Food & Drink

August 25, 2014

Stir Crazy: How to not peel potatoes, but still get the job done

If you haven't checked out, you need to. Besides the great recipes, you'll find lots of practical advice. For example, I learned how to not peel potatoes when make potato salad. What I mean is, the potatoes almost peeled themselves. To see how it's done, go to the website and type in the No-Peel Potato in Action. The video shows the simple steps. Here are the basics:

1. Before putting whole, unpeeled potatoes in water for cooking, score each with a knife all the way around the middle.

2. Put the potatoes in the pot and cook them as you normally would.

3. While they're cooking, get out a big bowl and fill it with ice cubes and cold water.

4. Remove pot from heat.

5. One at a time, plunge a hot potato in the water. Leave for 8 seconds until cool enough to handle. (You may need to add more ice to keep water cold.)

6. Pick potato out of water and twist in your hand. The skin will peel off each end effortlessly.

Out-of-the-ordinary tomato recipe

After awhile, my brain starts to hurt as I try to come up with new ways to use tomatoes from the garden. Then, I found this recipe from the Washington Post. The flavor combination is hard to beat and there's no canning involved. Serve at room temperature, with crackers or pita. I think it would be tasty on warm garlic bread or as a spread for a big roast beef sandwich, too.

Also, the jam can be refrigerated for up to one week, or frozen for up to a month. Naturally, bring to room temperature before serving.

Tomato-Bacon Jam

8 ounces uncooked bacon strips

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon powdered mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Line a plate with paper towels. Fry the bacon in a wide saute pan over medium heat, until crisped. Transfer the bacon to the plate to drain.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pan. Add the onion to the skillet and stir to coat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Stir in the tomatoes.

Crumble in the bacon, then add the, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, brown sugar and granulated sugar, salt, powdered mustard and vinegar, stirring to incorporate. Once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low; cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. The consistency will be more of a spread than a loose jam.

Cool to room temperature before serving or storing.

Makes 3 cups, each 2-tablespoon serving with 45 calories, 1 gram protein, 4 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 4 grams sugar.

Fast dress up

Home cook Mary Napolitano is one of a variety of grandmas across the country who allowed the Cooking Channel to come into their homes and watch them make favorite family recipes and offer priceless advice. The result is the sometimes hilarious "My Grandmother's Ravioli," with humorist and foodie Mo Rocca as host. It airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays.

This recipe from Mary is as simple as can be and should be at least doubled if serving over salad for two.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons maple honey*

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, grated

Whisk together the oil, maple honey, vinegar, mustard and garlic in a small bowl. Makes about 5 tablespoons.

Editor's note: If you don't have maple honey, use whatever type you have and add just a drop of maple syrup to the mix. If you use maple extract, make to use just a drop as it is so concentrated.

Worth the work

Make the most of fresh local sweet corn with this side dish from Jessica Battilana. It is adapted from her recipe in a new selection of small cookbooks called "Short Stack Editions." Remember, all risottos take time, so set aside enough to make this delicious recipe.

Corn Risotto

Corn stock:*

6 cups water

2 corn cobs (kernels removed and reserved for risotto)

1 onion, cut into quarters

1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 celery rib, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

Dark green leaves from 1 leek (reserve white and light green parts for risotto)

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

6 cups hot corn stock or chicken stock

1 1/2 cups raw corn kernels (from about 2 ears corn)

1 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons minced chives (optional)

1. Make the stock: Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat so liquid is simmering; cover pot and let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Add enough water to bring liquid back up to 6 cups.

2. Make the risotto: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide, high-sided saute pan over medium-low heat. Add leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains look slightly translucent.

3. Pour in wine and cook, stirring, until it has all been absorbed, about 2 minutes.

4. Add a ladleful of hot corn stock to the rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until rice has absorbed all of the stock. Continue cooking, adding ladles of stock whenever rice mixture looks dry and stirring continuously.

5. When half the stock has been added, stir in corn. Continue cooking until all of the stock is incorporated, corn is tender and rice is creamy and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes total.

6. Remove risotto from heat and stir in Parmesan and remaining tablespoon of butter. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

7. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream at high speed until it holds stiff peaks.

8. Uncover risotto, stir vigorously and season to taste with salt and pepper. Immediately before serving, stir in the chives, if using, then gently fold in cream. Yield: 4 servings.

*You can skip making the corn stock and just use store-bought chicken stock, but the end result will not be as flavorful.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail,; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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