Sunday, January 04, 2009

cooking potatoes

I ran into a very nice woman and dog the other day and we walked around the fields and talked. She's a good cook and, when I told her I grow potatoes, she asked "what do you do with potatoes?" (with her expression implying "why on earth would anyone want to eat potatoes...")

I sheepishly told her, "well I like to make French fries....." Then I thought it best to change the subject.

But I do enjoy cooking with potatoes.

In early summer, when I first dig small handfuls of new potatoes, I boil them briefly, chop, toss with olive oil or mayonnaise and herbs, and then serve as a very simple potato salad on greens with fresh peas.

Later we roast new fingerlings on the grill. Parboil no more than 4 minutes, toss with olive oil and rosemary, and then roast on a metal roasting tray. Yummy with a nice local grilled fish, fowl or meat.

And once the summer squash is coming out of your ears, I layer big white potatoes and sweet yellow squash in a casserole with onions, mild cheese and bread crumbs. This one goes best with a chardonnay and a big bouquet of garden roses. (I can't wait for summer....)

In the fall, when big baskets of crisp round tubers have been dug, there are my husband's favorites, fluffy baked Russets and pan-fried potatoes for breakfast with onions and peppers.

Unfortunately there is winter too. I didn't grow enough garden potatoes myself to last past fall, but I bought bags of beautiful spuds grown at our local CSA farm. (BTW: Why do these taste so much fresher and crispier and more flavorful than store bought? I can't figure this one out. Are the store bought ones last year's? Were they stored in an oven?) Anyway, I've been using these potatoes in warm soups. On New Year's Day we enjoyed potato pancakes with breakfast. And again I'm working to perfect my French fries. Photos and recipes of these winter versions of potatoes are here:

potatoes fries 6
fries 7 fries 8

Potato pancakes (recipe from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marion Morash)

1/2 lb potatoes (about 5), peeled and grated
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs flour
1/4 cup grated onion
1 Tbs cream
olive oil for frying

Squeeze potatoes dry in a towel. Mix with egg all ingredients except oil. Heat oil to cover bottom of frying pan. Add potato mix and flatten it on pan. Fry about 3-5 minutes per side or until well browned. Serve hot.

fries 3 fries 5
fries 4

French Fried potatoes (and other roots):

(I have a nice new fryer with a thermostat that's very nice for fries. The important thing is not to overload it. Small batches work best.)

Potatoes: wash and slice potatoes, and then rinse and dry with a towel. Fry 3 min in preheated vegetable oil at 340*F. Drain and cool. Heat oil to 375*F. Fry until browned (2-4 min). Drain and serve immediately. With sea salt...

Carrots, parsnips or beets: Wash, peel and slice. Heat oil to 375*F. Fry until browned (2-4 min). Drain and serve immediately. With sea salt...

Skippy's vegetable recipes
potatoes (Solanum tuberosum)


Dan said...

Those potato pancakes look delicious Kathy and potatoes, oil & rosemary is the best combination!

I'm making hasselback potatoes this evening with a rib roast, should be very tasty.

kathy said...

I had never heard of hasselback potatoes so I looked it up. Wow! Sounds yummy! Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to you, your family and Skippy. The nice lady must be a little mad, potatoes are so comforting and versatile. There is a revival here in the U.K. to use them in cakes and pastry as per the growers and cooks of second world war when food/ingredients were rationed. I can't think of anything better different varieties freshly dug and boiled, mashed or roasted.
Best wishes from London.

Silli said...

Ayurveda has a concept of prana- roughly, life force, that is a quality of food. (The more prana, the healthier the food.) Your freshly dug potatoes are full of prana as are the CSA potatoes, while the ones at the supermarket have had all the prana wrung out of them through chemicals and shipping. Your potato is still alive when you eat it, and surely a sun-warmed strawberry is pranarific.

Terry said...

Potatoes! yum!!! Can't wait for the potato pancake recipe, mine always turn out kind of yucky and starchy, instead of crispy. Maybe its the store bought potatoes? I want to try growing some this coming growing season.

gaga said...

OMG, who doesn't love potatoes?!?! That lady is crazy, potatoes are the best!

My Veggie Garden said...

Hi skippy( do you know that is the name of a famous kangaroo here in Australia?).
I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and have enjoyed your posts very much thank-you.
After reading about your cooking potatoes post and not wanting to be too forward I thought I share my post about Potato Bake. It's fairly rich and I don't know if it's to your liking but being a potato lover I thought might like it.

Anonymous said...

Your photos and recipes all sound scrumptious and have me craving potatoes, even though I just had them last night. An incredibly rich version of potatoes gratin from Barbara Kafka's great cookbook, Vegetable Love. I made do with supermarket potatoes. I can only imagine how much better they would have been with home-grown.

Harmony said...

I could probably live without potatoes, but I wouldn't want to try. I love baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, potatoes in stews and soups, potato based soups, french fries, potato chips, potato bread..... You get the idea.

I've never eaten a fresh potato before, so I couldn't say what the difference is. But we're growing potatoes in the garden this coming year, so hopefully I will be able to find out!

Annie*s Granny said...

Most potatoes you buy in the supermarkets have been held in storage, sometimes for months. There is absolutely no comparison between fresh grown, from your garden or a farmer's market, and those bagged grocery store potatoes! Even my husband has noticed the lack of flavor in the potatoes we've been buying. I made his favorite French fries the other night, and he asked me why they didn't have any taste....and they really didn't.

kathy said...

I love A.E.K.'s prana concept. Veggie life energy! Tastiness ... Fresh vegetables are good for the body and the soul.

And Annie's Granny I feel so bad for your husband. Supermarket potatoes! I have only one CSA potato left, so we'll be in the same boat soon too. That's the good thing about the supermarket - at least it IS there with all its variety when we run out of the good stuff.

Anonymous said...

I can't IMAGINE not loving potatoes! They are the best, most versatile food in the world!

Lisa said...

I think it's amazing how much better fresh potatoes (or freshly-stored potatoes) are than store-bought. Onions, too, for that matter.

The old idea that potatoes and onions aren't worth growing because they're the same as supermarket produce - that's nuts, for sure. Add garlic to that list, as well.

I love potatoes that are roasted with olive oil, rosemary, and garlic, and even my gardening companion (who likes pasta and rice better) likes roasted potatoes!

Hmm, I'm beginning to think I need to dig more beds for potatoes this year.


Magz & Hugh said...

Hi Kathy,

As the Irish representative here I must big up the potatoes! I eat them every day in different ways and absolutely love them!

There is a very famous chef where I live now in England called Heston Blumenthal who is a "scientific chef". He has perfected fries. I made them a few times for special occasions and you can really taste the difference, they are so crispy and delicious!

1. Cut the potato into thick chips. Boil them in water for around 8 minutes to soften. Drain and leave them go completely cold.

2. Heat the oil in your frier to a medium-hot heat and fry the chips until they start to yellow (around 10 minutes). Drain and leave go completely cold. At this point you can freeze them for later use. I freeze them in a single layer on a baking ray before baggin up - this stops them sticking together).

3. This is the final step. Heat the oil in your frier very hot, and cook the chips one last time until they start to brown (around 10 minutes). Drain them, and while still in the metal grill toss with a nice amount of salt. Pat dry on kitchen paper and serve immediately. Watch for the amazed look on diners' faces as they experience the worlds best chip!

Not a chip for every day with all the effort required, but amazing for special occasions. In his restaurant, (The Fat Duck, 3 michelin stars) Heston also injects each chip with ketchup!

Hope you have time to try this out!

For regular tasy chips I boil them first. This cooks them to the center and stops the potato absorbing so much oil. Then I dry them and put them straight in the frier for 15 mins. Tasty.


kathy said...

Thanks Margaret, I printed this one out and will definitely try it! I feel like getting up and making them now....

Johanna said...

I like mine best in "Curried Chicken with Potatoes". May as well get the full carb effect and eat them with rice! I tend to lean toward asian food and this Moroccan meal is a staple in my home. This uses chicken thighs which, I believe, is the best part of the chicken.

The recipe is easily found on the internet. I currently use one from

Johanna said...

Despite Morocco being in Northern Africa and not in Asia, I relate the yellow curry to similar uses in asian food.....just in case you were wondering!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kathy, Such nice photos. With my Dad being from Ireland, we had potatoes everyday. I love them!! I can think of 1,000 things to do with them! He always grew enough to last the winter. Fresh is always better, plus proper storage is so important. I'm growing my own this summer. Can't wait. What part of Boston is your garden? I have a brother and sister in Boston.

kathy said...

HI Peggy, I'm in Belmont about 6 miles to the north west of Boston. I also hope like to grow enough potatoes to last through the winter some day.

Johanna, curried chicken and potatoes sounds like a great idea. Thanks

Salix said...

Hi Kathy
Just looking through your latest postings - love your blog.
Guess some people never had a decent potatoe? Like you, we love them.
The last couple of years I finally found and ordered potatoe seeds from a great grower:
I planted 7 varieties to check out which we like the best - Don't know if they ship outside of Canada, but check it out!

kathy said...

thanks... I look forward to it.