Ingredient SpotLight

Growing up in a meat and potatoes family meant that when I went out on my own, I spent a while trying to cook with everything but meat and potatoes. I tried sushi, I cooked with bulgur, I even played around with the raw food movement. But ultimately, I came back to potatoes! But I also came back with ideas that blended the traditional ideas I was raised with and the new ideas and cultures I'd been introduced to.

February is National Potato Lover's Month. I'm celebrating with two of my favorite potato recipes. My first recipe is a tried and true favorite. This casserole has seen me through busy weekdays and soccer tournament weekends. It's my go to recipe when things get busy and I need to get a hot meal on the table. Sometimes I add some frozen green beans to the mix too. No matter what, a salad gets tossed and added alongside this meal at my house.

Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 2 cans (10 1/2 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • Parsley (2 tablespoons dried or 1/2 cup fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Tater tots (amount varies on size of pan used)

Preheat oven to 350 F. I normally use my Pyrex 9 x 13" glass baking dish for this. Crumble the raw hamburger into the baking dish, spreading evenly. Sprinkle the pepper, liberal amounts of parsley, and lots of garlic powder. In a large bowl, mix the two cans of cream of mushroom soup along with 3/4 of a can of water. The consistency should be thick with just enough water so that it can be stirred smooth. Evenly pour the soup over the meat. Place tater tots side by side, end to end, in rows. Place the dish in the preheated oven. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the casserole is bubbly in the center. Best when the Taters are crisp and golden on top.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

My second recipe is for latkes -- a Jewish treat that's reminiscent of a potato pancake. They are absolutely wonderful and are usually nibbled in the kitchen as I make them.

Latkes

  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into chunks which will fit into the food processor slot
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 inch of a fresh Anaheim pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of omani powder (this is ground dried limes - available at Middle Eastern markets)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 pinch abscorbic acid powder
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon regular table salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons matzoh meal
  • Oil for frying

Using a food processor with a grating disk, grate one small yellow onion. Finely mince about one teaspoon of a red anaheim pepper. Using the food processor with the grating disk, process the potatoes.

Mix the onions, potatoes, anaheim pepper, omani powder, 2 eggs, paprika, salt, pepper, abscorbic acid (to keep the potatoes from darkening) and matzoh meal together in a bowl until well blended.

Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a cast iron skillet. Drop large spoonfuls of the mix into the fat. Brown the latkes thoroughly on one side before flipping them over. When they are done, place them on paper towels to drain. Keep the finished latkes warm in the oven until you finish cooking all of them. Serve hot with sour cream and applesauce.

  • Yields: 12 to 14 latkes
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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