It’s suddenly fall-like here in NY, with cooler weather and even a few leaves starting to turn. So, time to start thinking about comfort food. And what better comfort food than skin on garlic mashed potatoes.
I’m posting this partly in honor of my sister-in-law, who loves mashed potatoes. She practically thinks they are a food group. When she married my brother, I included a larger version of this recipe in a mini-cookbook we made for her. Now, many years later, I make them slightly differently: not just mashed potatoes, but skin on garlic mashed potatoes. It’s less work, less cleanup and more nutrition. Win win win!
The original recipe calls for milk, but I was feeling decadent, so I went with half and half here. Use milk if you prefer. Or, even a bit of cream.
Make sure to use thin skinned potatoes that are suitable for boiling and mashing. I like to use either white potatoes, (sometimes called Eastern potatoes), or Yukon gold. The skins on the white potatoes are thinner than Russets, which makes them better for a recipe that calls for leaving the skin on the potato. Yukon gold are naturally more creamy and buttery tasting. Also, I’ve never particularly liked Russets, they seem floury to me. They’re higher in starch, and don’t reheat well. They also don’t hold their shape (not an issue for mashing, but a problem for potato salad or soup).
I first learned to make this eggplant dish when I was visiting a cousin in Boston. He was living in a rambling house with lots of roomies and a student budget. Creativity was important! This meltingly tender broiled eggplant infused with olive oil and flecked with fresh rosemary takes full advantage of seasonal produce. Just grab some of the fresh eggplants popping up in your local farmer’s market and make this super simple recipe.
Since this recipe is made nearly entirely with pantry staples, all you have to buy is the eggplant. Fresher eggplants are less bitter than their out-of-season cousins and the standard dark, nearly black supermarket offerings. And, the farmer’s market should have a much wider selection. I used Graffiti eggplant (streaky purple), but white eggplant, or fairy eggplant (the smaller streaky variety, which is particularly tender) works just as well.
Look for smaller eggplants with firm skin. A wrinkled eggplant is an old eggplant. The smaller ones are sweeter too. Check the stem to make sure it’s fresh; it should be free of mold or mushiness. An eggplant that’s heavy for its size is better. Lighter ones are likely to be hollow and less fleshy (so less to eat).
There’s some slightly inaccurate folk wisdom about “male” and “female” eggplants, with males having fewer seeds. The flowers are both male and female, but the fruit isn’t. However, if you want fewer seeds, check the bottom of the eggplant. There’s an indentation which is sometimes oval and sometimes round. Eggplants with an oval indentation seem to have fewer seeds than the round ones. So pick the oval eggplant (because you want fruit, not seeds).
Anyone else here a starch fiend (waits and looks for raised hands)? I just love potato salad, but I’m not that crazy about the usual heavy versions loaded with mayo. This Dijon mustard vinaigrette potato salad is different. It’s French, for one thing, which means there’s no mayo in it. Instead, it has olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard for a bit of bite.
It’s really easy to make, without a lot of fussing. You can eat it warm out of the pan, at room temperature, or chilled. Since there’s no mayonnaise, it also travels well if you’re going on a picnic or to a barbecue (make more!).
The best part? No peeling (oh, the scandal)! That makes the prep time faster. And, you get more vitamins too.
Oh, the humble potato. It’s not so humble after William Sonoma finishes with it. And their potato salads have artichokes, feta cheese, or red bell pepper. (There’s also recipes for fries, and roasted fingerling potatoes). One reviewer said she got it from the library – but her family wouldn’t let her return the book! So, rather than risk a giant fine, she bought a copy.
Potato salad with seafood, pesto, nicoise, and tarragon and lamb. Lots of delicious combinations you may have never thought of.
More Potato Salad Recipes Without Mayo
German potato salad – Bacon, vinegar, and onions give this potato salad a nice tang. Italian potato salad – Lots of garlic (don’t kiss anyone after you eat it), and a few simple ingredients. Best served at room temperature. Greek potato salad – Made with feta cheese, parsley, and onion (no mayonnaise in sight). Herb Potato Salad – Recipe from Ina Garten with tarragon and wine.
Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette Potato Salad Substitutions and Variations
add a hard boiled egg
mix up your potatoes (try it with some red potatoes)
It’s been a while since I posted a side dish, so I thought I’d fix that. Honey mustard glazed carrots are an easy and savory side dish that’s ready in just a few minutes. The honey adds a hint of sweetness, while the mustard provides a bit of a kick. The carrots are really easy to prepare, but the dish feels fancy enough for company.
This side dish goes beautifully with a simply roasted piece of chicken. Season it with olive oil, lemon, and rosemary, put it in the oven and then start the carrots about 20 minutes before the chicken is done.
Or, try them with a grilled lamb chop, or a steak. This recipe would also be great with Thanksgiving turkey or a family holiday get-together (you’d obviously have to size up the quantities).
If you’re trying to eat more veggies, honey mustard carrots also go well with a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.
I sliced the carrots in matchsticks, but you can make them whatever way suits you. If you’re in a hurry, use frozen carrots (which are pre-blanched and will cook faster than fresh ones will).
Another tip to speed up the process and make your life a bit easier: when you measure the honey, dip the spoon in water first. It creates a barrier that will keep the honey from sticking and make it easier to pour it into the saucepan.
Two carrots, sliced into matchsticks (about 2/3 of a cup)
1 1/2 tsp butter
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
Boil water in a small saucepan (about one quart)
Once the water is boiling, add the carrots and the salt.
Cook for 5-7 minutes until the carrots are tender
Drain the carrots and set aside.
Add the butter, mustard, and honey to the empty saucepan. Once the butter melts, add the carrots back to the pan and stir to coat them with the mustard mixture. When the carrots are glazed, remove and serve.
Substitutions and Variations for Mustard Honey Glazed Carrots
If you don’t have honey, use brown sugar instead
Add some fresh rosemary to the carrots
Saute some shallots with the honey mustard mixture and then add the carrots back to the pan
Try roasting them in a 450 oven for 40 minutes with some parsnips
Fall has finally arrived, and the temperature is dropping. It’s time to start thinking about butternut squash, apple crisp, and soups. I found this recipe for roasted cinnamon nutmeg butternut squash tucked into a cookbook. I’ve no idea where I got it from, but the combination of cinnamon, apple cider, nutmeg, butter, and squash is classic.
Cinnamon and nutmeg add both a bit of spice and sweetness, and the apple cider is both tart and sweet. It’s also apple cider season, so all the ingredients are at their peak now.
Butternut squash are notoriously hard to peel, unless you have an Oxo peeler, which makes this chore much easier. Or, you can buy the pre-peeled squash.
The rest is just cutting up the squash (use a big, sharp knife), adding the spices, butter, and cider, and baking it in the toaster oven.
This peeler cuts through butternut squash skin with virtually no effort. It’s no harder than peeling a cucumber. I’ve had mine for years and it still works flawlessly. There’s even a little scoop at the end for de-eyeing potatoes or removing bruised spots. The handle is comfy and easy to hold. It works on apples, squash, cucumber, carrots, and hasn’t needed any extra care or sharpening. I did add a dab of red nail polish at the end to make it easier to find in my utensil holder.
Most baking dishes are far too large for one person or small batch cooking. This is perfect. I use it for the squash, to bake brownies or coffee cake, and reheat leftovers. It”s safe in the oven or microwave, looks great as a serving dish, and can go in the dishwasher if you have one.
I spotted this white bean salad with sun dried tomatoes when I was shopping. It sounded delicious: beans, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, spinach. Healthy and tasty!
The price was a bit of a turn off though: $8.00 a pound?! For beans? Nope. I had dry beans at home, but it was too hot to start cooking them. So, I trotted over to the canned beans section. Instead of $8.00 a pound, I got a whole can of beans for 88 cents (on sale!). Score!
The rest was easy (and no cooking needed on a hot day).
Just soak the sun dried tomatoes, pour the beans into a bowl, roughly chop the spinach, chop some onion, and let it sit for a while to let the flavor develop.
Roasted paprika potatoes are one of my favorite comfort foods. My grandma used to make them (on semi-special occasions). There’s a big family “argument” about whether she used olive oil or something else. However, I say olive oil, and it’s my blog so olive oil wins!
The potatoes end up slightly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. It’s like making extra-flavorful French fries, with a lot less mess and bother. Plus, you only have to use a little bit of oil, instead of filling a whole fryer with it.
These potatoes make a great side dish with a simple roast chicken or a lamb chop.
They’re not hard to make, but they do take a bit of time. If you don’t have an hour to bake them, try cooking them at a slightly higher temperature (425) for 35 minutes.
The important thing (which I noted in the recipe) is not to put anything else in the oven. They don’t like to share space.