Dreamy's Delights

It's all about the food!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This is one of those side dishes that sounds easy to make and IS if you think about what you’re doing. Believe it or not, it took me several years to find just the right way to make them. I tried roasting garlic and stirring it in, chopping garlic and stirring it in and then finally, ran across a recipe where you boil whole garlic cloves with the taters and then mash them in. Talk about a cross between an “AH HA!” and a “DOH!”

So the first step is to get some potatoes. Now that you’re standing in the store staring at the potatoes, you realize “Oh! There’s more than one kind of potato!” Most people are most familiar with the standard Russet potato. It’s got a slightly rough, brown skin and is used for things like baked potatoes all the time. However, you’ve also got red potatoes, white potatoes and gold potatoes. Each one has a slightly different flavor and texture. My personal favorite is a gold potato. It’s creamier like a red potato but not quite as soft. It’s got a thinner skin like a red which makes it perfect for leaving the skin on during mashing. Everyone has their own little preferences. My dad swears up and down that the only potato worth eating is a russet. I think he’s missing out lol. And in case you want to get really brave, you can also find purple potatoes and other “heirloom” varieties. Be prepared to shell out some big bucks but it’s fun sometimes.

Ok, so you’ve picked out your potatoes of whatever flavor. The next step is to prep them for cooking. If you’re using russet potatoes you want to peel them first. If you’re using red skin, white or gold potatoes you can leave the skins on. Just wash them really well then chop them into chunks and put them in a pot large enough so that you can cover them with liquid and they don’t boil over. Add several peeled cloves of garlic (about 1 large clove per pound of potatoes.)

This is where you can get creative. Nothing in the rules says you have to use water to boil your potatoes. I am currently boiling them in beef stock. I’ve also used bacon fat as part of my boiling liquid in the past too. You can add herbs to the water too. This is a chance to add some different flavors and play around with your food. And you can always stick with water if that’s what you have handy.

Once you have your potatoes, garlic and liquid in the pot, place it on the stove over medium high heat. Let it come to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart. I’m sure there’s some sort of time guideline out there but I just stick a fork in a chunk of potato. If the fork slides in easy, they’re done. If not, they boil a bit longer.

Once the tater chunks are tender, drain off the liquid. I just put a colander in the sink and pour everything out of the pot. Set the pot a cool burner or a trivet. The following is for about 3 pounds of poatoes:  Start with a 1/2 stick of butter and put it in the bottom of the pan. Then put the drained potatoes back into the pot. Grab some heavy cream and pour in about 1/2 cup. Use a potato masher to mash everything into a creamy consistency. Add a bit more butter and cream if you need to. Season with salt and pepper.

This is another area of personal preference. Jene prefers his potatoes super smooth and silky. I like mine a bit chunky. Do whatever you like to make them the way you want them. Taste test frequently as you go along so that you know they’re rich and buttery. Enjoy!

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Chicken Stock

Now I already mentioned making my chicken stock in a post about canning. I mentioned the things I tossed in the pot but didn’t really give much of a recipe. This time I thought I’d give something resembling a recipe. Now, this is a really big recipe, I used a 20 quart pot, but you can scale it down very easily. 🙂

Recipe

Chicken bones from a rotisserie chicken (I used six carcasses)

3 large carrots

4 ribs of celery

3 large chard leaves

8 mushrooms

1 head of garlic, skin left on, cut in half horizontally

2 onions, skin left on, cut in half horizontally

3 large bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

When I peel a chicken, I like to save all the bones. I was as Costco last week and got six rotisserie chickens. I like them because they’ve already been roasted, they’re cheaper than buying a whole, fresh, uncooked chicken and they taste good. Making stock is a good way to cook out the last of the yumminess from the bones and save money buying stock at the store.

Take a pot (in this case, a 20 qt pot) toss in the bones. After that you can pretty much put in what you want. In this case I didn’t use potatoes because I didn’t have any but you can do so. You can buy in anything you want to flavor the stock with. Unlike broth, stock should have a nice, rich flavor that is more than just chicken.

Don’t worry about peeling the veggies. Just wash the dirt off and cut them small enough to go in the pan. Don’t take the skin off the garlic or onions, it gives extra flavor.

For seasoning, I keep it simple with just bay leaves, salt, and pepper but again, you can add other stuff if you want. Fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage are all good too. You want to use just enough to accent the flavor of the chicken without overwhelming it.

Once you have everything in the pot, fill the pot with water and put it on the stove over medium low heat. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the temperature to very low. Cover it and let is simmer for a day or two. Yes, I did say a day or two. This batch simmered for two days before I shut it off. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that you make sure you’ve gotten every tiny bit of goodness out of the chicken bones. The other is that I usually don’t have room in the fridge for this big of a pot and it lets me avoid trying to put it away to cool.

So once it’s done, strain the stock. I use a big wire mesh strainer and a piece of cheese cloth. I put the strainer over another large pot (16 qts I think), doubled the cheese cloth and lined the strainer. Then, I put my big burly man to work. A pot this big is HEAVY! So he was kind enough to slowly pour the contents of the pot into the strainer. Once I had all the chunky bits in the strainer, I gave them a squeeze to get the last bit of goodness out and then threw them away.

First off, let the stock cool before you do this part. Nothing sucks so much as having hot stock splash all over you.

Some people (like my mom) think you should be able to save the solids and use them for something else. You shouldn’t. ALL the goodness is now in the stock. The chicken bones have had all the collagen cooked out and will now crumble in your hands. The tiny bits of meat and the veggies are nothing but mush with very little flavor and a rather icky texture. Throw this stuff out or toss it on the compost pile.

Finally, it’s time to chill the stock. Make sure it’s cool enough to put in the fridge. I actually had to leave my pot sitting on the stove for several hours before I could do this. Then I had to put a whole bunch of veggies in a cooler so I had room in the fridge lol. Once the stock is cold, skim off the fat solids that are on top.

Once that’s done, you’ve got a beautiful pot of chicken stock. In my case, since I made so much of it, I’ll be spending the day canning it in quart jars. If you make a smaller batch, it’s now ready to use to make soup, gravy, and anything else you come up with. 😀

Just a quick note to say that I got 12 quarts of stock out of this. And I’m happy to report that every jar sealed 😀

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Ham and Egg Bake with Broccoli

Last week I got a nice big ham and slow roasted it in the oven. While I was sitting around trying to figure out what to cook for dinner I had an idea to use some of the ham up and create a tasty low carb meal. This is basically a crustless quiche and easy to make.

Recipe

2 cups diced ham

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

16 oz frozen broccoli (steamed to thaw and then pressed between paper towels to remove extra water)

6 oz sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup finely minced onion

7 eggs

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish.

Mix together the mushrooms, onions and ham. Spread this mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. Spread the broccoli evenly over the ham mixture. Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.

Mix the eggs, cream and parmesan cheese in a bowl and pour evenly over the broccoli and ham. It will NOT cover the mixture entirely.

Bake for about 45 minutes until the eggs puff up and set.

This turned out really good. I didn’t add any salt because the ham is salty enough but I did grind a little extra black pepper over it. Otherwise, I didn’t add any extra seasoning. 🙂

hamandeggbake

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Boredom leads to… Mashed potato and turkey panko crusted fried cakes

What happens when it’s 9pm and I decide I’m hungry?  I start getting oddly creative. For anyone familiar with the huge meal I cooked for Thanksgiving you won’t be surprised to know that I still have leftovers. I’m out of gravy so I didn’t want just plain old mashed potatoes and turkey. I love fried mashed potatoes (make a patty of the cold potatoes and fry it in lots of butter) but I wanted something a bit different. So why not combine the taters and the turkey into one patty? It’s ok but a little crumbly… add an egg! This make the taters moister and helps hold it together. For some extra crunch I coated it in panko bread crumbs.

Recipe

1 1/2 – 2 cups left over mashed potatoes

1/2 – 3/4 cup finely chopped cooked turkey meat

1 large egg

panko bread crumbs (mix in dried herbs or some spices like cumin and chili peppers if you want to add some extra kick)

Mix the taters, turkey meat and egg in a bowl until well combined. Form the mixture into patties, roughly 5-6 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick. Press panko bread crumbs into the surface and fry in lots of butter until nice and brown on both sides. I had the heat just barely on the high side of medium then reduced it to medium-low when I flipped them. The reason for the heat reduction is this… the patties need to cook through completely because of the egg. So by lowering the heat it cooks through without burning the outside. Once the patties are done it’s easy to mix some flour into the butter left in the pan (add more butter if it was all absorbed) and make a roux for gravy. Add some chicken broth to make the gravy. Yay, leftovers with a twist!

Ok so I wrote this post and then wound up making a pan gravy lol. To give it a little extra kick I added some coarse ground dijon mustard to the gravy. It added some nice acidic to the flavor of the gravy.

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A busy day!

My youngest brother was supposed to be in town last night with his family as they move from San Diego, CA to Portland, OR. However, life being what it is, he didn’t make it until late tonight. In fact, at almost 8pm, he is at his hotel but has yet to make it to my house. Anyway, all of that aside, I did some cooking for them. Yesterday we smoked a brisket in anticipation. When we realized they wouldn’t be arriving we tested it for flavor (snicker) and put it in the fridge. This evening we sliced it thin and warmed it up in some duck stock.

After cooking the tomatoes I started yesterday for 12-14 hours or so I ran them through the food mill and have two pots of sauce simmering gently on the stove.

I made mayonnaise from scratch and used it to make coleslaw dressing. It’s incredibly rich and creamy. The dressing recipe makes a LOT. I used two bags of pre-cut coleslaw mix and a bag of broccoli slaw mix.

Recipe

2 cups mayonnaise

4-5 TB white wine vinegar

4 TB honey

2-3 TB Penzeys English Prime Rib Rub Seasoning

2-3 TB celery seed

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until everything combines and becomes smooth and creamy. Pour  over coleslaw and mix well.

I also sauteed some grey squash with onions, garlic and dill.

The only thing I’m missing is dessert and honestly, I’m worn out lol. I should go make brownies but honestly, I don’t have any room left on the stove top!

The picture on the right is the coleslaw looking all pretty in its bowl. The picture on the left is the pots of tomato sauce and the brisket in duck stock. The tomato sauce will reduce by about half over the course of the night on very low heat. I’m thinking I’ll get 5-6 quarts of sauce which is a lot better than I hoped.

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Making a Hash of it

Hash seems to be one of those foods that you either love or hate. (Yes, I’m talking about FOOD not drugs… get your mind out of the gutter, this is a family blog!) Growing up “Hash” meant finely cubed corned beef with finely cubed onions, potatoes, and carrots fried up in a skillet. I hated it. Sometimes my mom would make it with leftover roast beef.. I still hated it.

Fast forward from picky(ish) childhood to today and I actually enjoy eating hash. The other day I smoked a couple of tri-tips. I’ve got about 2/3 of a roast left (the mild one lol) and need to use it up for something. I also happen to have some gray squash in the fridge that needs using up. And suddenly at 5am when my cats are keeping me awake, I have the idea to make hash with squash and left over tri-tip.

You might be wondering why I’m using squash.. Well, Jene and I (ok, mostly Jene) are eating low carb. So that means we don’t keep potatoes or carrots in the house. Squash is firm enough to keep it’s shape like a potato and will cook quickly. It pairs well with almost any meat and just tastes good in general.

Recipe

5-6 cups finely diced summer squash such as yellow, gray or zucchini

1 large onion finely diced

4-5 cups finely diced cooked beef (I’m using tri-tip but you can use rib roast, chuck roast, top round, etc)

3 large celery ribs very finely diced

2 T bacon fat (you can use oil or butter if you think you can’t do the bacon fat but I think you’re a noob)

As you dice the ingredients you can just toss them all together into a large bowl. Melt the bacon fat in a large skillet/saute pan. I’m using a 12″ saute pan tonight and it’s actually a little over full (I’m stirring VERY carefully.) So either scale back or get a bigger pan lol.

Once the fat is hot dump everything in. Cook over medium heat and stir it every so often as the veggies cook down and the beef warms up. If your beef is heavily seasoned you probably won’t have to do much more than add some pepper or maybe some fresh herbs. I’m going to throw in some lemon thyme leaves and that’s probably about it. I could add some garlic but I’m not feeling it today.

The squash is going to release a lot of water. I just took a spoon and skimmed it out of the pan. You can cook it off by turning the heat up to high but be extremely careful not to burn the hash.

When the squash, onions, and celery are soft and the beef is hot, take it off the heat and serve. If you want, fry up an egg or two and put that on the hash.

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