potatoes

Homemade Mashed Potatoes + Vegetarian Brown Gravy

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People regularly assume that vegetarians need and want extra special meals to make up for the fact that they are missing meat. Often, I will be served absurd quantities of side dishes- oh you don’t want the chicken, here you must need twenty rolls instead. Sometimes, it comes in the form of some strikingly complex alternative- no pork chop for you, here’s a braised mushroom-leak-asparagus stew with fifty million herbs in it to make it taste good. There are even occasions when the appropriate substitute seems to be an entire farm’s worth of produce on a plate, the indemnifying salad, and while I am no fan of flesh, I am also not a ruminant. There are times when I, just like everyone else, crave and flock to traditional comfort foods.

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When I say traditional comfort foods, I mean traditional in the purest sense of the word. One beautiful example of this is mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Brown gravy… what is it even? It’s clearly just named after its appearance. Usually it does contain the broth or fat from some meat product- typically turkey or beef. It is the absolute perfect accompaniment to a pile of mashed potatoes. You prepare the mashed potatoes, southern-style, with cream and butter. The gravy should provide a pop of flavor, a salty component that completes the side dish. Most vegetarian alternatives have chunks of mushroom, thyme, parsley, and lord knows what else in there. Those options never provided me with the simplicity I was looking for. So, we made our own!

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I have to say, the first bite I took of these mashed potatoes with this gravy really transported me back to the days when I ate brown gravy at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. They are so perfectly simple and gratifying, there is no need to spruce them up or make them fancy. As an added bonus, they are also incredibly easy to make.

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We love to have these as a side on our “southern nights” with peas, collards, chicken, and white sauce. I will admit, in the past we have made packaged mashed potatoes. Now, obviously those are not really mashed potatoes, or even actual food for that matter. But we always thought that it would be too difficult and time-consuming to make homemade mashed potatoes once a week. Wrong. These are so easy to make! They take about half an hour and although we use an immersion blender to mash them, you really can just as easily use a fork!

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For any vegetarians or health conscious omnivores, I hope this alternative provides you with the same satisfaction it did for me! It is simple in both its traditional flavor and cooking process!

Mashed Potatoes + Vegetarian Brown Gravy

serves 4

Ingredients

for the mashed potatoes
1/4 cup kosher salt (to be mixed with boiling water)
2 russet potatoes (about 1 3/4 lbs)
1/3 cup milk (we use 2%)
1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
salt and pepper to taste (we use 1/4 tsp each)

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for the gravy
2 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup AP flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper

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I’d recommend starting with your gravy, as it can be easily reheated and you will want your mashed potatoes fresh.

Start by making your vegetable broth if you are using bouillon. You’ll want to have that already prepped. We use 1 tablespoon of better than bouillon per cup of water.

Next, make a roux. In a large skillet or shallow pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Slowly whisk in the flour to create a thick roux.

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Add the broth very slowly while whisking. You want the roux to continue to thicken but to get darker in color, almost like a miso paste.

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Finally, whisk in the milk, soy sauce, and pepper! Let the gravy continue to cook over low heat. It will thicken while you make the mashed potatoes!

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Begin by washing and scrubbing the potatoes. We like the peel to be included so we leave them intact, but if you hate it- peel them!

Chop the potatoes into cubes, this will help them cook faster.

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Combine two quarts of water with 1/4 cup kosher salt in a heavy pot over high heat. Add in the chopped potatoes. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, it should take around 5 minutes for them to cook. They are ready to be drained when a fork slides easily through them.

Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl.

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Add the milk, butter, salt, and pepper. Mash with a fork or immersion blender until desired consistency is reached!

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If you are using an immersion blender, do be careful, or you’ll end up with potato soup!

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Top the mashed potatoes with brown gravy and enjoy!

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Smashed Potatoes

smashed potatoes all dressed up

This was a dish that I had seen many times but had always been hesitant to attempt. One of the worries I had was that the potatoes would dry out and end up tasting chalky, this recipe solves that problem and in doing so imparts a spectacular flavor on these potatoes.

This dish was made vegetarian but you could easily make it either vegan or meaty with a few swapped ingredients.

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Ingredients
1 lb baby butter potatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 Knorr veggie broth bouillon cube
4 tablespoons salted butter (divided into single tablespoons)
2 cups water
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients
chopped rosemary (topping)
grated Parmesan cheese (topping)

smashed potato ingredients

To start, combine the water and the bouillon cube in a wide pot (be sure it’s large enough, this is where I made a mistake) over high heat until it begins to boil. Feel free to help the bouillon cube dissolve by crushing it with your spoon and stirring the pot. At this point, add in your herbs and two tablespoons butter to help season the broth and let it stew for about 5 minutes. It’s this delicious broth mixture that gives the smashed potatoes so much flavor and at the same time allows them to stay moist.

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After the butter has melted, gently add your potatoes, making sure they are partially covered with liquid and have enough space around them. As you can see in my picture, the pot I used was a bit too small and I ended up having to change to a larger one later. Making sure they have enough space is crucial, as they will need to spread out when you gently smash them.
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Let these cook, covered, until tender enough that a fork will somewhat easily pierce a potato (about 15 – 20 minutes). At this point remove the cover and gently press down on each potato until you feel the skin give way. Don’t push too hard or the potatoes will not hold together and you’ll have a mess on your hand!

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Cook these until the liquid has completely evaporated, and after for an extra 3 – 5 minutes to get a nice crispy edge. At this point, remove your pan from heat and gently remove the potatoes from the pan.

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Scrape out the contents of your pan before returning it to the stove top.

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Upon returning the pan to the stove-top, add in the last two tablespoons of butter. This will help the other side of the potatoes get nice and crispy.

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After the butter melts, add the potatoes back in with the previously crisped side facing up.

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Cook these for another 3 – 5 minutes or until browned. Remove them from the pan and serve! We added extra chopped rosemary, some grated Parmesan, salt, and fresh black pepper to ours.

Vegetarian Malai Kofta

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Malai Kofta is pretty much my personal favorite of all Indian dishes. It really has everything you need to create deliciousness (in my opinion). I mean- fried potatoes and cheese with a savory cream sauce… what could be better??

But I won’t lie. This isn’t the easiest dish to make. It took the two of us the better part of an afternoon and evening to make it. The result is worth the time commitment, but it isn’t a dish you can just whip up when you get home from work.

First, you have to make the kofta- boiling potatoes, making paneer (though you can just buy it, if you prefer), and combining the two with spices. You then have to fry the kofta, though we just lightly sautéed them in some safflower oil.

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Next, you need to make the cream sauce. This isn’t too difficult, but it takes time- first to cut and prep all the veggies and then to combine and simmer everything.

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Something I love about many Indian dishes is that there is liberal usage of cilantro (or hara dhania) in every part of the dish. I am one of those people that cannot get enough cilantro! I put it on everything. It is so fresh tasting to me, and brightens a dish right up (especially a creamy one like this). However, if you’re not the biggest fan, I’d encourage you to decrease the measurements for cilantro in this dish. Use your best judgment and don’t go overboard if you know you don’t love the flavor it brings. Same goes for spiciness- though this dish isn’t really all that spicy. Be careful, and taste everything along the way to make sure it is to your liking!

This recipe is loosely adapted from a recipe found on Pinterest, with the idea that it is hopefully a little healthier without the deep frying! Also, if you are using my recipe for paneer (which you can find here), you’ll have some extra left over. We ended up having just enough to make some paneer/aloo paratha (which is a paneer-potato stuffed flatbread). I will post the recipe for the paratha later (it is SO much fun to make)!

Malai Kofta is traditionally served either over rice or with naan (but I love to have both).

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Vegetarian Malai Kofta

(makes about 8 servings, which can be easily frozen for later consumption)

 

Ingredients

for the kofta
5 butter ball potatoes
2 cups crumbled paneer
5 tablespoons minced cilantro (hara dhania)
1 yellow chile
1 anaheim pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin (jeera)
1 teaspoon kosher salt

for the kofta batter
8 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons tipo 00 flour (AP works fine as well)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
safflower oil for sautéing

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for the sauce
4 tomatoes (medium-sized)
2 tablespoons ginger
1 poblano pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches asafetida (you can find this at Whole Foods)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons coriander powder (I accidentally put in whole coriander seeds- do not make this mistake)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 teaspoons AP flour
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
5 tablespoons minced cilantro

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First, make the kofta. Dice the potatoes and boil them in salted water until a fork slides easily straight through them.

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Mash the potatoes in a large bowl, and add the crumbled paneer.

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Mince the cilantro and finely chop both peppers.
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Add the peppers, cilantro, cumin, and salt to the potato paneer mixture.
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Mix everything together thoroughly until it forms a kind of mash.

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Now, take the mixture (about two tablespoons at a time) and roll it into balls.

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You should make about 16 in all, but it isn’t a big deal if you have more or less.
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Next, prepare the batter. Whisk together the water, flour, black pepper, and salt. Pour the oil into a skillet until it is about an inch and heat it on medium-high. Taking your time, dip each ball in the batter and fry them in the pan on both sides- just lightly. They should be a golden brown and look very crisp and delicious! [Note: if you are planning to freeze some of these, you should not fry or batter them. Instead, freeze them without the batter and make more batter for the next time you cook the dish. The sauce can be frozen separately and then combined with the koftas upon reheating.]

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Now, set the koftas aside to drain on a paper towel and get to work on the sauce!

Dice the tomatoes, and shred the ginger.

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Mince the poblano pepper. Combine the tomatoes, the ginger, and the pepper in a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture has a soupy or salsa-y consistency. Set this aside.

Heat up the olive oil in a skillet, and add the asafetida and cumin. To this, add the tomato puree and coriander powder, mixing everything together.

Shred the turmeric on a cheese grater (be careful with this stuff- it can stain hands, counters, and cutting boards!).

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Add the turmeric, and red chili powder to the pan. Let everything simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

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While the tomato mixture simmers, combine the flour and heavy whipping cream in a bowl. After the tomatoes start reducing, add the cream to the mixture along with the salt, and one cup of water. Let this cook down, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.

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Finally, add in the garam masala. Chop the cilantro and add in 4 tablespoons of it (leaving some for a garnish).

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Let everything simmer together for a few minutes before adding in the koftas.

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The koftas can cook in the gravy for a few minutes, but they are very soft and will break down after soaking up the sauce, so it’s best to serve the dish soon after placing them into the pan.

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Serve sauce and koftas over rice or with naan and enjoy!

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Home Fries with Fennel

home friesThese potatoes are phenomenal. Personally, I love love love fennel and I don’t think that people use it enough! It’s great with potatoes, and this recipe results in a savory, fabulously crispy breakfast side dish.

The recipe is fairly easy and quick to make, and it doesn’t require any kind of special kitchen gadgets. I am a lover of breakfast, brunch, and breakfast for dinner. I would eat breakfast all day everyday if I could! While I do not make this recipe for every brunch, it is a really nice edition to a plate that gives what otherwise would be a simple breakfast much more complexity in flavor.

Home Fries with Fennel
Serves 2-3

Ingredients
3 yukon gold potatoes (small-medium sized)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 dash Hungarian paprika
3 dashes cayenne
1/2 tablespoon fennel
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper

home friesFirst, slice the potatoes into little squares. This can be really easily done by first cutting them long-ways into little slices, then chopping the slices up.

home friesThrow the potatoes into a bowl and add in the parsley, paprika, cayenne, fennel, kosher salt, and pepper. Mix everything together.

home friesHeat the olive oil in a skillet, and throw the potatoes in. Spread them out and let them cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until they’ve browned and crisped.

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Enjoy!

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