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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

The secrets to preparing perfect mashed potatoes ( 3 recipes!)

Kathleen Purvis



JewishWorldReview.com | What is it with you people and mashed potatoes?

Mention comfort food and they're always on the list. Ask almost anyone for their favorite dish and they'll come up. Last-meal requests by prisoners? Mashed potatoes (with brown gravy) make that list, too.

They're served so much in restaurants and school cafeterias that it's impossible to say for sure how many servings we eat a year. It gets you into tricky numbers like fresh potatoes vs. dehydrated vs. frozen. But a 2010 study by the U.S. Potato Board showed that in-home consumption is about 16 times a year per person — that makes it about every three weeks.

Restaurant use means we eat them even more often than we make them.

"The popularity is amazing," says Don Odiorne, the vice president of food service for the Idaho Potato Commission. "One of my favorite quotes is from a chef who said, 'I could serve a brick if I paired it with mashed potatoes.'"

If chefs want you to try an unusual fish or a new cut of meat, he says, they'll serve it with mashed potatoes. "People already know they like half the dish, and they'll give it a try," says Odiorne.

Consumption of all potato dishes fell for a few years in the early 2000s (thanks, Dr. Atkins). But numbers released early this year show they've been going back up (thanks, economic slowdown). Since restaurant visits also slowed for a few years, that also has meant an increase in people cooking at home, and in tough times, we reach for things that are familiar, cheap and comforting.

"People said, 'I'm going to go to the store and I'm going to make things from scratch,'" says Odiorne.

The biggest question on their "Ask Dr. Potato" section of the Idaho Potato Commission website, he says, is about mashed potatoes.

"If someone moves away from home and they're inviting their boyfriend (or) girlfriend over for Thanksgiving, the turkey and the mashed potatoes are the two critical items. And a lot of times, they weren't in the kitchen watching how they were made. So it's a panic call: 'How do I make mashed potatoes?'"

We've got you covered on that.

WHICH POTATOES?
Potatoes and their mashability fit into three categories:


  • Baking potatoes. Usually called russets, they're longer and flatter. They are higher in starch, so they have a drier texture when cooked. They make fluffy mashed potatoes.

  • Boiling potatoes. These usually have red skins and are sometimes called new potatoes. They have a waxier texture, so they don't absorb liquid as well. Even though they usually aren't recommended for mashing, they can be tasty, with a pronounced earthy flavor. Fans of lumpy mashed potatoes will love them. Leave the skins on for more texture, and don't over-beat them, because they can become gluey.

  • All-purpose potatoes. The best known are Yukon Golds. They have a texture between the other two and a flavor that's complemented with butter. They make creamy mashed potatoes. For the best of both potato worlds, combine Yukon Golds with a russet potato: Creaminess and fluffiness.

WHAT TOOLS?


  • Peeler. Y- or U-shaped peelers are great for long potatoes, like russets and sweet potatoes. Shorter straight-blade peelers are great for round potatoes, and the rounded tip of the blade does the best job of lifting out "eyes," or indentations in the skin.

  • Masher. A true potato masher, with a flat bottom attached to a handle, is great for mashing potatoes in the pot, especially if you don't mind (or prefer) a few lumps. (A sturdy whisk with heavy tines can double as a masher.) A ricer is usually round with two handles for pressing together and a grid with holes. You squeeze out long strands of potato and then whisk in milk and butter, making really smooth mashed potatoes. (A food mill works, too, but usually has more parts to clean.)

  • An electric mixer can overbeat potatoes, making them gluey, so save it for really big batches. Never use a food processor: The blades cut across the molecules, releasing too much starch and giving mashed potatoes the texture and flavor of library paste.

  • Beater. After you mash or press the potatoes, you need to add liquid and butter. A whisk is best, although a wooden spoon with a comfortable handle also works.

BASIC MASHED POTATOES
Like many things with only a few ingredients, how you do it is as important as what you add. Here's how we do it:

Peel the potatoes and drop into a large pot of cold water. Cut large potatoes into chunks, but keep the pieces large. After all the potatoes are peeled, pour off the starchy water and add fresh cold water and about 1 tablespoon salt.

Place on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium to maintain a brisk simmer. When potatoes boil, the starch sets and can make them fall apart, so they become too watery. It's better to cook them longer at a lower temperature. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes. To make sure they're done, try this trick: Stick the tip of a sharp knife into a few chunks of potato. If you can slide in the knife but the potato still clings to the blade, they aren't quite done.

Drain the potatoes and return to the empty pot on the still-hot burner. Shake the pot a few times to help remaining water evaporate. Then mash the potatoes roughly with a masher or squeeze through a ricer. Whisk in the remaining ingredients with a sturdy whisk or wooden spoon.

Butter or milk first? The order makes a difference:

When you beat in the butter before the milk, the fat coats the molecules so they don't absorb as much liquid. That creates mashed potatoes that are fluffier.

If you beat in the milk before the butter, the molecules absorb more milk, giving you potatoes that are creamier. Neither is better, it's just a question of which you prefer.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU ADD?
Part of the appeal of mashed potatoes is their blank-slate quality. That doesn't mean they have to be boring. You can add a lot of things:


  • Buttermilk. While we usually reach for nonfat milk, testing recipes with buttermilk was enlightening. It brings creaminess with less fat than whole milk or cream (although it is higher in fat than nonfat milk). The flavor is slightly tangy, but not so strong that buttermilk haters will object.

  • Cheese. Cheddar is just the start. Try brie or Gruyere sometime.

  • Mustard. It sounds bizarre, but Dijon mustard in mashed potatoes is magic.

  • Roasted garlic. A natural, of course.

  • Cooked cabbage: Trust the Irish to know what works with potatoes. Colcannon — potatoes and cabbage — is a classic.

  • Sour cream and cream cheese. Plain mashed potatoes can take on an off-flavor when reheated. Adding sour cream and cream cheese creates a richer mixture that can be made in advance and reheated without changing the texture or flavor.

  • Egg yolks. To make fancy Duchess potatoes, beat yolks into cold potatoes, then pipe them onto a baking sheet and bake until they're browned in spots.



BUTTERMILK-CHIVE MASHED POTATOES

Mixing both Yukon Gold and russet potatoes gives great texture, while combining buttermilk (lower in fat) and cream (higher in fat) gives indulgence while not making them too high in fat. Finally, the unusual step of using melted butter makes them very creamy.

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 5), peeled
  • 1 pound russet potatoes (about 2), peeled
  • 12 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives


Put the potatoes and garlic in a large pot of cold salted water, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium to maintain a steady simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes. Set aside about 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain potatoes and garlic.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees while potatoes are cooking. Place buttermilk and heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. (The mixture will separate and look curdled, but that's OK.)

Return the potatoes and garlic to the pot and place over medium-low heat. Pour in about three-quarters of the buttermilk mixture and coarsely mash the potatoes with a potato masher or heavy whisk or spoon. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the remaining hot buttermilk and reserved cooking water, as needed, to get the consistency you want. Stir in 6 tablespoons of the butter and the chives.

Serve as is, or transfer to a large baking dish and drizzle with remaining butter. Transfer to oven and bake about 20 minutes, until lightly browned.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.



WE FEED YOUR SOUL, INTELLECT --- AND STOMACH

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PIMENTO CHEESE MASHED POTATOES

  • 2 1/2 pounds medium russet potatoes (about 5)
  • About 1 tablespoon salt
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup pimento cheese (homemade or your favorite brand)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks. Place in a large saucepan and cover with cold water and about 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Drain the potatoes and return to the pan. Place back on the heat and shake the pan for a minute or two to dry the potatoes.

Mash the potatoes with a masher or ricer. Stir in the butter and buttermilk, then stir in the pimento cheese until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


TWICE-BAKED POTATOES

Like the very popular make-ahead mashed potato casserole, you use sour cream and cream cheese to get a potato mixture that is still good when it's reheated. Putting them back in the baked-potato shell and topping with cheese makes them easy to put on a crowded holiday plate.

  • 4 russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 4 to 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup nonfat milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Scrub the potatoes, then bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they are soft when squeezed.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut each in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides, leaving enough in each shell to hold together.

Place the scooped-out potato centers in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Beat gently to break up, then increase speed and beat in the cream cheese, sour cream, butter and milk to make a creamy mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato halves. Divide the cheese over the top of each one. Refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the potato halves on a baking sheet and return to the oven for about 30 minutes, until potato is heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Yield: 8 servings.

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