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
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

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

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
Photo by Marco Antonio Victorino on Pexels.com
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chinese Culinary Conflict—Anhui Campaign

The Anjui region is an inland area located in East China. The region surrounds the Huangshan Mountain, also referred to as Yellow Mountains. The region consists of many different types of terrain—including not only these mounjtains, but also forests and farmland.

Anhui cuisine revolves around wild plants and animals, very similar to Fujian cuisine that we talking about in an earlier post.,,,although there is less emphasis on seafood.

Anhui cuisine is humble and hearty peasant food. ..created by the native rustic cooking styles of the mountain dwellers.

Food is seen as therapy and meant to be healthy, visually stimulating, and simple.

As far as cooking method, it is important that the food is cooked in a way that doea not destroy the nutrients of the food. The cooking methods used in this province are simple, usually one of these four methods—braising, stewing, steaming, salting—with special emphasis on controlling cooking time and temperatures

As far as meat, Anhui cuisine includes more gamey meats than anyjui other regional cuisine.

As far as spices, Anhui cuisine uses many fresh wild herbs,

As far as vegetables, Anhui cuisine uses a lot of woodland vegetables—such as foraged mushrooms, berries, tea leaves, bamboo shoots, and other wild plants that can be found locally.

Examples of Anhui entrees that you might find on a menu are…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Now What?

Now it is time to add some sort of oil to your skillet and actually start cooking your onions.

As far as which oil, that’s left to you…but some choices include olive oil, butter

You want to coat the bottom of the pan. Use 1tsp per onion. If you use too much oil, the onions will fry instead of caramelizing.

And now it’s time to actually start cooking…

You should have the following ingredients…

  • Onions—how ever many onions you want to cook—one large onion will make about makes about a 1/2C caramelized onions.
  • Fat—such as olive oil or butter
  • Salt—this will season the onions and help pull out some of the moisture.

Once you’ve gathered these ingredients, you need to…Add half of the onions that you are going to cook, instead of dumping all of them at once so that the pan will not be too hard.

Season the onions with salt.

Stir the onions gently

How long you cook your onions will be based on how dark you want them to be, what you are going to use them for, and how many onions you are cooking.

As the onions cook, check them every five to ten minutes. As you do this, stir the onions and scrape up any fond that forms on the bottom of the skillet. Adjust the heat if you’re afraid that they’re going to burn.

If the onions start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a tablespoon of liquid—such as red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or wine. This will not only deglaze your pan, but will also add more flavor.

Taste an onion once they start looking the color that you want them to be. If they do not taste as caramelized as you would like, continue cooking.

Now deglaze your skillet…Now that your onions have finished cooking, pour 1/4C liquid—such as wine, broth, balsamic vinegar, or water. As the liquid bubbles, scrape up the fond and stir it into the onions.

Now pour this sauce over your caramelized onions.

Storing

  • Caramelized onions can either be stored in the fridge for about a week or frozen for about three months.
  • Let the onions cool in the pan before transferring them to a storage container.

Making Caramelized Onions in the Slow Cooker…You could also caramelize your onions in a slow cooker. Thank goodness…because I think that a slow cooker is the greatest invention since sliced bread.

Once you have finished slicing and dicing your onions, add the onions to your slow cooker along with 2Tbsp olive oil. Stir to coat the onions evenly with the oil. Now add 1/2 tsp salt. Cook the onions for ten hours on low, stirring  occasionally to help them cook even more evenly.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

These Knives Made the Cut

7" Chinese Chef's Knife Vegetable Cleaver, , large

So in my quest for the best knife to buy as far as veggies, which ones did I find worth considering…

Cutco Vegetable Knife #1735

  • Blade…wide enough to easily move ingredients from the cutting board to the pan
  • Blade Length…7-3/4″
  • Blade Material…410 High-Carbon, Stainless Steel
  • Cost…$150
  • Edge…straight
  • Engraving…available
  • Guarantee…Cutco’s Forever Guarantee means that they will sharpen, hone, buff, repair and if necessary replace your CUTCO knives and accessories for FREE, no receipt required
  • Handle…ergonomically designed for all hands—both large and small…both left and right
  • Handle Color…classic brown or pearl white
  • Handle Material…highly engineered thermo-resin
  • Overall Length…13-1/4″
  • Review…On the Gas
  • Source…”American Made. American Proud.”
  • Tang…full, meaning that the blade extends the full length of the handle
  • Use…to chop, slice and dice ingredients for soups, stews and vegetable platters
  • Weight…7.6 oz.

Dalstrong Phantom Series 6” Nakiri Vegetable Knife

  • Blade Length…6”
  • Blade Material…forged from a single piece of ice tempered steel with high levels of chromium added for stain resistance…the ice-tempering ensures excellent resilience and superior edge retention
  • Cost…$149.99…on sale now for $44.04
  • Edge…straight…double-bevel…tapered to minimize surface resistance and to increase both durability and flexibility
  • Handle Material…traditional Japanese D-shaped black pakkawood with a distinct red spacer, carefully crafted mosaic of copper and brass, and hand-polished stainless steel end cap designed to create counterbalance and distinction
  • Review…That’s a Knife
  • Tang…full tang for incredible robustness and quality
  • Use…prepping vegetables in bulk

Global Cutlery USA SAI 6″ Vegetable Knife

  • Blade Material…three-ply corrosion-resistant 18/8 and CROMOVA 18 stainless steel
  • Cost…$164.95
  • Edge…12.5-degree convex convex blade edge
  • Handle…unique thumb rest to give added comfort and control.
  • Handle Material…metal, totally wood free….three-ply corrosion-resistant 18/8 and CROMOVA 18 stainless steel
  • Review…Knifeista
  • Tang…full
  • Warranty…lifetime warranty against defects and breakage
  • Weight…1.3 pounds

Shun Classic 7-in. Vegetable Cleaver

  • Blade…hand-sharpened 16° double-bevel blade
  • Blade Length..7 in
  • Blade Material..high-performance VG-MAX stainless steel.
  • Cost…300.00
  • Handle Material…D-shaped ebony PakkaWood
  • Overall Length…13-1/4″
  • Source…Japan

ZWILLING Cutlery TWIN Signature 7″ Chinese Chef’s Knife Vegetable Cleaver

  • Cost…90
  • Edge…laser-controlled edge that is incredibly sharp, honed, and hand-finished
  • Handle…three-rivet handle
  • Handle Material…polymer
  • Source…a German manufacturer that has been making knives for over 280 years