Posts Tagged 'potato'

Roasted Red Pepper Potato Salad

My problem in the summer is that I don’t feel like eating. Actually, I feel like eating, but I want to eat fruit, yogurt, ice cream and the like, rather than sensible cooked meals.  This creates a parallel problem of too many odd leftovers. When I do cook something sensible,  I don’t feel like eating what’s left.  So I had leftover roasted red peppers from the day I cooked the kebabs (I can only tske so many roasted red pepper and goat cheese sandwiches for lunch), and a large container of cold boiled potatoes (talk about unappealing).  I’m rather fond of potato salad, so I decided to see what I could come up with for the aging cold potatoes.

Potato salad, which is a great summer side dish that seems to appear at everyone’s barbecue, is usually loaded with fat, meaning I can have a taste, but not much more. This is too bad, because I really like a good potato salad.  This potato salad is different. It is not only low fat, but both tangy and a bit sweet, and a lovely coral pink.  It uses the roasted peppers in two places: in the salad itself to create both flavor and color, and in the dressing. Since I already had the leftover potatoes and peppers, it was easy to make, too.

Roasted Red Pepper Potato Salad

6 cups of peeled, boiled potatoes, cut in about 1 inch pieces
1½ roasted red peppers, seeded and skins removed, divided
2 medium stalks of celery, finely diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup non fat sour cream
½ cup low fat mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste

Place boiled potatoes in a large bowl.  Cut one of the roasted red peppers (two halves) into a small dice and add to the potatoes, along with the celery and green oinions.  Cut the other 1/2 pepper into quarters and place in the food processor, along with the remaining ingredients (sour cram through black pepper). Process the dressing until smooth, taste and add salt if needed.  Mix the dressing into the potato mixtures. This makes 6 servings at just over 1 gram of fat/serving.

roasted red pepper potato saladThe salad is prettier than the photo.

Variation: I think this would be good as macaroni salad, too, using six cups of cooked macaroni instead of the potatoes.  And I like macaroni salad even more than I like potato salad.

Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

Who would’ve thunk it? Parsnips were the star of the buffet!  I was making two juicy main dishes (the French Honey-Baked Chicken was one of them) and I needed something starchy to hold the juices. I originally planned on wild rice, but it wasn’t exactly right, so I made these parsnip mashed potatoes.  They were kind of an afterthought – I figured they would be okay, and that most people wouldn’t really eat much of them.  So I didn’t even make a double recipe.  Hah!! Who would have known there were that many avid parsnip lovers? Before the end of the dinner the bowl was scraped clean!  Oh no – my mother’s nightmare.  I ran out of a dish instead of having leftovers.

Parsnips are a rather humble root vegetable which, to be honest, I’d only tossed into soup or veggie curry before.  The parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a relative of the carrot, and resembles it in shape, although parsnips are tan in color. It originated in the Mediterranean region and originally was the size of a baby carrot when full grown. When the Roman Empire expanded north through Europe the Romans brought the parsnip with them. They found that the parsnip grew bigger the further north they went. In Roman times, parsnips were believed to be an aphrodisiac – hmmm, does this explain their rapid disappearance from the buffet?  Parsnips are high in potassium and, if they have experienced a frost, have a mildly sweet flavor.


When purchasing parsnips, choose the smallest ones you can find.  Large parsnips tend to be tough, although they work out well enough if cooked for a long time in a soup or stew.  If, when you cut them up, they have a large core, I recommend that for this dish you cut it out.  I was picking parsnip cores out of the mashed potatoes for quite a while.  A version of this recipe appeared in Sunset magazine.

Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds each of parsnips and Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Fat free chicken or vegetable broth

Put parsnips and potatoes in a medium pot. Add enough broth to cover by one inch.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat, simmering 8-12 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables from pan and drain, reserving broth. Place vegetables in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Beat on low speed, gradually adding about ½ cup of the hot reserved broth until the vegetables are smooth and are the consistency that you want them to be.  This makes 12 servings at about 2.4 grams of fat/serving

Parsnip Mashed Potatoes

See, they’re not very glamorous.

You can make these ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container for a day. Reheat in the microwave, stirring occasionally.

Variation: Instead of adding the reserved broth, heat fat free half and half and add it gradually as you mix the vegetables.

Gauranga Potatoes

This recipe came from the co-worker of a good friend of mine.  The best way I can describe it is Bengali Scalloped Potatoes.  They are delicious and absolutely addictive.  The original recipe called for ghee, which is clarified butter.  Ghee is used widely in India because it keeps well without refrigeration.  It also has religious uses.  In Mumbai, the area of India where I lived, both  butter and ghee were made from soured milk, although some places make it from sweet milk. Prepared ghee can be purchased at Asian groceries.  I didn’t have ghee, so I used unsalted butter and it worked.  If you want to make ghee at home, it isn’t too difficult. Simmer unsalted butter in a large pot on very low heat until all the water has boiled off and the protein has settled to the bottom. Gently spoon off the cooked and clarified butter that is on the top, avoiding disturbing the milk solids on the bottom of the pan.

The recipe also uses asofoetida, a spice that is less familiar in western kitchens. Asofoetida, which was called hing by my Mumbai neighbors, is a staple in much Indian cooking, especially vegetarian cooking.  Asofoetida is made from a resin-like gum which comes from the dried sap extracted from the stem and roots of the perennial Ferula Assafoetida.  It has a strong, and some would say unpleasant odor, which when heated in oil or ghee becomes milder and more pleasant, acquiring a taste and aroma reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic. Asofoetida’s odor is so strong that it must be stored in airtight containers; otherwise the aroma will contaminate other spices stored nearby. It can be purchased in Asian markets, but those who are allergic to gluten should be aware that some companies blend pulverized asafoetida with wheat flour, so check the label.

Gauranga Potatoes

8 medium potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, but red potatoes will work
1 Tablespoon butter or ghee
1 teaspoon ground asofoetida
¾ teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
¾ teaspoon turmeric
3 cups non-fat sour cream
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Salt to taste
½ cup water
1 teaspoon paprika

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the potatoes and slice into ¼ inch pieces. Boil them in a large pan until they’re cooked but still firm. Drain off the water and set the potatoes aside. In the same pan, over medium low heat, heat the first tablespoon of butter (or ghee if you have it),with the asofoetida, rosemary and turmeric. Lightly brown, remove from heat, and add the sour cream, melted butter, salt, black pepper, and ½ cup water. Gently fold in the potato slices. Place in a 9 x 13 baking pan and sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 30 or 40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, until top is golden brown. Makes 8 servings at 3 grams of fat/serving.


NOTE: You can also make this in a Dutch oven or other stove-top and oven-proof dish, eliminating the need to spoon it into a baking pan.  This reheated very well, and I took it for lunch for several days after I had it for dinner. On the last day, I added a couple of handfuls of frozen green beans to the leftovers, and the combination was great.


Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe makes me giggle. Imagine a buffalo shepherd. What would you use for the shepherd’s staff – a 2 x 4 board with a bow on it?  And do they come home, like Bo Peep’s sheep, waging their big shaggy tails behind them?

Shepherd’s Pie is a savory meat pie topped with a mashed potato crust.  Instead of spooning the meat stew over mashed potatoes, you put the mashed potatoes over the meat and bake it.  It dates from the late 18th century, and was a means of using up – and stretching – leftover roasted meat.  Now it typically is made with lamb or mutton, with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle (and certainly not buffalo), however this is probably folklore. There are probably as many recipes for it as there are cooks – a close friend makes it with ground beef and onion soup mix and puts a layer of peas under the potato topping, another makes it with leftover pot roast.

At any rate, someone passed me this recipe because they knew I liked to cook.  The original had beef and lamb mixed. Naturally, I thought buffalo.  I think it may be a British recipe, because they refer to the meat as being “minced”.   I took a number of liberties with the recipe to make a shepherd’s pie that is very tasty and filling – and still low in fat.  An added benefit to this dish is that it can be made ahead, or in stages.  I made the meat filling one day, and put it in the refrigerator in the baking pan.  When I had more time the next day, I made the potato crust and baked it.  I expect you could assemble it completely and refrigerate it to be baked the next day, but you might have to bake it a few minutes longer.

Buffalo Shepherd’s Pie

Cooking spray
1 ½ pounds buffalo roast trimmed of all visible fat and gristle, ground (do not use purchased ground buffalo – it is much higher in fat)
2 medium onions, diced fine – I use the food processor
3 carrots, peeled and diced fine
½ pound cremini or button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup red wine
1 can of low sodium, reduced fat beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes
2 Tablespoons light butter
1 cup green onions, finely chopped

If you are making the entire dish to serve immediately, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Otherwise, preheat it to 400 when you reheat the pie.

To make the filling: Spray a large Dutch oven or non-stick pan with cooking spray. Brown the ground meat over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and sauté until they are limp and just beginning to color – about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.  Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, thyme, parsley and cinnamon.  Stir and sauté for 2 minutes.  Stir in the flour, and then add the wine and beef broth.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.   Return the meat to the pan, bring to a boil, cover and turn down the heat to low, simmering  for about 30 minutes.  Remove the filling from the heat, and spread in a 9 x 13 pan coated with cooking spray, smoothing it until even.

To make the crust
: Peel the potatoes and cut them into large, even pieces.  Place in a pot of water and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Drain the potatoes thoroughly, add the 2 tablespoons of light butter, and mash until smooth. Mash the green onions into the  potatoes. Spoon the potatoes over the filling and spread evenly to cover the meat.  Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes, until the crust begins to brown.  This makes 8 hearty servings at 4 grams of fat/serving.

Variation: If you wanted to substitute ½ pound of very lean ground lamb for ½ pound of the buffalo, it would have a more “British” feel, and would be about 6 grams of fat/serving.

Hint: I grind my own meat so that I know how much fat is in it.  Store-purchased ground meat tends to be fatty, even the beef that is labeled “extra lean” has almost 5 grams/ounce.  I used to grind eye of round – 1.2 grams/ounce, and now I grind buffalo – .6 grams/ounce.  I usually grind a large amount of meat using the electric grinder on my KitchenAid.  It is a big, all-morning production. I just discovered that it is possible to grind a pound of so of meat by cutting it into medium sized chunks and pulsing it in the food processor.  This has interesting implications for ground chicken and pork, to be experimented with soon.

Hint: Tomato Paste is one of those annoying ingredients that you tend to need a spoonful of, but it doesn’t come in single spoon packages.  I have been freezing the leftover tomato paste in a plastic zip-top bag, and then I can defrost slightly it when I need a bit and refreeze it.

Warning: this pie is very filling.  Every time I eat a slab, I have the overwhelming desire to curl up under a down blanket and take a nap.  Maybe it’s the weather.

Au Gratin Anything

I love cheesy things – no, not that kind of cheesy.  Cheese is one of the best things that can happen to a vegetable.  So when I see the word au gratin or gratin, count me in. Technically, a gratin is a food that consists of thinly sliced potatoes or another ingredient in a cream sauce, usually topped with breadcrumbs and cheese.  Au gratin actually refers to the technique of cooking in a cheesy sauce.

The problem with most au gratin preparations, much as I love them, is that they are quite high in fat – butter, cheese, cream, and other ingredients that up the fat gram count far beyond my desire to eat cheesy vegetables with some frequency.  This preparation, derived from trial and error (oh yes, lots of error – curdled milk, mushy veggies – ugh), combines a number of techniques that make it possible to have a lovely, creamy dish that is still low in fat.  Even better, you can make it in one pan for serving at an everyday meal, or dress it up for only a few fat grams more by spooning it into a baking dish and topping it with a bit more cheese, and putting it under the broiler for a minute or two. I have made this with potatoes (naturally), cauliflower, broccoli, and green beans, and I think you could try other vegetables as well.

Speaking of cheese, you really need a good sharp cheddar to make this dish.  Most low fat cheddar doesn’t have the flavor to carry this dish without getting lost in the sauce.  I recommend Kerrygold Reduced Fat Irish cheddar.  This cheese has only 4 grams of fat/ounce and a sharp cheddary flavor that makes it great for cooking and a good snack (maybe with a nice apple), too.


Basic Au Gratin Recipe

4 cups of vegetables cut in 1 to 2 inch pieces (or ½ inch slices for potatoes)
1 ½ cups non-fat milk, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (potatoes only need 1 Tablespoon of flour)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)

For the dressed up version, 2 additional ounces of shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese. You can also sprinkle it with a little paprika for color.

In a large pan bring vegetable, salt, and 1 ¼ cups milk to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  The time will vary depending on the vegetable.  Be sure to check the vegetable while they are simmering – you don’t want mush.  In a small bowl, whisk remaining ¼ cup milk and flour.  Stir the flour mixture into the vegetables, stirring constantly until it  thickens, about 1 minute. Stir in the 2 ounces of cheese, mustard, and pepper, stirring until the cheese melts.  This makes 4 servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.  This is cauliflower au gratin.


Variation: For the dressed up version, spoon the vegetable mixture into an oven proof pan. Sprinkle with an additional 2 ounces of shredded cheese, and paprika if you want Broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese melts (or if you’re lazy like me, stick the pan in the microwave for a minute to melt the cheese.)  This makes 4 deliciously cheesy servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.  This is potatoes au gratin.


Double Cheese Twice-Baked Potato

Twice-baked potatoes are a nice side dish.  They dress up a plain piece of chicken or meat, and make it seem a little more festive.  They also can be a meal in themselves, hearty enough to be eaten with a salad or a bowl of soup.  I confess that I primarily made these twice-baked potatoes as something to freeze and take for lunch, reheating them in the office microwave. I’m not much of a sandwich eater, and these potatoes and a piece of fruit will make a nice lunch variation.  I originally planned to make the twice-baked potatoes without the cheddar cheese topping, so here they are with a dusting of paprika ready for their second baking.


But when I tasted my first one, I thought it needed a little something extra, so I added cheese on top.  I froze them without the extra cheese, since I might want to vary things or use a different cheese (like the reduced fat havarti I just bought), but the recipe is for the potatoes with cheddar.  If you don’t use the cheese, you can reduce the overall fat gram count by 2 grams/potato half.

Double Cheese Twice Baked Potato

5 large baking potatoes (about 4 pounds of potatoes)
½ cup non-fat sour cream
½ cup non-fat milk
2 Tablespoons light butter
½ cup reduced fat blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions or chives
4 ounces of reduced fat cheddar cheese

Paprika to sprinkle (optional – it’s only for looks)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scrub the potatoes and pierce several times with a fork. Bake in the oven until they are tender, about an hour and 15 minutes.  Do not microwave them – microwaved potatoes will have skins too thin to easily withstand scooping and stuffing.  Remove from oven (leave oven on) and allow to cool for about 10 minutes so you can handle them. Cut 4 of the potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop the insides into a large bowl, leaving about ¼ inch of potato attached to the skin to create a shell. Try to keep the skins intact.  Peel the fifth potato, cut it up, and add it to the bowl. The extra potato will give your potatoes a generous stuffing that will mound above the level of the shell.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the cheddar cheese to the bowl and beat with a mixer until it is the texture that you like.  Some people like their twice-baked potatoes to be very creamy – I prefer a bit of texture.  Stuff the potato shells evenly with the potato cheese mixture, mounding it gently above the shell.  Return to the oven to bake for 20 minutes at 350.  Place ½ ounce of cheddar cheese (shredded or thinly sliced) on top of each potato and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Makes 8 servings with about 4 grams of fat/ half-potato serving (with cheddar).


Variation: if you really want these to be blue-cheesy, use a full cup of reduced fat blue cheese.  This will make the potatoes have 5 rams of fat/serving

Note: Light butter is a handy ingredient, when what you want is the taste of real butter without all the fat.  It is real butter mixed with canola oil, buttermilk, water, etc.  Light butter has 5 grams of fat/tablespoon unlike 11 grams of fat in a tablespoon of butter.  You can’t really use it for baking or sautéing, but it’s good as a spread on a baked potato, and I often use it as a flavoring in place of regular butter.


By the way, it is STILL snowing.   The truck is now completely invisible. There must be at least 4 feet on the ground, and I have been snowblowing twice a day. There is no place left to stack the snow. This is not my idea of exercise.  If anyone sings “Let It Snow” or “White Christmas”, I’m going to throttle them.

Crock Pot Potato Soup

Winter has hit with a vengeance.  Single digit and below zero temperatures. 23 inches of snow in one day.  The snow outside of my garage door was above my shoulders!  Here is my truck after the first snow.  Yes, there is a vehicle under there.  It took me two days to shovel out – and then it started snowing again.  It’s snowing even now.


It is definitely soup weather.  There’s nothing like coming in from shoveling snow, with freezing fingers and a frozen nose, and heating up a bowl of homemade soup you made in anticipation of the worst.  This potato soup is a combination of several recipes.  I made it with most of the potatoes chopped coarsely, but I recommend cutting half of them into 1-2 inch chunks to give the soup more chunky texture.

Crock Pot Potato Soup

3 pounds of potatoes, peeled, half coarsely chopped in the food processor and half cut into 1-2 inch pieces
2 leeks (optional), cleaned, white parts and a little green, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 medium onions (or one large), coarsely chopped
3 14-ounce cans of non-fat low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup chopped chives (optional)
1 can non-fat evaporated milk
½ cup fat free half and half (optional, but it makes it creamier)

Put all ingredients except the evaporated milk and fat free half and half into the crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, on high for 3-4 hours.  You may want to check it an hour or so before it is supposed to be done, so it doesn’t burn. One half hour before the soup is done, stir in the evaporated milk and fat free half and half.  You can adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper) to your taste after the soup is done.  Since I made this primarily to eat for lunches, I tend to add salt and other flavor enhancements when I reheat individual bowls of soup. This makes 10 servings at about 2.2 grams/fat/serving.


Variations As you can see, I served the soup with a dollop of non-fat sour cream (why is a lump of sour cream always called a dollop?).  I also added a sliced up low fat hot dog one day.  I expect ham would also be good.  Just remember to add the fat grams for these add-ons to your counting.

Hint: Leeks require some special handling.  Soil is mounded up around them while they grow, and you must make certain that all the sand and grit is out of them before you add them to a recipe.  Some people cut them in half lengthwise and soak them, rinsing them several times.  I cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and then into 3 inch pieces.  I put the pieces in a colander and rinse them under running water, stirring with my hand to make sure that the pieces are well-rinsed.


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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