Archive for the ‘Starches’ Category

Looking for different and delicious side dishes? Potato knishes might be the answer for the holidays

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

This post should begin with a picture of the finished product but I forgot to take a picture when they came out of the oven and I really wanted to get this information in your hands before it was too late…so…try and envision these little bundles baked to a beautiful golden color.

I’ll tell you why I love these knishes.  First of all they can be made ahead of time and I’m all about doing everything I can to simplify cooking the day of an event.  So that’s number one.  Secondly I love the concept of using them as a side dish for a holiday menu (they would be awesome with a rib roast or a beef tenderloin) plus they double beautifully as a hot hors d’oeuvre.  And lastly they are delicious, absolutely wonderful.  This is one recipe I had to share and actually I can’t take credit for it.  I discovered it by doing some work for the Idaho Potato Commission and they are constantly “commissioning/challenging” chefs around the country and the world to come up with their best potato recipes.  This is definitely one of them.

The first picture is of knishes in appetizer size and the one right above depicts the knishes in a larger, dinner portion suitable for an adult.  Basically these knishes are two part:  there’s the outside pastry (which is store-bought puff pastry..easy) and then there’s the filling that is made with Yukon gold potatoes, sauteed onions, cheddar cheese, blue cheese, parmesan and even a little goat cheese.  They are assembled ahead of time, brushed with a little egg wash and then baked to golden perfection.

Here are the little guys under construction and below is the sheet of puff pastry rolled out and ready to cut.

I’ve eaten these right out of the oven (of course they were heavenly) and I’ve even reheated them the next day in the oven and they were just as wonderful.  What I’m trying to say is you can’t go wrong.

Recipe developed by Sherry Yard, Executive Pastry Chef, Spago Beverly Hills

1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (simmered, peeled and coarsely mashed)

4 ounces minced onion sautéed in 1 tablespoon butter

2 ounces cheddar cheese

2 ounces blue cheese

1 ounce grated parmesan cheese

1 ounce goat cheese

2 ounces heavy cream

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

egg wash (one beaten egg)

1 package frozen puff pastry sheets

In medium bowl combine all ingredients for potatoes and combine well with rubber spatula or wooden spoon trying to keep potatoes somewhat coarse. Mixture can be made one or two days ahead.

To assemble: take one sheet of pastry and roll out slightly until it measures an 8×12 rectangle. Cut sheet into 6 (4×4 inch) squares. Place a generous 1/3 cup of filling in each square. Bring corners of each square to the center of the potatoes and pinch and twist to secure.

Place on parchment lined baking sheet allowing enough room for knishes to puff a little while they bake. Then brush with egg wash and let chill in fridge for 30 minutes. If covered well, knishes can be prepared to this point and held a day ahead. Preheat oven to 400. Bake until puffed and quite golden (about 20 minutes).

You can also make appetizer sizes by cutting the pastry in smaller squares and spooning less filling onto each square.

Pot pie without the pot

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

I think everyone would have to admit that the best part of a pot pie is the pastry.  No matter how good the filling is.  And puff pastry is probably the most decadent and delicious pastry one could ever hope to pair with the creaminess of the comforting inside.  A few weeks ago I found myself with some 5×5 inch puff pastry squares leftover from a catering event.  I thought of using each square as a freestanding individual pot pie but I was worried that the filling might ooze out too much.  Then… I thought that if I made a think white sauce (the base for the filling) it might be alright.  So that’s what I did.  I made a batch of thick white sauce using 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter and one cup milk.  You can make the same base and then season it to your liking.  Thyme leaves are always a great place to start.

In my case I had leftover chunks of beef that I added to the base and an assortment of vegetables.  Everything got mixed together.  If you are using puff pastry or an ordinary pastry the procedure would be as follows.

Set your squares on the counter until somewhat pliable. 

Place a scoop of filling in the middle….

and then bring two opposite points together. 

If needed stretch the ends a bit to make sure that they adequately cover the filling.   

Bring the remaining ends together….pinch and twist. 

Set on a baking sheet and brush with an egg wash, if desired.  The wash provides a shiny coat to the pie. 

Bake at 400 until richly golden and bubbly.  As you can see there was a little oozing but it was minimal.

Sushi rice balls – using leftover rice

Friday, May 20th, 2011


A few weeks ago I catered a Mexican affair and found myself with lots of leftover rice.  Family was coming over and I really wanted to use up this rice in a kid friendly way and so I decided to try to make a version of sushi rice balls.  Here’s what I did…and let me preface this by saying that I recognize this is not the ideal way of making rice balls but it is a great tasting way, nonetheless, of using up rice.

The original rice was prepared with careful rinsing and then it was drained and toasted in some oil with onions and cooked al dente.  The rice kernels turned out loose and just as you might want a side of Mexican rice.  Here’s how I was able to turn it into a “gummier” product that would clump together into a ball.


 I took a ziploc bag and filled it with a good amount of rice.  At the same time I added some unseasoned rice vinegar, sugar and salt.  For every estimated cup of rice you might start with one tablespoon of the vinegar, one tablespoon of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.


 If you prefer you could use the seasoned vinegar, which would give you the same results.


 I took it to the microwave and warmed it… then with the fingers mushed and mixed everything together from the outside of the sealed bag.


Then I repeated the procedure of warming a little more, mushing with the hands, tasting and warming until the rice actually gathered into a ball.  As the rice got hotter it was necessary to use a towel to handle the bag.


 From that point I portioned out smaller balls, which stuck together beautifully, let them cool, sprinkled with sesame seeds and they were awesome.  We ate them as a side and they were devoured by the family in moments.  Not the authentic way but certainly a resourceful way of using up leftover rice.



The trick to making a rice soup without having bloated rice

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

rice in soups

Every once in a while I have nightmares flashing back to food experiences.  One true nightmare was while we were preparing a New Year’s dinner at the restaurant.  The theme centered around American cooking and since wild rice is a grain indigenous to the Americas I thought it would be appropriate to use it in one of our courses.  I decided to prepare a mushroom soup with wild rice.

The day before the event we prepared all the components for the soup.  We had pre-cooked the wild rice to al dente and were going to add that on New Years Eve as the base was heating.

We added the rice the recipe called for as the soup began to warm and went about other preparations as it was heating.  Now I’ve had plenty of experience working with regular rice and I know how rice, especially when added to soups can bloat beyond belief.  For some reason I thought that wild rice would be less inclined to do that.  Oh was I wrong.  When I went to check on the soup the grains had completely absorbed a good portion of the liquid and the contents resembled more a casserole than a soup.  To make a long story short, we scrambled and did a recovery job but the results were far from desirable.

The lesson here?  If you are ever inclined to make a soup with rice, resist the urge and ignore directions that tell you to add the rice to the broth.  Cook the rice separately and warm the grains gently in the microwave right before serving.  Spoon the rice into the soup bowl and then ladle the prepared soup around it.  No matter what the recipe says do it like that.  And this applies to any type of rice; heat the base of the soup independent of the rice and add the rice by spoonfuls to each bowl as it is being served.

I can’t repair that New Year’s dinner but I might keep you from making a similar mistake.

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