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Skordalia or Potato Cake??

October 20th, 2008 | 4 Comments »

Skordalia- (skor DAHL yah) A greek condiment made from pureed baked potato, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, parsley and sometimes breadcrumbs or ground nuts. Eaten as a dip with breads or vegetables, it can also be used on top of broiled meats.

Potato Cake- (po TAY to kayke) A hearty and delicious meal made from leftover skordalia (or other mashed potato type item) that is fried in a hot skillet until crispy and browned.

Mmmmm….I love mashed potato cakes. I originally found a procedure to make them in a Sara Moulton cookbook and now I often will hide the leftover mashed potatoes in an effort to save them for a crunchy potato cake breakfast.

Then along came Skordalia. I had a small plateful at a local greek restaurant and wanted to lick the thing clean, it tasted so good. But I was in public so I restrained myself. The next day I hit the internet search to find a recipe to make for myself. The result wasn’t too bad- it wasn’t like the restaurant version- but it was palatable after the ingredients were allowed to hang in the fridge to get cozy and acquainted after being rapidly introduced in the food processor. The longer the stuff sits, the better it seems to taste, but like all potato leftovers in my house, I dreamed of a hot and tasty cake.

The procedure is pretty simple; form leftover mashed potato into a uniform sized cake and dust each side with flour. Heat a combination of oil and butter in a skillet, and when hot, gently place the cake in the pan. Don’t move it or disturb it until the bottom has achieved a nice crunchy browned crust- it could take 10 minutes or more- then carefully turn it over and allow the other side to brown as well. Keep the heat around the medium mark. Once cooked, allow to cool before eating- if it’s like some of mine, the center of the cake becomes a creamy molten flow of cooked potato and can be painful if your patience is lacking. Try it with a slice of seared ham, some eggs and a cup of strong coffee. Breakfast just can’ t be beat when there’s a potato cake on the table.

(jump for recipe and notes)

Come in to my kitchen…

Vodka Piecrust

October 6th, 2008 | 2 Comments »

Foolproof Pie Dough
Cooks Illustrated, November 2007

Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until it’s slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.