Potato Fennel Chowder with Sausage


Make this with hot Italian sausage and you get a great spicy stewey soup.  Make it with sweet Italian sausage and you get a delicious dish that your whole family will love.  Make it with Kielbasa or andouille and you get a smoky, almost gumbo-like stew.   Adrienne demoed this at US Botanic Garden March 6 and again at Brookside March 13, 2014.  Adapted from Fine Cooking.  Serves 6-12, depending on whether it’s a main course or a starter. Read More

Summer Squash and Tomato Gratin


Give this gratin time to cook slowly, releasing juices and then caramelizing slightly.  This gentle treatment emboldens flavors and intensifies the sugars.  What you’ll get is not just an explosion of summer flavors, bur also a rich, satisfying dish that could easily be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal.  Using the basic recipe, experiment with different vegetable combinations, such as potatoes and eggplant, and also with different cheeses.  You’re sure to agree that this dish captures the essence of late summer.  Adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More

Five-Ingredient Potato Salad

potato saladSo there we were Memorial weekend, a small but dedicated foodie crowd of eight sitting down to a feast of Korean barbequed pork, Thai seafood salad, grilled eggplant, potato salad, blueberry-almond tartlets, all washed down with sangria. Just to get one more nation represented, we’d started the afternoon with a spread that I call Greek Platter (elsewhere on this very same website), which we nibbled while sipping our sangrias on the porch in the amber afternoon sun.
Did I mention the potato salad? Because that eclipsed the meal.  If we’d put out nothing but sangria and the potato salad, I dare say we’d have had just as happy guests as we did with the rest of the spread out there.  You’ll get no argument from me – this is killer potato salad. I was off on a search for the recipe after sampling the potato salad from our very own VA-grown BBQ chainlet Red, Hot and Blue. They produce an excellent potato salad, but now that I made my own version of their recipe, I’d say it’s even better when you make it yourself. Do yourselves all a favor and don’t bother cooking for your next cookout.  Just throw together this gem of a recipe – just five ingredients – slap some burgers on the grill and you’ll be viewed as an icon of culinary brilliance by all who dine that day.

Five-Ingredient Potato Salad

2.5# potatoes, red-skinned or a mix red-skinned and Yukon
4 eggs
1 C scallions, green tops only, washed and sliced into thin rings
1½ t celery seed
1¼ C mayonnaise
salt to taste

Wash potatoes and prick all over with a fork; place them in a plastic bag, leaving it open at one end. Put the bagged potatoes in the microwave and microwave on high, checking them after six minutes. Potatoes should be easily pierced by a fork.  If they are not cooked, continue microwaving another two to three minutes. Let them cool before removing from the bag. Meantime, hard boil the eggs, plunge into ice water when done. Peel eggs and chop roughly. Put them in a large mixing bowl. Add scallions and celery seed. Once the potatoes have cooled sufficiently, dice them into a large dice and add to the egg and scallion mixture. Add mayonnaise and gently toss so all the ingredients are well mixed.  Taste for salt (I usually add a dash or ¼ t).

Potato & Watercress Cakes

1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb. medium Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled until tender, with skin
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. watercress, stemmed
1/2 cup mascarpone
1 egg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Scrub the potatoes as needed to remove any dirt, cover generously in water and simmer until cooked, but not overly tender. Drain and rinse under cold water then let cool.  While the potatoes are cooling, heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the watercress. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, just until the watercress wilts, 1 to 2 minutes.?? Put the potatoes in a large bowl and break them into small chunks with a potato masher or large spoon, taking care not to over-mash. Add the watercress mixture, the mascarpone and the egg, mix to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  The potato mixture should hold together but not be too wet, and if necessary, add a little bit of breadcrumbs (or Panko) to attain the right consistency.  Divide and shape the potato mixture into 16 equal patties, about 2 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. (The cakes can be made to this point up to 4 hours ahead and refrigerated.)?? Heat the oven to 200̊F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Heat the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the potato cakes until golden on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer each batch to the baking sheet, season lightly with salt, and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.