,,Yukon gold potatoes…

Avoid using russet potatoes…they tend to fall apart.

Yukon Gold potatoes are the best potatoes for making potato salad for many reasons, such as the facts that they…

  • are creamier
  • are sweeter
  • cook quickly
  • have a thinner skin, which means that they are easier to peel
  • hold their shape well after cooking

 

 

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How do I cook the potatoes?

  1. Do not cut or peel the potatoes before cooking them…cook them whole. This will help them maintain more of their flavor and natural sweetness.
  2. Add the potatoes to cold water and then bring to a boil  This will give you a better consistency than if you had added the potatoes to hot, boiling water.
  3. Add a tablespoon to the water. This will give the potatoes more flavor. Adding salt to the cooking water brings out the flavor of the potatoes.
  4. Cook the potatoes for 10-15min or until you can easily pierce the potatoes with a fork.
  5. Drain the potatoes.
  6. Set them in a bowl of ice for a couple of minutes to keep them from cooking even more.
  7. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and cut into large diced pieces.
  8. Put the warm potatoes to a large bowl.
  9. Stir in a few hearty splashes of a vinegar-y liquid—such as white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or dill pickle juice—the potatoes are still warm  This will give your potato salad a subtle flavor punch
  10. Allow the potatoes to cool for at least 15min before adding your dressing.

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Dressing,,,Mix the following together…

  • 1-1/2C mayonnaise
  • 1/4C yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2tsp celery seed
  • 2tsp sugar
  • 1/2tsp onion powder
  • 1/4C sweet pickle relish
  • salt and pepper according to taste

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Extra ingredients….Once you have your cooked and chopped potatoes coated with your dressing, it’s time to add anything else that you would like in your salad, such as…

  • Boiled Eggs…5 eggs peeled…This will add texture and extra creaminess.
  • Celery…2 large stalks, diced…Celery adds a nice crunch.
  • Dill or Sweet Pickle
  • Onion…6 diced green onions or half of a sweet onion…This will add sweetness and crunch …but make sure that the onion doesn’t overpower the the flavors of the rest of the salad ingredients. You can help take the raw edge off the onion by putting the chopped onion in cool water for about ten minutes.

Finally you might want to add fresh Herbs…Herbs most commonly used in potato salad include…

  • chives
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • parsley
  • tarragon

Finally after combining the potatoes, the dressing, and the “stuff”…sprinkle some paprika on top….just because that’s probably how your grandmother and mother would have done it…not sure it actually adds anything to the salad except for color, right?

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Now cover your salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours.

Your potato salad will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days…assuming it hasn’t been eaten by then, of course…

 

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are to dinner fare what hash browns are to breakfast fare…and in this post, we’re gonna learn how to make the best mashed potatoes ever.

The perfect mashed potatoes are rich, super-creamy, and thick…and flavored with butter, sour cream, garlic and Parmesan cheese.

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Which type of potatoes should I use?

The best variety of  potato to use when making mashed potatoes is Yukon Gold….(that’s why I put mashed potatoes in this section on Yukon Gold potatoes…go figure)…because they give your mashed potatoes an even creamier texture….

 

 

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Should I Cut or Peel My Potatoes? 

First of all, whether or not you peel the potatoes before cutting them is purely a matter of preference. Some people like the texture that the skin adds,while other don’t…Just remember that the skin is where all the extra nutrients and flavor.s are.

Regardless if you peel them or not, you will need to cut your potatoes into evenly-sized chunks, about an inch or so thick.  You do not want to boil whole potatoes Now transfer the potatoes  to a large stockpot full of cold water until all of the potatoes are cut and ready to go.

 

 


How do I cook my potatoes?

Place the potatoes In a 6-quart stockpot, and cover with enough cold water that the water line sits about 1″ above the potatoes. Add 1Tbsp salt. You do not want to boil or heat the water before addiong the potatoes because they might not cook evenly.

Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat down to medium-low. Cook about 15min…until you can stick a knife into the middle of the potato with almost no resistance.

Draining and steaming to finish helps pull out any remaining water for a fluffy final texture. …Whether or not you cook them without peeling them first is a matter of personal preference.

So carefully drain out all of the water.

Return the drained potatoes into the hot stockpot. Set back on the stove over low heat.  Gently shake the pan for about a minute to release some of the steam and moisture from the potatoes.

Remove the pan from the heat.

Set them aside until you are actually ready to mash your potatoes….this will make sure that all the liquid is evaporated.

 

 

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Now what do I do?

Heat 1/3C salted butter, 1C milk, and 2tsp salt together either in a small saucepan or in the microwave until warm…but avoid boiling the milk.  Set aside until ready to use. This keeps the potatoes hot and absorbs better. 

Return the potatoes to the hot stockpot. Place back on the hot burner, but first turn the heat down to low.  Using two oven mitts, carefully hold the handles on the stockpot and shake it gently on the burner for about a minute to help cook off some of the remaining steam within the potatoes. 

Mash the potatoes with a potato masher, strong wooden spoon, or electric beaters until smooth, adding a little extra milk if needed…but be careful not to over beat or they will become gluey.

Add warm milk mixture, a little bit at a time, to the potatoes until they reach the desired consistency is reached.

Stir in 3 cloves garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, 1/2C sour cream, fresh herbs, onion, shredded cheddar, cooked bacon bits, chives…whatever you want.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Hash Browns

potatoes fun knife fork
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Hash browns are standard breakfast fare, second only to grits in the back woods of Mississippi where I am from, and an ultimate comfort food.

So what are the “perfect” hash browns…and how do you make them at home?

The perfect hash browns will be perfectly and evenly golden-brown—extra crispy, crackly, and buttery on the outside…and creamy and fluffy on the inside.

Soaking Your Potatoes

  • Scrub your potatoes clean. Do not peel the potatoes.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect French Fries

Homemade French Fries…why even bother when it would be so much easier either to drive thru McDonald’s or grab a bag of frozen fries out of your freezer…the one that’s probably been hiding in there for the last couple of years at least…goal for today—clean out freezer!!!

Because we are talking about the deep frying cooking methods and potatoes, and of course the topic of French fries would eventually come up.

The perfect French fries are extra astonishingly crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside.

French fries are actually very easy to make ahead and store in your freezer that you may never buy another bag of frozen fries ever, ever again…

 

 


The Potatoes

Which potatoes?

  • Yukon Gold…that’s why we’re learning about making French fries while we are on the topic of Yukon Gold potatoes…go figure, right?
  • Choose the largest ones you can find.

Why are Yukon Gold potatoes better?

  • …because they are less starchy and will turn out much crispier than any other type of potato.

How many potatoes?

  • Figure on two potatoes per person.

How do I slice the potatoes?

  • Slice the potatoes into ½” thick sticks. The thinner you cut your fries, the crispier they will be.
  • Wash the potatoes.
  • Peeling them at this point is purely a matter of personal preference.

Soaking Your Potatoes

Soak the potato slices in cold water for at least one hour, perhaps even overnight. The longer, the better.

Soaking your potatoes removes the starch and will end up making your French fries extra crispy and keep them from sticking to each other when you are cooking them.

 

 

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Cooking Your French Fries

 

Most cooks and chefs agree that the best way to getting those perfectly crispy fries that you’re craving is to double fry your potatoes—first for five or six minutes at 300° to cook the middle of the potato, and then frying them a second time at 400° to cook the outside.

Using a deep-fat thermometer will help ensure that the oil is at the proper temperature before you start adding your potatoes to the water.

Drain the potatoes.. Pat them dry with paper towels or a clean dishcloth.

Be sure to use a pot that is large and tall enough—such as a tall 8-quart soup pot, to contain the oil without overflowing when the potatoes are slipped in.

Pour enough oil into the pan that it measures about 1-1/2″ deep.

Heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 300.

Carefully drop small batches of potatoes to the hot oil. Frying too many French fries at once makes them less crispy.

The oil should bubble lightly.  The temperature of the oil will drop to about 260 F after the potatoes are added.

Gently stir the fries to ensure that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan or stick to each other.  

Fry for about five minutes.

Remove from the oil using a pair of tongs or a slotted metal spoon.

At this point we’re only heating the potatoes, so don’t be disappointed if they’re not crisp yet.
Place the cooked potatoes on a paper towel lined plate.

 

Increase the heat to 400 degrees.

Fry a second time in batches about five more minutes, until they are crisp and golden-brown.

Remove them onto dry paper towels.
Sprinkle with salt as soon as they come out.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mr. Potato Head’s Canadian Friend

The Yukon Gold potato is Mr. Potato Head’s Canadian friend who was born at Ontario Agricultural College in the 1960’s and named after the “gold rush country” around the Yukon River.

  • Flesh…yellow to gold, firm, moist, and waxy
  • Shape…ound to oblong with a slightly flattened shape.
  • Size…medium to large in size
  • Skin…smooth, thin, with a gold to light brown xoloe…relatively eye free but speckled with many small, brown spots.
  • Taste…rich, buttery, and sweet with a creamy and tender consistency

 

 

 

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Buying Tips

Avoid potatoes that are soft, wrinkled, or blemished.

Choose potatoes that feel heavy and firm.

Do not buy potatoes that are contained in plastic bags. There is no way to really check them out until you buy them and take them home and it’s too late.

Do not buy potatoes that show even a hint of green. This means that the potatoes have been exposed to enough light that they may contain a mildly poisonous alkaloids that can cause an upset stomach. However, if your potatoes turn green after you get them home, peel off all traces of the colored flesh before cooking.

Do not store potatoes and onions together because they will release gases that interact and make each other spoil more quickly.

Store your potatoes in a cool, dry, and dark location away from light.  They will stay good up to two weeks. After two weeks they will have the starch will turn into sugar, and the potatoes will be unpleasantly sweet..

 

 

 

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Nutritional Value

Yukon Gold potatoes are a good source of vitamins and minerals…containing nearly twice as much vitamin C as a regular baking potato. Typically one Yukon Gold potato contains…

  • Calcium 2%
  • Calories 110
  • Cholesterol 0 mg
  • Dietary Fibre 2 g (8%)
  • Fat 0 g
  • Iron 15%
  • Potassium 770 mg
  • Protein 3 g
  • Sodium 10 mg
  • Sugars 3 g
  • Total Carbs 26 g (9%)
  • Vitamin A 0%
  • Vitamin C 50%

 

 

 

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Uses

Yukon Gold potatoes can be used in both dry and wet-heat cooking methods,

  • boiling
  • frying—both deep frying and pan frying
  • grilling
  • sautéeing
  • roasting
  • steaming

So in the next few posts, we will looking at how to make the perfect…

  • French fries
  • hash browns
  • mashed potatoes
  • potato salad
  • potatoes au gratin
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Baked Potato Soup

A third dish that you can make with extra baked potatoes is Baked Potato Soup.

The perfect Baked Potato Soup will be  a creamy, hearty soup chock full of cheese, onion, sour cream and bacon.

So let’s get cooking…

 

 


The Potatoes

4 large russet potatoes—baked, peeled and cubed)

As we have been talking about on the last two articles about baked potatoes, Russet potatoes are the best potatoes to use whenever you are baking potatoes. Russet potatoes  contain enough starch that they will break down while they cook, making your soup creamier than any other type of potato would.
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The Bacon

 


The Veggies

4 tbsp unsalted Challenge Butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4C onion, diced

 

Melt butter i n the skillet with the bacon grease in a Dutch oven or stock pot.

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter and bacon grease over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent….about two or three minutes.

 

 

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The Roux 

1/2C flour 

4C milk

3 cups chicken stock

1C half and half

 

Turn the burner that you used to cook the bacon down to low.

Whisk in flour until smooth. Cook for about a minute or two.

Stir in milk, chiicken broth,  and half-and-half, whisking constantly until smooth and thick,

Bring to a light simmer.

Whisk in the salt, garlic salt and pepper.

Simmer for 6min, until the mixture has thickened slightly.

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Cooking

1C sour cream

1tsp salt

1tsp pepper

2C shredded cheddar

¼X chopped green onion or green onions

Stir in potatoes. Use a potato masher to mash some of the potatoes a few times to break them up a bit.

Increase the stove temperature slightly to bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Reduce heat.

Simmer 10min.

Mix in sour cream, 1C cheddar cheese, some of the bacon (save the remaining cheese and bacon for topping).

Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted, stirring frequently.

If your soup is too thin and watery, add more half-and-half or instant potato flakes.

If your soup is too thick, add more chicken broth.

Remove the pot from the heat.

 

 

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Serving

Remove from heat.

 

Top individual servings with remaining cheese, remaining bacon, green onion, and sour cream.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Twice Baked Potatoes

There are times with a simple baked potato will not do, even how well dressed it might be.

You want something “extra”…you want to take what you’ve learned about Making the Perfect Baked Potatoes and turn them into something more…something a little fancier than regular baked potatoes.

The perfect twice-baked potatoes have crispy skins that are overflowing with creamy mashed potatoes and  covered with extra cheese and bacon.

Russet potatoes are the best choice for making twice baked potatoes because of their shape and size. The skins of Russet potatoes are sturdy enough to stay intact while you are hollowing them out and stuffing them.

 

 


Pre-heat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Bake your potatoes as explained in this post. I always make way more baked potatoes whenever I do make baked potatoes for making these and keeping stocked in my freezer for later…

Cut each potato in half lengthwise, Scoop out most of the inside of the potato, leaving a little bit so that the skins don’t crack or tear when you are working with them.

Hollow out each half, leaving a bit of a shell so the skins don’t break or crack.

Mash the insides, , as if you were making mashed potatoes. While you are making the mashed potatoes, you might want to stick the potato shells back in the oven to make them crispier.

Spoon the filling into the shells or snip off the corner of a freezer bag and pipe the filling into the shells.

Top with cheese, bacon and green onions.

Bake at 375 for 10-15min or until cheese is bubbly.

 

 

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Making Twice-Baked Potatoes Ahead of Time

You can save meal prep time during the week by baking, mashuing, and stuffing your potatoes. You can store them in your fridge in an air-tight container up to three days ahead….that way when prepping dinner on a work night all you have to do is simply warm the stuffed potatoes in the oven fot about 15min.

 

You can also keep twice baked potatoes on hand by freerzing them. After the potatoes have cooled, wrap each twice baked potato individually in aluminum foil and stick in the freezer.

Thaw your frozen twice baked potatoes by thawing them in the refrigerator overnight and then baking at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Baked Potatoes

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Russet the Rascal

So let’s check our Mr. Potato Head and his fellow companions….actually the group has two different cliques—each based on the amount of  starch and water that they contain.

These groups are the following…

  • Starchy
  • All-purpose
  • Waxy

Let’s look at the characteristics of a starchy potato…

  • absorbent almost all of the butter and cream that you place on them…yum…
  • break down easily when cooked
  • don’t hold together very well when cooked
  • flesh coats your knife with a white, milky film when you cut into it

  • high in starch
  • low in moisture

The most common type of starchy potato is the russet potato, also known as an Idaho potato or Burbank potato.…russet potatoes are in fact the most common type of potato grown in the United States. Russet potatoes are the type of potato most people think of when they think about buying potatoes in the grocery store.

There are actually numerous varieties of russet potatoes. A few of their characteristics are…

  • brown
  • easily absorb butter and milk making them ideal for mashed or baked potatoes
  • just a few shallow eyes
  • light, fluffy texture
  • medium-to-large size
  • oblong or oval shaperough net-like skin that becomes chewy when cooked
  • white flesh

Cooking methods that are best for starchy potatoes include…

  • Baking
  • Deep Frying
  • Pan Frying
  • Roasting

These cooking methods create a crisp crust and keep the interior moist.

Starchy potatoes are not good for dishes that require the potatoes to hold their shape.—such as potato salads, soups, stews, and potatoes au gratin—because the flesh flakes and easily separates after cooking.

However, these potatoes are great for making…

  • baked potatoes
  • French fries
  • potato chips
  • gnocchi
  • mashed potatoes

So let’s start actually cooking by using the cooking method that we are currently talking about—deep frying—by frying up some potato chips and French fries..

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mr. Potato Head and His Friends

When you mention the word potato, most of us automatically think of McDonald’s French fries that have been fried in tons of oil or a great big baked potato stuffed with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon, the kitchen sink, and so on and so forth.
Yeah, I do realize that these are bad for you….But potato chips that have been baked with one of the healthier cooking oils can actually be both good for you and a great treat,
(Note…Don’t worry, I do realize that deep frying is definitely not the healthiest way to make homemade potato chips, so eventually we are going to learn how to make them in both the microwave and the oven….)
Potatoes actually contain many nutrients and minerals —such as potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and  copper. A potato actually contains more potassium than a banana…half of the RDV of vitamin C…no fat, sodium, or cholesterol…
Potatoes contain very little to no fat.
One medium-sized, unadorned, skin-on potato contains just 110 calories per serving.
But for right now, let’s take a quick look at a few of the estimated two hundred varieties of potatoes sold in the United States…
These potatoes vary in texture and act differently when cooked. For example when you are making a pot of soup, your potato chunks will either remain intact, or disintegrate…depending on the type of starch and the amount of moisture in the flesh.not bless with too many ”
Because the result that you get depends on the amount of the starch contained in the potato, these varieties are typically broken down into three basic categories—:starchy, all-purpose and waxy.
In the next few posts we will be look at each of these different categories, but here are a few things to remember regardless which type of potato you are looking for…
Shopping…When you are shopping for potatoes, look for ones that are…
heavy
not green tinged
very firm
void of soft spots, cracks or cuts
without sprouts
Storing…Potatoes will last a few weeks when properly stored, but don’t refrigerate potatoes because this causes some of the starches to convert to sugars, giving them an odd flavor.
photo of pile of potatoes
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