Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 21, 2012

Glorifying the potato with tips and recipes

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — In a country where food is plentiful, we have raised cooking and eating to an art, a science and a competition, all at the same time.

One of the most important foods in regular menu rotation in the United States is the potato and Barnesville, Minn., will celebrate the tuber this weekend during the Potato Days Festival.

Named one of the top 100 events in the country by the American Bus Association, the festival attracts visitors from across the country and the eating of potatoes is a favorite attraction.

Potato cakes are on the menu at the festival and the website cooks.com has a long list of options for potato cakes, including these two.

FRIED POTATO CAKES     

4 medium potatoes

1 small onion

1 egg

1 tablespoon self-rising flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes and let cool. Grate potatoes and onion; toss together. Add beaten egg, flour, salt and pepper. Form into patties; fry in oil, turning once. Drain on paper towel.

FRIED POTATO CAKES     

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup flour

Stir beaten egg and flour into potatoes. Form into patties. Dip both sides into additional flour and brown in a little shortening. A good variation is to add some chopped or ground ham to the mixture. Makes 4 to 8 servings.

COOKS.COM

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The Idaho Potato Commission claims the potato is a main ingredient nationally in food blogs.

However, the potato can be used for other things, too. The commission shares tips from potato lovers across the country.

Tip of the month: To keep hashbrowns or small cubed potatoes from burning when frying, soak them in cool water first, 15 minutes, or even overnight. — Kathi H, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

‰Cube four or five medium Idaho potatoes, toss in one tablespoon olive oil and one package dry Italian dressing mix.  Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 425 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. — Margaret S., Salem, Wisc.

‰Wash and cut up fresh berries, and you know your hands are going to end up being the same color as the berries. Berry stains on your skin are tough to remove. Soap and water just doesn't cut it. But if you rub the stains with a peeled, raw Idaho. — Kassidy, Ohio

‰I use a potato to help flower arrangements maintain their position. Cut the bottom off a potato so it is stable. Using a knife or skewers, cut holes in the potato. Place the stems of the flowers into these holes The holes will be used to keep the stems of the flowers neat and orderly! —Rachel W, Chicago, Ill.

‰It's easy to create fun, affordable preschool art supplies with potatoes! Just cut the potato in half and carve out a simple shape (hearts, stars, and animal silhouettes work perfectly). Then, use them for stamps with washable paint. — Celena J, Tucson, Ariz.

‰If you soup or stew is too salty simply add a potato and continue to cook for about a half an hour. Remove the potato before serving and it will have absorbed some of the extra salt from your dish! — Amanda W, Brighton, Mass.

‰I buy a 5lb bag of Idaho potatoes for my family of four, I bake all of them at once and we have baked potato the first night, then have pan-fried baked potato rounds for breakfast with the leftovers. — Robin H, Peachtree City, Ga.

‰When I’m boiling peeled and cubed potatoes for my potato salad, I season the water with a pinch of kosher salt to bring out the potato’s delightful flavor. — Sherryl V, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

‰When you have limp celery don't throw it away just putit in some cold water and take an Idaho potato and cut it into quarters and place it in the water and the next day you will have healthy, stiff, revived celery. — Scott R, Stevensville, Miss.

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The potato commission also posted this recipe on its website, noting it’s very budget friendly.

HASHBROWN VEGGIE MELT

(Recipe courtesy of Donette Beattie, Vice President, Purchasing and Product Development, Country Kitchen International Madison, Wisc.)

Yield: 1 serving; estimated cost per serving*: 3.50

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 cup diced Idaho® potatoes

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 slices potato-chive bread or hearty Italian bread

1 tablespoon Parmesan-garlic spread (made with 2 teaspoons butter, finely minced garlic and 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese)

1/4 cup shredded cheese blend (2 tablespoons part-skim mozzarella and 2 tablespoons 2% milk cheddar cheese)

1/4 cup diced green bell pepper

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1/4 cup diced tomato

Lightly oil a griddle. Add the potatoes and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Turn the potatoes over, season with the salt or seasoning salt and pepper and continue cooking for another minute.

Using the sides of the bread that will face outward, spread both slices with the Parmesan-garlic spread. Grill until golden brown. Top one of the slices of bread with the shredded cheese, allowing it to melt. Cover if necessary.

Place the green pepper, mushrooms and tomato on the lightly oiled griddle and sauté for a few minutes.

To assemble, place the browned potatoes on the slice of bread without the cheese, add the cooked vegetables, then place the other slice of bread, melted cheese face down, on top of the sandwich. Remove from the griddle, cut in half diagonally and serve immediately.

Estimated Nutritional Analysis per Serving: 535 calories, 25 g fat, 40.5 mg cholesterol, 966 mg sodium, 17 g protein, 62.5 g carbohydrates.

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It might sound a little weird, but they look delicious: Chocolate Chip Idaho® Potato Poppers use instant potato flakes

CHOCOLATE CHIP IDAHO® POTATO POPPERS

(Recipe courtesy of Rachel Strange, Huntsville, Ala.)

Cooking spray

1 1/3 cups flour

2/3 cup instant Idaho® potato flakes

2/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup skim milk

2 egg whites

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375˚ F. Coat the cups of 2 mini-muffin pans (24 cups) with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, potato flakes, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until mixed. Stir in the milk, egg whites, oil and vanilla extract until blended. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake 14 to 17 minutes, or until golden in color and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Loosen the edges of each muffin with a knife, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Estimated Nutritional Analysis per Serving: 152 calories, 3 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 144 mg sodium.

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While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to lward@dailyindependent.com.