Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

The other day I made a variation on one of my favorite hearty, cold weather dishes, my roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken with Thyme. On the side I served some Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes that came out so unbelievably delicious that I simply had to share the recipe. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

2 1/2lbs Russet Potatoes, unpeeled
4tbsp Unsalted Butter
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
8oz Sour Cream
4tbsp Grated Parmesan, plus more to sprinkle over the top
2tsp Salt, plus a pinch for the garlic
2tsp Ground Black Pepper

Put the whole potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until they are entirely submerged with an additional 2″ layer of water beyond their tops (as you boil the water will evaporate, you need a buffer to keep them completely under water so they boil evenly). Boil the potatoes until a knife easily passes through their center, roughly 25-30 minutes depending on their size.

While the potatoes are boiling melt the butter in a small pot at medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to low and slowly simmer for 10 minutes, stirring periodically. Turn off the heat but keep the pot on the stovetop until needed to prevent the butter from thickening.

Once the potatoes are tender through the center strain them from the water, and place them back in the pot. Quickly break down the potatoes using a hand mixer or potato masher. Add the cooked garlic and butter as well as the salt, pepper, grated parmesan and sour cream. Mix until thoroughly blended. Plate and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese.

Hope you love ’em as much as my family did!


Pepperoni Stromboli

Stromboli... the ultimate crowd pleaser

Looking for the perfect appetizer for a party, game day, or a great snack for the whole family? It doesn’t get any better than Stromboli! Moist bread, gooey cheese, salty pepperoni… how can you beat that?

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

2 1/4tsp (2 Envelopes) Active Dry Yeast
2tsp Granulated Sugar
1 3/4c Warm Water (105-110F)

3 1/2c All Purpose Flour + more for kneading
2tsp Salt
1/4c Granulated Sugar
2tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted

1/3lb Sliced Pepperoni
1/2lb Shredded Mozzarella
3tbsp Grated Parmesan
1tsp Dried Oregano
2tsp Garlic Powder

2tbsp Olive Oil, 1tbsp to coat dough prior to rise, 1tbsp to brush before baking
Cooking Spray

Combine the warm water, yeast and 2tsp of sugar in a bowl and set in a warm area for 15 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. The yeast should create a creamy layer above the water (called the “bloom”).

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, salt and 1/4c of sugar. Add the yeast/water mixture and begin mixing on low, using a dough hook attachment, and slowly add the melted butter. Mix for 2-3 minutes… The dough should be wet and tacky, if it is not add another tablespoon or two of warm water and mix for an additional 1 minute. Stop mixing the dough and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. This gives the gluten a chance to relax and spread back throughout the dough. Once rested, mix for an additional 3 minutes at medium speed. The dough should have pulled from the sides of the bowl and be slightly elastic.

Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured cool surface and knead it until it develops a slightly elastic consistency, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add small amounts of flour to the surface as needed while kneading.

Place the dough in a large bowl and coat it thoroughly with 1tbsp of olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and set the bowl in a warm, draft free place until the dough doubles in size, approximately 1 hour.

Heat your oven to 375F.

Turn the dough back out onto the lightly floured surface. Do not knead it, simply release some of the air by gently pressing it with your fingers. Using your hands, press the dough out into a large rectangle, roughly 16×20″. Layer the shredded mozzarella over the spread dough, leaving 2″ bare at the top and bottom edges, and 1″ along the sides. Evenly spread the oregano, garlic powder and grated parmesan over the mozzarella, then evenly layer the sliced pepperoni.

Starting from the end closest to you, fold over the 2″ of bare dough then continue to gently roll the dough moving towards the opposite edge, folding in the ends before each roll.

Place parchment paper over a large baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray, then place the rolled Stromboli on the sheet with the crease on the bottom. Cover with a towel and set in a warm place for 20 minutes to allow the dough to begin rising again.

Brush the Stromboli with 1tbsp of olive oil, then place it in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is browned.

Allow to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Buon Appetito!!!

Carrot Ginger Bisque with Basil Honey Creme (w/ wine pairings)

Carrot Ginger Bisque

As I mentioned in a previous post I recently made dinner for my mother-in-law’s birthday party, and this bisque was how we started the meal. Of everything I made that night (all of which was delicious of course!), I have to say that this was probably the best dish of the bunch, and was a huge crowd pleaser. Carrots and ginger are such a classic combination of flavors, and the addition of the slightly sweet basil honey crème really put it over the top.

I do apologize for the photo… I was in the middle of plating for 15 hungry people and didn’t really have time to snap a good pic. Oops!

Serves 8-12 as an appetizer.

Ingredients (bisque):
2lb Carrots, large dice
1/4c Olive Oil
3tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Granulated Sugar
1/2tsp Ground Nutmeg
1tbsp Fresh Grated Ginger
2c Dry White Wine
4c Vegetable Stock
6c Water
1qt Heavy Cream
1/3c Honey

Ingredients (basil crème):
3c Fresh Basil
8oz Sour Cream
2tbsp Honey

In a large pot (I used an 8qt) heat your olive oil on high, then add the carrots and 1tsp each of salt and sugar. Cook until the carrots are lightly browned, then add the white wine and simmer on high until it has reduced by half. Add the vegetable stock, water, cream, 2tsp salt, black pepper, nutmeg, grated ginger and honey. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring periodically.

Puree using a hand emulsifier, or by doing separate batches in a food processor or blender, until you have a smooth bisque. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for an additional 25 minutes.

During the final simmer it’s time to make the crème. Pulse the basil in a food processor until finely chopped, 20-30 seconds. Add the sour cream and honey, then mix until fully blended and smooth. Keep the crème in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

Once the soup is done simmering it’s time to serve it up! Ladle it into some bowls, drizzle it with the crème, and enjoy… If you want to turn it into an entrée then serve it with some seared shrimp or scallops, or maybe some gnocchi that’s been sautéed in brown butter, or all of the above!

Now let’s talk wine pairings… You could go in a number of directions here. A dry sparkler or Rose, or possibly a drier style of Riesling or Gewurztraminer. I would stay away from anything too grassy, acidic or mineral driven, or anything too big, buttery and oaky. If you don’t do whites or pinks and have to do a red just make sure you keep it light, like Gamay, Frappato, Mayolet, a lighter bodied Pinot Noir, etc. DO NOT have this with a full bodied red, all of the subtle flavors of the bisque will be lost. Below are a few recommendations that I think would be ideal.

Bohigas Brut Reserva Cava, Catalunya, Spain – The Bohigas estate was established in the 13th century and the family has been producing wine from their lands since 1290! The current generation is a father daughter team, Jordi and Maria, and I have to say that they are two of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Their wines are simply stunning, and unbelievably affordable. Their Cava Reserva can stand toe-to-toe with some Champagnes in my opinion, and at a third of the cost. On the palate you’ll find notes of candied lime zest, green apple, crushed rock and white flowers, with palate awakening effervescence and a slight yeasty density. A truly unbelievable value. PP Score: 91 (Retail $13-16)

Boundary Breaks Riesling No.239 Dry, Finger Lakes, New York – Boundary Breaks is a newly established winery on the eastern shores of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, and in my opinion, they have immediately established themselves as one of the top producers in the region. They are only in their second vintage, and the wines are beyond gorgeous. Bruce Murray’s dream was to create world class Riesling from New York State that could stand up to the top wineries of the Mosel and Alsace… Mission accomplished sir! So their No.239 Dry (No.239 referring to the Geisenheim 239 Riesling clone used for this bottling) is not an overly sweet Riesling, with only 0.6% residual sugar. It is beautifully floral and bright, but still has a slightly fuller mouth feel. On the palate you’ll find notes of Meyer lemon, orange blossom honey and white peach, as well as hints of smoke, tea leaves, and crushed granite. Production on these wines is TINY, with only 350 cases made of the No.239, so needless to say it’s going to be a challenge to find outside of New York… but for the rest of you there are a handful of boutiques that are selling the wine online, just let your fingers do the walking. PP Score: 91 (Retail $16-20)

Idlewild Vin Gris Yorkville Highlands, Mendocino, California – Idlewild is a moderately new producer, but they are already making a big splash in the California wine scene, focusing their efforts on working with varietals that are not commonly found in the United States (i.e. Dolcetto, Barbera, Arneis, Cortese, etc.). Their 2013 Vin Gris is made from Grenache. Despite being a lighter bodied, ethereal wine, it is surprisingly complex. Portrayed are nuances of ripe strawberry, grapefruit pith, melon and dried sage that play enticingly on the palate, balanced by subtle acidity and a surprising presence of tannin, giving the wine a fleeting touch of depth towards the finish. With only 200 cases produced it’s certainly not the easiest wine to find, but it’s worth the search! PP Score: 92 (Retail $16-20)

So there you have it, my bisque recipe and a few recommended pairings. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and will give the recipe and wines a try. As always, more new content is en route, in the meantime crack open a bottle of something special, sit back, and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!

Parmesan & Thyme Spaetzle

Parmesan & Thyme Spaetzle

For anyone that has any amount of Eastern European heritage I’m fairly positive that it’s built into their DNA to love spaetzle… and being 50% Ukrainian I am certainly no exception! It’s not something that I make often, but every time I do my wife and I look at each other and she says “Why don’t you make this more often!?” Then again it’s also built into her, DNA being 50% German. In fact it was her beloved grandmother that first turned me onto these tasty little dumplings over 20 years ago.

So I made it the other night and it was a huge hit, even with the kids.

Serves 2-3 as an entree, 4-6 as a side.

1 1/4c All Purpose Flour
1/2tsp Salt
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 Eggs + 1 Egg Yolk
1/2c Milk (Whole or 2%)

4tbsp Unsalted Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tbsp Fresh Thyme
2tbsp Grated Parmesan

You can make the batter by hand with a spoon or whisk, or with a stand mixer. My theory is that if God created stand mixers to make our lives easier, it would be wrong not to use them… haha.

Combine the flour with 1/2tsp each of salt and black pepper. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and egg yolk, and then beat in the milk. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and begin mixing on low using the paddle attachment. Once the wet and dry are well integrated increase the speed to medium and continue mixing until you have a smooth batter.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In small batches, pour the batter into a colander with large holes and push it through into the boiling water with a rubber spatula (or use a spaetzle press if you’re smart enough to have one, which I’m not). Boil the spaetzle until they float the top, approximately 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a second colander to strain. Repeat until you’ve used all of your batter.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan at medium heat and add the garlic, cook until it starts to sweat, 2-3 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the strained spaetzle and 1tsp each of salt and pepper. Sauté until the spaetzle very lightly browns, stirring regularly. Turn off the heat, toss in the thyme and parmesan, and plate it up.

There you have it, the delicious eggy little pasta’ish dumplings that we all love… Serve them as a side or as the main dish!


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