Category Archives: potato

Dill Pickle Soup

photo 3-51

It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Depending upon your obsession with all things pickled, you are either going to love this soup or hate it.  My husband, who avoids everything that has been bathed in vinegar, is not a fan. I, however, love this soup.  Yes, it is different but then again variety is the spice of life.  More importantly, this soup is ridiculously easy to make.  I was intrigued by the recipe the first time I came across it on the Noble Pig website and when I came across a giant jar of Vlasic pickles that needed to be used up, I just knew I was going to have to try this soup.  So if you love or even like dill pickles, give this soup a try.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.


5 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 cups finely chopped carrots

1 cup diced dill pickles

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup water

2 cups dill pickle juice

1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • In a large pot, combine the broth, potatoes, carrots, and butter.  Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.
  • Add the pickle and continue to simmer for a few minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sour cream, and water to make a paste.
  • Vigorously whisk the sour cream paste into the soup two tablespoons at a time.  You might initially see some small balls of flour but between the whisking and the boiling they will all disappear.
  • Add the pickle juice, Old Bay, pepper, and cayenne.  Taste and if needed, add a small amount of salt.  Cook for 5 additional minutes then remove from the heat.
  • Serve immediately garnished with pickle slices, fresh dill, and black pepper.

Serves 6-8

Potato & Cheese Pierogi

My earliestmemories include watching my Polish nana pinching pierogi in the kitchen. Standing there in one of her apron covered housecoats, her fingers would fly as she grasped the palm sized bits of dough pockets and swiftly secured their fillings inside.  As kids we would eat meat filled ones boiled with ketchup.  The holidays called for fancier versions, mushrooms, onions, and potatoes took the place of ground meat and these special pierogi would be fried in butter and served with sautéed onions. Nana never shared her recipe and as far as I know she took it too her grave.  In college I dated a Polish man.  His babci wore the same housecoats and had the same pierogi pinching technique as my nana.  Like my nana, she never shared her recipe but she did introduce me to the sweet version of this Polish treat.  Plums, blueberries or even apples were staples in her household.  My relationship with this boyfriend probably lasted as long as it did because of her pierogi.
This version from Fine Cooking Magazine is close to the pierogi of my childhood. I was pleasantly surprised at my results.  I need to practice my pierogi pinching technique but I think even my nana would approve of the results.
For the filling:
1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil (I used olive oil)
3 medium white or yellow onions, finely chopped
10 ounces farmers cheese
For the dough:
7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups warm water
For cooking and serving:
1-1/2 Tbs. butter or 3 Tbs. vegetable oil, for sautéing (optional)
melted butter, sautéed pancetta, sautéed onions or sour cream and snipped chives for serving (optional)

To make the filling:

  • Put the potatoes in a pot with just enough cold salted water to cover them and boil until soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter with the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes.  Lower the heat and continue cooking until the onion is nicely browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. You may need to add 1 tablespoon or more of additional butter, as the mixture will absorb quite a bit of fat. Set aside to cool.  
  • When the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander and press lightly with a dry kitchen towel to dry them thoroughly. Return the potatoes to their hot pot and shake them dry.
  • Remove the pot from the heat; add the cooled onion mixture and the cheese. Mash the ingredients until they’re well blended and there are no more potato lumps; you may want to use a stiff whisk. Season  with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool while you roll out the pierogi dough.
To make the pierogi dough:
  • Put the flour in a large bowl.  Add the butter and using your fingers, work it into the flour until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal.  Add 1 3/4 cups of the warm water and stir with your fingers until the mixture begins to come together.  If the mixture is dry, you can add up to 1/4 cup more warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a shaggy yet cohesive mass.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and gently knead it until just soft and elastic; the dough will not be completely smooth, but it should be easy to shape, with a Play-Doh-like consistency.

To shape and fill the pierogi

  • Fill a large pot with 5 qt. water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, using lightly floured hands, pinch of one tablespoon portions of the dough and roll them into balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. You should end up with 36 to 40 balls. With a small rolling pin or dowel, gently roll out each ball into a 3 to 3-1/2-inch round about 1/8 inch thick on a well-floured surface. Keep the dough balls and disks covered as you work so they won’t dry out.
  • Hold a round of dough flat in your palm, dust off the excess flour, and spoon a generous tablespoon of the filling onto the center of the dough. Fold the round in half to enclose the filling. Seal the pierogi by pulling the edges away from the filling and pinching them together. To ensure a proper seal, pinch the edge shut once more, working from one end to the other. Set the filled pierogi on a floured work surface or baking sheet and cover with a dry towel or plastic wrap until all are filled. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

To cook the pierogi:

  • When the pot of water is boiling, drop the pierogi in batches into the boiling water, stirring occasionally. When they float to the top, cook for another 2 to 4 minutes; bite into one to check that there’s no chalky line. Remove cooked pierogi from the water with a spider or slotted spoon and put them in a bowl. If you like, serve them immediately with melted butter.
  • To sauté the pierogi, heat the butter or vegetable oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Without crowding the pan, add the boiled, drained pierogi and cook until golden brown and puffy on both sides. Season with a little salt and pepper, and serve with sour cream and chives, if desired.

Potato Pancakes w/ Rosemary Infused Pears

This is an oldie but goodie that has become a family favorite.

The most memorable meal during our recent trip to Bavaria was an impromptu lunch eaten on the top of the Zugspitze.  We had taken shelter from the snow squall in a glass walled cafe and ordered off of a poorly translated menu.  Much to my delight this is what the waitress brought to our table:

My inspiration eaten at the top of the Zugspitze

The potato pancake was light and crispy and smothered in melted Gruyere cheese.  The sauteed pears that accompanied the pancake had been infused with fresh rosemary.  I immediately began to think about how I could recreated this dish at home.  Although it isn’t exactly the same, my resulting dish was just as tasty.  To appease my meat loving family I served this with some leftover spiral cut ham that I fried in a bit of olive oil.  I also reheated the previous night’s Swiss cheese fondue and served a dollop of the melted cheese on top of the pancakes.  Served with a sparkling white wine, the resulting meal was a perfect light dinner.


For the pears:

4 large ripe (but not too soft) pears
3 large sprigs fresh rosemary
3 or more tablespoons apple or pear juice, or water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg

  • Peel, core, and slice the pears.
  • Place in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan
    with two tablespoons of juice or water.  Add
    the rosemary and salt.
  • Cover the pot and cook over medium heat
    until the pears are fork tender –or cooked to
    your likeness.  Watch the pot carefully, adding more liquid as necessary to keep the fruit moist.
  • When done, remove the rosemary sprigs from the pan.  Sprinkle with the nutmeg.

For the latkes:

1 lb potatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  • Using the largest holes of a box grater, shred the potatoes
    into a large bowl.
  • Add the salt and pepper, toss to combine, and let the
    potatoes sit for 5 minutes.
  • Using your hands, squeeze all of the liquid from the
  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet.
  • Once the oil is shimmering, drip the potato mixture by large
    handfuls into the oil.  Quickly spread the potato mixture to
    form a flat pancake.
  • Cook for 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are crisp and
    brown.  Adjust the heat to make sure the potatoes don’t cook too quickly.   Using a spatula, flip the pancakes over and continue to cook for an additional 6-8 minutes.
  • Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack in a 250 degree oven until all of the pancakes have been cooked.


My version

Dijon Potato Salad



Are you looking for the perfect side dish for your backyard cookout this summer? Are you going to a pot luck and want an easily portable yet tasty dish to bring? Are you like me and hesitant to serve a mayonnaise ladened dish to an outdoor meal? If so, then this tangy potato salad is the dish you’ve been looking for.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma, this Dijon potato salad packs a punch without being overpowering. A generous serving of parsley adds brightness and a bit of crunch to the salad as well. The dressing is vinegar based so there isn’t any worry about the salad spoiling. And, because it can be served either cold or at room temperature (I prefer room temperature), it doesn’t take up much needed space in the refrigerator. What more do you need?


2 pounds small, round red-skinned potatoes, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover.

Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper until blended.

When the potatoes are ready, drain them into a colander.

When they are cool enough to handle, quarter them and add them to the dressing.

Add the parsley folding gently to distribute the all of ingredients evenly.

Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6


Shepherd’s Pie


Today is Saint Patrick’s Day and today, regardless of your ancestry, everyone is Irish. So what better way to celebrate the day with a bit of Irish comfort food. I first ate Shepherd’s pie in my elementary school cafeteria. There is was a bland plateful of unseasoned meat topped with instant potatoes. I wasn’t impressed and therefore avoided the dish for years. But then years later, sitting in an Irish pub in Boston, Massachusetts on Saint Patrick’s Day I tried it again and discovered what the dish is supposed to taste like. And I loved it.

This recipe from Epicurious features ground lamb, onions and carrots cooked in a rich broth. A layer of tender corn kernels are then topped with real mashed potatoes. The results are a satisfying and comforting dish that the entire family will love. If you will be pressed for time, you can assemble the dish ahead of time then pop it in the oven when you are ready to put dinner on the table. If it has been sitting in the refrigerator, let the dish come to room temperature before baking and increase the cooking time by ten minutes.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 pound ground lamb

1 cup beef broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley

2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary

1 cup corn kernels

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

Paprika, for dusting

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Warm the oil in a large skillet, set over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion, carrot and lamb. Cook until browned, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain off any fat and add the broth, tomato paste, parsley and rosemary to the skillet. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 additional minutes.
  • Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
  • Top with the corn and set aside.
  • While the meat is cooking, bring the potatoes to a boil in a pot of salted water.
  • Cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain.
  • Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk and salt.
  • Spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the meat and corn.
  • Sprinkle with the paprika.
  • Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  • Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6


Meat & Stout Pie w/ Blue Cheese Crust


Tis the season when everyone is a wee bit Irish so why not celebrate with food?

For me, pot pies are the ultimate in winter comfort food. Chicken and turkey are my usual fillings but since my family eats a lot of beef stew I began playing with making a beef pot pie that was reminiscent of meat pies I’ve enjoyed in Great Britain. And I found success. If a rich beef stew is good, it is even better when encased in a flaky crust. But I didn’t stop there. In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day I adapted this pot pie from Williams Sonoma into an Irish tribute. Both beef and lamb and slow cooked in a rich Guinness Stout broth which infuses the entire meal with flavor. And best of all, it is topped off with a blue cheese crust. Yum.

I’m not going to lie; this is a time consuming dish to make. But you can do as I often do and make this dish is two steps over two days. The filling and dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the pot pies and eat them. Simply reheat the filling until it is hot and bubbling then fill the pie dishes and proceed as directed. By doing this, you can easily serve up hot pie pies as a fast weeknight meal.


For the meat filling:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, quartered

1 cup pearl onions, peeled

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pound lamb roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 1/2 cups Irish stout, divided

1 cup beef broth

1 cup carrots, cut into chunks

2 cups red potatoes, cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely minced

One 16-inch round blue cheese pastry

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms, onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned and softened. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
  • Place the flour and remaining salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Dredge the beef and lamb in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pot. When the oil is hot add half of the meat and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer the meat to a separate bowl.
  • Add 1/4 cup of the Guinness Stout to the pot, stirring to scrape up any brown bits. Pour the liquid into the reserved meat.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining oil, meat and 1/4 cup of stout.
  • Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
  • Add the meat, reserved liquid, remaining stout and beef broth the the pot, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.
  • Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is very tender, about 3 hours.

For the crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/3 cup ice water

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

  • In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and sugar until blended.
  • Add in the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal; about 10 pulses.
  • Add the water and pulse an additional 2 to 3 times. The dough should be soft and hold together when squeezed but not sticky. If necessary, add additional water, by the tablespoon, until the dough is the right texture.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands a few times. Shape into a disk, wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and place on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll into a rough 12 by 16 inch square.
  • Sprinkle the blue cheese over half of the  dough then fold the other half over the cheese. Roll the dough again until it it is 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

To assemble the pot pies:

  • Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place 4 2-cup oven proof ramekins on a rimmed baking dish and fill each one with the meat mixture.
  • Using a sharp paring knife and your baking dishes as a guide, cut out 4 circles of dough, adding 1/2 inch to each piece of dough.
  • Place the dough on top of each pot pie, crimping the edges to form a seal.
  • Cut 3 or 4 silts into the top of each pie.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until the tops are browned and flakey.
  • Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Yields: 4 2-cup pot pies

Gratin Dauphinoise


So simple yet so delicious. That is the only way I can describe these cheesy and creamy potatoes from Food 52. So simply because you simply combine the ingredients, pop them in the oven and with the exception of a few stirrings, forget about them. And while the potatoes cook your entire house will fill with the fragrance of them roasting and bubbling away. It gives you the time to prepare the rest of your dinner—grilled steak is particularly good with this dish— or do nothing at all. In the end you’ll be rewarded with a delicious side dish that just make you want to skip the main course all together!


clove garlic, peeled and halved3 cups milk

3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin (a mandoline works well for this)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2teaspoons coarse sea salt

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

1 cup grated Comté or other aged hard cheese

1/2cup crème fraîche

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the inside of a large ceramic gratin dish with the garlic.
  • Arrange the potatoes in an even layer in the dish.
  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the milk, eggs and salt then pour the mixture over the potatoes.
  • Sprinkle generously with pepper.
  • Bake, occasionally cutting the crust that forms on top and gently folding it into the potatoes, until the gratin is golden, about 55 minutes.
  • Remove the gratin dish from the oven and sprinkle with the grated cheese, then dab the gratin with crème fraîche.
  • Return the dish to the oven and bake until the top is very crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.
  • Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 Serves 8

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