Mashed Potato Waffles?

Yes, that's right, mashed potato waffles!  This recipe is yet another Pinterest find.  It's been waiting out there on my "Sides" board for months waiting until we had some left-over mashed potatoes!  Guess what?  Last night I made a roast and mashed potatoes so this morning we had some left-over mashed potatoes and I could finally try this recipe!



Here is a link to the recipe:
Mashed Potato Cheddar and Chive Waffles

I think the recipe had me with browned butter.  Who doesn't love ANYTHING with browned butter in or on it?  A little butter is browned and mixed with egg and buttermilk.  I didn't have any buttermilk in the house so I made my own with a little vinegar and milk.  The left over mashed potatoes and some chives are added to this, and finally the dry ingredients, a little flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pepper.  The recipe called for a little garlic powder.  I left that out but I'm sure it would be delish!

The batter is pretty thick which had me a little nervous about how it would cook up in the waffle iron.



The pictures in the recipe are of cute little round waffles.  I didn't want to have to wait that long for breakfast so I started with two dollops per round.  My waffle iron only makes one waffle at a time. I do have a nicer, double waffle iron on my Amazon wish list if anyone is dying to buy me a nice spendy gift!  Until then, we'll just do this!


The waffles took about the same amount of time as any waffle batter.  They did mush together in the waffle iron but that was ok.  They were a beautiful golden brown!


How did they taste?  We loved them!  They had a mashed potato/hash brown flavor from the browning in the waffle.  The chives gave them a little brightness.  They were crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside!


The recipe called for melting cheddar cheese on the top.  Neither my hubby or I thought that sounded good so I skipped that step too.  I put the cheese on the omelet instead.  I asked Dave if he wanted syrup and he said he'd contemplated that but it didn't sound right, neither did the left over gravy.  We both agreed they were perfect just plain!  


This is how I'm going to use up left over mashed potatoes from now on!

Crackers!

If you know me, or read this blog with any frequency, you know I like to make bread.  I very rarely buy bread anymore, including things like English muffins and hamburger buns.  I've found some great recipes that are so easy (and so cheap!) why would I buy them.

I do still buy crackers.  I love the Potter's Crackers they sell at The Golden Fig in St. Paul and both my hubby and I love the Sesmark rice crackers.

I don't remember where I first saw the recipe for "Olive Oil Crackers" but I immediately Pinned it.  I knew I would want to try and make these.

I've made them twice, why will be come apparent in a bit!

Here is a link to the recipe:
Olive Oil Crackers

These are pretty simple to whip together, mix some flour, baking powder, olive oil and water in a bowl and knead it a little bit.

I chose to use my garlic infused olive oil from The Olive Grove Olive Oil Company.  


The recipe is in metric units so I've converted for you here!

250 grams of flour is about 9 ounces.



125 ml of water is about 1/2 a cup.



220C is about 428F.

The dough comes together very easily.  Once you have the dough you portion it off in "walnut" sized pieces and roll them into thin "tongues."





They are then brushed with more olive oil, sprinkled with salt and baked until crispy, 6-8 minutes.




The first time I made them I rolled them by hand.  I got them all fairly thin, but they weren't all completely uniform.  They baked up fine and I will say they tasted pretty good!  I served them with some yummy Deena's Hummus.



But I thought I could do better!  What if I used my pasta roller attachment for my Kitchenaid to roll the crackers out?  Then they would all be exactly the same thickness and I could get them thinner than if I rolled them by hand.


I rolled them to a 6 on my pasta roller and to be honest I think I could have gone to even a 7 or 8.  Because I knew what the plain crackers tasted like, this time I added cracked black pepper to a third of the batch and chopped rosemary (and used my Rosemary Infused EVOO from Olive Grove on those!) to another third, the rest I left plain.



Yes, they were better this time!  I really liked the flavored crackers too.  They stayed crispy in a zip top bag for a couple days (that's as long as they lasted!).  These were fun and easy and I'll definitely make them again. 






My new favorite appetizer! Focaccia di Recco

A week or so ago I was in San Diego for a  work conference.  Trust me there are worse places to have to be for work!  The weather was absolutely perfect and I got to visit some great restaurants.

One evening we decided to walk to the Little Italy area.  It's not quite as cool as Little Italy in San Francisco, but fun nevertheless.  We found a cute restaurant called Davanti.  They had a back patio so we could sit outside and after perusing the menu posted there was definitely something we each thought we would like for dinner.

Davanti serves each meal as it's finished in the kitchen.  So if everyone orders their own meal, well, you're going to eat at different times!  I don't know if the kitchen was so tiny they couldn't get a table's worth of food out or if they were just too lazy to figure out how to do that, or if they just thought it was cool to serve whatever got finished whenever it got finished, no matter how many people were at the table.  But we were warned about this by our waitress and she suggested we get things to share if we wanted to all be able to eat at the same time.  So that's what we did.

The first thing we ordered was by far my favorite!  It was called Focaccia di Recco with honeycomb and it was amazing!  The description was a "Ligurian style baked focaccia with fresh soft cow cheese."  That didn't tell me much but our waitress said it was one of her favorites.  So you don't have to Google it too, Linguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy.


When I think of focaccia I think of a thicker bread topped with olive oil and herbs good for dunking in my favorite olive oil.  This was different.  It was a very thin, crispy bread with cheese in the middle.  We couldn't figure out how they got the cheese in the middle!  And we weren't really sure what the cheese was but it was really good, very creamy, slightly sweet, a bit like a goat or marscapone cheese.  The bread was lightly salted and served with a chunk of honeycomb.  It was a perfect combination of flavors and textures, crispy slightly salty bread with creamy slightly sweet cheese topped with honey.  I could have eaten the whole thing!

So, of course, when I got home I had to figure out what it was and how to make it.  I found this recipe complete with video.
Focaccia di Recco

The bread part is pretty easy.  The cheese, that was the trick.  According to this recipe (and several others I found) the cheese that is used in focaccia di recco is called Crescenza or Stracchino.  I figured I would have no trouble finding the cheese living so close to Cosetta and Buon Giorno.  I shouldn't be so cocky.  We started at Cosetta.  They carry it but were out.  It was a Sunday and Buon Giorno was closed.  We tried Morelli's market in St. Paul.  No luck.

So to Byerly's we went, hopeful but not confident we would find it there.  We are lucky we know the manager of the cheese area of our local Byerly's really well and she happened to be working, maybe our luck was turning?  I asked her about the cheese and she said they had just put in an order for their "holiday cheese" but they didn't have any on hand.  She offered to special order me some and I took her up on that!  In the meantime, I needed a substitute.

According to Google, there are several possible substitutes, one being Taleggio.  Byerly's had that.  If they didn't I was going to go with a goat or marscapone cheese.

I didn't get to making the focaccia on Sunday (the day we did all the running around) but I did make it the very next day!  I decided to just make half a batch since it was just the two of us.

The dough is easy, flour, water, olive oil, mix.  



The dough will appear too dry but keep mixing and a nice soft dough forms.





While the dough was resting I prepared the rest of our dinner.  After the hour rest the dough is cut in half.  The first half is rolled very thin, so thin you can almost see your hand through it.

The recipe says to put the dough in a 10" round pan that has been brushed with olive oil.  I don't have a 10" round pan so I just decided to put it on one of my baking stones.  This stone is at about 15" in diameter.  Half the dough, rolled thin, filled this stone.  I wondered... did I roll it too thin?  Is their 10" pan really bigger than that?  They do cut off some excess in the video, maybe that's where the extra dough went?  But I made a HALF batch.  It's a mystery.

I topped the first layer of dough with dollops of the cheese then rolled out the other piece and placed it on top.  I poked holes in it to let the steam out, brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled it with a little salt and it was ready to go in the oven.




The recipe said to bake it at 400-450, I opted for the 450 and it took almost 20 minutes to bake.  It came out beautifully browned and smelled delicious (I love baked cheese!).

I topped it with a little honeycomb I had picked up at The Golden Fig and a little basil then sliced it up.




Was it as good as what I had in San Diego?  Heck no!  How could you possibly beat sitting outside on a warm fall evening with good company, eating a focaccia di recco prepared by someone else, never mind the nice glass of red wine I had with it?

Was it good?  Heck yea!  My husband at three pieces!  The taleggio cheese was very good, though different from what was used at Davanti. It wasn't as creamy, or as sweet.  The bread was good but in all honesty I think I would like it thinner.  Which means a half batch is plenty!


So next time I'm going to change some things up.  I'm going to use the Stracchino cheese.  I'm going to roll the dough even thinner and I'm not going to pop so many holes in it (I don't remember there being holes in the one in SanDiego and I think there will be less "baking" and more "melting" of the cheese that way), I'm going to preheat my stone in the oven so it bakes faster and I'm going to bump the temperature up to 500.  I bake my pizzas at 500 and I get a nice, crispy crust that way.  So watch this space for my next attempt!  I'm patiently (not) waiting for that call that my cheese came in!

Mmmm Curried Sweet Potato Soup!

It's soup season!  I love soup.  It's an easy lunch to pack.  It fills me up.  And most importantly it warms me up.  I'm always cold!  

This soup sounded amazing. AND... I just purchased a new blender and I wanted to use it. Yes, find a recipe to match the gadget!  

I've been "blenderless" for years.  I do have a stick blender and it works fine most of the time but when you want a really good puree or you are in a hurry, well, you need a blender!  I did some research and decided I didn't need the $400 Vitamix but I was willing to shell over $200 for the Breville Hemisphere.  Isn't it pretty?


OK, the soup.  Here is a link to the recipe:
Curried Sweet Potato Soup

This recipe appealed to me for several reasons.  I love sweet potatoes and it was going to have a good kick!

It called for poblano peppers which, luckily are getting more and more easily found.  I found this beauty (along with a few more) at my local farmer's market.  While the sweet potatoes are baking I "roasted" the pepper.  This can be done under the broiler or over an open flame.  I picked.... open flame of course!




Once the pepper is well roasted it is steamed in a plastic bag to make it easier for the skin to come off.



While all that was happening I sauteed a very aromatic mixture of onions (yes, I needed my goggles), curry paste, ginger, cayenne pepper and once cooled and chopped, the poblano pepper.  This smelled SO good!




After the onions are softened the potatoes (now baked, cooled a little and chopped in big pieces) are added along with a little vegetable stock.  I used up the last of my homemade stock so I will have to make more soon!

After about 20 minutes it's time to puree the soup.  Now the recipe said to leave some chunks and normally I would do just that?  What's better in potato soup than a nice chunk of potato!  But I had my new blender and I wanted a puree!


The Breville did a fantastic job!


Now I had been tasting all along to check for salt level so I knew this soup had more than just a little kick.  The recipe says to garnish with swirls of chili paste, yogurt, parsley and spicy Hungarian paprika.  I opted for just a little sour cream this time.  Next time I'm going to add the paprika.  I have some in the house, a smoky variety that I think will go deliciously with this soup!


P.S.  I LOVE the blender!  Not only because it did a bang up job on this soup.  It is INCREDIBLY easy to clean!  No removing the blade or washers that just end up getting yucky.  It's all one piece.  What to make next.....

Perfect Fall Appetizer - Pumpkin Bruschetta

I love bruschetta.  What's not to like?  Good bread, olive oil and yummy toppings.  I've topped those tasty pieces of bread with lots of different things, meats and cheeses, tomatoes and basil, fruit and cheese, but never pumpkin so I just had to try this recipe.

Here is a link:
Pumpkin Bruschetta

Like all bruschetta recipes, this one is a snap to put together.  I picked up a pumpkin at Farmer's Market, chopped it up (that's not easy!), tossed it with a little olive oil and put it in a nice hot oven to roast.


While that was roasting I toasted the pine nuts, sliced up the bread, shaved the Parmesan and sliced up the green onions.  The recipe never said what to do with the pine nuts but I like them so I toasted them and threw them on top too!




Once the pumpkin was roasted and nice and caramelized, I toasted up the bread and added the toppings.



I then drizzled each piece with a little balsamic seasoning from Cavalli.  I didn't make the syrup because I knew I had this amazing balsamic seasoning in the house.



This was delicious!  Sweet pumpkin, crunchy nuts and onions, tangy balsamic on perfectly toasted bread.  I will definitely make this again.  The only change?  I'll probably just use butternut squash instead of pumpkin.  It's far easier to prep!




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