Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mr. Potato Head’s Other Produce-Bin Buddies

So far we have looked at two types of potatoes—waxy potatoes such as the Russet, and all-purpose such as the Yukon Gold.
There are two more categories of potatoes that I would like to look at…waxy potatoes and sweet potatoes.
So what are the characteristics of a waxy potato?
  • fine-grained, dense flesh
  • generally smaller and rounder
  • high moisture level
  • high sugar content
  • hold their shape well during cooking
  • low in starch
  • more moisture
  • smoother texture
  • thinner skin

Waxy potatoes are best for boiling, steaming, frying,roasting, and making casseroles—such as potatoes au gratin and scalloped potatoes.

Let’s look at five different categories of waxy potatoes—fingerlings, new potatoes, red potatoes, purple potatoes, and yellow potatoes.

 

 

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1.Fingerlings…Fingerlings are basically an elongated variety of new potatoes.

  • Flesh…ranging from red orange to purple, yellow or white
  • Shape…thin, finger-like shape
  • Size…ranging from 2″ to 4″
  • Skin…thin, tender skin…colors ranging from red to orange to purple or white
  • Three varieties of fingerlings that you might find are…

LaRette

  • Flavor…nutty
  • Texture…silky

Red Thumb

  • Flesh…pink flesh
  • Skin…bright red skin

Rose Finn Apple

  • Skin…pink, often knobby skin
  • Flesh…golden buttery yellow
  • Flavor…earthy flavor

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2. New Potatoes

  • Technically, any potato picked before the height of maturity,, before its sugars have fully converted to starch.is a new potato.
  • Uses…Because new potatoes are so small, they are simply boiling whole and eating unpeeled…as in a roast…that food that we all probably hated growing up and absolutely love now that we have grown up ourselves…kinda like a rite of passage…
  • Shape…small and round
  • Skin…thin and tender..various colors
  • Taste…sweet,
  • Uses…boiling, steaming, roasting…not for baking….

 

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3. Purple Potatoes

Purple potatoes are named purple potatoes because why…gee, could it be their skin…since the other two varieties of potatoes that we will talk about are the white potato and the yellow potato…

A few of the characteristics of the purple potato…

  • Flavor…earthy, nutty flavor
  • Flesh…lavender
  • Skin…deep purple
  • Uses…grilling, roasting

One variety of purple potato that you might find available is the Purple Viking…

  • Flavor…meaty, slightly sweet and buttery
  • Flesh…white
  • Size…small
  • Skin…dark purple
  • Texture…creamy and moist texture.
  • Uses…roasting, boiling, casseroles and gratins…but not for soups….

 

 

 

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4. Red Potatoes,

Red potatoes are are typically small, smooth, and round,,,,and as you c an probably figure out, have a red skin.. These potatoes have  creamy moist texture and subtly sweet flavor.

These are the potatoes that you want to use whenever you are roasting, boiling, or steaming.

Three common varieties of new potatoes are…

  • Adirondack Red
  • Flavor…lightly sweet
  • Flesh…pink to red flesh that’s either opaque or in a starburst pattern
  • Skin…red
  • Texture…moist, meaty and waxy
  • Red Bliss
  • Flesh…creamy white
  • Skin…bright red
  • Taste…slightly bitter
  • Texture…firm, moist and waxy
  • Rose Gold
  • Skin… rose-red skin
  • Flesh…yellow
  • Taste…mild and earthy
  • Texture…firm and moist

 

 

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5. Yellow Potatoes

Our final category of potatoes is the yellow potato. Two types of yellow potato are…

  • Carola
  • Shape…oblong
  • Skin…yellow
  • Flesh…yellow
  • Flavor…strong, classic potato flavor with earthy and buttery notes
  • Texture…firm, creamy and waxy texture
  • Austrian Crescent
  • Skin…yellowish, tan smooth skin
  • Flesh…yellow flesh
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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…

 

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

Jaegerschnitzel

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?!

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pan-frying…Chicken Fried Steak

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pan-Frying 101

 

2. Brining the Chicken…Typically when I frychicken, I cook approximately 3-3 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces….So let’s get started…
Soaking your chicken in some sort of brine will help the breading stick to the food better…and add moisture and flavor. Once you prepare the brine, simply add the chicken to the liquid and stick in the fridge at least thirty minutes, and even overnight.

 

4. Heating Your Oil…When frying chicken, it is important that the oil can be heated to a high temperature without burning. Peanut, canola or vegetable oil are your best options…Avoid using olive oil or butter.

 

 

 

5. Cooking Your Chicken…Gently place your breaded chicken skin side-down in your heated pan, being sure not to overcrowd the pan.

Replace the lid onto the pan. Cook the chicken about ten minutes, using your tongs to turn the chicken a few times while it cooks.

Remove the lid. Cook ten minutes more, uncovered…until the chicken is cooked through and the outside is a deep golden brown.

 

If you are using a probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken, the magic number is 165 degrees.

Remember to bring the oil back up to 350 degrees before you add the next batch of chicken.

 

 

 

Once your chicken has finished frying, place the hot chicken on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little salt for extra flavor.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

When done well, you should end up with a hallmark of great fried chicken—perfectly tender meat with plenty of that crunchy, dark brown crust that all of us Southerners so adore.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Skinny Dipping

5. Chill the  Breaded Food…

Cover the tray of breaded food with foil or Saran Wrap. Place in the fridge for thirty minutes to an hour.

This is priobably the one step that most of us feel like we could simply skip…

But chilling your food is actually extremely important beccause refrigerating the fooed allows the flour to become sticky and attach to the meat….ensuring that the breading stays on your food once you cook it.

4. Fry Until Golden Brown…After the breaded food has had time to chill, you’re ready to fry it.

a. First fill the pan that you have designated as your offricial frying pan with enough oil so the food you’re frying is half-covered. Make sure you use a heavy pan for frying so it conducts heat evenly.

b. Heat the oil until a few breadcrumbs sizzle when tossed in. The type of oil that you fryt your food in is actually a matter of preference. Use cooking oil that can withstand high temperatures.

Make sure that the oil is hot enough before adding the food…otherwise your fried food will absorb the oil like a sponge…resulting in soggy, oily food….and the breading will fall off the food into the pan.

Your oil should be somewhere between 300 and 400 degrees, depending on the recipe.

You can you tell if the oil is hot enough by using use a kitchen thermometer…or tossing a drop of batter or breadcrumbs into the oil to make sure that it sizzles…or sticking the end of a wooden spoon into the oil to see if little bubbles form around the spoon.

Also, if the oil in your ia hot enough, the oil will take on a distinct shimmer.

But it the oil is smoking, it’s too hot…either turn the heat down or start over.

Don’t try to rush the oil into reaching the right temperature by cranking your stove eye up as high as possible. The oil should heat up slowly. Trying to heat the oil too fast will lead to bitter, burned food.’

c. Gently lay your breaded food meat in your heated pan, being sure not to overcrowd.

Once the oil is at the right temperature, and you are ready to add your food to your pan, make sure that you do not overcrowd the pan. Crowding the pan will cause heat to be trapped underneath your food, causing it to steam rather than fry.

Even if you know that your pan coulfd hold more food, you do not want your pieces of food to touch each other. Either cook in batches or use two pans.

Remember that as you take out the cooked food and add another batch of uncooked food to your pan, the temperature of the oil will plummet. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature between batches of cooking…otherwise your food will be soggy.

d. Fry for a minute or two, until golden brown on the bottom, and then flip. You may want to use your probe thermometer to check the temperatures of the meat as you are cooking it.

Keep an eye on the food.

Keep the flame on medium to medium-high.

Make sure the temperature doesn’t get too high. If the oil starts to smoke or turn black, it’s too hot and you either need to let it cool down or start over with fresh oil.

To avoid your breading when you turn your food, it is imporrtant that you not turn the food too early or too often.

Remember that the second side always cooks faster than the first.

Be patient. Leave the food alone until it develops a crust and is easily lifts off the pan. If the food is still sticking to the pan, it isn’t ready to turn.

Be sure to use the proper utensils—such as tongs or a thin spatula—for turning your food, especially when the food is fragile.

e. Drain the cooked food on cooling racks placed over foil-lined cookie sheeta. Keep warm until ready to serve. You could also use either paper towels or brown paper sacks. Of these two, the sacks yields the crispest food.

Once the food has been fried and transferred to a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkle it once more with kosher or sea salt.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

The Eentsy Weentsy Spider Went Into the Frying Pan

My husband and I have been married, and most night making dinner for about thirt-five years now..but there’s one thing that I have noticed. I tend to gravitate toward those cooking methods that do not require you to stand by the stove for forty-five minutes “keeping an eye” on something…and actually lean more towards stirring some stuff together, putting it in a 9×13, and walking away.

I guess there are two reasons for this.

First of all, I have this terrible fear ofr being burned.

But secondly, I am plain out lazy and just don’t want to stand up.

But that won’t get your fried okra or fried squash or fried anything else on the table, so I am determined to learn how to master these “stove-top” cooking methods…e ventually making it my goal to be like one of those impressive home chefs that can cook without using a recipe…kinda like those people who can sit down and play piano by ear, having not one day of the way-too-many piano lessons to count.

So far in this attempt to create not only healthier eating habits and cooking skills, I have been thinking about what I should, or would< keep in my kitchen if I totally gutted everything and started all over., we have collected a few things along the way…

Even though frying is considered a quick and easy cooking method, there are still issues that come up—such as ruined meals, messy oily splatter, burned fingers, and even minor kitchen fires.

But half the battle is having the right equipment and knowing how to use it the right way.

 

 

1.PanItems that you should have in your kitchen so far based on the cooking methods that we already talked about—sauteeing and stirfrying–you should at this point only have two pans—a saute pan and a wok.

 

Now we need to add two more pans to our collection—one for panfrying, and the other for deep frying.

 

As far as pan frying, many people like to fry with cast iron skillets because they retain heat well, cook evenly, and are just the right weight.

Enamel  or stainless-steel would also be a great option.

 

As far as non-stick pans, some people will tell you not to buy them because the coatings are not always able to stand the high heats  required for certain types of frying….while others will tell you that they are a good option because they help keep the breading on the food, rather than on the pan.

The size pan that you need will obviously depend on what you will be cooking.

If you’re making fried chicken,  you will need something like a large cast iron skillet,but if you are making something more like apple fritters, you will need to grab your taller stock pot or something similar.

 

The pan that you decide to use for any type of frying should be

  • deep enough to keep most of the “oil splatters” that happen as your food fries, contained in the pan itself
  • heavy-bottomed so that the pan will distribute heat evenly without hot spots.
  • large enough to avoid overcrowding your food…always choose a pan that is bigger than you might think you need

 

If you are buying a pan for deep-frying…(more on this later)…you will need to find a pan that will be able to hold 4 to 6 quarts of liquid…deep enough to hold at least 3″ of oil with another 3 inches space between the top of the oil and the top of the pan…something like a 6-quart, or even larger, Dutch oven or cast iron skillet

 

 

So at this point, you shoulld have four different types of pots in your kitchen…

  • Sautee pan…for sauteeing
  • Skillet…at least a 12” cast iron or similar…for panfrying
  • Dutch oven or something similar…for deep frying
  • Wok…for stirfrtying

 

2. Cookie Sheet/Wire Cooling Racks…A cooling rack like the one that you probably use whenever you’re making cookies placed over a sheet pan to drain fried food is a much better option than using a paper towel-lined plate.

Setting hot food on paper towels can make your food even more soggy and greasy. Having the food lifted up from the counter onto a rack will keep steam from forming between the paper towel and the hot cooked food.

Using a cooling rack and cookie sheet will also allow you to keep one batch warm in the oven on low heat while another batch cook.

Line the cookie sheet with paper towel, and then set the cooling rack on top. The paper towel will collect any excess grease that may drip from the food.

3. Spider…A “spider” is a wok tool with a wooden handle and a wire mesh basket designed to drain excess oil from foods when removing them from hot grease…and turn food while “hanging out” in the hot oil.

Because spiders are originally designed to be used with a wok, they are generally larger than what you need to be using when pan frying…so choose a smaller one out of the selection.

4.  Spatula…You will need some sort of spatula for flipping your food. Metal works so much better than either rubber or plastic, which might melt under the heat.

5. ThermometerKnowing the exact temperature of the oil that you are frying your food in is so very important.

As more food is added to the skillet, the oil will drop in temperature…and you may  need to adjust the heat on your stove.so tthat that every single cutlet is cooked to the same golden-brown perfection.

There are two different types of thermometers that you can use when frying food—candy thermometers that clip to the side of the pabn…’or probe thermometers.

Regardless which type of thermometer you are using, It is important that the be able to nake accurate measurements, especially in the temperature range of 350-400 degrees.

The candy thermometer simply clips onto the side of the pan as the food is frying so that you cacn keep an eyer on exactly how hot your grease is.

This type of thermomemter allows you to control the temperature of the oil that the food is frying in. If the oil  is too hot, your food can burn, but  if the oil isn’t hot enough, your food can burn on the ourside bvurt still not br cooked through on the inside.

The proble thermometer can be stuck into each piece of food as it is taken out of the pan to get an exact measurement of its internal temp. You at least want the inside of your meat to read 165°F.

6.  Tongs… You will need to use long-handled tongs to lower food into the hot oil and to flip items so that you can evenly fry both sides.

Use a second pair of  tongs to remove the cooked meat from the oil. It is never a good idea that the same utensils touch both raw meat and cooked meat…might make you sick of something..(another reason not to go eat Korean barbecue.perhaps(?!__…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Jiangsu Campaign

Jiangsu cuisine seems like the aristocracy of Chinese regional cuisine. I say this for many reasons.

First of all, Jiangau cuisine places much emphasis on artistic presentation—carefully arranging the food so that it makes visual impact.

Jiangua cuisine also requires being able to use precise and delicate carving techniques, mastering various meticulous cooking methods—such as braising, stewing, and quick-frying.

Not only that, but Jiangau cuisine is often the go-to for elite banquets and state dinners.

Jiangua cuisine combines several taste sensations—saltiness, umami, and sweetness—in almost every single dish. The flavors tend to be rich, light and fresh. The texture tends to be tender. The emphasis seems to be on soup, with soup being a staple on almost all menus. The foods tend to be highly aromatic.

As far as ingredients, the Jiangsu province is widely known as a “fertile land of fish and rice.” Because most of the ingredients come from the many rivers and lakes of the region, as well as the sea, the cuisine often uses a variety of fish.

As far as spices, sugar is often used to round off the flavors.

One dish that you might find on a menu in this region might be Salted Duck.