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Bannock

This delicious quickbread’s origin isn’t completely clear.  Also know as “Indian Fry Bread”, many believe that it was brought over by Scottish Fur traders in the 1800’s. However, there is some linguistic evidence that this bread may predate western contact. A staple of First Nations cuisine across Canada, it is also made by American Indians.

There are three main ways to make bannock. In a tin in the oven, on a stick over fire or fried in a deep pan. I’m going to share my take on my cousin’s recipe, which is fried.

I love to make bannock and use it as a hamburger bun. It makes a simple dinner taste and look gourmet. To be extra fancy (and authentic) I’ll pair the bun with a buffalo burger and juniper berry sauce. It can be served many ways though, even just with peanut butter and jelly.

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To make them add 6 cups of flour to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.

Add in lukewarm water (not hot!), sugar, oil and instant yeast. Slowly mix the ingredients together by bringing the flour from the edges of the bowl into the center.

Add salt about 1/2 way through mixing in the ingredients.

Knead the bread until shiny and elastic. Form into a ball.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Turn the dough around to coat it with oil. Cover and place in a cold oven with the light turned on for 2 hours.

After two hours punch down the dough and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut into the desired size and fry in 2-3 inches of canola oil at 365 degrees until golden brown on both sides.

Bannock
Ingredients
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 cups lukewarm water (not hot!)
  • 2 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 3/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
For frying:
  • 2-3 inches canola oil
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and make a well in the center.

  2. Into the well, add the lukewarm water, sugar, 1 tbsp. of canola oil and instant yeast.

  3. Slowly mix together by pulling the flour from the edges of the bowl into the well. Half way through mixing, add in the salt.

  4. Knead the dough until shiny, smooth and elastic.

  5. Form the dough into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl. Turn the dough around in the bowl to coat it in oil. Cover and place in a cold oven with the light on for 2 hours.

  6. Remove from the cold oven and punch down. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut to desired size.

  7. Fry in 2-3 inches of canola oil at 365 degrees until golden brown on both sides (flip them 2-3 times). Drain on paper towels.

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Moroccan Preserved Lemons

As promised, here is how to make this Moroccan kitchen staple. I made my preserved lemons 4 weeks ago and finally was able to try them in a recipe. I have to say I was not disappointed! The bitterness was gone, but all the lemony flavor remained. These delicious lemons can be used in dishes, dressings, sauces and salads. Best of all, they are incredibly easy to make. The hardest part is waiting a month to eat them.

These lemons are essentially pickled in salt and allowed to ferment in their own juices. The whole lemon is preserved, but typically only the peel is eaten.

Use Meyer lemons. They tend to be less sour and contain more juice. Also, buy organic if you can. Wash and dry them well to remove any dirt and pesticides.

You need a pint sized glass jar and lid. Either reuse an old jar or buy one that is used for canning. Clean the jar and lid well, then boil in water for 10 minutes to ensure it is sterile. (Tip: save about 1 cup of the boiled water in case you do not have enough lemon juice to fill your jar).

Now the prep is all done and it’s time to make this delicious North African condiment.

Use coarse sea salt that does NOT have an anti-caking agent in it. Pour 1 tsp. of salt in the bottom of your sterilized jar.

Slice the tips off the top and bottom of the lemons.

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Slice into quarters, leaving the bottom 1/2 inch intact. In other words, slice only 3/4 of the way through.

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Place 1 tbsp. sea salt inside the lemon.

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Press the lemon into the jar and cover with another tbsp. of salt. Repeat until the jar is full. You want them stuffed in tightly.

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Juice the remaining lemons and add the juice to the jar. If the jar is not full, add boiled (then cooled) water to fill within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

Place on lid and invert jar several times to distribute the salt.

Leave on the counter for three days, inverting several times each day.

After three days, place in the fridge. Invert every few days.

After one month the lemons will be ready to eat.

Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Ingredients
  • 6 Meyer lemons
  • coarse sea salt ensure there are no additives
Instructions
  1. Clean and boil a pint sized glass jar and lid. Set aside to cool. Reserved 1 cup of the boiled water.

  2. Wash and dry the lemons to remove any dirt or pesticides.

  3. Add 1 tsp coarse sea salt to the bottom of the sterilized glass jar.

  4. Cut the tips off of the lemons.

  5. Cut lemons into quarters, but only cut 3/4 of the way through, leaving the bottom intact.

  6. Open the lemon and place 1 tbsp. sea salt inside.

  7. Press lemon into the jar. Add another 1tbsp sea salt on top. Repeat until jar is full.

  8. Juice remaining lemons and add juice to the jar. If it is not full to the top, add the reserved boiled water until within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

  9. Place sterilized lid on jar. Invert to redistribute the salt. 

  10. Leave on your kitchen counter for three days. Invert several times a day.

  11. Move jar to the fridge for a month. Invert every few days. 

  12. After a month, the lemons will be ready to eat. Only the peels are traditionally used.

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The Butter Chicken Bowl. Luncheon Bowl Series Part I.

This blog is the first in a series of scrumptious lunch bowls that are both visually stunning and tasty. “Bowls” have become popular of late, but they are usually made with Acai and other berries. Presentation is a key ingredient when making a bowl and I’ll show you how simple this is.

I haven’t posted a blog in awhile. Life just got…busy. So to make it up to you I’m including three recipes in this post. They all go together or can be used separately. I’m going to show you how to make butter chicken, Indian rice, and a mango chutney (Indian style). Of course, this bowl can be made with plain rice and without the chutney. It will still taste delicious.

Butter chicken was the first Indian dish I tasted. It has no heat so it tends to be liked by everyone. (Of course, you can add a little chili pepper if you want). After my first taste of Indian food I was in love and it continues to be my favorite kind of ethnic food today.

The Butter Chicken:

Melt the butter in a deep skillet and saute the onions until translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add the turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin and garam masala and fry the spices for another minute to release their flavors.

Add the chicken to the skillet and brown. Then add the diced tomatoes, sauce and almond meal. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. (This is when you should start making the rice).

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Remove from heat and stir in the yogurt. Serve with the rice and garnish with chopped cilantro and mango chutney.

The Indian Rice:

This is so easy and enhances the flavor of the dish.

Rinse the rice three times to reduce the amount of starch.

Boil the water with the cumin seeds and whole green cardamom pods. Once boiling, add the basmati rice, stir and return to a boil. Cover, then reduce heat to low for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the water will be completely absorbed and the cardamoms will be on top of the rice. Remove them with a spoon.

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Fluff the rice with a fork.

The Mango Chutney:

This can be made up to a week in advance. It’s also great with samosas.

In a saucepan mix together the vinegar, golden raisins, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt and onion. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

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Add the mango and water and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. I then mash the mango a bit with a potato masher to get the desired consistency.

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Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice. Refrigerate until ready to use.

The Presentation:

In a deep bowl spoon the rice into one side and pat down.

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Into the other side of the bowl spoon in the butter chicken.

Add a dollop of mango chutney on top of the rice.

Garnish with the cilantro.

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Butter Chicken
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger grated
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 tbsp almond meal/ground almonds
  • 1 cup diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup full fat greek yogurt
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, over medium heat melt the butter.

  2. Add the onion to the skillet and saute until translucent.

  3. Add the garlic and ginger to the skillet and saute for one minute.

  4. Add the tumeric, chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, and garam masala to the skillet and fry for 1 minute to release the flavors.

  5. Add the chicken and brown.

  6. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and ground almond meal.

  7. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20-30 minutes.

  8. Remove from heat and stir in Greek yogurt.

  9. Serve with basmati rice (see Indian Rice recipe) and garnish with cilantro and mango chutney.

Indian Rice
Ingredients
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp whole green cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice three times to remove the excess starch.

  2. In a medium saucepan, boil the water with the cardamom and cumin seeds.

  3. Add the rinsed rice and stir. Return to a boil.

  4. Reduce heat to low and cover for 20 minutes.

  5. Remove the cardamom pods from the top of the rice.

  6. Fluff with fork and serve.

Mango Chutney (Indian Style)
Ingredients
  • 1 small onion chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups mango fresh or frozen. Cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan mix together the onion, brown sugar, raisins, vinegar, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, coriander, cumin and salt.

  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

  3. Add the mango and water. Continue to simmer and stir for an additional 10 minutes.

  4. Mash the mango with a fork or potato masher to your desired consistency.

  5. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Sky High Buttermilk Biscuits

These biscuits taste like soft and buttery clouds. This post will explain all the tips, tricks and techniques to get that “perfectly” fluffy, sky high, buttermilk biscuit.

The first key to making biscuits is to have the right flour. Believe it or not, flour differs greatly from region to region. Ever try to follow a baking recipe and have it come out crumbly or tough? This is often the reason why. So do yourself a favor and order a flour from the south where biscuits are the main reason for buying it. It is much softer than the flour sold in the Northeast. I use “White Lily self rising flour” and I bought it for a reasonable price on amazon. (If you substitute in another flour, make sure it says “self rising”.)

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Now get a good quality buttermilk. Yes, you can add lemon juice or vinegar to your milk to make your own. Just remember that the quality of your ingredients affects the quality of the biscuit.

On that note, butter is not all the same either. Try to find a European style butter like Plugra or Kerry Gold. They are sold at most grocery stores. Trust me, you’ll never go back to baking with anything else.

Okay, now that we have discussed the ingredients, let’s talk technique.

You want your biscuit dough to remain as cold as possible. Freeze your butter and then grate it. This will prevent it from fully incorporating into your dough and give you layers.

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Now you’re ready to start. Mix together the flour and butter. Add the buttermilk in four stages and mix in with a fork being careful not to overwork the dough (you are trying to keep the butter from melting into the dough).

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Form the dough into a ball, turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Now you are going to fold it a few time to help create more layers.

Fold over the top 1/3 of the dough into the center.

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Fold the bottom of the dough completely over the first fold.

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Fold over 1/3 of the dough from the left.

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Fold the right side completely over the left fold.

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Roll out again and repeat the folds. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Make sure the dough is not thinner than 1/2 inch or you won’t get “sky high” biscuits.

Using a sharp edged cookie cutter or jar lid, cut the biscuits without twisting the cutter. Twisting seals the edges of the biscuit shut, preventing rising. Alternatively, cut into squares with a sharp knife.

Place the biscuits on a non greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 475 degrees. Some experts say to have the biscuits touching each other so that each biscuit can climb up the sides of the adjacent one as they rise.  I haven’t found that this makes a significant difference, but go ahead and try it.

Now for the final tip that will have your family begging for more! Melt together 1 tbsp. of honey with 1 tbsp. of butter. Brush this mixture onto the top of the biscuits when you remove them from the oven. Your family will think you are a biscuit magician. Enjoy!

Sky high Buttermilk Biscuits
Ingredients
  • 3 cups White Lily self rising flour
  • 3/4 cup butter (European style) frozen and grated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
For brushing on top of baked biscuits:
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Freeze and grate your butter.

  3. Mix butter together with flour in a large bowl.

  4. Add buttermilk in four stages. Lightly mix in with a fork, being careful not to overwork the dough.

  5. Form into a ball and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness on a floured surface.

  6. Fold top 1/3 of dough down to center.

  7. Fold bottom of dough overtop of the first fold.

  8. Fold 1/3 of dough on the left side into the center.

  9. Fold right side of dough completely overtop of the left fold.


  10. Roll out and repeat folds.


  11. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness - NO thinner or your biscuits will come out flat.

  12. Using a sharp cookie cutter or jar lid cut the biscuits without twisting the cutter (twisting would seal down the edges of the biscuit, preventing rising).

  13. Place on an ungreased baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes. Some say that having the biscuits touching aids rising.

  14. Melt together 1 tbsp honey with 1 tbsp. butter. Brush on top of biscuits after removing them from the oven.

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Step by Step Crispy Rice

 

Crispy rice is becoming increasingly popular in fancy restaurants. It’s actually pretty easy to make at home and the crispy bits are delicious. It’s so good, in fact, that my family will no longer eat rice prepared the “North American” way. So be forewarned – kids and adults love this rice A LOT and it may cost you your “easy meal”.

This is a completely different method to prepare rice and it’s a lot of fun to make. First, you want to rinse your basmati rice 2-3 times and then soak it in water (one inch covering) for 2-3 hours. You can soak it for longer if you like, even overnight.

Bring a pot of salted water to a full boil. Drain your rice and add it to the pot. Allow to rice to cook for about 5-7 minutes. You want it to be “mostly done”, but slightly al dente. Drain and run cold water through the rice to stop it from overcooking.

Mix one cup of the cooked rice with an egg yolk.

In a non-stick pot, heat the butter, oil and either turmeric or saffron water. (To make saffron water grind 1 pinch saffron with 1 small pinch sugar and mix in 1/4 cup hot water).

If you want to be fancy, place sliced potato or onion in a single layer on the bottom of the pot.

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Add the egg-rice mixture to the pot and pat down to form a solid layer.

Scoop the remaining rice into a mound on top. If you used saffron water, drizzle some on top of the mound to create some brightly colored rice grains.

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Cover the pot with a double layer of paper towel and cover with a tight sealing lid (careful that the paper towel does not catch fire!)

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Heat on medium for 3 minutes to help crisp the bottom. Then reduce the heat to medium low and steam the rice for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes check the bottom of the rice to make sure it is golden and crispy. If it’s still soft, replace the paper towel and lid and turn the heat up for 3 minutes and recheck.

Scoop the soft rice out of the pot and place on a serving dish. Either carefully lift off the crispy layer or invert the pot to remove.

Here’s how it looks with the crispy layer intact without potato or onion.

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Here’s how it looks with the crispy bits broken up and potato/onions added.

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Enjoy!

Crispy Rice
Ingredients
  • 2-3 cups basmati rice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric may sub 1 tbsp saffron water
  • 1 onion sliced - optional
  • 1 russet potato sliced - optional
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice 2-3 times and then soak in water for a least 2-3 hours. (may soak longer, even overnight)

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil.


  3. Drain and add rice to boiling water. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until almost done or al dente.

  4. Drain rice and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.

  5. Mix one cup of the rice with an egg yolk.

  6. In a non-stick pot melt the butter, oil and turmeric (or saffron water) on medium heat. (To create saffron water grind 1 pinch saffron with 1 small pinch sugar and add to 1/4 cup hot water). 

  7. If using potato and/or onion place in pot in a single layer. Add rice/egg mixture and pat down to form a solid layer.

  8. Scoop remaining rice on top into a mound. If using saffron water, drizzle some on top of the mound to create some brightly colored rice grains.

  9. Cover with a doubled over paper towel and secure with a tight fitting lid. Take care that the paper towel does not catch on fire.

  10. Cook on medium for 3 minutes to help crisp the bottom.

  11. Reduce heat to medium-low for 20 minutes. Check rice. If bottom not crisped increase heat for 3 minutes and recheck.

  12. Scoop out the soft rice onto a serving dish.

  13. Either carefully remove crispy layer with a spatula or invert pot over the serving dish to remove. Enjoy!

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Thanksgiving Candied Yams

Hi everyone, I’m sorry I haven’t posted a recipe in a bit. My little ones got sick…then I got sick and I haven’t been able to cook too much. However, I got back at it last night and put together a little thanksgiving sides recipe. My family always baked their yams for thanksgiving, but my husband likes them candied. So, I adjusted the recipe from the butternut Squash, beans and chicken post and came up with this delicious side. Here’s how to make them:

Peel and cube 3 large yams or sweet potatoes.

In a large skillet melt 3 tbsp. of butter. Add in the spices and brown sugar. Stir to combine.

Add in the cubed yams and toss to evenly coat. Brown the yams on medium heat. This should take about 10 minutes.

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Transfer the browned yams to a oven proof dish. Cover and bake at 400 degrees until fork tender (about 45 minutes).

Serve and enjoy!

Thanksgiving Candied Yams
Ingredients
  • 3 large yams or sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  2. In a large skillet, melt butter on medium heat

  3. Add brown sugar and spices to skillet. Stir to combine

  4. Add cubed yams to skillet. Toss to coat evenly

  5. Brown yams on medium heat. This should take approx. 10 minutes

  6. Transfer browned yams to an oven proof dish. Cover and bake until fork tender (about 45 minutes).

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Spiced Black Rice

You can pair this rice with the Kashmiri chicken or any other meat recipe. This rice makes your kitchen smell heavenly. Sometimes called Yakhni Pulao, this Pakistani rice is flavored with cardamom, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves and cumin seeds. It’s not really made with black rice. It’s made with basmati rice that’s been colored by the heavily caramelized onion.

Both black and green cardamom pods are used to flavor this rice. Black cardamom adds a smoky flavor to the dish where the green cardamom adds a spicy sweet taste. Whole green cardamom pods are available at most grocery stores, but I had to order the black cardamom online. I found it reasonably priced on Amazon.

Please give this recipe a chance. It’s smells and tastes delicious and isn’t hard to make.

In a non-stick pot add the oil and onions. Cook the onions until some of the pieces start to turn dark brown at the edges. Then add the whole spices and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Yes, some of your onions will be dark brown when you’re done.

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Now add the rice and water. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the pot from the heat, leave covered and allow it to rest for another 10 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork, remove the bay leaf and serve. I garnished it with a little cilantro. Enjoy!

Please follow my blog and my facebook page so you don’t miss out on my next recipe.

Spiced Black Rice
Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion chopped in half and thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cups basmati rice
Instructions
  1. Thinly slice your onion and then roughly chop the slices in half

  2. Add the oil to a non-stick pot and cook the onions until the edges of some pieces start to turn dark brown

  3. Add the spices and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes

  4. Add 3 cups of water and the rice to the pot. Stir and cover

  5. Bring to a boil then turn heat down to low. Cook for 15 minutes

  6. Remove pot from heat and let it rest for 10 minutes

  7. Fluff rice with a fork, remove bay leaf and serve.

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Potato and Goat Cheese Croquettes

My goal with this blog is to share recipes that even a novice can cook or bake. My recipes are either fast and easy or can be done in stages. This isn’t by accident. Anyone who has had kids knows that cooking with toddlers presents challenges. My kids won’t tolerate my attention diverted elsewhere for very long. This recipe is takes a little bit of effort, but made in stages it is a snap. I made these potato and goat cheese croquettes over two days.

Day One: I boiled 5-6, peeled and chopped, russet potatoes until tender. I mashed them with a splash of milk, 2 tbsp. butter, 10 oz of goat cheese, sea salt and coarse black pepper. I then fried about a 1/2 lb of bacon and chopped it into small pieces. Why add bacon? Because bacon makes everything taste better! I chopped up 1/4 cup of green onions (I found some AMAZING organic green onions this week). I mixed everything together and then put it in the fridge overnight (this makes it easier to work with).

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Day Two: I beat one egg lightly and mixed it in with my mashed potatoes. Then I set up three bowls: one with flour, one with two beaten eggs, one with plain bread crumbs.

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I made a ping pong sized ball with the potato mixture and rolled it in the flour. Then I rolled it a second time with my hands to incorporate the flour into the ball. I did this step until all the potato mixture was gone.

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Then I slowly rolled the balls in the egg and then the breadcrumbs. I placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Then I took a break.

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Shortly before dinner, I heated up a heavy bottomed pot (I used a cast iron dutch oven) with 2 inches of canola oil to 350 degrees. I fried the croquettes until golden brown, removed them with a strainer spoon and drained them on paper towels. I did this in three batches. Try not to overcook them, the croquettes will split open. They take less than two minutes to cook, so do this step right before you’re ready to eat.

I served the croquettes on a bed of wild arugula with some honey mustard on top. The whole family loved them. This recipe make 2-3 dozen croquettes. Happy cooking!

Potato and Goat Cheese Croquettes

Ingredients
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes
  • splash milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • sea salt to taste
  • coarse black pepper to taste
  • 10 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup bacon chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions chopped
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
Step Two:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
Step Three:
  • canola oil
Instructions
  1. Mix together the mashed potatoes, milk, butter, goat cheese, salt, pepper, bacon and green onions. Chill in the fridge until cold (this makes it easier to work with).

  2. Once chilled, mix in one lightly beaten egg.

  3. Roll into ping pong sized balls and coat with the flour. Roll the balls a second time to incorporate the flour into the potatoes. Continue until all potato mixture is used up.

  4. Gently roll balls in egg and then breadcrumbs. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Chill until ready to cook.

  5. Heat up 2 inches of canola oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 350 degrees. Fry the croquettes in batches until golden brown. Don't overcook and be gentle with them to prevent splitting.

  6. Remove with strainer spoon (they take about 2 minutes to cook) and drain on paper towels.

  7. Serve on a bed of wild arugula and drizzle on some honey mustard dressing for garnish.