New Year’s Resolution – Finish What You Start: Bleu Cheese Mashed and Potato Pancakes

whole foods yukon gold potatoes

Light Fluffy and Bleu Cheesy

Some people have a hard time finishing things. I, myself, have added ‘finish the books I start’ to my list of New Year’s Resolutions. It just happens – maybe you grew bored of the thing you’ve started or maybe you think it’s taking too long to get to the good parts of 50 Shades of Grey – whatever the reason, certain tasks just aren’t completed.

It’s hard to believe that this could happen with something as delectable as mashed potatoes. But it does. You made too much of the stuff. You didn’t know that some of your dinner guests are strict carnivores or veggie-free. They don’t eat side dishes. They didn’t show. Or, God forbid, they just don’t like potatoes!

Regardless of how it happened, you might find yourself left with a bowlful of cold, rapidly aging mashed potatoes in your fridge following such a party.

If you’re like most Americans…You’ve probably had a mashed potato or two in the past four weeks. One way to avoid having leftover mashed potatoes is to doctor them up a bit – make something unexpected out of the expected.

Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes (Serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes – washed and quartered…no need to peel
  • 1/2 Cup of Breakstone’s Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 6 TBSP of butter
  • 8 oz of crumbled bleu cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water – enough water so that the water is at least two inches higher than the potatoes

Note: If, like most of us…You want to get ahead and cut the potatoes early…Just keep them in a large stock pot covered with ice water – this will keep them from turning an icky brown color

2. Bring the pot of potato filled water to a boil

Whole Foods yukon Gold potatoes

Bringing to a boil

3. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender – about 15 minutes

4. In a separate saucepan, heat the cream and butter

bleu cheese mashed potatoes

Heating the Cream and Butter

5. Drain the potatoes and then place them back into the still hot stock pot. This helps to steam the extra water out of the potatoes so you don’t get watery mashed potatoes

6. Using a masher, ricer or fork, mash the potatoes to your own desired consistency – I like ’em pretty smooth

Williams-Sonoma Potato Masher

This one’s from WS

Potato Ricer

From Wolfgang Puck

7. While mashing, ricing or forking, add the warmed milk/butter and whip in

8. Add in the sour cream and bleu cheese and mix until well combined

9. Add salt and pepper to taste

10. Serve immediately OR (thank you, Rachael Ray) you can put the mashed bleu cheese potato mixture in a separate bowl, cover and place over a bowl of simmering water on the stove top and keep warm for up to an hour or more. Shut the front door!

Now….In spite of how fab and different this potato dish was…it’s the next day and your lame non-mashed potato eating friends couldn’t finish this tasty side dish. Sure, you could toss the extra mashed potatoes…But in the spirit of the New Year and finishing what you start…Get creative and make…

Potato Pancakes (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Whatever left over mashed potatoes you have, but at least 2 1/2 cups with ratio of other ingredients below
  • 1/3 Cup of Breakstone’s Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup of Bisquick Baking Mix
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 TSP of sugar – you can leave this out, but it really helps to crisp up the edges of the pancakes
  • Butter for frying

1. Bring the mashed potatoes, Sour Cream and egg to room temperature

2. To the bowl of leftover mashed potatoes, add the sour cream, egg, sugar and Bisquick and mix to well combined.

bleu cheese potato pancakes

Just eyeball the ingredient amounts

NOTE: eyeball the consistency – you want it somewhat thick – not as thin as pancakes. Depending upon how much of the mashed potatoes you have left over, you may need to add a little more baking mix or another egg.

mashed potato left over pancakes

Not totally smooth, you want to taste the potatoes

3. Heat the butter in a large skillet over med/high heat – you can use vegetable oil/canola oil as well…just not olive oil

4. Drop pancake-y sized dollops of the mixture into the hot skillet and fry until lightly golden brown on one side

bleu cheese mash left over

Browning side one

5. Flip the pancakes and fry the second side

mash potato pancakes

See the crispy edges…that’s the sugar at work

6. Serve warm as a fab day two side dish….Or for breakfast – but, I wouldn’t put syrup on these…Just a little butter, maybe a chive or two would be great.

Some things prove harder to finish than others. But, you can get creative. For me, maybe that means finishing the books I start by watching the movie. Don’t judge, the end result is the same. To finish off your mashed potatoes, try whipping up a day two side dish of potato pancakes.

If You’re Talking Thai, Talk Thai

Thai Salad

In navigating the unknown, one good approach is to stick to the theme. I’m not suggesting that you sport tennis togs and carry a bunch of racquets when attending the US Tennis Open – that’s so Forest Hills. But I am saying, that you might not want to hang a crystal chandelier in your kid’s playroom.

The unknown can be especially intimidating when the unknown is what’s for dinner. Stick to the theme. So, if you’re cooking lasagna, don’t make a pork steamed dumpling appetizer. When making roast chicken, don’t serve enchiladas on the side.

Last night’s dinner was based on my attempt to go Thai. I had already decided to make something curry-ish as a main course. My girls were coming over to solve the world’s problems with wine and stories and wine and wine and I thought it was time to try something new.

But, I hadn’t figured out what to do for a vegetable side. I just couldn’t decide. I went to my mental rolodex and looked for what sides I had enjoyed when dining out at Thai restaurants….not really any that memorable. Some steamed veggies with an oddly slimy sauce and pepper flakes is really all I could come up with. And, since I don’t really want to know what’s in the oddly slimy sauce nor do I really like hot pepper flakes, that wasn’t going to happen.

When I left for Whole Foods, I had a list that said just ‘vegetable’. While I can ‘wing it’ in almost any situation, I’m not one of those people who decides what to make based on what looks good in the produce section that day. So this ‘vegetable’ item on the list unnerved me a bit.

Clutching my list, I battled my way through the tourists at the Time Warner Center and elbowed myself on to the escalator into Whole Foods. City-perfect bi-level shopping cart procured and I went straight to produce. It’s fall and the produce section is teeming with squash and I’m like so over squash – for now. I looked around and lamely decided upon broccoli – easy and generally a crowd pleaser. A total cop out – but it would have to do. I needed to find a bunch of other stuff that I hadn’t ever bought before.

As an afterthought, I grabbed a small carton of sprouts figuring that I could put them on top of the curry dish I was preparing. Because sprouts feel super Thai to me.

I got everything home and still felt a little bad about the boring broccoli.

Inspiration!

Then while writing yesterday afternoon as The Food Network droned on in the background, I heard something that gave me an idea. Rachael Ray was making a sweet-ish (not Swedish) salad dressing. And, though I didn’t do what she did, I knew that Rachael was on to something.

And suddenly Broccoli schmoccoli….Became:

Thai Salad (serves 4)

The Salad:

  • 2 large carrots peeled and shredded – best bet to use your Cuisinart shredder blade
  • 3 large broccoli stalks only peeled and shredded (save the florets for a boring broccoli side at another time)
  • a handful of bean sprouts as is
  • Toasted cashew nuts crushed up a bit

Toasting the Nuts:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spread 1/2 cup of cashews on a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil.
  • Spray the nuts with an olive oil cooking spray and gently salt.
  • Put into oven for :15 minutes, tossing the nuts every :05 minutes. Watch them closely as they will burn quickly…

Add Some Crunch

The dressing – And this is really what makes the salad so so good

Mise En Place – doesn’t the shallot look like a mouse?

  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 1/2 shallot – grated
  • 1/2 tsp of Balsamic Vinegar

Whisk together until creamy looking then…

Whisked Together

  • Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the shredded veggies, nuts, sprouts and dressing together and serve as an intro to any Thai feast.

Uhmmm Delicious Thai Salad

To be honest, the salad turned out to be the hit of the meal. The sleeper success of the supper, if you will.

So, when confronted with the unknown, stick to your theme. I had never cooked Thai before – but I had a theme. And, you know what? I found out that:  Annie can cook Thai. Annie cooked Thai real well.