Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup — Down-Home Comfort
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Baked or boiled, simmered or stewed, potatoes are the ultimate in down-home comfort. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that potatoes are often paired with creamy butter, gooey cheese or crispy bacon.) There’s actually a biological reason behind us wanting to feast on spuds. Our body’s favorite fuel is carbohydrates and potatoes are loaded with carbs. When we’re blue or feeling poorly, our bodies yearn for our favorite fuel. Once eaten, carbohydrates break down into smaller sugars that are absorbed and used as energy, fueling muscle contractions. Any extra eventually gets stored in the body as fat.
There are three basic categories of potatoes: starchy, all-purpose and waxy. Starchy potatoes are great for baking and frying. Because of their starch, they don’t hold together very well when cooked otherwise. They have a light, mealy texture and are fluffy and absorbent, perfect for a baked potato, mashed potatoes and french fries. Examples of starchy potatoes include russet and Idaho. I use starchy russets in this soup because I want the potatoes to fall apart. The “Irish” in this soup’s name refers to the large Irish population in Savannah, not the type of potato.
All-purpose potatoes include Yukon golds and purple Peruvians. They do a good job holding their shape, but share many traits in common with high-starch potatoes. Waxy potatoes are best for salads, as they hold their shape while cooking. They also work well in dishes like soups or stews when you want cubed potatoes, and for scalloped potatoes, where you would need to boil, slice and roast them. Examples of these types of potatoes include red bliss, Irish and fingerling.
I’ve left the bacon out of this soup to highlight the flavor of the potatoes. If you want to garnish with bacon, chop 4 pieces and cook until they’re crisp and the fat is rendered, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate to cool. Pour off most of the fat, leaving just a bit in the pot, and saute the vegetables in the bacon fat instead of canola oil. Either way, you’re certain to enjoy a steaming hot bowl of this classic potato soup.
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Get the Recipe: Savannah-Style Irish Potato Soup
Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.
Fridge Frittata — The Weekender
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Eggs are my comfort food. When I’ve had a rough day, I eat them fried and served over buttered toast cubes. Mornings when I know I’ll need lots of energy, I eat them scrambled with grape tomatoes and avocado. And nights when I can’t imagine cooking anything ambitious, I simmer tomato puree with kale and garlic and poach two eggs per diner in the sauce.
When it comes to eggs for a crowd, I’m very fond of big egg bakes and frittatas. I have a couple favorite versions (spinach, red peppers and goat cheese is one I make a lot), but I’m always on the lookout for new ideas for add-ins and toppings.
Katie Lee’s Fridge Frittata came to my attention recently and I knew immediately that it was a recipe worth trying. She has you saute deli ham, peas and leftover french fries (oven-roasted potatoes or a handful of frozen hash browns would also work) in an oven-safe skillet. You add whisked eggs and then dollop on ricotta cheese and dabs of pesto. It puffs as it bakes and makes a glorious main dish for brunch or supper.
I particularly loved how tender and creamy the pockets of ricotta were and how the pesto added flavor and vibrant color. We ate it with a side salad and some toasted sourdough and declared it just the thing for a nearly spring Weekender.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— The nice thing about making a frittata is that it’s so darn flexible. Out of frozen peas? Try broccoli or spinach instead. Not eating meat? Skip the ham and add cubes of baked tofu.
— Want to make your weekday mornings easy? Make a frittata on the weekend, chill it and cut off a slice each morning.
— If your frittata is sticking to the pan, let it rest. I will often let my egg dishes cool down to nearly room temperature before slicing, to ensure that I don’t lose any bits to the pan. You can always reheat them once you’re ready to serve.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is now available for pre-order.
3 Ways to Make Tofu the Best Thing Ever
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Tofu keeps well in the fridge for weeks and can become the basis of a tasty meal in minutes, making it a versatile protein that’s great to have on hand. Here are three very different ways to enjoy this adaptable vegetarian staple.
Note in the recipes below that only ¾ pound tofu is in the scramble and a little is saved for the dressing. If you don’t use the whole block of tofu, place any leftover into a container or jar, cover with cold water, seal the container and store in the fridge for up to a week. Changing the water every couple of days will keep it fresher longer.
This tofu scramble is a nice change from the usual breakfast routine and comes together just as quickly as any style of eggs. Make it with spinach, shredded carrot and any herbs — but don’t forget the turmeric, as the spice gives the tofu its lovely golden hue. Enjoy over avocado toast for a hearty and tasty breakfast.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ a medium red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
¾ pound firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon tamari
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Large handful chopped parsley
Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add red pepper and a pinch of salt and saute for 6 to 8 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Lower heat slightly and crumble tofu over the peppers. Sprinkle turmeric and tamari over the surface of the tofu and stir to combine. Add scallions and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and serve warm.
Creamy Tofu Herb Dressing
Makes about 1¼ cup
This dairy-free creamy dressing is delicious served over crunchy vegetable salads and steamed vegetables alike. You can also increase the amount of tofu and use it as a dip for vegetables (just season to taste before serving). Since it’s best not to eat tofu raw, I blanch it briefly before blending.
¼ pound firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry
1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup chopped dill
½ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup apple juice
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes, add to pot and blanch for 30 seconds. Pour into a strainer and set aside to cool. Place all ingredients in an upright blender and blend until completely smooth. Store any leftover dressing in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Ginger Sesame Baked Tofu
This is the ideal make-ahead dish as it can marinate in the fridge for a couple days. Simply bake when you’re ready to eat. Alternatively, you can skip the 30-minute marinating time and pop the tofu straight in the oven. You’ll still end up with a succulent, flavorful dish that tastes great over whole grains, noodles or steamed or stir-fried vegetables. Any leftovers can be used as a sandwich filling or cut up and tossed into salads.
1 pound firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry
2 garlic cloves
1 inch piece ginger, peeled
½ cup apple juice
2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons unrefined sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
Slice tofu into ½ inch slices and cut each piece into 2 triangles. Place in a baking dish in a single snug layer and set aside. Add remaining ingredients, except sesame seeds, to an upright blender and blend until completely smooth. Stir in sesame seeds and pour over sliced tofu. Marinated for 30 minutes or up to 3 days (covered) in the fridge. Bake for 40 minutes or until top and edges are beginning to brown. Remove from oven and serve warm or room temperature.
Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.
What to Watch: Family Traditions on The Kitchen and Athletes on Chopped Tournament of Stars
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
This weekend, watch all-new episodes of The Pioneer Woman, Heartland Table and Sandwich King. Ree makes international meals in minutes. Amy cooks recipes on her wood-burning stove. And Jeff makes sky-high sandwiches.
On The Kitchen, the co-hosts reinvent their family-favorite recipes and offer viewers great ideas for how to do the same. On a new episode of Food Court Wars, two sisters and two best friends face off for food court space. Then it’s the premiere of the Chopped Tournament of Stars, where four athletes enter the Chopped kitchen to compete for a spot in the finale and the prize for charity. And on Cutthroat Kitchen, the sabotaging continues as one chef must cook with a clothes steamer and iron.
The Pioneer Woman: “16-Minute Meals Around the World“
Ree is going around the world with 16-minute meals. First stop is India with easy mulligatawny soup to share with a friend. Then, for a solo meal, Thai Beef with Peppers. For dinner with the family, it’s off to Italy with Chicken Piccata with Buttery Lemon Noodles.
Heartland Table: “Heart of the Fire“
Like many of their neighbors, Amy Thielen and her husband, Aaron, make fires in their central woodstove for atmosphere, heat and cooking. In this episode, Amy uses theirs to prepare a warm meal of Midwestern Fried Chicken with Gravy, Whipped Potatoes and Swiss Chard with Honey-Roasted Garlic, followed by indoor buttercup s’mores made Bruschetta style with toasted marshmallows and dark chocolate.
The Kitchen: “Family Traditions“
This week The Kitchen is celebrating family traditions. Katie kicks things off with a beef stew re-do as she updates her grandfather’s stew. The hosts also take turns sharing their suggestions on how to update viewers’ traditional family dishes. Plus, Geoffrey makes Pesto-Rubbed Baked Salmon with Cucumber and Apple Salad using our Supermarket Fix — pesto. And the hosts share great ideas like adding one ingredient to a favorite snack to make it extraordinary!
Sandwich King: “Sky-High Sandwiches“
The first sky-high sandwich Jeff makes is a Buffalo Chicken Skyscraper topped with a zesty blue cheese slaw and crispy onion rings. Then, a stacked bourbon BLT. Plus, a leaning tower of fried, pickled jalapenos, carrots and cucumbers with Angry Sauce for dipping.
Food Court Wars: “Brunchaholics vs. Modern Southern Table“
Sisters Gabbie and Audriana grew up in the food industry and want to turn their passion for breakfast food into their own restaurant. Best friends Sadaya and Maiya started their own catering company to bring Southern-style food to their area and want to turn the business into a full-time career. These two teams will compete for a food court location in their hometown of Zanesville, Ohio.
Chopped Tournament of Stars: “Sports Stars!“
Four athletes, Brandi Chastain, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Greg Louganis and Charles Oakley, bring their fierceness and passion to the Chopped kitchen for the premiere round of a five-part $50,000 Tournament of Stars. With the charities they are competing for in mind, they open the first basket to find a scary ingredient: alligator. Then in the entree round, the celebs must cook with strange eggs and tiny limes. The two sports stars who make it to the dessert round put their athleticism and enthusiasm into creating great final dishes that include crystallized ginger and wafer cookies.
Cutthroat Kitchen: “Pressed or Steamed“
Cutthroat Kitchen takes things to the extreme when one chef loses everything but a roll of tin foil and heat while cooking a dish. Then, Alton auctions off his compost bucket, forcing one chef to make a quiche out of the food bits that are normally thrown out. Finally, a clothes steamer and iron are the only sources of heat for a chef cooking mussels.
5 Steps to a Family-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day
FN Dish – Food Network Blog
Despite my last name (which is Armenian thanks to a distant relative somewhere in my French husband’s family), I’m actually an Irish gal (my maiden name is Donovan). So I’ve celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with the gusto of an Irish lassie my whole life.
St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday, and the shamrock was originally a symbol for the Holy Trinity. According to tradition, the rules of Lent were lifted on St. Patrick’s Day, which meant Catholics could eat and drink relatively freely for one day in the midst of Lenten fasting. And somehow that morphed into rowdy visits to Irish pubs, drinking green beer and singing “Seven Drunken Nights” (who could see that coming?). So St. Patrick’s has become a cultural celebration, and for our family, St. Patrick’s Day is a day of wearing green, playing fun leprechaun tricks for the kids, and eating green foods and traditional Irish fare. Want to join us? Here is our five-step approach to celebrating St. Patty’s Day in style:
1. We wear green. I almost didn’t even write this one. Because duh. (Plus, I have green eyes, so this really only makes sense.)
2. We guard ourselves for the arrival of the mischievous leprechauns. There are friendly leprechauns who come in the night and make an innocuous mess, knocking over a (relatively clean) trash can and mixing up shoe piles. These leprechauns leave behind a trail of gold chocolate coins and maybe some green erasers (because they are always on sale at the craft store).
3. We make green smoothies and zucchini muffins for breakfast. Call it the family-friendly version of green beer, but my girls love to start the day with green food. (Unlike Valentine’s Day, when we stay in pink and red food all day, this is a breakfast-only affair for St. Patrick’s Day.) I make my Green Morning Smoothie and Zucchini Mini Muffins with Orange Maple Glaze. You can even add a drop of all-natural green food coloring to the glaze.
4. We don’t need an excuse for music and dancing in our house. My girls will choreograph a dance number to just about anything! For mood music, I play some classic Irish folk music. For some ideas, search “traditional Irish music” on the Internet to load up on some catchy tunes that will have your kids singing too.
5. Make a classic Irish dish for dinner. Our favorite is Corned Beef and Cabbage, but I also have a recipe for you Shepherd’s Pie fans. And for those of you who are less classic and want just a tasty stew starring beer, grab some Guinness and make my Pot Roast Carbonnade. (It’s a Belgian stew, but your secret is safe with me.)
Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? I’d love to hear about your traditions!