Hot Potato!

Hello! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. I spent it in one of my favorite places- the kitchen. Yesss!

This week in school was all about potatoes. Here are some interesting takeaways I learned from my reading.

  • Did you know potatoes are both a vegetable and starch (Gisslen, 2018)?
  • To prevent oxidation, the potatoes from turning brown or gray, soak them in cold water immediately after cutting them (Gisslen, 2018).
  • Did you know there are many different colors of potatoes? Blue, purple, pink, red, brown, and yellow (Gisslen, 2018)?
  • If there are any green areas on the potatoes, it should be cut off. It contains a substance called solanine, which has a bitter taste and is considered poisonous (Gisslen, 2018).

I learned four different knife cuts: bâtonette, brunoise, julienne, and small dice. The bâtonette is a 1/4” x 1/4” x 2” cut. I had to first cut the potato into a rectangular block. Then use a fancy culinary metric ruler to cut the block into 1/4” slices. Then cut again into 1/4” sticks. Next, I took the bâtonette sticks and cut them into 1/4” cubes, aka the small dice cut. I cut another potato into a rectangular block to prepare for my next cut, julienne. The measurements of that cut are 1/8” x 1/8” x 2”. After cutting the block into 1/8″ slices, the final cut I performed was the brunoise cut, which is cutting the julienne sticks into 1/8” cubes.

It was an exciting experience to learn and master these new knife cuts. The culinary ruler was a huge help in measuring the potatoes precisely. That tool will come in handy going forward.

The featured dish is a pommes purée, which is similar to mashed potatoes. It’s a bit more fluid and translucent. It’s not fluffy as mashed potatoes, but still has that whipped, smooth, and creamy consistency. The purée had minimal ingredients and steps, but was a difficult dish to make. The first attempt at making the dish resembled a mashed potato texture. That wasn’t what I wanted. Fortunately, I had extra potatoes to try again.

I analyzed what I could do differently as I remade the dish. I cooked the potatoes a little longer. They needed to be tender, but not to the point of disintegrating. After the potatoes are strained from the boiled/simmered water, they are to dry for a bit before they are put into a food mill or mesh strainer. I let the potatoes dry for about five minutes, compared to 10-15 minutes in my prior attempt. The initial endeavor led to difficulty mashing the potatoes through the mesh strainer (I don’t have a food mill [yet]). They were probably too dry and had hardened. During the second try, the potatoes weren’t entirely dry yet, and therefore, it was a bit easier to mash through the strainer. Yay! I know that using a food mill, which was optional, would have made the mashing process a lot easier. Unsalted room temperature butter and warm heavy cream were added to the mashed potatoes. I mixed it as lightly and quickly as possible to avoid over-mixing that would create a “gummy” texture. The dish is seasoned with salt and pepper.

Phew! I’m glad the dish was better the second time around. You might have wondered what I did what all that extra potatoes? I made mashed potatoes and used it to make shepherd’s pie. Yum! It was a busy and tiring weekend in the kitchen, but worth every second. I enjoy cooking very much and am so glad to have this opportunity to learn more about culinary arts in an educational setting.

Happy new week,

FS x

References

Gisslen, W. (2018). Professional cooking, 9th ed. Wiley.

Wear Green; Don’t Get Pinched!

Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day! I hope everyone had a safe and fun celebration despite us still being in a pandemic. The pandemic in Hawai’i is improving. Bars recently have gotten the green light to reopen again. Of course, with precautions and abiding by CDC guidelines. We have a few Irish pubs in the downtown/Chinatown area that were happy to open in time for St. Patty’s Day.

It’s tradition in my family to eat fresh corned beef and cabbage (see featured image), plus carrots and potatoes during the week of St. Patty’s Day. Yum! My dad makes the best Irish meal. I always look forward to eating this. It’s so delicious! I love drizzling mustard all over my dish. Perfecto!

In an article I read on Martha Stewart’s website, the Irish actually eat bacon (aka ham) and cabbage (Vaughn, 2020). Corned beef became a popular ingredient to this staple dish because it was cheaper than bacon back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the Irish came to America (Vaughn, 2020). Very logical. Well, I’d take fresh corned beef over ham. I’m not so much of a ham and pork person.

I wear green on March 17th to avoid getting pinched. I also have shamrock earrings and a necklace that I’m always excited to sport during this time of year. It’s said that leprechauns are a reason why people wear green on St. Patty’s (Davidson, n.d.). The tradition says wearing green makes you undetectable to the leprechauns, as they like to pinch anyone they can see (Davidson, n.d.). Those rascals! Some people believe the color green will bring good luck, while others wear it pay tribute to their Irish heritage (Davidson, n.d.).

Happy Spring! May this season blossom with new beginnings, new goals, new dreams, and new life.

Bloom where you’re planted,

FS x

References:

Davidson, R. (n.d.). St. Patrick’s day. https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/celebrations/article/st-patricks-day

Vaughn, K. (2020). How corned beef and cabbage became a St. Patrick’s day staple. https://www.marthastewart.com/7690010/corned-beef-cabbage-st-patricks-day-history

Mmm, slow cookers are one of the best inventions ever!

Mama mia! Why haven’t I taken advantage of slow cookers more often in the past? I absolutely love it! My dad would occasionally make dinners in the Crock Pot and it would be soo delicious!

So, one weekend, I decided to make one of my dad’s Crock Pot dishes- chicken with Cream of Mushroom soup sauce. I added frozen mixed veggies, carrots, potatoes, and onions. Yum! I wanted to test out the slow cooker. Before I started my busy afternoon of errands, I put all of the ingredients in the Crock Pot and set the cooker to low for eight hours.  I started with the vegetables first. Chopped them up and put them in the pot. Then added chicken thighs and breasts, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with thyme, pepper, garlic and pepper seasoning, and Hawaiian salt. Finally, I added the Cream of Mushroom soup and diluted it with a little bit of water, so it wouldn’t be so thick. Stirred it to get the sauce evenly in the pot, covered it, set the timer, and left for the long day ahead.

When I returned home in the evening- violà! The chicken came out so tender and the dish amazing! This was served with egg noodles. Yummy! It was such a simple and easy dish. Just typing this and reminiscing at these pictures are making me hungry. I gotta go! Haha!

Have a great week!

~FS