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Crème fraîche, Garlic & Herb Mashed Potatoes

November 18, 2021

You guys. These are the BEST mashed potatoes. I am thrilled to share them, crazy about them, and hope someone out there gets to try them.

But first a little back story:

After we had our twins, we decided to get our Thanksgiving meal from a good restaurant. It felt smart and easy and we all enjoyed the day and still cooked a few sides and apps. It was so good we did it again when they were 1. The next year, my sister passed away right before Thanksgiving, and in our grief, we got it again. The next year Covid still had us turned upside-down so we ordered it again, but a big hole was felt by my sister and me and my mom (even though she had still always made her stuffing because we can’t have Thanksgiving without it). We missed our traditions.

So this year we are finally taking it back, and it feels like we have emerged from some kind of tunnel and I can see the light.

So with that backstory, I was so exited to find some ways to update the classics on our families Thanksgiving menu. When I saw this post from Ali’s Kitchen it looked beautiful! She used scallions and cilantro, but I had so many herbs on my deck I decided to use a combination of scallions, thyme, parsley, and cilantro. Then I thought about the chicken that I made from Mimi Thorisson’s cookbook with creme fraiche, shallots, garlic and lots of herbs. Ali’s potatoes call for buttermilk but I thought they would be so good with creme fraiche.

I was right. Oh my gosh, the tang it gives the potatoes is almost like a hint of lemon. (Some lemon zest would be a fun addition to these flavors too).

So let’s talk mashed potatoes. My no-fail way to make them is always to peel and cube Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, and then put them in a pan with water, then put that over medium high heat and bring that to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until you can easily pierce the potatoes with a knife and they feel tender.

Once you have mashed the potatoes, stir in the butter, salt and pepper, and creme fraiche. I really can’t get over how good these are with this tangy, creamy addition.

To make the herby mixture, heat 3 T. oil in a pan, and add scallions, garlic and shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the rest of the herbs, salt and red pepper flakes. (These are optional but I almost recommend serving kids some of the potatoes with out the herby mixture and letting the adults have it with the heat.) Keep in mind you can use any combination of your favorite herbs here, but this combination was really good.

I hope you get to try these they are swoon – worthy. And I hope your Thanksgiving is full of food, family and fun.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Crème fraîche, Garlic & Herb Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

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

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

2   7-8 oz packages Crème fraîche

3 T. salt, divided + more to taste

milk, if needed for texture

pepper

For the Herby Garnish:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced, to yield a heaping half cup or so
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional but so good)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

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.

Return the potatoes to the pan and sprinkle 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper over them and add 2 T. butter. Mash the potatoes, stirring to incorporate the butter and salt. When mashed, stir in the creme fraiche and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

To make herb topping, heat pan over medium heat with 3 T. olive oil. Add scallions, shallots, and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, then add parsley, cilantro, and thyme. Add salt and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes more until onions are browned a little and everything is fragrant.

When you are ready to serve, put hot potatoes in a bowl and swirl it around to create peaks and valleys. Spoon herby topping while it is warm all over. If needed, put tin foil over it until you are ready to serve.

 

 

Cream of Mushroom Soup

November 12, 2021

When I was little, I loved Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Pouring the thick white base with lines from the can still formed onto its sides that was studded with chewy mushrooms.  Adding the milk, and whisking until they were sort of combined, bumps were fine. It was heaven.

To an eight year old.

As a grown up, it’s pretty gross.

The good news is that it is very quick and easy to make a cream of mushroom soup from scratch that is filled with the creamy umami goodness that it’s canned cousin slightly possesses.

You start with browning a mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms, and after reserving a cupful for later, you add the aromatics of shallots and garlic…

Then you add the dried tarragon, which goes so well with mushrooms I pretty much add it whenever I am cooking with them.

Then add broth, simmer for 10 minutes…

At this point you have some options that are all based on personal preferences. You could eat it like this, or to have a bit more of a refined soup, you can insert your immersion blender and go. Some people like to completely blend the soup so it is a thick, creamy base with the reserved mushrooms added back in. But I guess as a nod to my Campbell’s soup days, I like little chewy bits of mushrooms in my soup.

So I like to process it until it is chunky, not creamy.

This is the perfect dish to serve to guests who may be visiting for Thanksgiving, or to have a steamy bowl set at each place setting to set the meal off. If you want to get really fancy, you could thicken it a little (find out ways to thicken sauces here, my favorite is to mix a little flour and butter together to make a roux) and use this as a base for your green bean casserole, which is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Or just make it on a rainy Friday in November like today.

It’s the perfect recipe for when you walk by beautiful mushrooms in your grocery, and it only takes a few more minutes then the stuff from a can. But your inner child will still love the stick-to-your-ribs comfort food feeling you get. I promise.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Ingredients: 

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups mushrooms – a mix of cremini (or button) and shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, roughly chopped or sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 4 shallots, minced (about 3/4 -1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat oil on medium heat. When hot, add butter, and once it has melted add the mushrooms, tossing to coat in the butter and oil. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove one cup of the mushrooms to add back in later.

Add shallots and garlic to pot, and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Add the tsp. salt, tarragon, and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then remove from heat.

Once soup has cooled a bit, use an immersion blender to puree the soup. (You can also use a standing blender, but I like my soup with chunks rather than totally smooth, so I prefer the immersion blender.) Once it is your desired level of thickness, stir in cream, pepper and add extra mushrooms and parsley to the pot. Taste and check for seasonings and serve.

 

 

Chicken Schwarma

September 26, 2019

Ok, this post has been at the top of my  list of ‘things I have to make for the food blog’ since the spring. That’s because in the spring I had to drive past this amazing middle eastern cafe called Habibi in Portsmouth to take my kids to their LaCrosse practices and games all the time.  And after just. one. taste. of their chicken schwarma wrap, I couldn’t get enough. And then I let my kids order it and they couldn’t get enough. And then I’ll be chatting with my friends or at a party, and someone will bring up Habibi. And inevitably the conversation goes to ‘have you tried the chicken schwarma?!’ ‘Oh my gosh, its so good!’

You get the idea. It’s addictive. Chicken schwarma is like a pillow of flavor…a flavor bomb cloud…a pocket full of chewy aromatic creamy tangy flavors that just hit every taste bud.

But don’t take my word for it. It’s really easy to make too.

I may have stalked asked the owner who is a LOVELY woman how she makes it. And she told me the key is to marinate it in the seasonings, lemon, garlic and Greek yogurt OVERNIGHT. There are all kinds of schwarma recipes online that don’t use greek yogurt in the marinade or they say ‘2 hours’ and if you’re between not having the schwarma or having it marinated only 2 hours, fine, go for it. But really do your self a solid and just make it while your making dinner one night and it will be ready for lunch/after school/dinner the next day.

Also, in my experience the lettuce can vary, the tomatoes be sliced cherry or diced, but you are really going to want to add some sliced onions to the marinade and toss them in those flavors before you cook the chicken.

And you are really going to want some of the creamy garlic sauce. A store bought pita warmed is a totally yummy flavor vehicle, but if you want to find a homemade recipe I really want to try this one.

This recipe is great for crowds and is really cost effective IF you already have a pretty well stocked spice cabinet. Pro Tip: I actually keep all my middle eastern spices on one shelf and my regular spices on another so its easy to pull together something like this or a curry.

If you don’t it is worth it to invest in all of these spices since they the backbone of every curry recipe. If you can’t find ground cardamom I listed it as optional because this recipe has a TON of flavor and its the one that isn’t as essential. The cumin, coriander,  turmeric and paprika are all pretty important, and the cayenne just adds heat – if you are making it for kids you can leave it out too. If you love heat, go ahead and add a whole teaspoon.

So next time you’re at the store don’t forget to get a few pounds of chicken thighs, pitas and some Greek yogurt and veggies. And then throw it together and forget about it. And then…

Prepare to fall in love.

 

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Chicken Schwarma:

INGREDIENTS:

1-2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic minced
1 T cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 T ground cardamom (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
Pepper
2 T lemon juice
3 T olive oil
1 cup Greek yogurt

FOR YOGURT SAUCE:
1/2 c. Greek yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
cloves garlic, smashed and minced

Kosher salt

FOR SERVING:

Pitas (warmed)

Mixed greens, chopped romaine, or shredded iceberg lettuce

Cherry tomatoes, halved

Sliced Cucumber

DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, seasonings, lemon juice, olive oil and greek yogurt. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover or transfer to a ziplock back and refrigerate overnight, or even better up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 425° and grease a large baking sheet with oil or cooking spray. Add onion to marinade and toss to coat. Remove chicken and onion from marinade and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until chicken is golden and cooked through, 25-30 minutes. Let chicken rest on cutting board for 5 minutes, then thinly slice.
  3. Meanwhile, make yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, oil, and garlic. Season with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. To serve as a pita, top warmed pitas with chicken, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and yogurt sauce.

 

Pork Carnitas

September 17, 2019

 

If there was an award give to a food for the least amount of work for the most amount of bang, it would have to be these pork carnitas.

With about 15 minutes of prep time in the morning, you can literally feed a crow with all the delicious flavors of street tacos. The flavors are built up by the citrus, garlic, and spices and then linger low and slow for a while in the crockpot. All the fattiness from the meat gets cut by toppings like pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese.

I love to make these on sports Saturdays when we are running around to different fields but really want to come home and relax. With bigger kids, my favorite slow cooking on Saturday evenings, sipping wine is not a reality. I’m not complaining though because football under the lights with popcorn is a pretty cool family event and the games are so exciting to watch! I still want to eat yummy food when I come home though of course.

Enter festive crock pot dinners. I throw these flavors into a crock pot – the spices I combine in a small bowl and then sprinkle over the whole pork shoulder. If you want a leaner cut of meat use the boneless pork shoulder blade roast, but I usually use the pork shoulder picnic.

Also don’t mind my dented crock pot. I have no idea how it got dented but I blame kids.

It’s important to keep turning the roast as it cooks so the flavors are easily distributed.

When it’s done, you shred the meat (which goes very quickly since it’s SO tender), toss it back in the juices for more flavors, and lay it on a baking sheet. Then you turn on your broiler, and let it brown up for 5-10 minutes, watching closely. Then I like to channel my inner food truck owner and lay out all the fixings.

Everyone can make their own taco with their favorite toppings (read: picky eaters are happy). This is a great meal to share so invite some friends over and throw some cold drinks on ice. A perfect and easy Saturday night meal.

 

 

Hope you and your crew get to try these soon! They’re so so good.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Pork Carnitas

Ingredients:

2 onions, sliced

3-4 lb. pork shoulder picnic or 2-3 pound boneless pork shoulder roast

3 T salt

1 t. pepper

2 bay leaves

1 T cumin

1 T oregano

1 T chili powder

1 t. cinnamon

6 garlic cloves

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 2 limes

Directions:

Place sliced onions in the bottom of a slow cooker set to high.

Place pork on top of onions. Combine all spices in a small bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the pork. Add chopped garlic, juice of orange and lime.

Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10.

When it’s done, shred the meat (which goes very quickly since it’s SO tender), toss it back in the juices, and then lay it out on a baking sheet. Turn on your broiler, and let it brown up for 5-10 minutes, watching closely. Serve in warm tortillas with your favorite toppings.

Pork Posole

August 29, 2019

We are back in the swing of the school year, and I’ve been scouring my cookbooks and the internet to find new dinner ideas. My criteria has been dishes that are easy, delicious and feed a crowd. And I guess I’ve also been looking for things that are a little different, something we’ve never tasted before.

This Pork Posole checks all the boxes. When you find a dish that has SO much flavor, and is so simple and easy, and is a little bit different than anything you’ve had before, you have to share it. The amazing flavor comes from three things: the salsa verde…

the hominy…it was a little hard to find for me so I bought six cans from Amazon and I am very excited to have the makings for more posole in my pantry. Amazon Prime for lyfe. (Seriously, what did moms of little kids do before it existed?)

…and the addition of 3 cups of tortilla chips at the end. It sounds so weird but then you realize that the corn chips dissolve and when they do, they thicken this dish and add salt and fat that makes you crave more. It’s loaded with veggies that help to balance this decadence though, right?

I was a little worried that the fresh poblano pepper would make it too spicy, but my normally picky nine year old loved this dish along with my big kids.

My six year old did not love it though and ate what we always serve the kids who think something is too spicy: a cheese roll up. This is the name we give a tortilla sprinkled with shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese, rolled up and microwaved for 30 seconds with some avocado. (Just looking out for you mommas out there.)This dish has got to be one of the best bowls of stew/soup I’ve ever had. I’ve seen a lot of posole recipes around using chicken instead, and you could easily swap the pork for the chicken here. But the pork was so flavorful and satisfying I highly recommend trying it. There are a lot of crock pot versions too, but I think sautéing the veggies adds so much flavor and once you’ve done that you might as well just let it simmer on the stove for 30 minutes.The salsa verde and the lime make this taste so fresh, but at its heart this is comfort food and perfect for fall. I hope you get to try it and fall in love with it like we did. 

Happy Eating,

xoxo Katie

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 1/2 pounds lean, boneless pork loin, 1/2-inch diced

2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)

1/3 cup small-diced poblano pepper

2 Holland yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and 3/4-inch diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

6 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade, simmering

1 (12-ounce) jar medium salsa verde

2 (15-ounce) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups yellow corn tortilla chips, plus extra for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lime wedges, sliced or diced avocado, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, grated Cheddar, and sour cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium (11-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium-high heat. Add the pork and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the pork and any liquid to a bowl and set aside. (Don’t worry about crowding the pan here). Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pot, add the onions, and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the poblano and bell peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, chili powder, and oregano and cook for one minute. Return the pork and its juices to the pot.
  2. Add the chicken stock and salsa verde and bring to a simmer. Stir in the hominy, black beans, corn chips, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock and the chips.
  3. To serve, ladle the posole into large soup bowls. Garnish with a squeeze of lime and top with avocado, scallions, radishes, tortilla chips, Cheddar, and sour cream. Serve hot.

Recipe from Ina Garten can be found here on Foodnetwork.com

Greek Panzanella + Notes from a Lake Kitchen

July 27, 2019

We’re spending a month by the lake in our new (to us) camp about an hour north of Portland, Maine, near Sunday River and it has made me think a lot about food. We’ve had the house since January, but then it felt more like a ski house kitchen, and I had crock pots of short ribs and spaghetti and meatballs on heavy rotation. This summer we’re here for a whole month because our kitchen and floors are getting redone after we had a leak (and why this blog is so silent lately!). It definitely feels like the longest vacation we’ve ever had, which has been lovely and the days are passing like caramel melts in your mouth, sweet and slow.

I wasn’t sure this would be the case. A summer version of The Shining did cross my mind when I was packing my six kids to come up here. But walks by the lake every morning, swimming and reading every afternoon have given us such great family time and enough structure without any stress which feels…amazing. As Winnie the Pooh says in the recent Christopher Robin movie, “doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” And of course he is right.

When you’re on vacation, you want to eat delicious food but don’t want to clean up. Going out to eat is how many people resolve this but going out to eat with the twins gives me indigestion and makes me want to take a nap immediately, so we avoid it.

At home we rely on our pizza delivery place, but here they a) don’t deliver and b) don’t always know what the difference is between 30 minutes and 75.  So we’ve been making our own. It’s swayed us mightily since they are always easy and good. I’m somewhat obsessed with the margherita pizza we’ve been making and I don’t see that obsession going away anytime soon, though sautéed Brussels sprouts with pancetta is a close second.

For breakfast I’ve been living off of avocado toasts (the twins love it) and my favorite mushroom and goat cheese fritatta.

For dinners I wanted to try out a few new recipes and promptly realized why a stocked pantry is so necessary to cooking. Buying all the asian condiments like hoisin sauce and fish sauce and rice wine vinegar will add to your bill considerably. And may make you wish you did in fact go out to eat. But still this 30 minute Asian beef bowl – which was born from my 13-year olds craving a dish he had had on vacation one time – was worth all the condiments, and it was really good with some broccoli and red peppers sautéed with soy sauce and sesame oil drizzled on it. And this thai chicken flatbread pizza was so good too.

It’s the rhythms of food that always appeal to me, and that stands out so much here. Chopping an onion, mixing a vinaigrette, turning yesterdays meal of roast chicken or grilled veggies into something delicious. Forming these little rituals that will become ways to connect us to our time here through the years. And that’s what seasonal eating is, just relishing the present moment with all its delights. When our neighbor, Bobbie, who has a camp right next to us invited me over for a visit, she offered me some raspberry pie with her fresh raspberries picked from her patch at home. It was like summer sunshine exploded in your mouth. And another friend and her mom were here for a visit and she made raspberry jam that we’ve been spreading on toast. It’s making me want to go home and plant as many raspberry bushes as I can fit into our yard.

I love finding treasures offered up by the local food stores. The road to the ski mountain Sunday River is loaded with wonderful markets and organic offerings, and I found Miso and fresh greens and the best rosé in a can which fits perfectly into the stroller cup holders. I also found great asiago bread at the store in town and toasted it’s delicious – it’s a lot like the cheese bread we get in Pemaquid, Maine. They also have great ciabatta bread and another bakery sells pain au chocolat too. These are the beginnings of our food memories here, and they’re making me so happy.

I turned the leftover bread into panzanella salad this week and decided to make it a greek version – I have a long standing love of Greek salad and could eat it for lunch every day so I always have the makings on hand.

And I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer, preferably with some kind of vinegar.

So much goodness in one bowl. I love the briney olives with the creamy salty feta and chewy bread that’s absorbed all the vinegar.

 

In short, eating on vacation in July is the essence of simple. And the best part is all the walking and swimming and playing in the sun keeps you feeling great.

Next week I’ll be back in my newly refurbished kitchen and taking all the inspiration from this month with me. Stop back here if you want to see what it looks like!

Well, I just heard a splash that means the kids are swimming and I think I’ll go join them. They made up a new game that involves racing off the dock, and that’s pretty much what we dreamed of when we bought this place.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Greek Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

1 small French bread or ciabatta loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large shallot, diced or 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

8-10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup Greek olives (or more if you love them like me)

8 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons Red wine vinegar

1/2 t. dried oregano

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Make the vinaigrette, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and pour vinaigrette over them. Toss to coat, and enjoy!