Ray gardner, sr

Hash Brown Potato Patties - ☺

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Hash Brown Potato Patties - ☺

Most hash brown potatoes found in restaurants or private homes are loosely mixed combinations of potato cubes or grated/shredded potatoes and chopped onion with salt and pepper, fried in rendered bacon fat or soybean or equivalent vegetable oils. The type of hash brown patties found at fast food restaurants and freezer sections of supermarkets are a definite improvement over most of the home made and typical restaurant style hash brown potatoes. Why? The primary reason is that the water contained in the potato cubes or grated/shredded potatoes is fried from the surface of the potato but the interior is typically mushy soft after cooking. In other words, water is the problem.

Removing enough water from cubed potato pieces before frying is impractical for the home cook, so the best idea is to grate or shred the potatoes, rinse the pieces in water to remove excess starch, and then drain the pieces well in a colander and then press the potato pieces in a thin layer between dish towels, and then paper towels, to remove most of the moisture. You can be more sophisticated and follow the Food Nirvana recipe for preparing potatoes for French Fries by parboiling the potato pieces briefly, one to two minutes, in water that contains a small amount of white distilled vinegar and a bit of kosher salt. In that case the parboiled pieces are drained in a colander and then distributed in a very thin layer on a dish towel and allowed to air dry at room temperature for half an hour prior to frying. The pieces should look and feel fairly dry on all surfaces. They will not oxidize and turn brown due to the vinegar used in parboiling.


1 pound of Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, washed, peeled and grated/shredded

1 shallot, peeled (or a small onion) and then grated (or finely diced)

1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar Cheese

1/3 cup of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1 extra large egg, lightly whisked

1/2 tsp. of Kosher salt and 1/2 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper

Peanut oil, or rendered bacon fat, for frying


Grate/shred the potatoes and finely dice or grate the shallot/onion using your food processor or a manual grater and/or a paring knife. Add the pieces to a colander, rinse well with cold water, and squeeze dry using a clean dish towel, making sure to get rid of all of the surface moisture.

Place the potato and shallot/onion pieces into a two quart bowl along with the cheese, flour, parsley, whisked egg and one half teaspoon of Kosher salt and one half teaspoon of ground pepper. Mix well using your hands or a large wooden spoon.

Heat about 1/4 cup of peanut oil (or a 1/8 inch thick layer of melted bacon fat) in a large cast-iron (or non-stick heavy bottom) skillet until hot (roughly 360 degrees F, which you can check easily with an instant read thermometer by tipping the skillet slightly and pooling the oil/melted fat on one side of the skillet).

Scoop 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten it with a spatula until the patty is 1/2 inch thick in the middle. --> TIP: If the underside of the spatula is slippery with a bit of the cooking oil/fat then the patty surface will not stick to the spatula during flattening. Repeat for the remaining patties leaving an inch of space on all sides to allow later easy use of the spatula to flip the patties.

Fry the patties on medium to medium high heat until they are golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, and then flip and fry them for another 2 minutes on the second side. Remove the fried hash brown patties to a paper towel lined baking sheet to absorb excess cooking oil/fat. Repeat in batches.

Keep the hash brown potato patties warm and fairly crisp before serving by placing them in a single layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and put the baking sheet into a 200 degree F warming oven. The patties are best in terms of crispness when served immediately after frying, so you may want to prepare other meal items before frying the hash brown patties.


Macaroni and Cheese - ☺♥

Food Nirvana has a boss recipe for Lobster Mac and Cheese. But sometimes we want the dish without the seafood so I decided to make a menu entry for plain Mac and Cheese ... except it surely isn't plain! Actually, it is almost the same as the recipe for Lobster Mac and Cheese, simply excluding the seafood and a modifying/changing a few other ingredients and slightly bumping up a few ingredient amounts so that you will fill a 9" by 13" by 2" oven proof casserole.

In short, this "plain" version of macaroni and cheese will knock your socks off. It is really delicious, as attested to by my sweetheart, Peggy!

Ingredients: (Serves six to eight people)

1 tsp. of salt for the pot of water

1 pound of uncooked elbow macaroni

20 ounces of light cream (or a 50:50 mixture of heavy cream and milk)

4 tbsp. of butter for making a roux

1/3 cup of all purpose flour

8 ounces of gruyere cheese, grated

4 ounces of swiss cheese, grated

8 ounces of extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

2 ounces of soft provolone cheese, chopped

1/2 teaspoon (or more) of freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. of butter for the panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon of salt for the cream sauce

1 cup of panko bread crumbs


Turn on the oven to 325ºF.

Put one gallon of water and one tsp. salt into a 2 gallon pot. Bring the water to a rapid boil and add the macaroni and cook it on low to medium heat according to the directions on the package, about six to eight minutes to get it to an al dente state. Drain the macaroni well in a colander. Set the macaroni aside.

Grate the gruyere, cheddar and swiss cheeses and chop the provolone cheese while the macaroni is cooking, putting the mixture into a large bowl.

Heat the cream or cream and milk mixture in a small (1 1/2 qt.) saucepan on low heat to a low simmer, but don't let it boil.

In the empty pot used to make the macaroni, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and then add the flour to make the roux. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring the mixture continuously with a whisk.

Add the hot cream or cream/milk mixture gradually while whisking and cook for a minute or two more, until the sauce is thickened and smooth.

Turn the heat to very low then add the salt and pepper, and then the cheeses in small amounts, mixing well with a large wooden spoon.

Add the macaroni gradually and stir gently but thoroughly.

Place the mixture into a 9" by 13" by 2" oven casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the saucepan used for the cream. Mix the panko bread crumbs with the melted butter until the crumbs are coated evenly and then sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the macaroni and cheese.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the bread crumbs lightly browned on the top.

Serve immediately or keep the casserole covered and warm until the meal is served.

You will get very nice compliments.

Marie’s Fried Potato Dumplings - ☺♥

This recipe is a sneaky way to put on fifty pounds without even trying. The dumplings are so good it is easy to forget how many you can eat. Trust me, you will eat a lot. They are excellent.
2 large russet potatoes

1 cup of diced onion

1 stick of butter

½ cup of flour

1 jumbo egg

Salt and pepper to taste
Peel and grate the potatoes, then lightly salt them.
Whisk the raw egg in a bowl and add it to the grated potatoes. Mix well.
Add half of the flour to the potato/egg mixture and mix well. Continue adding flour and mixing until the mixture is not sticky.
Heat two quarts of water to boiling in a 3 or 4 quart pot.
Form the mixture into dumpling balls 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Put them into the boiling water and cook them for ten minutes or until the dumplings float. Drain the boiled dumplings in a strainer or colander.
Cut the dumplings in half and sauté the pieces in the butter in a large skillet on low to medium heat. Add the chopped onion to the butter and dumplings as part of the sauté process. It is a nice addition.
Serve the fried potato dumplings with onions hot and add pepper and salt to your own taste.
Marie’s Oven Browned Potatoes -
I am grateful that Marie did not go on a healthy food kick early in our marriage, for then I would have missed many tasty dishes she made. This recipe is simple and very good as an accompaniment to many meat, fowl and fish entrees.
4 medium russet potatoes

½ to ¾ stick of butter (your preference)

1 to 2 tsp. of kosher salt

1 to 2 tsp. of cracked peppercorns

½ tsp. of Sea salt
Set your oven temperature to 325º F.
Peel the potatoes and cut them into bite size chunks. Put the potatoes into a four quart saucepan with enough water to cover them, add the sea salt, cover the saucepan and set the heat on high to bring the water to a boil. Remove the lid when the water boils. Reduce the heat to low and cook the potatoes for only five minutes.
Put the butter into a 9”x13”x2” ovenproof glass baking dish and put it into the oven to melt the butter. Then remove it from the oven and put it on a wooden cutting board.
Drain the potatoes and transfer them to the 9”x13”x2” glass baking dish. Mix the potatoes with the butter, coating them evenly.
Sprinkle the kosher salt and the cracked peppercorns evenly over the potatoes, then put the glass dish back into the oven.
Roast the potatoes for ten minutes and then turn them over with a spatula to cause all sides to brown evenly. Repeat this process until the potatoes have a light golden brown color. Do not over bake. The potatoes are done when the outside is barely crisp.
Remove the dish from the oven and serve the potatoes.
Mashed Potatoes - ☺♥

Recipes for mashed potatoes number in the dozens, based on the addition of ingredients other than the potato, salt, pepper, milk and butter. This recipe is for making really good regular mashed potatoes. The idea is that starting with the right potatoes and using good techniques will lead to wonderful mashed potatoes every time. Other than choosing russet potatoes (my favorite) the real point of this recipe is learning the best techniques to guarantee success in taste and consistency.
A word about potatoes is in order. Use fresh Russet or Idaho potatoes and do not refrigerate them as that will screw up the sugar and starch balance. Cut out any bad sections from the potato prior to cooking. You should not have to remove any eyes as that infers you do not have a fresh potato, but in any case remove any eyes. Wash each potato in cold water under a faucet to remove any dirt and set it aside.
The goal is to make mashed potatoes that are light and moist, not gummy or lumpy or too dry. You will quickly see that there are two parts of the process that matter the most ... the boiling/simmering period and the control of milk addition to get perfect consistency while whipping the potatoes using an electric mixer.
Ingredients: (makes four very generous to six large servings)
3 very large fresh Russet potatoes (about 2 1/2 lbs.)

1/2 stick of room temperature butter

1 tsp. of sea salt plus 1/4 tsp. of sea salt to be added to the saucepan for cooking the potatoes

1/2 tsp. of black pepper

1/2 to one cup of milk

1 quart of water or two 14 ounce cans of chicken broth

1/2 tsp. of distilled white vinegar (optional)
Turn on the oven to 160 degrees F.
Wash and peel the potatoes, keeping in mind the general information given earlier in this recipe about potato quality.
Cut each potato into pieces no more than 1/2 inch thick and roughly 3/4" by 3/4".
Immerse the cut pieces in a large bowl of cold water.
Put one quart of water or two 14 ounce cans of chicken broth into a three quart saucepan. If you use the chicken broth then add 1/2 cup of water to the saucepan.
Add the vinegar (optional) and the 1/4 tsp. of sea salt to the saucepan. Mix the contents.

Drain the water from the potato pieces and add them to the saucepan. The liquid should cover the potato pieces. If not, add additional liquid. Cover the saucepan with a lid.
Heat the saucepan contents over high heat until the liquid boils gently, checking frequently to avoid boil over. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer the potatoes for ten minutes, with the lid partially covering the saucepan. Fully covering the saucepan with the lid will result in boil over, and that isn't fun to clean up later.
After ten minutes of simmering use a spoon to extract one piece of potato and puncture it with a fork. If the fork goes through easily the potatoes are done cooking and they should be captured in a strainer and set aside. Otherwise, if the center of a piece of potato is raw, let them simmer for an additional minute and test them again. Repeat as necessary but do not overcook the potatoes. They should come out looking about the same as when you started, and not mealy looking.
If you are making gravy with your meal then the cooking liquid remaining from the saucepan should be saved and set aside in a bowl to be used in making the gravy.
Put the drained potato pieces into a large mixing bowl and use your electric mixer to process them to eliminate all lumps. Start on low speed and increase the speed to medium for about two minutes. Check the consistency and if necessary mix for an additional minute.
Add the butter, the one teaspoon of sea salt and the 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and mix for a minute on medium speed.
Stop the mixer and add 1/2 cup of milk. Start the mixer on low speed and operate it at that speed for a minute to get the milk well blended with the mashed potatoes. Then increase the mixer speed to medium high to whip the potatoes. Whip them for one minute at that speed and then increase the speed to high for one minute.
Stop the mixer and test the consistency of the mashed potatoes. If they are too stiff or too dry then add 1/4 cup of milk and repeat the whipping process of the previous step. Repeat this step only if necessary.
Check the final consistency of the mashed potatoes. They should be light and moist, not clumpy and not gooey or gummy. If they are clumpy or too dry then make one final addition of 1/8 cup of milk and repeat the whipping process.
Put the mashed potatoes into a serving bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and place the bowl into a 160 degrees F warming oven.
Serve the mashed potatoes when all other parts of the meal have been placed on the table.
Have each guest add gravy or butter to their individual portion of mashed potatoes according to their wishes. Enjoy!

Rice Pilaf Recipes - ?

A variety of meals are enhanced by serving a rice pilaf instead of plain rice. I decided to add a few recipes for rice pilaf to Food Nirvana simply to provide some variety to the starch food items. Even the best foods can become boring if we eat them too often, so make some rice now and then for variety. It also tastes fine and it is very easy to prepare.
Almond Rice Pilaf:

  • 3/4 cup of chopped onion

  • 1/2 cup of slivered almonds

  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 1½ cups of chicken broth

  • ½ cup of orange juice

  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced

  • ½ tsp. of black pepper

  • ¼ tsp. of sea salt

  • 1 cup of raw/uncooked basmatic rice

In a saucepan, sauté onion, garlic and almonds in butter until the onion is tender and the almonds are lightly browned. Add the pepper and mix.
Cook the basmatic rice in the chicken broth and orange juice with ¼ tsp. sea salt … then add that to the sautéed onions, garlic and almonds done in the butter.

Serve hot.
Fragrant Rice Pilaf:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon of crumbled saffron threads

  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 tablespoon of butter

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1 cup of finely diced onion

  • 2 tablespoons of finely minced garlic

  • 4 carrots, cut into 1/4" by 1/4" diced pieces

  • 1 1/2 cups of long-grain rice

  • 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dried cherries

Combine the cumin, saffron and salt. Set aside.
Heat the butter and oil in a pot over low heat. Add the onion and wilt, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Add garlic and carrots; cook 5 minutes more, sprinkling with the spice mixture.
Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring to mix well. Add the broth and cherries.
Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork. Serve hot.
Scalloped Potatoes with Cheese - ☺♥
This recipe got five stars from virtually all reviewers on the Internet. It is from Food.com®, and my wife Janet says this is how she makes this dish. That is good enough for me so I will try this recipe and report back to you. I wonder why they didn’t call this dish Potatoes au Gratin? See the recipe that follows this one.
4 cups of thinly sliced potatoes (about 1/16th inch thick, use a food processor)

3 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of flour

1 1/2 cups of milk

1 teaspoon of salt

1 dash of cayenne pepper

1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese (white or yellow, your choice)

1/2 cup of grated cheese, to sprinkle on top

paprika as a garnish
Turn on the oven and set the temperature to 350° F.
Melt the butter on low heat in a one quart saucepan and blend in the flour to make a roux.
Let the roux rest for a minute.
Add all of cold milk gradually while stirring with a whisk.
Season the mixture with the salt and the cayenne pepper.
Cook the sauce on medium heat while stirring with a whisk until it is smooth and boiling.
Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cup of grated cheddar cheese.
Place a half of the sliced potatoes into a lightly greased one quart oven casserole dish.

Pour half of the cheese sauce over potatoes.
Repeat with the second layer of potatoes and the cheese sauce.
Sprinkle the ½ cup of remaining cheese on top.
Top the casserole with some paprika for color.
Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350° F. Serve.

Potatoes Au Gratin

Here is a similar recipe to the one for scalloped potatoes with cheese but with bread crumbs on top, named as I would expect, Potatoes Au Gratin. I changed the cooked potato requirement, the baking temperature and the time to accommodate the use of very thinly sliced raw potatoes.
3 cups of diced cooked potatoes (Nah! Use raw thinly sliced potatoes.)

6 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of flour

1 1/2 cups of milk

1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper

1 cup of soft bread crumbs
Turn the oven on and set the temperature to 350° F.
Prepare three cups of very thinly sliced raw potatoes using a food processor.
Place the potatoes in a shallow, broiler-proof baking dish.
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a one quart saucepan over medium-low heat.
Remove 3 tablespoons of the melted butter to a cup or a bowl; set aside.
Add the flour to the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in the saucepan.
Stir to blend and form a roux.
Gradually add the milk while stirring with a whisk.
Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and smooth.
Add the cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is melted.
Pour the sauce over the potatoes in the baking dish. Mix gently.
Put the bread crumbs into a bowl, drizzle them with the remaining melted butter and toss them to coat them with butter.
Sprinkle the buttered bread crumbs evenly over the potatoes.
Bake the potatoes au gratin at 350° F for about 45 minutes, then broil until light golden brown on top.
Bread crumb topping made with garlic can be quite tasty.
Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a sauté pan.
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook just until soft.
Add 1 cup of bread crumbs.
Sauté and stir until lightly browned.
Scalloped Potatoes with Onions - ☺♥
Sue Gale served great scalloped potatoes to Janet and me so I asked for her recipe. She kindly provided it so now you have it too. It is “Delish!” The key to making excellent scalloped potatoes is to slice the potatoes and onions very thin, using a mandolin or a very thin setting on a food processor. Also, be sure to bake this food in a cast iron or stoneware baking dish that has a lid and is no more than 2” deep. Either will cook the food better than other types of baking dishes and the food will be less likely to burn. At the end of the baking cycle the dish should be moist within but without much remaining liquid.
1 cup of Whole milk

4 tbsp. of Butter

4 medium Russet potatoes

1 medium yellow or sweet onion


Black pepper

Set the oven temperature to 300º F.
Slice the potatoes and the onion thinly (about 1/16th of an inch thick) using a mandolin or a thin setting on a food processor. I prefer the food processor as it is very fast, safe and not labor intensive. Rinse the potato slices in lots of cold water and then dry them, one layer thick on a dish towel, with a second dish towel on top. Press lightly. Repeat as necessary with the rest of the potato slices.
Layer the potato, onion, very thin slices of butter (three or four per layer) and continue until the dish is full or the materials consumed. Season each layer very lightly with salt and pepper.
You can overload the dish slightly, if necessary, with an extra layer of potato and onion slices that is higher than the edge of the dish, as the mixture will sink as it bakes.
When all of the layers are complete, add the cup of whole milk.
Cover the dish with the lid and bake until the potatoes are tender, about one hour.
Reduce the oven temperature to 275º and bake with the lid off to reduce the fluid contents for about 30 minutes. The top should be a light golden brown in color.
Serve. You will get many compliments.
Adding slices of cheese products like Velveeta® to this dish, especially on the top, turns it into potatoes au gratin with onions. Other cheeses like soft provolone can also be used.
The cheese can also be layered within the dish with the potatoes and onions.
Sweet Potato Casserole - ?

This dish is traditional at Thanksgiving and Christmas in many homes. Children love it because of the sweetness, for it is much like a dessert. I reviewed half a dozen Internet recipes for sweet potato casserole and I put together a composite recipe that I believe will be the best.
I will ask my children to make this dish for Thanksgiving, which is only five days from now, in 2012. I think it will be delicious.
Potato Mixture Ingredients:
4 cups of peeled, cubed sweet potato (3 medium to large sweet potatoes)

1/2 cup of white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of milk

4 tablespoons of butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup of packed brown sugar

1/3 cup of flour

3 tablespoons of butter, softened

1/2 cup of chopped pecans

1 cup of marshmallow crème
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into ¾" x ¾" cubes.
Put the sweet potatoes into a medium saucepan with water to cover.
Partially cover the saucepan with a lid and cook/boil the sweet potato pieces over medium to medium high heat until tender, about 15 minutes.
Drain the water and put the potato pieces into an electric mixer bowl.
Mash the potatoes with the electric mixer on low to medium speed.
Add the white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract to the bowl while mixing on low speed. Then increase the speed to medium. Continue mixing until the mixture is smooth.
Transfer the mixing bowl contents to a 9x13x2 inch glass baking dish/casserole.
Now make the topping. Mix the brown sugar and flour in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter and mix until the mixture is coarse. Stir in the pecans.
Sprinkle the topping mixture over the sweet potato mixture in the casserole.
Bake the casserole contents in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Spread the marshmallow crème on top of the baked sweet potato topping and bake for an additional five minutes or until the marshmallow crème is a light tan in color.
Serve or put the casserole into a 160ºF warming oven until the meal is ready to serve.

Braised Red Cabbage - ?
This recipe is compliments of the Internet and is included here to accompany meals with a German type of cuisine. It is a good choice to use with Poor Man’s Schnitzel and buttered noodles or spatzle to make a complete meal. We have yet to try it but it looks pretty good and we will report back with results.
1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin

1 small to medium small head of red cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 cup of apple cider

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a 4 quart pot and sauté the onions until soft.
Add the cinnamon, cloves, and cumin and cook for 30 seconds.
Mix in the cabbage and sauté for 5 minutes, until wilted.
Add the cider, sugar, and vinegar. Cover and braise over low heat until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes.
Serve warm.
Chinese Stir Fried Cabbage - ▲
I’ve made this dish a number of times and I enjoy it thoroughly. It is a great way to use leftover fresh cabbage. I sometimes buy large bags of freshly chopped cabbage at Sam’s Club when I want to make coleslaw and thus I find I have lots of leftover fresh cabbage that can be used in soups, stews or dishes like this stir fried cabbage. It is a fine side dish. Have fun!
3 tbsp. of peanut oil
1 medium size sweet onion, sliced/chopped
2 (or more) cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (or more) of minced fresh ginger
1 medium size head of cabbage, sliced/chopped
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil
Heat the peanut oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.
Increase the heat to high and add the onion and sauté, stirring, until the onion starts to become translucent.
Add the garlic and the ginger. Mix well and continue to sauté while stirring for two minutes.
Add the cabbage, mix well and cook the mixture with a lid on the wok until the cabbage is starting to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Add the soy sauce and rice vinegar and mix well and continue cooking with the lid on the wok until the cabbage is wilted, about 3 minutes.
Remove the wok from the heat and drizzle the sesame oil on the top of the mixture.
Serve the cabbage in a pre-warmed serving dish. Enjoy!

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