Posts Tagged 'potato'

Gratin Dauphinois (French Scalloped Potatoes)

This is a lovely side dish, and it was good reheated. It is an adaptation of Julia Child’s classic scalloped potato recipe. I further adapted it to make it even lower in fat by eliminating one tablespoon of butter (you don’t really need to butter the pan) and using Jarlsburg light cheese and non-fat milk. This is a quick dish to make with no fuss. No fussy sauce – just layer thinly sliced potatoes and cheese, drizzle with hot milk and bake. Mind you, this is the dish I made during which I sliced the tip of my finger off using a mandoline to slice the potatoes.  This made the dish a bit more fussy. But if you’re careful, it’s a great dish. Use any kind of low fat sharp cheese and milk you have on hand. I’m going to try it with cheddar in the near future.

Gratin Dauphinois (French Scalloped Potatoes)

Cooking spray
2 tablespoons melted butter, divided

6 peeled russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), cut into 1/8-inch slices

1 garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Jarlsburg Light  Swiss cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup non-fat milk, heated

Preheat oven to 425F. Spray an 11-by-7-inch baking dish or gratin dish with cooking spray.  Arrange half the potatoes in dish, sprinkle with half the garlic, drizzle with half the butter, half the cheese, and half the salt and pepper. Repeat layers. Pour hot milk over potatoes.

Bake 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender, milk is absorbed and top is browned. My potatoes took about an hour.  Serves 6 at about 6 grams of fat/serving.

Slow-Cooker Shiitake-Buffalo Stew

In the bottom of my pantry I have one and a half huge Costco bags of dried shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake, native to Korea, China and Japan, have been grown in all three countries since prehistoric times. They have been cultivated for over 1,000 years. They were believed to be medicinal, a remedy for upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness. Dried shiitake must be rehydrated by soaking in water before using. Many people prefer dried shiitake to fresh, considering that the sun-drying process brings out the umami flavor from the dried mushrooms.

History aside, I find shiitake mushrooms to be quite versatile, throwing a handful into various dishes to increase their “meatiness” without increasing fat. They have a nice, chewy texture and flavor that adds substance to a dish.  But one and a half very big bags is simply too much! I need to reduce their bulk by using a large number at once. And that’s when I discovered recipes on the back of the bags.

Beside switching from beef to buffalo to lower fat, I varied the recipe a bit to match up with things I had in the house. It was too snowy to go out to get new ingredients. So for the new potatoes, I used a pound of cut up regular potatoes, and for the recommended canned whole tomatoes I used diced, because that is what I had in the pantry.

This recipe is super easy – everything goes in the slow cooker and then you come home to a great dinner.

The flour in the recipe means you have a good, thick gravy at the end. It also reheated well, with a little water added, so it made good leftovers the next day. It was a perfect winter dish when the temperatures were hovering in the 20’s and I wanted something warm and filling.

Slow-Cooker Shiitake-Buffalo Stew

3 cups dried, sliced shiitake mushrooms
12 new potatoes cut into quarters, or 1 lb. regular potatoes cut in 2 inch chunks
½ cup coarsely chopped onion
8 oz baby carrots
14½  oz can chopped tomatoes, undrained
14½ oz can beef broth
½ cup flour
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 lb buffalo, cut in 2 inch cubes (I used buffalo chuck roast, but any roast would do)

In a medium bowl, cover the shiitake mushroom with water and soak for at least 15 minutes. Drain shiitake mushrooms. Combine mushrooms and all ingredients except buffalo in a slow-cooker. Stir a bit to mix the flour in. Add buffalo.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (mine slow-cooker runs hot, so 7 hours was enough). Makes 4 hearty servings at about 2.5 grams of fat/serving.

Sweet Potato Salad

Two weekends ago was our community clean up day. We resourceful residents rise early of a Saturday, don our sweats and gloves, pick up our big white trash bags, and get to work cleaning the roadsides up and down the hills of our semi-rural community. Usually, it’s a crisp sunny spring day, but this has been a soggy April and the day dawned with a steady cold drizzle. My neighbor, who is in her 70s, and I questioned our sanity as we shivered along picking up the beer cans and bottles that had been strewn along the mountainside road in front of our homes. Since our road overlooks the city, weekend nights see cars parked along the road, with people looking at the lights…or whatever else people do in parked cars on weekend nights, and tossing their beverage containers out their windows.  At any rate, by the time we dropped off our filled bags at the designated corner, we were both ready to go home and warm up before we picked up the salads we made for the post clean up potluck.

This salad originally appeared in the AARP magazine. I thought it would be a little different than ordinary potato salad, and have a bit more color.  The instructions said to bake the sweet potatoes for an hour, but in my opinion, that made them too mushy. The pieces did not maintain their shape well.  I think 45 minutes is more than enough. You could even microwave them until just soft.

I made a double recipe because I was taking it to a potluck. But the rain kept a lot of people away, so I had lots of leftovers. As an experiment, I reheated one serving as a sweet potato side dish. It worked very well, although the celery remained crisp, and that texture was a little different – but still good.

Sweet Potato Salad

4 small sweet potatoes
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon mustard (I used Dijon)
4 celery stalks, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
½ of a 20 ounce can of pineapple tidbits, drained
2 scallions, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
Chopped fresh chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Wrap each sweet potato in foil and bake for 1 hour (see above for my cautions). Unwrap; let cool. Peel; cut into 3/4-inch chunks.

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise and mustard. Add sweet potatoes, celery, red pepper, pineapple, and scallions; toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour (I actually chilled mine overnight, since I wanted to make it ahead of the clean up day.)

Fold in pecans and sprinkle with chives if using. Makes 8 servings at 5 grams of fat/serving.

NOTE: Anticipating a desire to take this to work for lunch, I removed 2 servings and put them in separate containers before I added the pecans. Without the pecans, the salad has less than 1 gram of fat/serving.

Packed up and ready to be taken to the potluck.

Potato Salad, Oh Potato Salad

I was going to call this Costco Potato Salad, because it was inspired by a ten-pound bag of baby red potatoes from Costco.  I was kind of hoping for those really small potatoes, that you can cut in half and they’re bite-sized pieces.  Quite a few of these, however, were toddler potatoes, so I picked out the smallest ones and proceeded.

I have been craving creamy old-fashioned potato salad for some time. It goes with so many summer foods. This is a traditional potato salad with less fat, and a bit of pizzazz from olives and capers.  I didn’t take out the eggs, which made it a bit higher in fat, but it is very creamy because of their presence, and still low enough in fat to eat. No doubt I’ll be coming up with more potato recipes to use up the other six pounds of potatoes.

Creamy Potato Salad

4 pounds baby red potatoes, unpeeled
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 red bell pepper, diced small
10 green olives (the kind stuffed with red peppers is ok), sliced in half lengthwise and then cut across thinly)
2 Tablespoons capers, drained
1 cup light mayonnaise (the kind with 1 gram of fat/Tablespoon)
1 cup non-fat sour cream
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons onion powder
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook potatoes in boiling water that just covers them for 30 minutes or until tender; drain and cool 15 minutes. Cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size of your potatoes and how chunky you want your salad. You don’t have to peel the potatoes – I like skin-on potato salad – but you can peel them if you’d like.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, eggs, onion, red pepper, olives and capers. Mix gently.  In a smaller bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream mustard, onion powder, and salt and pepper. Gently stir into potato mixture. You can serve this immediately, or even better, chill overnight.  This makes 8 generous and creamy servings at about 5 grams of fat/serving.

That’s a chicken Italian sausage keeping the potato salad company.

Potato Samosas

Samosas are delicious deep fried triangular pastries, typically filled with a savory filling, and served with condiments, such as chutney or spiced yogurt. The ones I am familiar with are found in India, although variations occur in the Middle East and Africa.  The filling can be any type of spiced vegetable, although potato was the most common filling I encountered in Mumbai.

I have fond memories of snacking on crisp samosas, accompanied by hot tea, in little tea houses, and they were often served at weddings and other gatherings.  My fondest memory of samosas, though, is eating them as a snack when I went out with a group of women on an excursion to the sari-blouse maker, or to buy spices in the bazaar.  We would stroll along in our colorful saris, glass bangles jingling on our wrists, and pause to get a folded newspaper cone filled with plump, hot samosas from a vendor frying them in a cart along our path. Then we would take our savory snack to an open-air stall where raw sugar cane was being pressed into juice along with a bit of lime. There were, of course, flies around the sugar cane press, and I willed myself not to think about their being crushed with the cane as we sat around laughing, drinking our sweet cane juice and eating the hot samosas.

I have made samosas before, but could not figure out how to lower the fat on the tasty deep fried snacks. But this recipe, from “Healthy Indian Cooking” captures the savory flakiness of samosa without deep frying.  They’re relatively easy to make, too, although I found that they did not keep well for eating the second day. The flavor was fine, but they lost their crispness overnight and did not regain it when warmed in the microwave.  So invite a friend or two over and eat them up right away.

Potato Samosas

14 sheets of phyllo dough, thawed and covered with a damp towel
Cooking spray

3 large potatoes, peeled, boiled, and coarsely mashed
¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed (or drained canned corn)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tablespoons coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh mint leave, finely chopped
juice of one lemon
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix filling ingredients in a large bowl until well blended. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and lemon juice if needed. (Note, I think I should have mashed the mixture more thoroughly so it wasn’t quite so chunky) Set aside.

Cut each sheet of phyllo pastry in half lengthwise, then fold each piece in half lengthwise to make 28 thin strips. Lightly spray strips with cooking spray.  I found that it was best to work with 3 sheets of phyllo at a time, cutting, filling, and folding them (six samosas) rather than trying to do all the cutting at once, then filling, etc.  Keep the pyllo sheets you are not working with covered with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.

Using one strip of pastry at a time, place 1 tablespoon of the filling mixture at one end of the strip:

Diagonally fold the pastry back and forth (like you fold a flag) to form a triangle shape.

Place on the prepared baking sheet. Spray the tops of the samosas lightly with cooking spray (or brush lightly with oil). Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.  Make a cup of hot tea and enjoy. Makes 28 samosas at less than 1 gram of fat/samosa.

Dilled Twice-Baked Potatoes

I’ve just come back from a lengthy business trip.  You know the expression “travel is broadening”?  Well that applies to my hips and other unseemly parts.  I confess that when I travel, I don’t count fat grams like I do pretty much every day.  I eat out, and while I don’t go crazy, I often eat in nice restaurants and, food-lover that I am, I want to eat what they make best.  I try to walk a bit more, so I usually don’t gain much weight, but by the time I get home, I feel like I need to eat right.

When I got home this time, I realized that I didn’t have much satisfying lunch food.  My freezer had been depleted because I have been rather busy and not cooking.  So I set about restocking the freezer with things I can pop into my lunch bag. One of the first things I made were these stuffed twice-baked potatoes.  They’re quite satisfying when I heat them up at the office, and all I need is some sort of salad (usually tomatoes and cucumbers), and maybe a cup of yogurt to feel like I’ve eaten well.  I usually freeze the halves individually so I can just grab one out of the freezer.  These also make a nice side dish.

Dilled Twice-Baked Potatoes

2 large russet potatoes
½ cup non-fat cottage cheese
1 egg yolk
2 chopped green onions
1½ Tablespoons chopped fresh dill or ¾ Tablespoon dried dill
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Bake the russet potatoes, either in the oven or microwave, until done.  Allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving a ¼ inch thick shell. I use a spoon, grapefruit knife, or grapefruit spoon (those things with the serrated edges) to scoop out the flesh.  As you can see from the picture below, I sometimes scoop out the bottom a bit too much, but you can patch this with a bit of potato flesh.

Puree cottage cheese and egg yolk in food processor. Add potato flesh, green onions, dill, salt and pepper, and pulse until just blended.  Mound filling into potato skins and place in a baking dish. Bake until heated through, about 20-30 minutes. This makes 4 servings at 2 grams of fat/serving.

Grandma’s Potato Latkes

My little congregation had its annual Hannukah party on Saturday night. It was fun. We vainly attempted to sing the songs of our childhood…most of which came out like “Hanukah l’Hanukah na na na nan na” or “spin the whirling dreidel na na na na”.  We lit candles on the menorahs we brought, narrowly avoiding a conflagration.  I won a gaudy plastic electric menorah.

The only problem was that the latkes were burnt.  I don’t mean overdone, but most of them incinerated to hard flat cinders. It seems that the men of the congregation were making the latkes – a reasonably simple task. As you make more latkes, you typically put the cooked ones into the oven to stay warm. Somehow, the latke-makers were told to turn the oven up to 400 degrees – ergo latke cinders.

When I was growing up, my grandma had a latke party for all the grandchildren every year. The menu was latkes and more latkes with sour cream and apple sauce on the side. There may have been cookies or something for dessert…I don’t remember because I was always totally, blissfully full of wonderful, oily latkes.

Latkes are traditional for Hannukah because they are cooked in oil, which is symbolic of the miracle of  one day’s oil for the eternal light in the temple lasting for 8 days (the number of days of the Hannukah holiday).  And because they are cooked in oil, they are not exactly a low fat food.  But my latkes are only about 3 grams of fat per latke. The trick is having the oil hot enough so that the latkes don’t absorb too much oil, draining the latkes well on paper towels, and most important, not eating too many.

By the way, many recipes for latkes add various ingredients, such as chives or even other vegetables. Don’t do it!! My Grandma would be horrified. Those imposters are not latkes, they are some other sort of side dish. A good latke is potatoes and onions held together by egg and matzoh meal – nothing else. And some people use pre-grated potatoes. I guess Grandma might ok that, after all, she told me blintzes came from the freezer case.  I still grate my own potatoes and onions, albeit with the food processor and not the knuckle-scraping box grater…but if you need to save time, I guess pre-grated are ok.

Grandma’s Potato Latkes

2½ pounds baking potatoes, peeled
1 medium onion
½ cup matzoh meal
¾ cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon salt
a grind of black pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon)
canola oil

Preheat oven to 200 (you could also use a warming drawer if your stove has one). Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels.  Using the large holes of a box grater or grating disk of a food processor, grate potatoes and onion together. Using your hands, gather up handfuls of the potato mixture and squeeze as much of the liquid from it as possible. (I usually do this right from the food processor and put the squeezed potatoes into a large bowl.) Add matzo meal, egg substitute, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly – I do this with my hands since I haven’t been able to find a spoon that can mix it well enough.

Place a deep skillet over medium-high heat and add oil until it comes ½ inch up the side.  Heat until a little piece of the potato sizzles when you put it into the oil.  Cook the latkes in batches by carefully adding about 1/3 cup potato mixture for each pancake to the oil, pressing down on the mixture to spread it into a 3-4 inch latke. Don’t crowd them, and don’t make them too thick or they will burn on the outside before they cook on the inside.

Fry, turning once, until they are deep golden brown on each side – about 6 minutes total. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.  Using a slotted spatula, transfer the latkes to the lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you make the remaining latkes.  You may have to add a little more oil to the pan for later batches – let it heat up before you add more potato mixture.  Serve with applesauce and non-fat sour cream.  Makes about 15 latkes with about 3 grams of fat/latke.

OK, I confess – this picture lies. I did not eat only 2 latkes. I am sitting here blissfully full of latkes, with oily hands, lips and cheeks, feeling like I am 8 years old again.

Happy Hannukah.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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