Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

2 12 2011

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

We’re in the middle of the holiday season with all of its requisite parties, dinners and general overindulgence. However, sometimes in the midst of festive meals and a few too many cocktails, we start to crave something a bit lighter. Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes is just the dish to serve: it’s on the lighter side but is still packed with lots of flavour.

What is Sablefish?

Sablefish is also commonly known as black cod, butterfish and sable. It is a mild, buttery white fish, typically caught in the North Pacific Ocean off British Columbia and Alaska. According to The Monterey Bay Aquarium and their Canadian counterpart, SeaChoice.org, sablefish is considered a ‘Best Choice’ for sustainability, meaning that stocks are abundant and well managed.

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

Makes 4 servings

  • 4 sablefish (black cod) fillets weighing about 4 oz. (113 grams) each
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fennel (white part), sliced about 1/4“ thick
  • 12 large cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ clove garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fennel fronds for garnish (optional)

For Crumb Topping:

  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs made from fresh bread (about 1 thick slice of bread)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (use a mortar and pestle or the side of a large knife to crush them)
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Prepare the Crumb Topping: In a small bowl, add the breadcrumbs, oil, chopped thyme, fennel seed, salt and pepper and stir together until all breadcrumbs are moist. Set aside.
  2. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper evenly over the fish fillets and set aside. Preheat the oven broiler and move the rack to the top position.
  3. Heat a large ovenproof, non-stick skillet on medium heat and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add the fennel slices and sauté until they caramelize and turn a dark golden brown, about 14 minutes. Be sure to stir the fennel around so it doesn’t burn and remove any pieces that brown quickly.
  4. Once the fennel has caramelized, remove from the skillet and set aside on a plate. Return the skillet to the burner and turn heat to medium-high. Heat the remaining olive oil and place the sablefish fillets in the pan, skin side down.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fish for two minutes. Carefully turn the fillets over and cook for another two minutes.
  6. Turn the fish once again, so the skin side is down. Add the cherry tomatoes, wine, garlic, thyme and lemon juice and cook for another 2-1/2 to 3 minutes or until the fillets are almost fully cooked through. Return the cooked fennel to the pan.
  7. Press a couple of spoonfuls of the breadcrumb mixture onto the top of each of the fillets. Place the skillet with the fish under the oven broiler, watching very carefully, until the crumbs turn golden and crisp, about one minute.
  8. To serve: Divide the caramelized fennel and tomatoes between four servings and mound in the centre of each plate. Place a piece of the sablefish on each portion of fennel/tomatoes and spoon the pan sauce over the fish.
  9. Garnish with a sprig of fennel frond, if desired, and serve immediately.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Chinese Braised Pork

15 11 2011

Chinese Braised Pork Shoulder with baby bok choy and rice

It’s hard to believe but it’s already mid-November! Most of the farmers’ markets have wrapped up for the year and many of us have put away our grilling equipment. However, there’s no need to despair that summer is over. It’s now time for one of easiest and most delicious types of cooking: Braising!

There are a number of reasons to love braising:

It’s Cost Effective: Cooking inexpensive cuts of meat low-and-slow transforms them into meal that is tender and succulent. For less than $8.00, a pork shoulder can feed up to six people. As for equipment, all you’ll need is a pot with a heavy lid, a stovetop and an oven and you’re good to go.

It’s Easy: Once the initial prep work is done (which usually involves little more than some simple chopping and searing), the braise goes into the oven and does its thing. You can sit back, enjoy a glass of wine and a few hours later dinner will be ready.

It’s Delicious: The results achieved from low-and-slow cooking are always impressive. The meat becomes meltingly tender and the resulting juices can be reduced to make a silky, luxurious sauce.

It’s Versatile: The basic technique of braising (sear the meat, add aromatics and liquid, cover and cook on low heat) can be adapted to work with almost any kind of meat or vegetable. The finished product can usually be used in a number of ways, from taco fillings to pasta sauces.

Enameled cast iron pots are ideal for braising (left: Le Crueset risotto pot; right: Le Crueset 5.5 quart pot)

For more great braising ideas, check out my recipes for Braised Short Ribs, Steve’s Osso Bucco, Guinness Stew and Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle.

Chinese Braised Pork

Serves 4 to 6

  • A 1.2 kilogram / 2.6 lb (approximately) pork shoulder blade roast
  • 3 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 points of a star anise (or more/less, to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • A 1” piece of ginger, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Shaoxing Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • ¾ cup soy sauce (preferably sodium-reduced)
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 6 Tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 teaspoons cold water
  • Chopped green onions, for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sprinkle the roast liberally with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large (5.5 quart) enameled cast iron pot or other ovenproof pot with a lid, heat the oil on medium-high.
  4. Add the roast and brown on each side, about three to four minutes per side. Remove the roast from the pot and set aside.
  5. Add the diced carrots, celery and onion to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook for two minutes.
  6. Add the chopped garlic, star anise points, red pepper flakes and ginger. Continue to cook until the vegetables are softened, about three to four more minutes.
  7. Stir in the hoisin sauce until thoroughly mixed in and cook for another minute.
  8. Pour in the chicken stock, shaoxing wine (or sherry), soy sauce and rice vinegar. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
  9. Bring the sauce to a boil and return the pork shoulder to the mixture.
  10. Cover tightly and place in the oven for one hour.  After one hour, remove the star anise points if desired (it is quite strong). Return the pot for another hour.
  11. Check on the braise after the second hour. When done, it should be fork tender. Return to the oven for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until completely tender and the meat is easy to shred.
  12. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer to the stovetop. Carefully take the shoulder out of the liquid and set aside in a large bowl.
  13. Strain the remaining sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepot. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. In a separate cup, combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 2 teaspoons cold water. Stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved and free of lumps.  Pour into the strained and reduced braising mixture.
  15. Continue to boil for another five minute until the sauce begins to thicken slightly and is a bit glossy.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  16. To serve: Break off chunks of the pork shoulder with a fork. Pour the sauce liberally over the meat and garnish with green onions, if desired. It’s delicious over rice or noodles and accompanied by sautéed bok choy.

Note: The meat and sauce can be refrigerated overnight, making it easy to skim off any excess fat. The sauce will likely gel once cooled but will return to liquid once heated.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

14 10 2011

Fennel seed can add a zesty bite of anise to dishes (including Tuscan salami and boxed pizza!)

I first discovered fennel seed in a somewhat unusual way. When I was a kid in the late 70’s and early 80’s, my mom would sometimes make boxed Kraft pizza (we lived in a rural community so delivery wasn’t an option). Each kit contained a can of sauce, dough mix and a seasoning packet of dried herbs to sprinkle over the pizza. All you had to do was add the toppings of your choice which usually included ground beef, mushroom slices (canned, of course) and cheese. I always loved the seasoning packet – it added a zippy burst of Italian flavour to our less than authentic pizzas. Years later I finally realized what it was that gave our ‘pizzas’ the flavour I loved so much: fennel seed.

Fennel seeds are the dried fruit of the sweet fennel plant. They have an anise (black licorice) flavour and pair well with pork. In Italy’s Tuscan region, fennel salami (finocchiona) is very popular and fennel seeds are often crushed to rub onto meat before roasting or grilling. They impart a delicious burst of anise flavour when chewed. Fennel seeds can be found at most well stocked grocery stores or kitchen shops. Look for whole seeds as opposed to ground ones.

A tip: You can use either cream or evaporated milk in this recipe. While cream will give the sauce a silky richness, it’s very high in fat and calories – low-fat canned evaporated milk is a decent substitute.

Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 5 mild or sweet Italian sausages
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • A 14 oz. (398 ml) can of tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup evaporated milk or cream
  • Pinch of sugar, to taste (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500 g (1 lb.) dried penne or rigatoni
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish (optional)
  1. In a large deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  2. Slice the skins of the sausages lengthwise down the middle and remove the meat from their casings. Discard the casings. Add the sausage meat to the pot and use a spatula or spoon to break up the meat. Add garlic and fennel seeds.
  3. Cook sausage mixture on medium-high until just browned, about 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  4. Add tomatoes and break up with a spoon. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add evaporated milk or cream and stir into sauce. Let sauce simmer for 5 more minutes. Season to taste with a pinch of sugar (optional – use if the tomatoes are very acidic), salt and pepper. Keep warm on low heat while the penne cooks.
  6. In a separate large pot with a lid, heat water to cook the penne. Bring to a boil and cook penne until al dente, according to package instructions, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Drain penne and toss with sauce until thoroughly coated. Garnish with parmesan cheese if desired.

Penne with Sausage and Fennel Seed makes a simple and delicious autumn dinner

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com.




Fall!

23 09 2011

Pears are at their peak in early autumn

A lot of people mentally checked out of summer after Labour Day but the real first day of fall is today! Fall happens to be my favourite season so I couldn’t be happier. In many areas, the weather is still very pleasant and the farmers’ markets are still bursting with plenty of late-summer and fall produce. As the weather turns crisp in the weeks ahead, I’m looking forward to enjoying some warm spiced apple cider, putting on some slow-cooked braises, taking walks through the brilliant foliage and getting the fireplace going for the season. To get in the mood, here are a few of my favourite autumn recipes:

Slow Simmered Ragu with Pasta

Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Orecchiette with Rapini, Sausage and Crisp Garlic Crumbs

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple

La Poire (pear cocktail)

Apple-Caramel Tart

Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline

A fall scene at the market

For more great autumn ideas, check out the Fall Archives!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle

24 03 2011

Beef braised in barolo and served with pappardelle

As many of you know, I recently returned from a trip to Piedmont, Italy. The fantastic food and wine of the region has inspired me so I’ve been working on my own interpretation of recipes that reflect the foods of the region using ingredients that are accessible to North American cooks.

A popular dish in the Piedmont region is Brasato al Barolo, which is beef braised in Barolo wine. Unfortunately, Barolos can be quite expensive so you can easily substitute any inexpensive dry red wine, as long as it’s decent enough to drink.  I used a bottle of Cantina Terre del Barolo Barbera d’Alba 2008, which retails for $13.95 in Ontario. Luckily, the recipe only calls for two cups so you’ll have the rest of the bottle to enjoy with dinner!  I call for short ribs because they braise beautifully, resulting in a tender and flavourful dish.

To build flavour and add umami to the dish, I’ve used porcini powder.  Porcini are mushrooms that grow abundantly in Italy and are common in many Italian dishes. Unfortunately, fresh porcini are often difficult to find in North American stores because they are very perishable. However, many stores sell packages of dried porcini (I’ve seen them at gourmet stores, Italian specialty shops, some supermarkets and fruit and vegetable markets). It’s very easy to make porcini powder from dried mushrooms: just add a few to a mortar and use the pestle to grind them to a powder (if you don’t have a mortar-and-pestle, just crush them with a rolling pin or the flat side of a large knife). Extra powder can be kept in a sealed container and used in soups, stews or pasta sauces.

Porcini powder is easy to make with dried mushrooms and a mortar-and-pestle

A Note About Authenticity: Italians typically serve Brasato al Barolo with polenta instead of pasta (pasta is usually served as a separate first course).  However, egg noodles are delicious with the sauce, creating a rich and hearty main dish. Look for long, flat noodles made with eggs.  The beef will taste even better after a day or two so plan ahead and make extras!  Leftover shredded meat also makes a great filling for ravioli or agnolotti.

Pappardelle is delicious with wine-braised beef

Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle

Makes about 6 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large meaty bone-in beef short ribs, each weighing about 10 to 12 ounces (300 to 340 grams)
  • 4 oz. (113 grams) slab bacon, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups Barolo, Barbera D’Alba or other dry red wine such as Côtes du Rhône
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup espresso or very strong coffee (equals about two shots of espresso)
  • 2 teaspoons porcini powder (made from about 6 dried mushrooms, see above)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. (500 grams) pappardelle or other flat egg noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to finish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pat the short ribs dry with clean paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. In an enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quarts or larger) or oven proof pot with a lid, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high.
  3. Add the short ribs. Let the ribs brown, about three to four minutes per side. Turn the ribs so that all sides brown. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the bacon to the pot and sauté until it’s beginning to crisp. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about five minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste.  Add the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Pour in the wine, beef broth and coffee.
  6. Add the herbs and the porcini powder, stirring to combine. Return the browned short ribs to the pot.
  7. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and place the lid on the pot. Put the pot into a preheated oven (350F).  Cook for two hours.
  8. Check on the ribs after two hours. Stir to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom.  Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  9. Check on them again after 30 minutes – the ribs should be getting very tender and almost falling off the bone. Spoon some liquid over them (you can add another 1/2 cup of stock if the sauce is getting low).  Return to the oven for another 20 to 30 minutes or until they are fork-tender and falling off the bone.
  10. Remove the pot from the oven. Use tongs to extract the ribs from the sauce. Place them in a bowl and set aside. Strain the sauce into a large sauce pan, using a large spoon to press all of the liquid through a strainer. Heat the sauce on medium-low heat.  Spoon off as much fat from the top of the sauce as possible (you can also cool the sauce overnight – the fat will harden and can easily be removed).
  11. Place the cooked ribs on a cutting board. Remove any bones, fat and connective tissues and discard. Use two fork to shred the meat. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces and return the meat to the pot of simmering sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and heat through while preparing the pasta.
  12. Cook the pappardelle or other egg noodles according to package directions (usually about 6 minutes). Drain well. Toss the pasta with the braised meat and sauce and top with shaved parmesan cheese before serving.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Slow Simmered Ragu with Pasta

12 01 2011

A Tuscan-style ragu, simmered slowly with herbs and wine, pairs perfectly with fresh pasta

We’re deep in the heart of winter and snow is blanketing much of North America (including areas that don’t normally get a lot of snow). It’s the kind of weather that makes you want to put something comforting on the stove to simmer while you curl up with a blanket and a good book.  A slow simmered Tuscan-style ragu sauce fits the bill perfectly.

A few years ago I was visiting Tuscany and happened upon an outdoor cooking demonstration. A chef and his mother, Mamma Donatella, were demonstrating how to make classic Tuscan dishes.  One of the dishes was fresh handmade pasta with a ragu sauce and Donatella’s version was unlike any I’ve had before: rich with flavour and light on tomato sauce.  Since then, I’ve worked on developing my own take on this Italian classic.  The secret is to let the sauce cook down for a long time (at least 2-1/2 to 3 hours).  You can make your own noodles or buy fresh pasta at many Italian markets. Good quality dry pasta will work as well – try wide noodles such as papardelle or tagliatelle.

Click here for the recipe on Suite 101: Slow Simmered Ragu with Pasta.

Bon Appétit and Stay Warm!

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Steve’s Osso Bucco

13 12 2010

Osso bucco (braised veal shanks) + risotto = the perfect cold weather meal.

It’s mid-December and in many areas the weather has taken a turn for the grim.  The days are short and dark and curling up with a cup of tea in front of the fire is a very appealing prospect.  What could be more delicious for dinner than a hearty braise, served over creamy risotto?

Any good butcher should be able to get veal shanks for you. Be sure to ask if you don't see any on display.

Osso bucco are Italian veal shanks and my friend Steve makes the best version I have ever had (it’s even better than the one I tried at Babbo restaurant in NYC!).  Luckily he gave me the recipe so now I can make it whenever I please.  It’s ideal for cold winter nights when you don’t want to fuss because it’s easy to put together and most of the cooking time is unattended.  Any good butcher should be able to get you veal shanks so ask for them if you don’t see them on display.

Tip: Don’t skip the gremolata – it brings all of the flavours together.

Steve’s Osso Bucco

Makes 6 servings

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 6 veal shanks (osso bucco)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium red onions, diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) dry white wine
  • 3 cups (700 ml) chicken stock
  • 14 fl. oz. can San Marzano tomatoes with juice (or half of a large can)

Gremolata:

  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley
  • The rind from 2 lemons (yellow part only), finely diced
  1. In a large bowl, add the flour, salt and pepper and stir to combine thoroughly.  Roll each of the veal shanks in the flour, making sure they are coated on all sides.  Shake off any excess flour and set the shanks aside on a plate.  Discard any leftover flour.
  2. In an enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quart or larger) or other large pot with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the veal shanks to the oil, making sure they are not crowded in the pot (work in batches if necessary).  The shanks will take about 3 to 4 minutes per side to brown.  Use tongs or a fork to turn them over.
  3. Remove the browned shanks from the pot and set aside.  Add the butter to the pot and heat until melted.  Add the chopped onion, celery and carrots. Reduce the heat to medium-low and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  4. Turn the heat back to medium-high and pour in the wine, chicken stock and tomatoes.  Break up the tomatoes with a spoon and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.  Return the veal shanks to the pot and use one of the following methods to finishing cooking:
  5. Stovetop Method: Cover and simmer for 2 to 4 hours on medium-low heat, until the meat is tender.  Do not let the mixture come to a boil.  OR use the Oven Method: Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cover the pot and place in the oven, cooking for 3 hours or until the shanks are tender.
  6. To Make the Gremolata: In a small bowl, add the chopped garlic, parsley and lemon rind and stir to thoroughly combine.
  7. Stir the gremolata into the osso bucco sauce just before serving.
  8. Serve the shanks and sauce over risotto milanese.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

A Delicious Tip: The bone marrow at the centre of each cooked shank can be seasoned with sea salt and scooped out with a small spoon.  Serve with toast rounds if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes

30 11 2010

Sablefish (aka Black Cod) with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes is a flavourful, lighter option.

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes parties, festive meals and general overindulgence.  Why not lighten up with a pan-roasted fish dish that doesn’t sacrifice flavour?

Sablefish is more commonly known as black cod.  It has become popular in the past few years because it is both sustainable and delicious.  Nobu restaurant popularized sablefish in their iconic dish, Black Cod with Miso, which has been copied by restaurants across North America (with good reason – it’s delicious).  Preparing the fish with fennel, cherry tomatoes and a lightly herbed crust gives it a Mediterranean twist.

Sablefish should be available at well-stocked fishmongers under the name sablefish, sable, butterfish or black cod.

To get the recipe from Suite 101.com, click here: Sablefish with Caramelized Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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How to Make Perfect Mashed Potatoes

24 11 2010

Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are a must at any holiday table.

When it comes to favourite comfort foods, mashed potatoes are near the top of my list.  They are the perfect side to serve with gravy-based dishes such as turkey and roast beef and no holiday table would be complete without them.

The great thing about potatoes (aside from being delicious) is that they are very inexpensive and readily available year-round.  I’m from New Brunswick, Canada, which is a major potato-producing region (McCain’s, the world’s largest producer of frozen french fries, is based there). A couple of years ago, I saw a roadside sign near Fredericton advertising 50 pounds of potatoes for $9.99 so it’s no surprise that they were a staple at our dinner table almost every night.

Potatoes may not look exciting but they are very versatile.

To make smooth, creamy mashed potatoes, here are a few tips that will ensure success:

  • Choose starchy potatoes such as Russets (also known as Idaho or baking potatoes).  Yukon Golds also work well and have a nice buttery interior.  Avoid waxy ‘boiling’ potatoes such as fingerlings or red potatoes.
  • Cutting the potatoes into chunks will speed the cooking process.  You can peel them before cooking for a nicer presentation but sometimes I leave the skins on for texture and nutrients.
  • Use a potato ricer to ensure smooth, lump-free potatoes.  A potato ricer looks like a giant garlic press and you push the cooked potatoes through tiny holes, resulting in potato strands that look like rice.  Ricers are available at most kitchen stores.  Do not use a mixer to beat them – they will become gluey.
  • Season well! Potatoes can handle a lot of salt and seasonings such as garlic, horseradish or chopped herbs (see below for more ideas).  Be sure to add butter and dairy while the potatoes are still hot so everything melts and combines easily. Add seasonings gradually and taste as you go.

Preparing Mashed Potatoes in Advance

Trying to drain and mash potatoes when you have guests waiting for dinner can be messy and cumbersome. Luckily, mashed potatoes can be prepared in advance and kept warm or re-heated. There are two methods that work well:

  1. Place mashed potatoes in a metal bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Cover loosely with foil. Stir occasionally and check moisture and seasoning before serving.
  2. Cooked mashed potatoes can be kept warm in a slow cooker set to ‘Low’. Check and stir on occasion, as they can become dry around the edges.

Optional Additions

While plain mashed potatoes are a delicious on their own, they can be further enhanced with some of the following (measurements are approximate – add to taste):

  • Grated horseradish – 2 to 3 Tablespoons or to taste
  • ¼ cup of sour cream plus ½ chopped green onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 head roasted garlic, squeezed out of its skin
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Mashed Potatoes

Evaporated milk or regular milk can be substituted for the cream but the results will not be as creamy and rich.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 6 large russet potatoes (about 2-1/2 lbs.), peeled and cut into thirds
  • ½ cup heavy cream (whipping cream), heated
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
  • Salt, to taste
  • A large stockpot with a lid
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • Water, to cover potatoes
  • Potato ricer
  1. In a large stockpot, add potatoes, 1 Tablespoon salt and enough water to just cover the potatoes. Cover and bring water to a boil.
  2. Remove cover and reduce heat to medium-high. Gently boil until potatoes are very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Check with a sharp knife periodically to determine tenderness.
  3. Drain cooked potatoes. Place two or three potato chunks in the potato ricer. Working over a large bowl, press potatoes through ricer. Repeat with all potatoes.
  4. Quickly add butter and cream to hot potatoes. Stir until combined and the potatoes are creamy. Add salt to taste. Add any optional seasonings and mix until incorporated.
  5. Serve with your favourite dishes such as braised short ribs, roast chicken or turkey with gravy.

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.

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Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce

23 11 2010

Cream puffs (a.k.a. profiteroles) filled with a spiced pumpkin cream and topped with a buttery maple-caramel sauce.

When I want to make an autumn dessert, I think about seasonally appropriate ingredients such as apples, pears, caramel and of course, pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie is a staple at most Thanksgiving tables and spiced pumpkin is popular in everything from lattes to ice cream. As a bonus, scientists have long known that the scent of pumpkin pie is an aphrodisiac so it’s the perfect finale to a romantic dinner.

If you’re looking for something a little different from pie, these cream puffs (a.k.a. profiteroles) fit the bill perfectly.  The pumpkin-cream filling has all the flavours of classic pumpkin pie and the maple-caramel sauce is a decadent and delicious topping (which is also great on ice cream!).  The recipe has a number of steps but none are difficult and everything can be prepared in advance and assembled at the end of the meal.

Click here to see the recipe from Suite 101.com: Pumpkin Cream Puffs with Maple-Caramel Sauce.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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