White Borscht

Before I was introduced to this recipe, I thought that borscht was always a deep red, beet-based soup. I now know that borscht means “sour.” The sour tang in this soup comes from soaking sourdough bread in the broth, puréeing it, and incorporating it into the finished soup, along with crème fraiche which is stirred in just prior to serving.

I made my first homemade borscht (the beet-based version) for Christmas Eve, and my husband purchased pierogies at a Polish store for the same meal. Luckily, I saw this recipe and he was also able to buy house-made garlic kielbasa for this soup. The quality of the kielbasa is very important because it is used to create the broth for the base of this soup.

This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton.  I followed the recipe closely, but may decrease the amount of butter next time- I’m not sure it was necessary! (but it was quite delicious 😉 ) It was a creamy, indulgent, and delicious upgrade of potato-leek soup. Fabulous cold-weather comfort food.

Yield: 5 quarts, Serves 10 to 12

  • 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds full horseshoe link of high-quality smoked kielbasa
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 3 pounds leeks (6 long, lively leeks)
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 large yellow onion, small-diced (about 2 cups)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 (4-ounce) hunk of dense, very sour sourdough bread, crusts removed
  • 1 full tablespoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, woody stems removed, fronds minced

Herb-Scented Mashed Potatoes

These wonderful, creamy and fluffy mashed potatoes had a subtle flavor from cream steeped with rosemary, sage, and garlic. My son made them as part of our Thanksgiving feast this year. I loved the contrasting texture of the crispy top layer.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Justin Chapple. I modified the proportions and broiled the potatoes in a 9-inch cast iron skillet.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T whole milk
  • 4 ounces (8 T, one stick) unsalted butter, plus 1 T melted butter for brushing
  • one 4 to 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • 1 4 to 6-inch sage sprig
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces (I used Maine Cold River Gold potatoes)
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk and one stick of butter with the rosemary, sage and garlic and bring just to a simmer.
  2. Remove from the heat and let steep for 15 minutes, then discard the rosemary, sage and garlic.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Drain well, then pass the potatoes through a ricer into the pot.
  5. Fold in the cream mixture and season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Light the broiler and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.
  7. Scrape the potatoes into a 9-inch round flameproof pan or baking dish (2 inches deep) and, using a spoon, decoratively swirl the top. (I used a cast iron skillet.)
  8. Gently brush with melted butter.
  9. Broil for about 8 minutes, until the top is browned in spots. Serve hot.

Note: If doubling the recipe, place the riced potatoes into a 12-inch round flameproof pan such as a cast iron skillet.

Rice & Potato Tahdig

I have an overwhelming collection of tahdig recipes. I have always wanted to make this Persian rice dish!

The dish is named for the crispy layer of rice that forms at the bottom of the pot is known as tahdig, which means “bottom of the pot.” This version also has thinly sliced potatoes in the crispy layer. This was my first attempt, and although delicious, it was a little bit too crispy and dark on the top. :/ I modified the cooking times in the recipe below.

This recipe is from Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski. I used Yukon gold potatoes and seasoned the finished dish with sprinkled sumac.

Yield: Serves 8 as a side dish

  • 2 cups white Basmati rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
  • 4 T (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 small Russet or 1-2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/16-inch thick
  • 1 T coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 T dried cranberries, coarsely chopped, optional
  • sumac, for sprinkling, optional
  1. Place the rice in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon salt and cold water to cover by 1 inch; stir. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain the rice in a strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the saffron with 1 tablespoon of hot water; set aside.
  4. Place the rice in a large saucepan. Add 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the rice is slightly softened on the outside, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Drain the rice in a sieve and rinse under cold running water, then shake well to remove excess water. Set aside.
  6. Cut out a round of parchment paper to cover the bottom of a 10-inch wide or other wide heavy pot with a lid, such as a Dutch oven. (I used a 10-inch enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Line the pan with the parchment round.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pot and melt over medium-low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  8. Arrange the potatoes, overlapping, on the bottom of the pan.
  9. Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoons salt to the bowl with the saffron water and gently stir to combine.
  10. Spoon the rice on top of the sliced potatoes (do not press or pack down). Using a fork, gently spread the rice in an even layer.
  11. Cook, uncovered, over medium or medium-low heat, until the mixture is fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. (I cooked it for 10 minutes over medium heat but would reduce the time to 7 minutes next time- possibly over medium-low heat.)
  12. Wrap a clean dishcloth or flour sack towel around the lid and tightly cover the pan, folding the cloth over the edges of the lid.
  13. Reduce the lowest possibly setting and cook, undisturbed, until the potatoes are crisp (you can peek by lifting up the mixture at an edge or two with a large serving spoon), 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours.
  14. Uncover and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
  15. Remove the pan from the heat. Invert the dish onto a serving plate, then lift off and discard the parchment paper.
  16. Sprinkle with the parsley, cranberries, and sumac, as desired.

Double Mustard Sheet-Pan Chicken with Potatoes and Greens

I have a couple sheet-pan dinners to share. Cooking an entire meal on one sheet pan may be the ultimate method for easy back to school dinners. Love it.

This dish uses Dijon mustard in the marinade and whole grain mustard in the dressing. Perfect for all of the mustard chicken fans in my house.

This recipe was adapted from epicurious.com, contributed by Anna Stockwell. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, reduced the oil, and substituted my beautiful CSA arugula for the frisée. We ate it with Ritzy Summer-Squash Casserole. Great.

Yield: 6 servings

For the Chicken Marinade & Potatoes:

  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 2 T honey
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 whole chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 2 lbs total), patted dry (I used 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 4 rosemary sprigs

For the Dressing & To Serve:

  • 1 large garlic clove, finely grated
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 to 8 cups arugula, 1 small head of frisée, or 1/2 small head of escarole, trimmed, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves
  1. Place a rack in top third of oven; preheat to 375°F, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Whisk Dijon mustard, 2 T honey, and 1 T olive oil in a medium bowl to combine.
  3. Season chicken on all sides with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Transfer to bowl with honey mustard and toss to coat. (I marinated the chicken for 4 hours in the refrigerator.)
  4. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with remaining 2 T olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and remaining 1/2 tsp pepper.
  5. Arrange chicken, “skin side” down, in the center of the sheet pan; discard excess marinade.
  6. Arrange potatoes around outside of pan in an even layer, then turn cut side down (this will help them brown better). Arrange rosemary over potatoes.
  7. Roast until chicken, flipping over to “skin side” up after 15 minutes, and potatoes are golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°F, 20 to 25 minutes for boneless, skinless thighs or up to 30–40 minutes for bone-in meat.
  8. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk garlic, lemon juice, whole grain mustard, olive oil, honey, and salt in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning, to taste.
  9. Divide greens and parsley among plates, drizzle with dressing, then top with chicken and potatoes. Drizzle additional dressing over chicken and potatoes. Garnish with chopped parsley, as desired.

Do Ahead: Chicken can be marinated 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Curly Fries

I am not a huge French fry person, but I do love curly fries. 🙂 When my husband surprised me with a spiralizer, I planned to use it to make zucchini noodle dishes… Somehow, curly fries moved to the top of the list. Zucchini noodles will be next!

This recipe was adapted from Ree Drummond, via Food Network.com. I think that they were especially delicious because of the seasoned batter. This recipe would be amazing with sweet potatoes too.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

For the Potatoes:

  • 3 large potatoes (I used Yukon gold)
  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying (about 3 liters- I used a combination of sunflower and canola oil)
  • Kosher salt

For the Batter:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used Slap Ya Mama creole seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

My son and I made this dish together for our St. Patrick’s Day dinner. We’ve been keeping ourselves busy while we’re stuck at home! He is a big fan of mashed potatoes, so he made the topping himself. I loved the ridged pattern on the finished crust.

Although the recipe is streamlined to be made in one skillet, it was still a little bit time-consuming. (Thankfully, we had plenty of time!) The plus side is that it can be prepared with ingredients that are readily available in your pantry and freezer. It definitely created less dishes too. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via The Associated Press. It was originally published in their book, Cook it in Cast Iron. I used a combination of Dutch yellow baby potatoes and red potatoes instead of russet potatoes, ground turkey instead of ground beef, increased the amount of garlic, and modified the method. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds potatoes, Dutch yellow baby potatoes (unpeeled), red potatoes (unpeeled), or russets (peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided (4 T melted)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey or 93% lean ground beef
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Cover potatoes with water in large saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt, bring to simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes for unpeeled baby potatoes or 8 to 10 minutes for peeled and cut russet potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes and return them to saucepan. If using unpeeled baby potatoes, remove the peels at this point.
  3. Using a potato ricer, process all of the potatoes. (Alternatively the potatoes can be mashed until smooth.)
  4. In a measuring cup, whisk milk and egg together. Stir into potatoes along with 4 tablespoons of melted butter, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; cover and set aside.
  5. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes.
  6. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet.
  7. Add carrots, onion, and 3/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  8. Add ground meat and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.
  11. Slowly stir in stock and Worcestershire, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.
  12. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
  13. Off the heat, stir in peas and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  14. Adjust oven rack 5 inches from broiler element and heat broiler.
  15. Dollop the mashed potatoes over the top of the filling. Smooth topping with a knife or the back of a spoon, then use the tines of a fork to make ridges on the surface.
  16. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until topping is golden brown and crusty, 5 to 10 minutes.
  17. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Lemony Spinach Soup with Farro

It is hard to relay deliciousness when looking at a bowl of “green!” This healthy soup was beyond delicious. Similar to the soup in my last post, this soup also gets its creaminess from puréed potatoes. I also loved that it was loaded with greens and herbs and also incorporated farro (one of my favorites) as a bonus.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a combination of olive oil and butter, homemade turkey stock, and Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro. I also left the potato peels intact and increased the amount of garlic. Yum!

Yield: 6 servings

  • 4 T unsalted butter or olive oil (I used 3 T butter & 1 T olive oil)
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 rosemary or thyme branches
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound tiny potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (unpeeled)
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock (I used homemade turkey stock)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt or fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup farro (I used Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro)
  • 1 pound baby spinach (about 20 cups)
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems (or use dill)
  • 1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more for serving
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
  • flaky sea salt, for serving
  • Aleppo, Urfa, Turkish or other red-pepper flakes, for serving
  • grated Parmesan or pecorino, optional, for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Melt the butter and/or heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in the leeks and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, thyme/rosemary and bay leaves; cook 1 minute more.
  4. Stir in the potatoes, stock, 2 cups water, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer, partly covered, until vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add farro and cook according to the timing on the package until just tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.
  6. Discard thyme/rosemary branches and bay leaves from the soup pot.
  7. Add spinach, cilantro and parsley, and simmer uncovered until very soft, 5 to 8 minutes.
  8. Using an immersion blender, purée soup until smooth. (Alternatively, you can purée the soup in batches in a blender or food processor.)
  9. If necessary, adjust the consistency. If the soup is too thick, add a little water. If it’s too thin, let it simmer uncovered for another few minutes to thicken.
  10. Stir in lemon juice and more salt to taste.
  11. Stir in farro.
  12. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil, a few drops of lemon juice, flaky salt, red-pepper flakes and a little grated cheese, as desired.

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