It seems that I always buy too many potatoes.  I love them and think that I can go through the 5 pound bag before they start to wrinkle up and get those little root like growths.  It always starts out with a few really good twice baked potatoes, a batch of potato soup, potatoes grilled with onion on the BBQ or a pan of parsley fried potatoes.

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Good Baked Potatoes

Put several weeks later I go to get a couple of my treasured potatoes to mix up with another meal and they’ve lost their charm.

So, I thought… why not bake up half a bag of those lovely large Idaho russets.  Let them cool.  Wrap each in parchment so that I could pluck one from the freezer when the time was right.  Yesterday, I took two potatoes from the freezer, placed them still on the parchment, directly on a large cutting board.  Several hours I took a break from my office to check on my thawing potatoes.  There they were…  resting on a layer of water that was dripping down the side of that large cutting board and leaving a layer of potato water on the counter.  Had I brought out the entire batch of potatoes it could have created a mini water fall.  The potatoes… they were mushy and spongy.  I could have rung one out just like a sponge. Mushy mess to say the least.

 

 

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Banana Bread Failure

This whole ordeal reminds me of the time that I ruined a perfectly good batch of banana bread by trying too hard.  I foolishly decided that more was better.  The batter was mixed, mixed again and mixed the dough with such vigor that when  the little loaves were baked the bread never did rise or brown.  They sort of looked like these lumpy baked potatoes.

 

Not to give up on my frozen bakers, I decided to take another potato from the cooler and try another method.  That’s the potato below with the ice crystals already forming from it reaching the warm air.   The oven was preheated to a hot, very hot 425 degrees and one treasured potato was placed in a ceramic baking dish.  Just in case of the water fall theory, I used a dish with a one inch rim.  This time the result was better but not still perfect.   Or, even close to perfect.  There was a slight layer of water in the bottom of the pan but the potato did not have the same mushy appearance while cooking.  It did take me over an hour to heat/thaw the potato at this extreme temperature.  It’s a good thing I had time to waste.


When finished in the oven at this Arizona Style temperature, the potato was baked crispy on the outside and baked almost through to the center.  There was still a stringy mushy center so it should have stayed in the oven a bit longer.  I almost hate to put my name on these pictures but I would hate for anyone else to get blamed.  I still have at least a dozen more potatoes in the freezer so I’ve not given up the experiment.  Next try will be with a lower oven temperature.  Maybe.

Mr. C is 100% Greek and is always wanting something a little on the Greek side, but not overly Greek’ish. I would never be able to get him to eat something like Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) or Moussaka (similar to a lasagna). He’s talked about sitting around the table at his aunt’s house…. and she would dish his plate up heaping full of his least favorite Greek food and say; “Eat!!..eat!!, you’re too skinny!!” Yet, when it comes to a dish like these Greek style roast potato he’s dishing them up himself plenty.

This is a potato side that is easy to make and flavorful. Use as much or as little seasoning as you desire. Spice and seasoning measures are approximate as most come from sprinkle containers.

Ingredients

5 pounds Red potatoes; quartered
1/2 teaspoon Cavendar’s Greek Spice
1/8 cup Canola Oil; Use Spray Can
4 sprigs Fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt; sprinkled to taste
1 tablespoon Parsley
1/4 teaspoon Pepper; sprinkled to taste
3/4 cup butter melted

Preparation

Add water to 5-quart pan about 1/2 full.  Add salt to water and set on stove at high to begin warming water. This will shorten your cook time.

Rinse potatoes under running water then quarter. Add potatoes to water on stove as you gather a few potatoes on the cutting board. Make sure water covers potatoes when they have all been added to the water. Bring to boil and then turn down to medium heat and simmer/slow boil around 10-15 minutes depending on your elevation. Some areas take longer to cook potatoes than others. Par-boil until just slightly tender. Remove from stove and drain.

Layer skin side down on large low sided roasting pan or heavy cookie sheet (see picture for example). Spray potato tops evenly with canola oil or olive oil. Sprinkle generously with Cavendar’s Greek spice, salt and pepper. Remove fresh rosemary from stem and then chop into smaller bits. Sprinkle over potatoes. Sprinkle dried parsley over potatoes for light covering. Seasoning measures are approximate and all are sprinkled on from the containers.

Cook in 425 degree oven for around 10 – 15 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown slightly and are fork tender. Remove from oven and place in serving dish. Drizzle with melted butter and serve immediately.

Cooking at our house is often food of a Greek nature but closer to the typical foods at the everyday American table but from a Greek influence.

Almost a Date Dinner with KCinAZ tonight was a grilled thick cut beef tenderloin grilled slowly.  While the tenderloin was grilling; we started the gravy with sautéed onions caramelized, mushrooms, port and brown gravy stock were added.  All along, small red potatoes were simmering on the stove top.

 

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Ingredients:

 POTATOES:
8 small Red potatoes; whole
Salt; for water
MUSHROOM GRAVY:
1/2 medium Yellow onion; chopped
2 tablespoon olive Oil
12 ounces Fresh mushrooms; sliced
1 Beef Stock; Knorr Home-style concentrated stock
1/2 teaspoon Greek Spice; Cavendar’s
1 clove garlic; minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup port; make it a good one
1 cup water
1/4 cup McCormick Beef Gravy; Powdered for Thickening
MEDIUM RARE TENDERLOIN:
10 ounces Beef tenderloin; 2″ thick cut steak
1 tablespoon Steak Spice; Use a flavorful one

Preparation

Potatoes:

Place 8 very small whole red potatoes in small saucepan and cover with water.  Add a small amount of salt to the water.  Bring to slow boil and then turn down to simmer.  Continue to simmer until tender.  Cover and turn off heat but leave on stove top where the pan will remain hot.  If the sauce pan has good insulation this will be best to keep the potatoes hot.  This will allow the potatoes to continue to cook but not overcook.  Continue on with starting the gravy and steak as the potatoes cook.

Port Mushroom Gravy:

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Meanwhile, in medium size skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and chopped onions.  Cook while stirring with wooden spoon over medium heat until onions begin to brown and caramelize.  Add butter, mushrooms, Greek spice and minced garlic clove and mix in.  Turn down to medium low heat and continue to sauté until mushrooms are tender and turn golden brown.  Add 1 packet Knorr home-style Stock concentrate (if not available add 2 beef stock cubes) and blend into mushroom saucepan.  Then mix in 1/4 cup or more good Port and let reduce for a few minutes so that the Port absorbs into the mushrooms.  Add water and continue to simmer over medium low heat.  Meanwhile watch the meat that is also cooking until it reaches around 100 degrees on the thermometer.  Then, add enough McCormick’s Brown Gravy mix to thicken the gravy and then turn to low.   Cook slowly until thickened and the grilled meat is cooked to your desired temperature.

Medium Rare Beef Tenderloin:

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Season liberally with your favorite steak rub.  Place on sizzling hot grill and sear for 3-5 minutes per side.  This steak was a 2″ thick cut of tenderloin that was around 5″ long and 3″ wide.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side, do a 1/2 turn keeping on same side and cook another 2 minutes.  Then turn completely over and repeat.  If a thick cut, turn on small sides and sear those sides too for around 2 minutes each.  After searing completely on all four sides, turn down heat to medium high and continue to cook until meat thermometer reaches 120 degrees.  Since the meat will continue to cook it will end up medium rare.

These directions are for a very thick cut of meat.  If yours is say 1″ thick or less you will need to reduce the cooking time per side considerably.   If using a smaller cut of meat then make sure to reduce the cooking time proportionately.  1-2 minutes per side possibly.

Plating the Meal:

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Heat two plates in the microwave for one minute.  Using a ladle, spoon mushroom gravy onto hot plates to create a gravy layer for the meat and potatoes.  Slice the meat against the grain in about 1 – 1 1/2″ slices and place three or more slices of tenderloin on each plate.  Quarter the small potatoes and arrange nicely on top of the gravy.  Sprinkle potatoes with a little parsley garnish.

For Your Date:

Tell your darlin’ or date that dinner is served and it’s not to get cold!  If your date is like my sweet hubby he’s watching the TV waiting for the dinner bell.  Maybe yours will be in the kitchen helping and tasting as dinner is in the making.  Have ready a nice red wine or the port used for the gravy ready to serve and enjoy your date dinner.

If you like this recipe from KCinAZ, then give me a like or comment on this post. 😀  I’ll try to give you more fun recipes.

A favorite at many restaurants, the twice baked potato is easier that it appears to make.  You just need to allow the right amount of time for them to be perfect.  Made for Memorial Day Weekend for a good-sized group of friends.  If you have vegetarian friends, just set aside enough potato mix before adding the bacon and everyone will be happy.

Ingredients
8  Large russet potatoes
8  strips cooked bacon  cut into slivers with scissors
16  ounces sour cream
1  cube butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1  cup shredded Mexican three blend cheese

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Notice the two vegetarian potatoes in the center that do not have bacon on the top.  These potatoes were gigantic huge russets from Costco and took almost 2 hours to cook.  They were probably double the typical size of a standard russet.  If you have smaller potatoes then you will need more potatoes than 8 to go with the other ingredients or you may not need as much butter, cheese or sour cream.

Preparation

Wash and then oil with olive oil each potato.  Then generously sprinkle each potato outside with sea salt.

Bake at 375 until can pierce easily with fork.  Time approx. 1.5-2 hours depending on elevation and size of potatoes.  These potatoes were so big that it took 2 hours until potato felt soft on inside when squeezed lightly.  Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes or until you can handle to touch.

Cut each potato in half with sharp knife.  Scoop out potato inside into large bowl leaving a small amount of potato in the skin.

Reserve the best 8 potato skins to be filled.

Using two knifes, cut  potatoes in the bowl into fluffy bits with like you we’re working with pastry.  Add remaining ingredients a little at a time mixing gently as you go until you reach the right texture of filling.  If you add too much butter or sour cream the potatoes may end up mushy.  (reserving a little cheese and bacon for garnish).

Mix with large spoon until blended but do not over mix.

Fill each potato skin to the top and then heap over top with any remaining potato  mixture so that each potato has about the same amount of filling.  Place filled potatoes onto foil lined cookie sheet; skin side down potato filling up.

Garnish with extra cheese and bacon and could also shake a little paprika on top for extra coloring.

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Optional: chives in filling and parsley for garnish.

Cook in 325 oven for 30 min in middle if oven until cheese is fully melted and potato is completely heated through.

If you want the top browned then broil on high at top of oven for 2-3 minutes.