Leek Mashed Potatoes, with a bonus leftover recipe

There are some beautiful leeks coming out at the farmers’ market right now.  I love the flavor of leeks, but the only recipe I really know is potato-leek soup.  Joe and I put our heads together and came up with this easy, tasty fried leek mashed potato dish.  We had it with a roast chicken and Jennie’s excellent and easy roasted green beans.

Leek Mashed Potatoes

3 leeks, with green parts cut off, split down the middle

1 1/2 lbs potatoes (we used Yukon Golds), skin on

3 tbsp light cream

2 tbsp butter

4 tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

Dice the potatoes, leaving the skin on, and boil them until they are tender enough to poke with a fork.  Soak the leeks in water for about 20 minutes to wash out any dirt.  Remove from water; drain.  Slice the leeks into 1/2-inch strips.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the leeks.  Let them cook down until they are soft.  Remove them from the oil and put them into a food processor.  Pulse the processor just once or twice– you don’t want to puree the leeks, you just want to chop them into smaller pieces.  Return to pan with 1/2 tbsp butter and sautee until the butter is incorporated.

Mash the potatoes in a large bowl.  Add cream, remaining butter and leeks and fold in until they are incorporated.  Serve hot.

This recipe is gluten free and vegetarian.

Got leftovers?

Leftover Leek Potato Pancakes

Leek Mashed Potatoes

1/2 cup homemade bread crumbs

1 egg

olive oil

plain yogurt or sour cream

Form leftover mashed potatoes into balls and flatten.  You should have a pancake about the size of your palm and half an inch thick.  Beat the egg in a bowl and dip pancakes in egg to coat them.  Roll them in bread crumbs.  Heat the oil in a pan and fry until golden brown and delicious.  Serve with yogurt or sour cream.

This recipe is vegetarian.

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Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing: Two recipes good enough to make all winter

I love stuffing. (Or ‘dressing,’ as some of you insist on calling it.) Turkey’s all well and good, sweet potatoes are nice, but Thanksgiving is all about the stuffing for me. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this U.S. dish, Thanksgiving stuffing is basically a savory bread pudding, usually flavored with sage and a meat (turkey, sausage and oysters are traditional choices). It’s often baked inside the cavity of a roasting turkey, but in recent years, as we’ve learned more about bacteria and food safety, that method has fallen out of favor.

My grandma’s traditional verson involves cubed bread and sausage, baked in a shallow layer in a glass baking dish. It’s delicious, and I’ll give it to you if she says I can.

My version is a little different. We’ve done this for two years now, and it’s well on its way to becoming a tradition. I make both meat and vegetarian versions. And they’re gluten-free!

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Thanksgiving: A few thoughts before the feast.

Hey all,

Just a quick note to wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

This is a bit of a conflicted holiday- it commemorates a joint feast held by the rightful citizens of our country and the (let’s face it) pirates who were later to betray and murder them on a colossal scale. The genocide of Native Americans is not something to be celebrated, and all of the ‘Pilgrims and Indians’ crap that comes along with this holiday makes my skin crawl. (If you aren’t familiar with the real history of Thanksgiving, James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me is a great place to start, as is this article from Counterpunch.)

But here’s the thing: outside of elementary schools, the ideology of conquest is really not part of the day for most people. I’ve never been to a Thanksgiving dinner where anyone even talked about patriotism and Pilgrims. The actual practice of celebrating Thanksgiving involves getting together with family and/or friends, eating a lot of great dishes that celebrate foods native to this country, watching football, shopping, and perhaps occasionally stopping to be grateful for the feast, the company, and your life.

Every culture has feast days; in this country, the two other big feast days are Christmas and Easter. This is the one truly secular feasting holiday, the one everyone can enjoy, and when you take away the horrific crimes that led to its founding, it’s actually really pleasant. I enjoy Thanksgiving, as a foodie, because it’s the one day where everyone cares about food, and it’s completely normal to obsess about turkey skin and spend the day in an apron and be proud of what you cook. It’s also a great opportunity to make seasonal dishes with local foods– Pennsylvania, where I’m writing this, is brimming with abundant squash, pumpkin and other produce, and there are parts of our state where you can’t walk down the sidewalk without running into a wild turkey.

So, am I wrong to enjoy Thanksgiving, given its bloody origins? Maybe. But I’m thankful to live in a country with people like Leonard Peltier and Winona LaDuke, among many, many others, who are willing to stand up and fight for a real democracy that respects the rights of all people. I’m thankful for the real, fresh food that is still available and worth celebrating in this prepackaged country, and I’m thankful to the people whose work went into growing it, transporting it and selling it to me. I’m grateful that my body is allowing me to eat. And I’m thankful to be spending my day off with my family, especially my grandparents. I’ll be raising my glass to all of those things tomorrow– not to the Pilgrims.

Enjoy your turkey, folks!

Six Month Anniversary Dinner: Fall Spiced Pork Chops with Spinach and Apple; Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes

Sarah and I celebrated our six-month anniversary of marriage with a nice dinner and some wonderful home-brewed beer made by Sarah’s best friend Kara, which we aged for six months.

I was inspired by Ida Mae’s Bruncherie to do a fall pork chop dish. Theirs is applewood smoked but I do not have a smoker, so I had to improvise a bit. Earlier in the day we went to the Headhouse Market and bought two thick grass fed pork chops, some apples, heirloom tomatoes, some raw milk Parmesan cheese and some spinach.

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Chicken Soupy Rice (Arroz Asopado con Pollo)

When Sarah and I lived in Ridgewood, Queens, one of our favorite things to get at our local Puerto Rican or Dominican restaurants was the Chicken Soupy Rice. It was cheap and delicious, especially on winter nights. Sarah has come down with a cold, so I thought I would try my hand at a version off the cuff since we both have fond memories of curling up on the couch with soupy rice when we were sick in NYC.

The ingredients that I used:

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Fresh ginger, finely chopped (about 2 tablespoons)

2 shallots, chopped

2 sweet potatoes, diced

1/2 cup of snow peas, sliced

2 1/2 cups of chicken stock

1/4 cup of crushed tomatoes

2 chicken breasts, diced

Adobo seasoning

Cinnamon

1 cup arborio rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Toss chicken with adobo seasoning and cinnamon.  (Marinate for an hour if you have the time.)  Saute chicken in a pan and set aside. In a pot, heat a few tablespoons of oil and add the garlic and ginger. After a couple of minutes add the shallot and saute for a few more minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the arborio rice and the snow peas. Saute for a minute or two. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium low, add the crushed tomatoes, stir and cover. Simmer for about twenty minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure that the rice does not stick. When the rice is done, add the chicken. At this point check the consistency. You want it to be thick but still soupy, somewhere between a stew and a soup. If it is too thick (as mine was), add some more stock and water to get it to the thickness that you desire. Simmer another minute or two and serve. I topped ours with some chopped green onion.

A very comforting meal to share with your loved one while geeking out in front of Star Trek:TNG DVDs.

This is gluten and dairy free. Just be sure to check the chicken stock that you buy. Some of it does contain gluten.

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Restaurant Week at Django

It’s Restaurant Week in Philadelphia, and Joe invited me out to dinner for a Date Night (which is something we old married folks like to do every so often). Django has a great reputation as one of the best BYOBs in the city– and in Philly, the BYOB capital of the east coast, that’s saying something. They’re part of the Buy Fresh, Buy Local alliance as well, so we headed to 4th and South, bottle of cabernet sauvignon in hand, to give them a try.

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