Horseradish Potato Salad

Are you ready for my first food post from my Nova Scotia kitchen? The Jimmy Carter smoothy, delicious as it was, was actually made back in Vermont during the move (when the blender was the only appliance left unpacked) and so doesn’t count. My new kitchen here will take some getting used to, being about an eighth of the size of my old one and tucked in the back corner by the door – no windows! – but I’m thankful to have one at all. I figure if Deb can produce gorgeous dishes from her mini-stove there’s hope for me.

Speaking of the lovely lady behind Smitten Kitchen, this potato salad recipe is right from her collection. Brad and I were invited to a welcome BBQ thrown by other grad students in my department soon after we arrived and I didn’t have much time to prepare anything all that impressive (not to mention most of our kitchen supplies were still in boxes). When time is short and I need a foolproof recipe, I always turn to Deb. She hasn’t let me down yet and I think you’ll agree this potato salad lives up to her reputation. It was also a winner for me as soon as I read the title: I loooove horseradish and dill. Put the two together and the party’s already started! 🙂

Horseradish Potato Salad (from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

3   lbs   small (~2″) potatoes

¼   C   red onion, chopped

1   T   white-wine vinegar

½   C   sour cream

½   C   yogurt*

2   T   fresh dill, finely chopped

¼   C   chopped fresh chives

1   T   Dijon mustard

3   T   prepared horseradish (you can see how to make your own here)

1   t   salt

½   t   black pepper

*Note: you can also use one full cup of sour cream alone if you’re going for the creamiest texture. I used half sour cream, half plain non-fat yogurt and really liked the blend.

Procedure:

  1. Boil potatoes until fork-tender. Cool them to room temperature and quarter them (depending on size – some of mine were so small I just halved them).

2. In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients and do a taste-test. Adjust seasoning as needed (I followed Deb’s suggestion and added an additional Tablespoon of vinegar) before folding the mix over the potatoes.

3. Serve immediately or keep in fridge for up to 24 hours (the onion begins to bleed its color after 6 though, just a warning). If chilling, leave out to thaw a bit before serving as the dressing becomes quite thick.

 

 

oops! some of my potatoes were a little naked. i was in a hurry, please excuse.

Beezer’s Notes:

As I said above, Deb’s recipes have never failed me (well…there was the Coconut Milk Fudge fail from over a year ago, but let’s forget about that shall we? I take full responsibility for getting over my head with that one…) and this salad received lots of compliments at the BBQ. The flavor balance was a bit different from what I had imagined – I tasted dill first and foremost with the horseradish as a pleasant after-burn – but I’m chalking that up to using brands I’m not yet familiar with here. I would have added an additional Tablespoon of horseradish to my mix if I really wanted to highlight its flavor, but loving dill as equally as I do the spicy root I decided to let the flavors stay as they were. Still, you might want to start with 1 Tablespoon of dill and taste before continuing with the second.

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥

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Crab Cakes with Lemon-Dill Sauce

Things are looking up! I’ve been able to sleep through the last few nights in a row (gasp!) and my left eye has finally stopped twitching, haha. Getting up at the more reasonable time of 10 a.m. this morning I felt human for the first time in weeks. I cleaned my room, paid the bills, went grocery shopping, and spent two hours giving my poor goldfish the TLC they desperately needed. With a squeaky-clean tank and brand new plants I hope they’re feeling the love.

I suppose it’s a bit inappropriate to segue into a seafood post just now, but since I’m not talking about fish exactly I hope Howard and Pearl can forgive me. Today’s recipe is for some quick and light crab cakes that will help liven up your backyard BBQs – assuming you all are luckier than us VTers and still have a backyard above water. We rarely have crab cakes around here and those offered at our limited seafood restaurants always seemed like oily, heavy bricks to me. So, finding a crab cake recipe that was not only simple but also rather light immediately got me excited.

I have to be honest here, however, and admit that since I already had mayo and sour cream in my fridge I did not buy fat-free versions just for this recipe…the mayo was canola-based though so that counts for something, doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m posting the recipe as I made it because A. I’m sure it tastes better and B. you’re only eating one-sixteenth of a Cup of mayo per cake and even less sour cream so, honestly, I believe the taste is well worth the extra calories. By all means, though, use the low-fat versions of each if you’d prefer – it’s an easy enough swap.


I’ll take a moment now to mention Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. If you haven’t noticed the link on the right-hand side of this blog, please take a minute to check it out. They have many handy guides to help you buy sustainable, healthy seafood without hassle. I have their iPod app and – let me tell ya – it’s fantastic. I use it whenever I want seafood, either at a restaurant, sushi bar, or for my own cooking. Because I couldn’t find shelled crabmeat at my Co-op I used the source recipe’s recommendation of Wild Planet brand canned crabmeat that’s sustainably caught and canned in BPA-free packaging. You didn’t know I was such a hippie, did you?

Crab Cakes with Dill Sauce (adapted from Light and Healthy‘s 2010 Edition)

Ingredients:

For Crab Cakes…

1   lb.   jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over to remove cartilage and shells

¼   C   mayonnaise

2 – 4   T   plain Panko

2   T   Dijon mustard

4   scallions (green parts only) minced*

2   t   minced fresh dill

2   t   minced fresh parsley

1   t   Old Bay Seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

1   large egg

2   T   canola oil

lemon wedges for serving

* Note: I did not include scallions in my cakes because my bunch went bad before I had a chance to make this recipe (see my rant in the last post) and I didn’t want to buy another when I had plenty of dill and parsley to make up for it.

For Dill Sauce…

¼   C   mayonnaise

2   T   sour cream

1   T   fresh lemon juice

2   t   minced fresh shallot

2   t   minced fresh dill

¼   t   salt

low-fat milk as needed

Procedure:

  1. Gently fold the crabmeat, mayonnaise, 2 Tablespoons of the Panko, mustard, scallions, herbs, and seasoning together in a medium bowl being careful not to break up the lumps of crab. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Carefully fold in the egg white with a rubber spatula until the mixture just holds together, adding the remaining bread crumbs as needed.
  3. Divide the crab mixture into 4 portions and shape each into a round cake about 3″ across and 1½” high. Transfer the cakes to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  4. As the cakes are chilling, prepare the Lemon-Dill sauce by mixing the mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, dill, shallot, and salt together in a small bowl. Add milk as needed to thin to the desired consistency. Cover and chill along with the cakes for up to 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop.
  5. Heat oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over Medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently add the chilled crab cakes to the pan and cook until well browned on either side, flipping halfway through – about 8 minutes. If you’re concerned with burning, dredge the cakes in a bit of flour before adding them to the skillet. I completely forgot this step and my cakes turned out fine, but if you might want to try this precautionary step.
  6. Transfer cakes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain briefly. Serve with a dollop of Lemon-Dill Sauce and lemon wedges.

Beezer’s Notes:

These cakes are winners all-around. You get full, sweet crabmeat taste with tangy herbs and just a hint of mustard. The source recipe calls for normal breadcrumbs, but I used Panko both because I already had it in the cupboard and also because I was curious as to how it would compliment (or ruin) the recipe. I’m very happy to say the Panko worked out perfectly: you get its support in structure without tasting a lot of filler. I suppose you could even skip the fresh herbs in favor of seasoned Panko if you really want to simplify things, but I wouldn’t recommend it. The fresh herbs really create a great flavor you wouldn’t find in dried seasoning.

Both my brother (who orders crab cakes whenever possible, oily bricks or no) and my father (who is a very conscientious eater) gave this recipe a thumbs-up. My brother’s only complaint was that he thought a butter sauce would be better for seafood and didn’t like the lemon-dill sauce, but my father and I both really enjoyed the creamy-cool alternative to a heavy butter dip. Give it a try and tell me what you think!

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Keeping with my soup kick, I next tried this Hungarian Mushroom Soup recipe. I like mushrooms more than I like broccoli, but still don’t incorporate them into my diet as much as I’d like so whipping up a big batch of soup to freeze makes it quick and easy. I’ll admit that I’m starting to crave the Loaded Baked Potato Soup I made last Spring and am having to hold myself back: I’m trying very hard to get my old climbing physique back after a semester of balancing work with classes put pudge on places it’s never been before. We’ll ignore, for the moment, that I cannot afford an indoor climbing pass this winter and thus cannot get a “climber’s physique” exactly, but I’m shooting for as close as I can get between the gym, yoga, and absolutely killer Tracy Anderson muscle routines (Hollywood froofroo or no, this gal makes some serious exercises!).

 

Hungarian Mushroom Soup (adapted from Eating Well, February 2011)

Ingredients:

1   T   EVOO

1½   lb   mushrooms, thinly sliced

1   medium onion, diced

3   T   AP flour

2   T   paprika, preferably Hungarian *

2   T   dried dill

4   C   mushroom or reduced-sodium beef broth

1   C   water

1   C   Half & Half

1½   lbs   russet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½” pieces

¾   t   salt

reduced-fat sour cream for garnish as desired

* Note: source recipe describes Hungarian paprika as having a “fuller, richer flavor than regular paprika”. I was looking forward to finding and using the authentic spice, but was out of luck. Is anyone familiar with Hungarian paprika and can attest to its superiority?


Procedure:

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed sauce pan over Medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates (10 – 15 minutes). I cheated and drained the liquid off after there was still a substantial amount 15 minutes in.
  2. Reduce heat to Medium and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 more minutes or until the mushrooms are very soft. Then add flour, paprika, and dill and cook – still stirring – for about 15 seconds before pouring in the broth, water, and Half & Half. Add potatoes, cover, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat as needed to maintain a “lively simmer” and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender (about 5 minutes).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in salt. For a thicker, creamier soup use an immersion blender at this point (or blend batches in an upright blender) to cream about half of the veggies leaving a good number of chunks still whole.
  5. As soup is served add a dollop of sour cream on top for garnish if desired.


Beezer’s Notes:

I’m not entirely sure what makes this soup “Hungarian” besides the use of Hungarian paparika (if you can get your hands on some) and the very generous dose of dill, but it has a great flavor unlike any other cream of mushroom soups I’ve had before. There’s a subtle smokiness which must be the paprika and the mushrooms really shine with the dill and potato combo.

I used a mixture of three different kinds of mushrooms. I figured different kinds will add a depth of flavor no matter what the mix and, luckily, they were delicious! Munching on slices of all three – crimini, white, and shiitake – during prep, I discovered I liked the lighter but firmer taste of the raw shittake mushrooms the best and preferred the stronger flavor of crimini over white even though the two are very similar.

What kind of mushrooms do you like the best and why? Are some better for soups than others? I know shiitake and enoki are commonly used in soups, especially in Japan. Portobellos are a great meat substitute and white button ‘shrooms are the fungi of choice for American pizzas…but that’s about it. Any advice?

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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