Archive for the ‘Side’ Category

A Better Mashed

November 28, 2012

I’ve been experimenting with mashed potatoes recently.  There have been some innovations on the mashed potato front (at least in my lifetime) in the form of garlic mashed, and loaded mashed potatoes.  And while I have some thoughts about other things to do to potatoes, my experiments led me to something a little more basic.

My usual recipe for mashed potatoes goes something like this:

8 Medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4 Tbs minced garlic
olive oil
stick of butter
water (start with 2 cups)

Heat the oil in a pot.

Add the garlic, stir briskly for less than a minute, then add the water, and then the potatoes.  Add additional water to bring the level up to nearly the top of the potatoes.

Boil the potatoes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and the water level has diminished, then add the whole stick of butter and mash the potatoes.

Makes some decent garlic mashed potatoes, but…

The other night I tried something a little different.  I made two changes.  The first was I diced an onion to add in with the potatoes.  But the other was genius (I think so, anyway)….

Instead of using water to boil the potatoes, I used a can of vegetable broth.  Wow!  Made it very yummy.

I may try chicken broth on another occasion…

More on my potato experiments in the coming weeks!


Finn’s Wake: By Popular Request: Drunken Black Eyed Peas

January 1, 2012

Old friend, storyteller, fellow comics enthusiast, and generally great guy Mark Finn posted this recipe that is very much in the style of Cooking Without A Net.

By Popular Request: Drunken Black Eyed Peas

My approach to black eyed peas is to treat them much like the rock in your favorite Stone Soup recipe. In order to make them work, you have to cook ’em with just about everything but a gym sock. So, this recipe is less a “follow the instructions” job, and more of a “go with whatever you have” kind of thing. Read the entire post

via Finn’s Wake: By Popular Request: Drunken Black Eyed Peas.

Thanks Mark!

I’m going to go out tomorrow and get the ingredients!


December 2, 2009

For Thanksgiving this year, I got assigned the making of the cornbread.

For me, cornbread is a particularly thorny problem.  Most cornbread I eat is just too darn sweet.  So I did some research beforehand (and decided I wasn’t a fan of flour in my cornbread), and ran a test batch a couple of days before Thanksgiving.

The most helpful resource I found on the subject of sweet vs non-sweet cornbread was this thread on Chowhound.  The version I went with was posted by amyzan (about halfway down the thread).

As I don’t have a cast iron skillet, I went with glass pie pans and some muffin pans. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 1/3 c. boiling water over 1/3 c. yellow cornmeal (not too fine, stoneground is good) and beat with a whisk until most of the lumps are gone. Put a heaping tablespoon of bacon drippings or 4 tsp. butter or oil in a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet and set in preheated oven. Mix together 2/3 c. yellow cornmeal, 2 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside. When the mush is cool enough to touch (doesn’t have to be room temperature,) whisk in 3/4 c. buttermilk and one egg. Pour the wet into the dry and whisk just to combine. (A few small lumps are fine.) Remove the hot pan from the oven and pour in the batter, and return to the oven. Bake 15-20 minutes and serve hot in wedges.

A single batch made a pie-pan of cornbread, a quintuple batch made two pie pans and 2 dozen muffins.

I found that a little more boiling water was needed in making the “cornmeal mush”, and a little more buttermilk was needed as well.  I also used more bacon drippings than she called for.  My biggest problem was the baking powder I was using was a little lumpy, and it was darned hard to get the lumps to break up, which left little white pockets in the finished cornbread.

In my test batch, I tried it without any sugar at all.  Even I, who does not like sweet cornbread, decided that the sugar in the recipe was needed.  After making the real thing with the sugar, I think my next batch will include a little more sugar than is called for.

The other thing I did with the cornbread was two variations – the muffins were plain cornbread, but the pie pans were different.  One had three green onions chopped very fine, and the other had a green onion and a jalapeno pepper.  The jalapeno cornbread was the first to disappear, much to my surprise (I thought I would be the only one eating it!).  I think it would have been just as good with half a pepper (and I like hot stuff).  I loved the green onion cornbread, especially right out of the oven.

One of the other suggested variations was adding whole corn to the batter.  I’m not a fan of canned creamed corn, but I can see how it might work in cornbread, especially to add just a little more sweetness to the cornbread.  My guess is that a whole can of corn would be the right amount for a quintuple batch, but since the next time I make it will probably not be for that many people, and I don’t like to waste food and won’t eat the creamed corn by itself, if I ever do decide to make that variation I’ll probably use a part of a regular can of corn, and use the rest as a side for another meal.