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Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes + Tips for the Best Mashed Potatoes

November 20, 2020

There is a resaurant in North Conway, NH called The Red Fox, that has uber kid-friendly service and great cocktails and wood-fired pizza. As if that wasn’t enough, they serve these smoked gouda mashed potatoes that are so good I will drive two hours just to  eat them.

I recently tried to make them at home, and they are so easy and so yummy.  If you’re looking to add an easy, delicious twist to this classic Thanksgiving side dish, these should be in contention.

I thought I would share a few tips that helped make these so good. They will help you with any kind of mash you are trying to make – sour cream and chive, cheddar, horseradish, truffle, bacon (I’m getting hungry typing that list.) Just follow the basic potato-butter-salt-milk/cream steps and then add your preferred flavor ingredient a little at time, tasting along the way (the best job?) and tweaking by adding more of the flavor ingredient or salt and pepper. Here are some basic tips that will help you always get the best mashed potatoes.

1) Use Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes.  The Russet will be whiter and fluffier, while some people prefer the golden color of the Yukon Gold. I find both deliver great results.

2) Start with your potatoes in cold water. Cubing them helps to cook faster. Once you have cubed them, put them in a pot with cold water and a teaspoon of salt, then turn on a medium-high flame and cook for 15-20. Then drain them, and as soon as you can, add your other ingredients.

3) Add your ingredients while the potatoes are still hot, and warm up your dairy. I’ve read lots of cooks describe how to make good mashed potatoes – Alton Brown, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Ina Garten, Martha Stewart. The common denominator for all of them is to make sure you add the ingredients while the potatoes are warm, and it is even better if you can warm up the dairy – milk, butter, cream or cheese – first before you start to mash them. They will just absorb the flavor better when they are hot.

4) Use a potato masher or potato ricer. The method of mashing is a personal preference I think. I’ve used a potato masher the whole of my cooking life and I tend to like my mashed potatoes with a few bits of potatoes here and there, it feels a bit rustic. If that is not you, the potato ricer is the way to go, and you’ll avoid lumps completely. If you want them to be extra fluffy, break out the hand mixer, which I tend to do for Thanksgiving but not for every day dinners.

5) Taste them and tweak as needed. When you taste them your taste buds will tell you if you need more salt/pepper/butter/milk. Almost every time I make mashed potatoes I am adding a little more of one of these, and it helps if you give a spoonful to some warm body standing around to see if they thing it could use a tiny bit more of the above.

If you follow these steps and then taste for seasoning and texture you will end up with amazing potatoes, I promise. Purists recommend using white pepper but I am not a purist.

Now let’s talk about add Smoked Gouda. You’ll want to buy two smoked gouda rounds since they are usually about 1/2 pound and this recipe calls for 1 pound. Get out the box grater or the food processor. I am sure I’m not alone, but I always feel like you either spend the time grating or you spend the time cleaning the food processor, so I usually opt for the arm workout.

Ingredients:

5 lbs. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed

6 T. unsalted butter (add more to taste if preferred)

2 cups whole milk (can use half and half for regular mashed potatoes but with all the cheese it gets rich)

1 lb. smoked gouda cheese, grated

3 T. salt, divided + more to taste

pepper

Directions:

Place potatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt in a saucepan and cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

While they cook, in a saucepan place the milk, butter and 2 T. salt. Heat until simmering, then add shredded cheese and stir until combined – the cheese doesn’t have to melt you just want to add it to the potatoes warm. (You can also do this step in the microwave in a glass bowl.)

Return the potatoes to the pan and sprinkle 2 tsp. salt over them, then pour in the heated milk, butter, and cheese mixture.

Mash the potatoes, stirring to incorporate the seasonings.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve warm.

Winter Ratatouille

November 9, 2020

Sometimes, there is something about a dish that combines the beauty of the art world, the lyrical heart soaring nature of a poem, and the celebration of nature that makes me only able to describe the dish as sublime. Just the act of making it makes me fall in love with food all over again.

This is one of those dishes.

This dish gets all its flavor from the delicious tomato layer which has herbs, garlic and wine and infuses all the veggies. You can use any root vegetable here – parsnips, winter squash, potatoes are all wonderful, you just want to try to find ones that have a uniform diameter so it cooks evenly and looks pretty. The olive oil, Herbes de Provence and fresh parm at the end make this dish irresistible. 

My neighbors are from Ireland and France, and so they were looking for dishes to help create their own Thanksgiving. When I made this for them, they loved it so much they made it for their own Thanksgiving. It is still a few weeks away but if you are looking for a new tweak for your table, this one’s a winner.

It does call for a mandolin but there are so many affordable models on Amazon if you don’t have one already. It is so easy to use and clean. I use this one and I love it. Also this can be prepared the day before and cooked or reheated on the day you serve it.

I hope this finds its way to one of your Sunday roast suppers, or maybe next to a Saturday night steak, or all the way to Thanksgiving! It’s the perfect dish for any one of these, which makes me love it even more.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Winter Ratatouille – Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

For vegetable layer:

1 butternut squash -choose one with a long neck if possible

2 small or 1 large turnip

1 extra-large carrot if possible, or 2 large

1 sweet potato, choose one that is long and narrow

 

For tomato sauce:

2 T. olive oil

½ medium onion, diced

5 garlic cloves

14 oz. can diced tomatoes (fire roasted works well but regular is fine)

1 tablespoon sage, finely chopped

1 tsp. rosemary, finely chopped

1 tsp. thyme, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter 

2 tablespoon dry white wine or red wine vinegar

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over low heat. When hot, add the onions with a pinch of salt and sauté for 3 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for one minute, stirring often. Add tomatoes, sage, rosemary, thyme, butter, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. When finished, spread evenly in the bottom of an oval baking dish. 

Separate butternut squash neck from round part and reserve. Peel vegetables. Using a mandolin, slice squash, turnip, carrot and sweet potato ¼ inch thick. Layer at an angle around oval baking dish. Drizzle olive oil over top liberally, then sprinkle with Herbes de Provence, salt, pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Cover with tin foil and bake at 400 for 45 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake for another 20-30 min. more until vegetables are tender. 

 

Sausage, White Bean, Potato & Spinach Soup

October 29, 2020

The weather just turned cold here in New England, the kind that leaves you with a chill, finding sweaters and blankets to pull around your shoulders, and craving all the hot drinks and soups and stews. I find that hearty soups are loved by all (especially if I serve it with crusty bread) and are beloved by the child on pots on pans since there is only one pot to clean.

And anything that starts with bacon and sausage is bound to be a hit.

After you brown the bacon and sausage, you set it aside in a bowl. All my kids started to wander through the kitchen and pick from the bowl. One brave child even asked if they could just have a bowl of the sausage and bacon.

Then you sauté the aromatics (onions and garlic) in these bacon-y flavors, then you add the beans, potatoes and broth. The carrots get added later because once the potatoes are tender, in about 10 minutes, you scoop out half of the soup and with an immersion blender you puree the other half. This gives the soup a lovely, thick broth. (I tend to think this is the secret to really good soups in cafes and restaurants.) Then you put back in the meat, carrots, and finally the spinach.

The original recipe just uses cannelloni beans but I was craving little chunks of potatoes and I’m so glad I added them. The thickened broth picked of the flavor of the bacon and every bite was hearty, stick to your ribs delicious.

The best news? The leftovers are amazing, so definitely double this recipe! Hope you get to eat with your coziest sweater on.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Ingredients

  • 17.6 ounces (500g) Italian sausages, crumbled (I used chicken sausage)
  • 4 strips bacon cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 (14 fluid ounce) cans white beans (cannellini) drained
  • 2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 dash Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 small carrots peeled & chopped small
  • 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut up the bacon and cook for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Then remove the sausage casings and add the meat.

  2. Cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes or until the sausage and bacon are somewhat crispy/the fat has been rendered out. Meanwhile, prep the other ingredients.

  3. Transfer the sausage and bacon to a bowl. Leave about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot (spoon any excess out).

  4. Add the onion to the pot and sauté it for 3-5 minutes or until it’s softened and starting to lightly brown.

  5. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

  6. Add the beans, potato chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and rosemary. Give it a good stir and scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

  7. Take the pot off the stove. Remove half of the beans and potatoes. Using an immersion/stick blender, purée the soup. The soup will thicken a bit more as it cooks, but the thickness/texture will be similar to what it is after you do this part, so keep that in mind. If you don’t have a stick blender, transfer a ladle or two of beans to a regular blender, or use a potato masher or fork for a more rustic texture.

  8. Return the sausage and bacon to the pot and add in the chopped carrots as well. Increase the heat to high. Once the soup starts to boil, cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and reduce the heat so it’s simmering. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the carrots have softened and the soup has thickened up a bit more.

  9. Stir in the spinach and let it wilt for a minute or two. Taste and season with salt & pepper as needed. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Salt and Lavender 

Chicken Milanese with Ricotta, Cremini Mushrooms and Balsamic Glaze

October 20, 2020

This Chicken Milanese recipe is our new favorite dinner – it is crunch and creamy and vinegary and EASY.

…or as we call it in my house, Bobby Flay Chicken.

That’s because my sister somehow knew if she invited me to her work Zoom call where he was showing how to cook one of his upcoming recipes from his new cookbook, I would say yes (she knows me so well).

I was game and didn’t even think about blogging it. But then I tried it and loved it, and my people tried it and loved it, and I posted my iPhone pic on instagram and they thought they would love it, and here we are.

This was the night of the zoom call, and we made it again less than a week later because we were craving it. (I forgot the shredded parm the second time, just realizing that now.)

Bobby talked a lot about how he thinks about layering textures and flavors. And he packs it in here with crunchy chicken, creamy ricotta, meaty mushrooms and crisp arugula – so many textures. For flavors he uses and balsamic and honey reduction and also marinates the mushrooms in red wine vinegar, olive oil and fresh oregano.

He also says he seasons every thing as he goes including all of the breading steps.

All of this will be in an upcoming cookbook he has worked on during Covid, and based on how good this dish is I am definitely getting it.

The recipe is very easy. The hardest thing might be making sure you don’t let the balsamic glaze reduce too much and burn, but you also don’t want it to be too runny. I had it just right the first time, but no worries it still tastes wonderful even if it isn’t perfect.

Ok, this should be a quick and easy and delicious upgrade for your dinner rotation. Hope you try it and love it!

Happy cooking! xoxo Katie

Chicken Milanese with Ricotta, Cremini Mushrooms and Balsamic Glaze

Serves 2

For the mushrooms:

1 tablespoon canola oil
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, cut into sixths 1 teaspoon garlic, crushed to a paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

1. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until it begins to shimmer. Add

the mushrooms and cook, stirring just a few times, until their liquid is released and they

turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute longer.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and let cool.

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2. Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper in a

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medium bowl. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat. Let sit at room temperature and set

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aside.

For the Balsamic Glaze:

2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring the vinegar and honey to a boil in a small nonreactive saucepan and cook until thickened and reduced to about 3⁄4 cup. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the Chicken: (see vegetarian and seafood alternatives below)

1/2 cup Wondra flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1/4 cup canola oil

1. Place the flour on a large plate and season with salt and pepper. Whisk together the eggs and 1 tablespoon of water in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate and season with salt and pepper.

2. Place each chicken cutlet between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and using a meat mallet or a rolling pin, flatten the chicken between sheets of plastic wrap to a 1⁄2-inch thickness.

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2 large eggs

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1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

3. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour first, tapping off the excess. Next, dip each cutlet into the egg mixture and let the excess drip off. Then, dredge the chicken in the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat the chicken completely.

4. Heat half of the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until the oil shimmers. Cook until golden brown on each side and just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the cutlets and place on a plate lined with paper towels and season the chicken with additional salt and pepper.

Assembly:

Breaded Chicken or Eggplant or Tuna (recipes below) 4 ounces fresh ricotta cheese
Cremini Mushrooms, recipe above
3 ounces baby arugula

Thinly shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving Balsamic glaze, recipe above

1. Put one chicken breast (or eggplant steak or tuna steak) on each of four plates.

2. Top each chicken breast with a dollop of ricotta cheese and cremini mushrooms. Top with arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano shavings and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Slow Cooker Creamy French Chicken

October 7, 2020

I am a sucker for a good high/low outfit or decorating project – you know the ones that mix a high end hand bag and shoes with an Old Navy t-shirt and jeans, and it looks and is effortless and timeless?

This recipe reminds me of that, translated to food.  When the classic French flavors of wine and herbs and shallots and mustard get mixed together in a slow cooker with some chicken and kale, and ends up being delicious comfort food that only took you 10 minutes to make.

First you wish together wine, heavy cream, grainy and Dijon mustard, garlic and shallots, some salt and pepper in the bottom of your crock pot.

Then you chop the herbs and mix them with some salt and pepper, and smother the chicken breasts with them. Then pan fry it for a few minutes per side, just so the herbs stick and it develops a little of that brown caramelization.

After you pan fry these, then you just pop them in the crock pot with the cream/mustard/wine mixture. I deglazed the pan with a little more wine, but if you’re in a hurry, just toss it all in.

A half hour before it’s done, add the chopped kale and parmesan.

2-3 hours later (on high setting) you have a full pot of tender chicken and kale that has picked up all the juices and wine and mustard flavors. This kale might be one of the best things I have ever eaten.

You can serve it on mashed potatoes, or noodles or rice. You could also add spinach or mushrooms instead of kale. And if you are pressed for time this is super easy to make in the Instant too.

I hope you get to try this yumminess soon, it is so perfect for a cozy busy fall night.

Happy Eating! xoxo, Katie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or canned full fat coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard
  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, skin on or off
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped
  • mashed potatoes or steamed rice, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

SLOW COOKER

    1. 1. In the bowl of your slow cooker, combine the wine, milk/cream, both mustards, shallots, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

      2. Rub the chicken with thyme, sage, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and sear until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place directly into the slow cooker, skin side up, along with any juices left in the skillet. Pour a splash of wine or water into the skillet and scrap up any extra bits in the pan and add to the slow cooker. Add the butter.

      3. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the parmesan and kale, gently tossing to combine.

      4. Serve the chicken over mashed potatoes or rice and spoon the creamy mustard sauce over top the chicken. Serve with additional herbs and parmesan.

INSTANT POT

  1. 1. In a small bowl, combine the wine, milk/cream, both mustards, shallots, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

    2. Rub the chicken with thyme, sage, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set the Instant Pot to sauté. Add the olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and sear until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Pour in the wine/mustard sauce. Add the butter. Cover and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.

    3. Once done cooking, use the natural or quick release function. Set the Instant pot to sauté and add the parmesan and kale, gently tossing to combine. Cook 5 minutes.

    4. Serve as directed above.

STOVE TOP

1. In a small bowl, combine the wine, milk/cream, both mustards, and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

2. Rub the chicken with thyme, sage, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and sear until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Add the shallots and garlic, cook another 3 minutes, until fragrant.

3. Reduce the heat to low, pour in the wine/mustard sauce. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the parmesan and kale, cooking another 3-5 minutes. If the sauce thickens too much, add additional wine or chicken broth to thin.

4. Serve as directed above.

 

Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest 

Stuffed Pork with Sausage, Apples and Sage

September 24, 2020

 

It’s officially fall, and officially beautiful out!

This is my favorite time of year, and I love having more time to cook when school starts again just as fall ingredients are hitting the stores and farmers markets. I feel like this summer we kept things super simple, but when all the fall produce rolls out I get so inspired. This recipe started out when I was walking through the grocery store dreaming about pork chops stuffed with apples and gouda. Then I remembered it is a lot easier to stuff one whole pork loin or roast so I got a pork roast and it was perfect. (I have made stuffed turkey breasts in the past and think this recipe would also be delicious with a turkey breast.) It just takes a few minutes to butterfly it, which is pretty easy, just make sure you have a sharp knife. Here is a great tutorial to help you. This honestly came together so fast and was much easier than stuffing individual pork chops.

The only thing that was slightly tricky was keeping all the stuffing inside but what didn’t fall on the floor went back in very easily. Tying the twine in a little bow was a cinch and untying it was easy too.

There are recipes where the stuffing is evenly spread out all over the meat (like the one in the video) and then you roll it like a jelly roll and get a continuous swirl through the pork. But we all really loved the way the sausage/panko mixture became compact in the middle so you can roll it either way – bunched up on one side or evenly layered over all of it. Feel free to experiment with how you like it. This might make more sense with a side shot:

The thing that really makes the pork full of flavor is the cup of wine and cup of broth poured over the top. It keeps it so tender and moist. If you don’t want to use wine you can just do two cups of broth.

Also, let’s talk roasted veggies on the side! I used veggies that I had on hand but this would be great with any fall produces like parsnips, delicata squash slices, acorn squash sliced, or even butternut squash or sweet potatoes cubed to about the size of the Brussel sprout halves. I tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper but you can also do my favorite glaze made with a 3 Tbsp. each dijon, maple syrup and olive oil (from Gwenyth’s first cookbook. SO good.) Combine and toss the veggies to coat.

Check the veggies after 20 minutes for doneness. The pork takes an hour.

And I did end up using the gouda too – in the mashed potatoes! They were so good, and inspired by one of our favorite restaurants. I think they deserve their own post next week. In the meantime, here is a picture of them. I wish you could taste the combo of savory sausage with sage and fennel seeds and cinnamon, the moist pork cooked in wine and broth, along with sides of mellow gouda mash and sweet apples.

This is such a great fall meal and even if it looks hard, it is really easy! My husband has a line that he says when he really likes something: “If I order this in a restaurant, I’d be blown away.” I got to hear it when I made this dinner 🙂 Everyone in our crew loved it, so I hope you get to make if for your favorite people soon.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Stuffed Pork Loin with Sausage, Apples, and Sage

3-4 lb. pork loin or boneless roast

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 lb. turkey sausage (I used the kind in the tube)

2 small apples, peeled and diced

1 tsp. fennel seed

1 Tbsp. fresh sage, minced

1 1/2 cups panko

2 large eggs

1/2 cup grated parmesan

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 T. flat leaf parsley (optional, I just have a ton still growing)

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken broth

Salt & pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil in large pan on medium heat and then add onions with a pinch of salt. Sautéed for 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add turkey sausage, and brown, breaking up bits with a wooden spoon. Add apples and cook for 5 minutes more, then add fennel seed, sage, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir to combine and cook for a few more minutes, then transfer to a medium bowl and let cool for 15-20 min.

Butterfly pork so that it is a flat open layer of pork. (See video above for directions). Sprinkle 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper over surface.

To the cooled pork mixture add the panko, parm, eggs, parsley and cinnamon. Stir to combine, making sure to break up eggs well.

Pour mixture onto one side of flattened pork, and then carefully roll it like a jelly roll. Stuffing may fall out the sides, and you can just stuff it back in. Using cooking twine, tie rolled pork in 3-4 places to hold it together. Place on roasting pan or cookie sheet with very tall sides, and then pour 1 cup wine and broth over top of pork roll, then season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp pepper on top.

Cook for 60 minutes, testing for doneness when pork reaches temperature of 160 (take care that meat thermometer is touching pork and not sausage mixture). It may need an additional 5-10 minutes to reach it.

Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with roasted apples, onions and Brussel sprouts or other favorite fall squash or vegetable (see recipe below). Also very good with gouda mashed potatoes – recipe coming soon!

 

Roasted Apples, Onions and Brussel Sprouts

4-5 apples, cut into wedges

2 onions, cut into wedges

3 cups brussel sprouts, halved

Optional veggies: butternut squash, sweet potatoes, delicata squash, acorn squash

1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper

2-4 Tbsp. olive oil (depending on how many veggies you use)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. Place onions, apples and Brussel sprouts on cooking tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and olive oil. Roast for 20-25 min. until veggies are browned.