Russian Potato Salad

Russian Potato Salad 20

One day, way back in December, it was brisk and sunny in St. John’s, and then by the afternoon it looked like this:

Russian Potato Salad 1

Fortunately, a few days after that, we had a rare sunny day, where the light poured into my kitchen even into the afternoon (which, considering my windows face north and east, is amazing).

Russian Potato Salad 22

But BAM.  It was that alluvasudden-it’s-winter phenomenon that seems to happen to many Canadian cities.  I was preparing for a pre-holiday potluck and Kª had just informed me (online from tropical Kansas) that Kº had gotten a job in Russia and that they were moving back there in February, and taking Il Principe and the Incredibly Little Hulk with them (not like they would have left them behind, of course).

Russian Potato Salad 4

Having recently read Sasha’s recipe for Russian Potato Salad (or Olivier Salad) over at Global Table Adventure, I thought that it would be fitting for me to make this easy and cheerful salad for our holiday potluck (and I definitely left a substantial chunk of it with Kº when we left for Ottawa).  So this one’s for you, the Russians-who-formerly-lived-downstairs.  Прощайте и удачи.  Have a safe trip!

First, we boil.

Plop 4 large eggs into a pot of water, bring that to boil, then turn the heat off and let that sit with the lid on for about 20 minutes.  In another pot, boil up 3 large carrots and 2lbs potatoes.  Boil them until they’re just tender, not mushy.  Rinse them with cold water to cool them down and then peel them.  It may sound tricky, but it’s actually easier.

Then, we chop. Gren helped/cleaned the floor.

Russian Potato Salad 10

Chop up those eggs quite fine.

Russian Potato Salad 9

As well as 3-4 large dill pickles.  Make those into tiny cubes.

Russian Potato Salad 7

In fact, cube everything, your potatoes, your carrots, as well as 1lb cooked ham.  You’ll also want about 2 cups peas (I used frozen), but you don’t need to chop those.  That would end badly.  I also chopped up those green onions I’d been saving.

Russian Potato Salad 14

Mix all that cheery goodness together and season with salt and pepper.

Russian Potato Salad 16

I also decided that potato salad isn’t potato salad without some paprika.  This is a sweet smoked variety from Spain.

Russian Potato Salad 17

Then you slather on the mayonnaise, about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups, depending on your preference.  Only dress the salad you plan to eat, as it will get soggy after a while.

Russian Potato Salad 18

Tasty!

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Wingin’ it Wednesday: Roast and Roasted

Roast and Roasted 16

It’s been raining for a while here.  I guess that means it’s fall.  The night I made this meal Fussellette drove us to Costco around 7, just after sunset.  There was a huge black cloud coming out of the west, like those ominous ones in movies where spells are cast or aliens arrive, and it blacked out the whole sky.  Yup.  Autumn on the North Atlantic.

Roast and Roasted 23

Anyway, before we left for Costco we had to eat early, and neither of us was particularly interested in putting much effort into food preparation.  Still, that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with peanut butter sandwiches or eggs on toast.  You can still produce quality comfort food with very little effort.  Case in point: our roast.

Roast and Roasted 20

The roasts we buy here are tough and flavourless, and frankly I’m not sure why I keep picking them up.  But once I buy them they need to be eaten and so here we go.  Make sure to take your roast out of the refrigerator at least half an hour before you intend to cook it.  Just trust me on that one.  Preheat your oven to 500°F, or as high as you can get it before the broiler kicks on.

Roast and Roasted 7

In a roasting pan (I used our well-seasoned cast iron skillet here), you are going to make a bed of chopped vegetables.  What vegetables those are is up to you.  Onions are a perennial favourite, as are potatoes and carrots and parsnips.  I used carrots, a red pepper, cauliflower, and some potatoes.

Roast and Roasted 10

Chuck those in the pan and drizzle them with olive oil.  Sprinkle with some sea salt and toss to coat. Use your fingers, don’t be afraid.

Roast and Roasted 12

Then take your roast and rub olive oil and sea salt all over it. Plop that in the centre of your bed of vegetables.

Roast and Roasted 14

On the side I also decided to cut up this lovely squash.

Roast and Roasted 1

Doesn’t it look like a flower?

Roast and Roasted 2

I put the squash in a separate pan, and gave it the olive oil and salt treatment as well.

Roast and Roasted 5

Now pop that all in your oven, and turn the heat down to 400°F.  Give that about an hour to cook, depending on the size and cut of your roast.  Medium-rare beef serves at a temperature of about 145°F, if you have a thermometer handy.  Check your veg a couple times, and toss them about to keep them from sticking.  If they look really dry (at least, the ones under the meat), then add a bit of water to keep them from burning. You should be okay, though.

Roast and Roasted 17

Once your roast is cooked (ours took about 45 minutes, and then I took it out and left the vegetables still cooking for another 15 minutes), take it out and set it on a carving board to rest for at least 15 minutes.  After that, slice it up super thin and serve with your roasted vegetables.

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A bit of honey and butter on your squash won’t go amiss, either.

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YUM!

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Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie

This is what we commonly refer to in our house as shepherd’s pie.  However, due to this usage, the Pie is convinced that traditional shepherd’s pie is made with ground beef, regardless of the fact that shepherds are generally focused on sheep, not cows.  There have been several arguments over the years.  He won’t even take Wikipedia as a definitive answer.

So.  Cottage pie.  A good way to use up leftover meat of any kind, and to encourage people to eat lovely potatoes.  This one we’re making with ground beef, and adding a few sweet potatoes to the mix.  The amounts I’ve used below are approximate, but make two good-sized dishes of the pie.

Start with 4 or 5 sweet potatoes.  Peel them, chop them up, and then boil them until they’re soft and mashable.

Cottage Pie

Then of course mash them, with a bit of butter.

Cottage Pie

While that’s on the go, you can finely chop 2 or 3 small onions and toss them into a large saucepan with some minced garlic and cook that until the onions are tender and translucent.

Cottage Pie

Add in about 1lb lean ground beef and stir that around until it’s cooked through.

Cottage Pie

Now, what I’m doing here is sprinkling about 1/4 cup flour onto my beef mixture.  For a gluten-free version, use corn starch.

Cottage Pie

Then use that same cup to scoop some of the cooking water out of your boiling sweet potatoes and add it to moisten the mix.

Cottage Pie

Chop up a few small carrots.

Cottage Pie

Add them, together with some frozen corn and frozen peas, to the meat mixture and stir around until they’re all separated and thawed.

Cottage Pie

Add some rosemary if you’ve got it.

Cottage Pie

Now you’re ready for assembly.  Gren seems to think that he is a viable receptacle for cottage pie.  He could be right. If it wasn’t for the corn and the wheat flour, and the fact that he is allergic to beef.

Cottage Pie

Spoon the meat and vegetables into the bottoms of your casserole dishes, filling about 3/4 of the way up. Then take your mashed sweet potato and smooth that over the tops.

Cottage Pie

Everything in there is cooked, so you will just need to heat it thoroughly when you cook it.  Using a glass casserole makes it easy to see if the mixture is bubbly.  These ones I froze for our parents to eat later.

Cottage Pie

Farmer’s Market Potato Salad

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

This recipe comes from Potato Salad: 65 Recipes from Classic to Cool.  At one point in this book the authors note that potato salad is as American as apple pie.  Thankfully they leave it at that.  Because I am a sports researcher, it drives me absolutely bonkers when I read somewhere that something is “as American as baseball and apple pie.”  In case you didn’t know (and on the slight off-chance that you actually care), baseball actually originated in Canada.  So while it may be the great American pastime (and gridiron football will start hemming and hawing to be noticed at this point), it ain’t American.

I don’t, on the other hand, know anything about the origins of potato salad.  Sorry ’bout that.  I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that potato salad came from wherever it is that potatoes are indigenous.

Okay enough blather.  You want a recipe.  Of course I left the recipe book at home and I’m at school so I’m guessing on the measurements from my photographs.  It’s not like potato salad is an exact science.

Start with 2 pounds new potatoes.  Plop those babies in a pot, cover them with water, and boil them until they are nice and yielding when you stab them with a sharp knife.  Not that most squishy things don’t yield when you stab them with a sharp knife.  And I don’t really like the turn this post is taking … So on that note, drain the cooked potatoes and let them cool until you can handle them without burning yourself.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Chop the potatoes up into halves or quarters or thirds (whatever works for the size of your potato) and plop those in a bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Take 1 stalk celery, with all the objectionable bits cut off, and chop that up for the bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Then take a TINY onion.  You can see the scale.  I have tiny munchkin/carnie hands, so objects in photo are smaller than they appear.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Because the recipe calls for only 1/4 cup chopped onion and that’s a very small amount.    Stick that in the bowl as well.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

You’re going to need 1/2 cup green peas.  I thawed these from the freezer.  So much for market fresh!

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

You’re going to need 1 hardboiled egg, as well.  I don’t care how you get it, but once you have it, peel it and chop it up and add the bits to the bowl.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Chop up some fresh herbs, about 1 tablespoon chives and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

How I love chopping herbs!  Well except thyme.  That sucker’s a real pain.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

So that’s all the bits, in the bowl.  Except the herbs.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Now the dressing is something unnecessarily confabulated, like 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Or whatever the stuff in that wee bowl looks like to you.

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

Now, toss everything together and store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few hours   (or overnight) to let the flavours blend.  Then eat your face off!

Farmer's Market Potato Salad

“Cactus-Cut” Potatoes

Cactus-Cut Potatoes

I had some leftover potatoes that I’d cut for the gratin I showed you on Monday.  The Pie suggested that we attempt to fry them up as thick potato chips, not unlike those of a popular restaurant chain.

Cactus-Cut Potatoes

So we did.  This is a few inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan. You heat it on medium-high (like at 7 or 8) until a pinch of flour dropped in goes all fizzy.

Cactus-Cut Potatoes

Then I fried the potatoes in batches until they were slightly crispy, but not too dark.

Cactus-Cut Potatoes

Stirring often with my big mesh spoon.

Cactus-Cut Potatoes

Plop them on a paper towel to drain and immediately salt them.

Cactus-Cut Potatoes

We had them with a chicken sandwich and some salad.  It makes up a bit for the grease.

Cactus-Cut Potatoes

New Potatos au Gratin

New Potatoes Gratin

Au gratin dishes are the ultimate in comfort food to me.  If you were wondering, “gratin” is of French etymology, coming from a combination of the words “gratter” (to scrape or to grate) and “gratiné” (having a crust or skin).  So it’s any baked dish with a nice crust on top, usually made with bread crumbs or melted cheese.  So much cheese.

For Easter dinner I bought some new potatoes in homage to spring.  And then I wanted to cover them with cheese, in homage to the fact that the weather is still miserable here and it might as well be winter yet.  This recipe is in essence the same as the one I made with Jerusalem artichokes last year, but with a few tweaks to reflect the season.

New Potatoes Gratin

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Start with your potatoes, however many will fit in the dish you wish to use.  Use a mandolin to slice them super thin.  I prefer them thin over thick, because they cook faster, and it means I don’t have to let them cook in the pan first before putting on the cheese crust.  I can put the cheese on before I bung it in the oven and I don’t have to worry about it burning.  I like to give them a rinse in cold water, too, to get rid of some of the starch.

New Potatoes Gratin

In a measuring cup, pour about 2/3 cup heavy cream.  Obviously if you’re just making a small dish you can use less.

New Potatoes Gratin

Fill it to about the 1 1/2 cup mark with milk and liberally add ground black pepper.  Give that a stir.

New Potatoes Gratin

Grate a whole heckuva lotta cheese.  I have a mix here of gruyère and aged cheddar.

New Potatoes Gratin

While you’re at it, chop up a bunch of Italian parsley.

New Potatoes Gratin

Generously butter the dish you want to serve your potatoes in.  Line the bottom with a layer of potatoes.

New Potatoes Gratin

Sprinkle on some parsley, then some cheese.

New Potatoes Gratin

Repeat that until you get to the top layer.  Sprinkle on your parsley, then pour your milk mixture all over the whole thing.

New Potatoes Gratin

THEN cover it with the rest of the cheese.

New Potatoes Gratin

Pop that baby in the oven and bake until the top is crusty and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Enjoy!

New Potatoes Gratin

O Canada: Nova Scotia HodgePodge with Beer Bread

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

In light of the Multilinguist’s excursions in Vega, we are making October Canadian Cuisine feature month (the Pie is thrilled because none of it involves tofu).

What better way to start us off than to take advantage of what the autumn harvest in Newfoundland has to offer us?  This creamy vegetable stew is easy and comforting (vegetarian, too, though certainly not vegan).  The recipe for the stew comes from All Recipes (with my modifications), and the idea itself comes from Delilah, one of the Pie’s classmates.  The beer bread comes from my mother’s own cookbook on Nova Scotian eatery.

For the Beer Bread:

HodgePodge with Beer Bread
Didn't have any Nova Scotia beer on hand, sorry.

In a bowl, mix 3 cups self-raising flour with 3 tablespoons granulated sugar.  If you don’t have self-raising flour, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into every cup of all-purpose flour.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 1 12oz bottle of beer and mix well.  Use a commercially produced beer for a lighter loaf, or a home made beer for a denser loaf.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

This is supposed to turn out more like a batter, and you can see here that one bottle of beer has just produced a really dry dough.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

I poured in almost a whole ‘nother beer before I got the consistency I was looking for, but this will depend on your flour, your beer, the temperature/pressure/humidity of your environment, whether or not you got out of bed on the right side or the left side, whether a butterfly really did flap its wings in Brazil … you get the idea.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour into a greased loaf pan and chuck it into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 350°F and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

The loaf will sound solid when you tap it and be a pale golden when it’s done.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Serve hot.  Also good the next day if you have any left over.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

For the HodgePodge:

Peel and dice 1 medium-sized turnip.  Chuck that in a large saucepan.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Dice 3-4 carrots and chuck those in as well.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Trim the ends off a couple handfuls of fresh wax beans (those are the yellow ones) and cut them into 1-2″ pieces.  Do the same with several handfuls fresh green beans.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add enough water to the saucepan to cover the vegetables.  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Cube up 5-6 small potatoes and add that to the pot.  Let that simmer another 30 minutes.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add in 6 tablespoons butter and 1-2 cups heavy cream (we used a blended table cream here) and stir that in for a few minutes.  Soy milk would also work well here.  I have used soy milk in chowders and it provides a rich, nutty flavour that complements the vegetables nicely.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Add 2-3 tablespoons flour to 1 cup water and stir that around.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Pour the flour water into the saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, and cook for a few more minutes to thicken the broth.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Season generously with salt and pepper and serve hot with beer bread.

HodgePodge with Beer Bread

Frankly, both the Pie and I found the hodgepodge a little on the bland side.  It tasted kind of like invalid soup.  But it was good.  And totally freeze-able.  Next time, though, I think I’d add an onion, some garlic, and some spices.  The beer bread was excellent and we plan to have what’s leftover with some chili tomorrow night.