Category: potatoes

Some stout pie shenanigans.

The Irish (and English, for that matter) love their pies. And I don’t mean fruit pies, I mean meat pies. Hot, cold, warm or room temperature, they love them some meat pies. It’s a famous pub dish; a flaky pie crust or puff pastry topping over a beef-stew like filling. You can make them in individual pie plates or as one big pie. Similar concept to Shepherd’s pie, except this pie actually has a crust on top, whereas the former has mashed potatoes.

meat pie is a pie with a filling of meat and/or other savoury ingredients. Principally popular in EuropeAustraliaNew ZealandCanada, and South Africa, meat pies differ from a pasty in the sense that a pasty is typically a more portable, on-the-go item, as opposed to a more conventional pie.


A few weeks ago, I went to a pub that Jay’s friend opened in Brooklyn, and somewhere around the third or fourth Guinness we decided to have a beef & stout pie. It was just a simple little pub with no kitchen, so the pie was an instant microwaveable one. But it gave me an idea: make your own, Marilla!  And at some point, in between then and now, I picked up this book, which conveniently had a recipe listed on the cover for beef & stout pies. SCORE.

How perfect is that?

Anyway, I decided I’d give ‘em a try this week, and they turned out pretty amazing.

And quite easy, actually. In the opinion of the Irish (according to the book), the only stout suitable for cooking with beef is Guinness. If you have another stout you want to use, then so be it. I stick with Guinness for this kinda stuff though- it’s sweet, but not too sweet. Perfect for a stew.



  • 2 lbs. boneless chuck steak or eye of round steak, cut into 1″-inch pieces
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups meat stock
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 or 5 large carrots, peeled & sliced into “coins”
  • 4 or 5 medium/large potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 pound store-bought puff pastry or store-bought pie crust
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • vegetable oil, for frying


  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, then toss the (patted dry) beef in the mix until evenly coated.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the beef, in batches, and transfer to a flameproof casserole dish or dutch oven. Deglaze the skillet with 1/4 cup of the stock, and add the liquid to the casserole dish.
  3. Heat another 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet and cook the onion and carrots for 6-7 minutes or until onions are soft.  Add to the casserole dish with the tomato paste, thyme, stout, potatoes and remaining stock. Heat the casserole dish or oven over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer gently with the lid slightly askew for around 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Check the seasoning, and add salt or pepper as needed. Drain the meat mixture in a strainer set over a large bowl. Reserve the liquid, letting rest until cool. Preheat the oven to 425° F and put a baking sheet in the oven to preheat.
  5. Divide the meat mixture among four individual pie plates or 5 -5 1/2″ ramekins. Pour in enough liquid to not quite cover the filling. Dampen the rims of the plates or ramekins with water.
  6. Cut your pastry into four pieces, each one large enough to cover the tops of the pies including a 1″ hangover.  Make holes in it or two or three slashes to allow air our and place them on top of the filling, pressing the edges down. I used a fork to push the dough onto the rim. Brush with egg yolk.
  7. Places the pies on a the preheated baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 400° F and bake for 5 more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving so no one burns a tongue!

It isn’t the most attractive looking meal, but trust me. It’s way better than it looks! Potatoes, beer, beef, carrots… how can that be bad!?

If you wish, you can lessen the amount of carrots & potatoes, but add in some cremini mushrooms (just the caps, quartered- no stems). I’m not a big mushroom lover. I left them out. If you do choose to add mushrooms, add them with the onions and carrots in step 3. Also, I used frozen pie crust for the tops. Puff pastry will be puffier, obviously. You can also use homemade, if you’ve got a great recipe you like. For the sake of time I went with frozen. Sue me. 

I also made four ramekins, each one measures about 5″ across and 3 1/2″ high. I actually bought them at Pier 1 Imports, so here they are, the larger size. Vintage embroidered Irish linen napkins not included.

And that, my friends, is that. Serve with a hearty bread, or a bit of Irish soda bread, and a pint of Guinness! Or Harp. Or whatever. It doesn’t really matter what you pair it with, just so long as you enjoy yourself.

I hope you all have a happy & delicious St. Patrick’s Day!

A bevy of blossoms brings beautiful vinegar.

It’s been a busy few weeks. No matter how busy the weeks get I try and continue to incorporate blogging into my life. I try not to let all the craziness of life cause me to ignore the blog, or let it sit for more than a few days without a post. It’s just my way of keeping myself disciplined. But really, it has been busier than usual: Mother’s Day, tons of birthdays, a wedding, old friends coming up to New York (from all over the damn world it seems; but really just Hawaii & Texas) and now Memorial Day. All of that meant lots of late nights, lots of food- particularly fried (Chip Shop!)… and lots of beer. I kind of need to recover from it all a bit before Monday. And I think the best way to do that is spend some time outside, in the sun, getting fresh air while I prepare for Memorial Day, and watering plants & gardening. Oh, and drinking water. Gallons of water.

I’ve seen chive blossom vinegar in many places all over the internet for a few years now, this year being no exception. It intrigued me, but never enough to try it. I kept wondering what the hell I’d use it for. Plus, my chives never gave me more than three or four, maybe five or six blossoms a season. But this year? It exploded! Hundreds (okay well not really hundreds, but a lot) of pretty purple blossoms burst onto the scene in early April, much to my surprise.

Our extremely mild winter caused my chives to come back from their hibernation far earlier, and also this year they’re larger than ever. And the blossoms are so pretty, I usually just like looking at them in the garden until they die and I cut ‘em off. But honestly, what’s life without a little experimentation? So being that I had so many, and a few extra jars laying around, I thought why not try it. Plus, I’ve been more into infusions lately. I was planning on some rosemary-garlic infused olive oil, so why not make some infused vinegar too.

You don’t have to use the blossoms in vinegar. You can cook with them too, or use them in salads. Just do a Google and you’ll see. The Kitchn has a great piece on using them, too. However, I chose to use roughly half of my blossoms in a vinegar infusion. The other half ended up in my kitchen in a jar of water, as if they were a bouquet. Kept the chive part fresh and close at hand, too.

Chive vinegar is regular white vinegar, or white wine vinegar, that’s infused with chive blossoms. Technically, you could use whatever vinegar you wanted, but I think (and apparently this is the general consensus among chive vinegar makers) using a clear vinegar is aesthetically best. That way you can see the true pink color that comes from the blossoms, and also the jar looks pretty while it’s “infusing.” But really, to each his own. To make it, here’s what you do: You cut the blossoms off your chives. Rinse them thoroughly in cool water, making sure any grit, dirt, sand or unwanted little tenants clear out. It’s best, I find, to fill a large bowl with cool water and put them in there, swirling them around gently, rather than just rinsing them. Dry them either in a salad spinner, or air dry them on paper towels. Place the blossoms in a jar or bottle about ½ to ¾ full. Pour in your vinegar to fill the container. Then let it sit in a dark/cool place for two weeks, then strain it, removing the flowers. What you end up with is a beautiful pink vinegar that’s mildly onion-y in flavor. It’s perfect in vinaigrettes & salads, great in macaroni or potato salad, and it’d probably make fairly interesting refrigerator pickles.

Chives, posing with chives! Brilliant!

I made this on May 13th, and here’s a little photo quadrangle of its journey from then ’til the day I made the potato salad. I was pretty amazed at how in just a matter of less than 12 hours, the vinegar was already obviously pink. And then it just got pinker & pinker! It’s so pretty, really. It reminds me of those bottles of day-glo highlighter liquid teenagers used to make years ago to use under blacklight (am I showing my age?), except prettier, edible & much more useful. And totally less ’90′s.

Day eight was a rainy, miserable day, so the picture sucks. Of course, the two weeks is the recommended time, but you can use it even after a few days. It won’t be as strong, but you’ll definitely get a chive flavor. I used mine after about 8 or 9 days and it was plenty strong. I also dried the blossoms I removed from the vinegar and saved them in another jar to use in egg salad. But that’s a whole ‘nother post for another day. Anyway, speaking of salad… I was so inspired by the beautiful jar of pink vinegar, that I decided to use it to make some chive-y potato salad. And then, I thought, why not share it on the blog? ‘Cause I’m awesome, that’s why. And also because Monday here in the good ol’ U. S. of A. is Memorial Day, which is a big barbecue day which pretty much kicks off the summer and potato salad is a barbecue/summer staple. Memorial Day means way more than just that, of course, but like 4th of July, Americans don’t like holidays they can’t get a day off for or drink to celebrate. In terms of the salad: keep in mind, if you’re not using chive vinegar, the flavor will be different. I’d substitute by using white wine vinegar & add a sliced shallot and an extra tablespoon of chopped chives. Or, you can just make your own chive blossom vinegar. Or… if you have no chive blossoms but you have some chives, just cut some chives up and put them in a jar of vinegar for a week or so. The vinegar will definitely end up with a chive flavor, though perhaps not the same as with the blossoms and definitely not pink.

Honestly- potato salad (and macaroni salad) is so easy to make, why go and buy it at a deli or supermarket? You’ve probably got most of the necessary ingredients right at hand, and what you don’t have you can always substitute other things for. Or omit them totally. Do yo’ thaaaang.



  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, boiled (& peeled, if desired) and cubed (equals roughly 8 medium-sized potatoes)
  • 4-5 tablespoons chive blossom vinegar, depending on taste
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup chopped celery (I omitted this)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (I used Gulden’s spicy brown, you can use any you like)
  • washed chive blossoms, either fresh or dried (for garnish, if desired, the blossoms are edible)


  1. Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons chive vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, chives, mustard, remaining tablespoons vinegar, and sugar thoroughly.
  3. Add to the potato mixture. Chill until cool. Garnish with whole or torn apart chive blossoms, if you want.

This salad was inhaled. INHALED. Disappeared from the bowl like David Blaine was here. People from all over New York swarmed to my house to taste it. Alright. So… that’s a lie, but I wasn’t lying about it being inhaled. You’d have thought I invented the wheel the way people raved about it. And I find that the more things you make yourself, the more impressed people are with it, and the better your food tastes to them. Once I said I not only grew the chives, but used the blossoms to make infused vinegar and then in turn used that vinegar to make the salad, I was practically crowned the new Martha Stewart. No shit.

This recipe makes a very creamy potato salad, if you prefer a more vinegar-y one, then just alter it to suit your needs by lessening the amount of mayo. Potato salad is a super easy thing to change around. It’s all about taste & preference, there is no wrong. Use any kind of potatoes- from baby reds to Yukon Gold, any kind of mustard (or none), any amount of hard-boiled eggs (or none), any kind of vinegar, etc. So easy! Take out the chives, add dill, add a chopped pickle, whatever. It’s 100% customizable. Same thing with macaroni salad. Just taste it as you go and change things up. There are tons of base recipes on the internet if you’re scared.

Back to the chive vinegar: I think it’s great to have a jar of this around, especially if you’re into making your own salad dressings or vinaigrettes. I’m going to work on a pickle recipe using some of this vinegar as well. My mother wants some to marinate steaks in; she likes vinegar marinated steak. And she probably just wants a jar of pink vinegar to put out on the counter, too, ’cause it’s pretty to look at. And yes, the blossoms themselves are edible too. Try one.


I’ve been hearing about sweet potato cupcakes for a few years now. Retro Bakery in Las Vegas features a Candied Yam cupcake every Thanksgiving season, and seeing how I follow them on Twitter, I kinda salivate each time they’re pictured or mentioned. I don’t actually like sweet potatoes, but I do like sweet potato fries and when there’s marshmallow on anything it’s probably gonna be delicious. So sweet potato cupcakes with toasted marshmallow-y frosting? Sign me up, baby. My friend Sami made a version of sweet potato cupcakes from Better Homes & Gardens with a chocolate syrup-type frosting & she wasn’t a fan, but I thought I’d try this version anyway. After all, I’d had it saved & waiting to be used for almost a year.

See here’s the deal: I don’t just bake or make edible stuff for Thanksgiving or Christmas. My mixer isn’t pulled out for the holidays then covered up again for another year; she’s in a place of honor where she belongs. I always have a variety of flours & sugars, not to mention honey, sprinkles, buttermilk and unsalted butter in the house at all times. I’ve got cookie cutters that are discolored & well-worn, not brand new & shiny. I have baking pans & cookie sheets out the ass, most of which have seen better days. I have plastic bins overflowing with muffin & cupcake liners for every day of the week let alone season. I have Mason jars & lids stashed everywhere & there’s liquid pectin in my fridge. I’m a full-on, from-scratch baker/cook/canner, 12 months out of the year. I make time to bake & make homemade food & confections every week, because it’s not only enjoyable but also because it’s important to me. It keeps me happy, well-fed and most importantly sane. So I have recipes bookmarked (both on Firefox & literally bookmarked in books), earmarked, cut-out of magazines & taped to notebooks, some even stored in the “notes” section on my iPhone. They’re everywhere. I get them in e-mails from family members, on Facebook, on Twitter (or I should say via Twitter, since fitting a recipe in 140 characters is kinda hard) and more. Both virtual copies & hard copies. They’re stashed all over my house from the bedroom to the kitchen to the living room. I have notes on the calendar about them, memos in my phone about them, and reminders on my laptop. I spend my spare moments before I fall asleep searching the internet for things like whiskey-pickle recipes or unique ways to use up dried cranberries. Insane? No. It’s entirely possible that people who don’t do that are far more insane than I am. Because of the fact that it keeps me sane.

Anyway while I bake a lot, and make a lot of cupcakes… I wanted to make an extra special batch of cupcakes for this Thanksgiving, and I do think these fit the bill. I toasted the frosting & I think that just adds to it. Of course, I can’t have one yet because they’re all for tomorrow- but I tasted some batter & OH MY GOD. I don’t even like sweet potatoes & that’s some good shit.

Jay will be home from Texas for turkey day, too, which is an added bonus. I’m picking him up from La Guardia in a couple of hours, after a long day of baking & packing up food. Mi familia will be together tomorrow & stuff our faces full of that food, & that’s just the way it should be. This Thanksgiving is the first one I’m, or we’re, celebrating without my grandma. It’s rough, and I know Christmas will be tougher still. But she wouldn’t want me to complain or be sad. She loved the holidays, & so I’m doing my best to celebrate her memory as well as each holiday. This Thanksgiving we’ll all raise our glasses of wine & toast to Aggie, and of course Uncle Pat, and at the same time be thankful for all we do have & that includes family, and of course for me it includes these two sweet little faces…




  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned whole sweet potatoes (unsweetened), mashed
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Line twelve 2 ½-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups; set cups aside.
  2. In medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt; set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Add sweet potatoes and vanilla, beating until combined. Add flour mixture; beat until combined (batter will be thick).
  4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake about 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on wire rack for 1 minute. Remove from pan and cool completely.



Makes about 4 cups, plenty of frosting for 12-18, possibly even 24 cupcakes, depending on how high you frost!


  • ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature


  1. Combine ¾ cup sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230° degrees.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining tablespoon sugar, beating to combine.
  3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230° degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.

Just remember: you really do need a stand mixer for this frosting. Unless you have Incredible Hulk muscles & don’t mind standing there beating egg whites until stiff for possibly 15-20 minutes or more and then beating the hot frosting itself for 7+ minutes by hand. However, you can make a marshmallow frosting using Fluff that’s awesome too, and tastes similar (a bit sweeter) & can be toasted as well.

And of course I boxed them up in Bake-A-Box boxes. The liners are greaseproof natural, unbleached liners from Layer Cake Shop. I bought the fall leaves from Sugar Robot on Etsy. They’re paper… but they’re edible! How awesome is that?! Supposedly they taste like vanilla. We’ll see. Oh, and those other cupcakes are cinnamon-vanilla (recipe here) with a vanilla frosting in plain white liners for the finicky among us who perhaps won’t eat the sweet potato cupcakes. These have little vintage-inspired turkey toppers on ‘em.

Anyway, I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow, even those of you who don’t celebrate it for whatever reason. Enjoy your friends & families, & pets. I hope that you’ll consider a donation to help feed someone who can’t feed themselves tomorrow, or if you’re able to you’ll volunteer at a shelter or food bank or soup kitchen. But at the very, very least, please make a $5 or $10 donation to the ONE campaign, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, or Share Our Strength. Please think about those less fortunate than you, when you’re “counting your blessings” tomorrow.



What da dilly, yo?

Busta Rhymes & dilly beans. A natural combination, no?

So yeah. Dilly beans. As a native New Yorker, where most of my young-adult time was spent pounding pavement in Manhattan, either uptown by the Met or downtown in Chelsea & the Fashion District, not quite growing my own vegetables/living in a rural area/reading up about canning, I hadn’t a friggin’ clue what the hell a dilly bean was. I’d heard of them, sure, on the internet & blogging circles. But I was totally not sure what exactly they were. Turns out, they’re just preserved green beans! Go figure!

Dilly beans or pickled green beans, are a means of preserving this summer legume. Often flavored with dill, hence the name, they may also contain garlic, Tabasco sauce, and red pepper. Best kept in glass jars for safekeeping over the winter months, they can be served on their own as a snack or alongside a main dish or in salad. While they are made in kitchens all over the United States, they are particularly common in Vermont, where the overabundance of green beans produced during the short summer needs to be preserved for enjoyment during the long winter.

Dilly beans were developed as a commercial product in 1958 by Sonya Hagna and Jacquelyn Park, who made them the subject of a well-known radio advertising campaign.[1]

- Wikipedia

Ahhh so it’s a VERMONT thing, eh? I see. It just sounds so old-timey to me, I find them sorta fascinating.

Turns out they’re pretty popular. After Tracie, a Facebook fan of Cupcake Rehab, mentioned awhile back that they were her favorite thing to “can” (and also explained what they were, thanks Tracie), I thought they’d be an easy pickling project. Especially since my local grocer was selling fresh green beans for super cheap & my family was asking me for even more pickled items (word to the wise: the pickles are never enough). Even though I went canning crazy last month when my grandma died (that still sucks to write, by the way), practically all my pickles are gone and whatevers left is fought over.

I design/print/make my own labels… I just love them..

PICKLED GREEN BEANS AKA “DILLY BEANS” (directly from Food in Jars /adapted from So Easy to Preserve)

Ingredients for gettin’ dilly with it:

  • 2 pounds green beans, trimmed to fit your jars
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot)
  • 4 teaspoons dill seed (not dill weed)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 ½ cups white vinegar (5%)
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup pickling salt (use a bit more if you’ve only got Kosher)

Directions on how to get yo’ dilly on:

  1. Prep your canning pot by inserting a rack to keep your jars off the bottom of the pot, place pint jars in (wide-mouth pints work best here. A 12-ounce jelly jar is also nice, as it’s a bit taller than a standard pint and makes for less trimming) and fill it with water. Bring to a boil to sterilize while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
  2. Wash and trim your beans so that they fit in your jar. If you have particularly long beans, your best bet is to cut them in half, although by doing so, you do lose the visual appeal of having all the beans standing at attending.
  3. Combine vinegar, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. While it’s heating up, pack your beans into the jars, leaving ½ inch headspace (distance between the tops of the beans and the rim of the jar). To each jar, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 clove of garlic and 1 teaspoon dill seeds.
  4. Pour the boiling brine over the beans, making sure to leave that ½ inch headspace. Use a plastic knife to remove air bubbles from jar by running it around the interior of the jar. Wipe the rims and apply the lids (which have been sitting in a small saucepan of water at a mere simmer for at least ten minutes in order to soften the sealing compound) and rings.
  5. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath (remember that you don’t start timing until the pot has come to a rolling boil).

As she said: “These beans want to hang out for a least two weeks before eating, to thoroughly develop their flavor.” This recipe, as it is written above, makes 4 jars of dilly beans. I did not use wide mouth pints, I used 2 regular pint jars. Why 2? Well I halved the recipe, really because I bought only a pound of beans. I would’ve bought more but I forgot what the recipe said when I went to buy ‘em, so I only bought one pound. Why I don’t know, because I clearly could’ve JARRED whatever extra I had. Oh well. I’m still thinking like someone who doesn’t can/jar, i.e. “I don’t want to waste it!” Duh. What an idiot, right? Anyway because these were gifts, or rather “orders”, I did not go crazy with the cayenne. I used just a ¼ teaspoon in each jar and it was too hot for these people! Crazy. If it were for me, I might have used the ½ teaspoon. But remember, these people are lame-o’s who don’t like “hot” stuff. So there we go. Who knew ¼ teaspoon of cayenne was too much? I guess these are some hardcore gangsta spicy dilly “Gettin’ silly wit my 9-milly, what da dilly yo?” beans.

Also, it’s true. Wide-mouth pints would work better. I used regular ones & it kinda sucked cramming them in. Pfft.

As summer is starting to come to a close, I’m trying to get in all the summer-y things I can. I had a pretty shitty summer, but while it’s still warm I’m trying to hang on to what’s left of it. Potato salad is one of those summertime staples. Every barbecue or picnic has either potato salad, macaroni salad, or both. My grandma made an awesome potato salad. So awesome, everyone who ate it said it was the best ever. Unfortunately, she wrote nothing down. And my mother never noted any of what she put into it, neither did I. It was always a dash of this, a little of that, etc. And as she got older, she made these awesome things less & less, and left the cooking to us; first my mom, then myself. So her recipes belong to the ages, along with her. However, last month’s issue of Bon Appétit has an entire article on canning, and it features a recipe for Dilly Bean Potato Salad. So I thought I’d give it a shot. And while it’s probably not quite as good as Nana’s, it’s something new & different. It’s also pretty damn amazing in it’s own right, to be fair. Maybe a new family recipe?

Dilly bean sighting!

DILLY BEAN POTATO SALAD (from Bon Appétit, August 2011)


  • 2 shallots, halved lengthwise, very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or more, to taste)
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 lb. potatoes*
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (or more, to taste)
  • 1 large pinch smoked paprika
  • 3 cups trimmed watercress, purslane or wild arugula, coarsely chopped**
  • 1 cup Dilly beans, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
  • 2-3 large hard boiled eggs, peeled, quartered
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley or celery leaves


  1. Place shallots in a small bowl. Stir in the red wine vinegar, and a large pinch of salt; set aside.
  2. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes well; transfer to a large bowl. Lightly crush potatoes with the back of a large spoon.
  3. Add shallot-vinegar mixture to hot potatoes and toss to incorporate. Season with salt & pepper.
  4. Whisk  mayonnaise and smoked paprika in a small bowl; add to potatoes and toss to combine. Fold in watercress, beans, add eggs and season to taste with salt, pepper and more vinegar or mayonnaise if desired. Garnish with parsley.
*the original recipe calls for baby Yukon gold, I just used unpeeled quartered Russets, that’s what my Nana did.
**I omitted that & just added a handful of chopped chives from my garden.
 Nana would be proud, second & third servings were requested.

 This can be made one day ahead of time. Cover and chill, return to room temperature before serving, and stir in extra mayonnaise if it’s too dry. Although the next day nobody needed extra mayo; it seemed to stay nice & creamy. It would also knock it out of the park without the dilly beans; just add a little extra egg.

OH one more thing about the beans; remember what I said about the peaches floating? Dilly beans float too, apparently. I also did not have to trim many of my beans, sure I had to trim some but not a lot. Although now in retrospect, I probably could’ve gotten away with not trimming them at all, because I clearly had a lot of leeway, judging by the bottom of the jars there. I’m really bad at taking photos before I fill the jars, or during the process of filling the jars, etc.  I promise I’ll change. I’ll be better. I know people want to see the process. I’ll deliver, my friends, I’ll deliver.

And I swear on my dilly’s that there will be some baked goods soon. In the meantime, why not make some of this for one of those ‘last days of summer’ barbecues?

Maverick-y pasta with potatoes, leeks & broccoli.

Why are they so maverick-y, you may ask? Well, long before Ms. Palin decided to christen herself & Mr. McCain “mavericks”, I was doing the rebellious thing; fashion-wise, personality-wise, life-wise, etc. No- I wasn’t shooting wolves out of helicopters, nor was I a hockey mom. But I was a rebel. And with this blog, I’ve been known to throw caution to the wind and completely omit things from a recipe or change them (like my “penne with broccoli” recipe with which I used… ZITI *gasp* shocking!). And my rebel-like nature in this instance caused me to say, with this particular meal, “screw the bow-tie pasta, I’m using radiatore!” See? Total maverick.


I get the Food Network magazine, as many of you may know. I’ve gotten so many of my favorite recipes from that magazine, including my Earl Grey with lemon tea cupcakes, tortilla soup, and a few others. Each time I get a new issue I get really excited, because while I love and adore Bon Appétit, and I miss Gourmet whole-heartedly, the Food Network magazine is much more accessible. It’s not as high-brow, the ingredients don’t usually cost $100.00 to buy, and they aren’t too stuffy or random for the average night’s dinner. Plus, they always have quick & easy dessert recipes too, which make me smile. This recipe was in the most recent issue, September 2010. It’s called “bow-tie pasta with broccoli & potatoes.” But obviously I used radiatore, so I can’t very well stick with that name. I also didn’t use any Boston lettuce- it just didn’t appeal to me in this recipe, despite the instructions. I don’t like wilty lettuce. So because of all my changes, I’m dubbing it “Maverick-y pasta with potatoes, leeks & broccoli.” So there, Sarah Palin. Put that in yer rifle & shoot it!



  • 1 pound radiatore pasta (or whatever kind of pasta you want, BE A MAVERICK!)
  • 1 large bunch broccoli, florets and some chopped stems
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, white and green parts only, sliced into half-moons
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese (or fontina)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Directions on being all maverick-y:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook 10 minutes, then add the broccoli and pasta and cook as the pasta’s label directs.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and pepper to taste. Cook until soft, about 7 minutes.
  3. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta & broccoli cooking water, then drain the mix. Return to the pot.
  4. Add the leeks to the pot and stir in enough of the cooking water to moisten, if needed. Stir in the cheeses and season with salt and pepper. Top with more parmesan. Ta-da!

Fantabulonious. That’s really the only word I could use. This dish is an amazing combination of deliciousness… I mean, look at that cheese! And the best part is that it’s basically a 30 minute meal. Even better than that? When slicing the leeks, you can say “Now I’ll take a leek… ” and it sounds pretty funny. Get it? “Take a leek”/”Take a leak”? *clears throat* Yeah. Funny. And I apologize, because I keep saying I wish Sarah Palin would go away and I’d stop hearing her name, and yet here I am, invoking her name to get a cheap laugh on a post about a pasta dish. *sigh* I’m sorry everyone.

And speaking of douchebags, the one who stole from me can go suck an egg (in case you missed it, here’s the shortened version: crazy bitch stole my photos, claimed they were hers, posted them on Craigslist and started a baking business). I contacted her, told her the way it is, and specifically stated that I am not going to play games, so if she pulls this shit again, I’ll contact Facebook and a lawyer. I’d like to see her try that. I could use some extra pocket money made off of an idiot who doesn’t respect copyright law. It’s dumb enough to steal someone’s shit, but to steal mine? Even dumber. Not only are you fucking with a New Yorker, but sweetheart, you’re fucking with someone who’s significant other is an NYPD police officer & who has friends who are lawyers. I know more about copyright, law and my rights than you know about mixing your Duncan Hines cake mix. Good job. So, Lou Ann (or “Sharon”) Stallings of Virginia, aka “Cupcakes by Lou Ann”, since you never responded to my message, I’d like you to know these are for you. Thank you, have a nice day.

Shepherd’s pie for the alky’s.

Everyone is familiar with Shepherd’s Pie. If you’re Irish, then you definitely know Shepherd’s Pie. It’s classic pub food. The original name is “Cottage Pie.”

Cottage pie refers to an English meat pie made with beef mince and with a crust made from mashed potato. A variation on this dish using Lamb mince is known as Shepherd’s pie. The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791,[1][2] when potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. “cottage” meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers). In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.[3][4]

The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until the 1870s,[2] and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] There is now a popular tendency for “shepherd’s pie” to be used when the meat is mutton or lamb,[9][10] and not cattle,[11][12] with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep, however this may be an example of folk etymology.

Therefore, the recipe I’m presenting to you here today is really a cottage pie. Although nobody would know what the hell that was if I called it that. So anyway, basically what a Shepherd’s Pie/Cottage Pie is is a “casserole” of sorts, made of meat, vegetables, and topped with a mashed potato “crust.” It can be made lousy, I’m sure, like a sort of mystery meat pie (which reminds me of Sweeney Todd, with Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett with her meatpies… *cringe*) but it can also be made in a super flavorful, delicious and not-mush-like way. And would I make it any other way than that?

There’s been a lot of talk about Shepherd’s Pie lately, Brianne made it a few weeks ago, and recently Jay’s mom was talking about it as well. It gave me a hankering for it,  I haven’t eaten any red meat (or cooked any) in a long time, so I thought this was a good way to reintroduce myself to it. I had a really awesome recipe for Shepherd’s Pie with Guinness that I found somewhere on the web years ago, and of course I couldn’t find it, so I did a Google. And luckily I did, because I couldn’t find that recipe again, but I found the Hungry Housewife’s version instead and it was fantabulous. Seriously. I added a few things and made some changes, and have some recommendations but it’s essentially her recipe.

It would be awesome if you made this, served Guinness stout with it, and then made Guinness cupcakes for dessert. A whole night’s meal made with Guinness! Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. And remember, you can use any kind of ground meat for this: turkey, lamb, a mixture, etc.


Get thee the following materials:

  • 1 ½ pounds organic ground beef 80/20
  • 1 (1lb) bag frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • 2 packets of dry Brown Gravy Mix
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 medium onion
  • olive oil
  • 2 bottles Guinness (or other dark stout- just NOT a chocolate stout or cream stout)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups sharp Irish cheddar cheese (i.e. Dubliner)
  • 3 pounds baking potatoes
  • ¼- ½ cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Then ye do as follows:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Peel the potatoes, then boil them in salted water until fork tender, about 40-45 minutes. Drain completely and place back in pot so all of the water evaporates. In a medium mixing bowl add butter and potatoes. Mash until smooth, while adding the milk for a medium consistency. Add salt and pepper.
  3. Cook and drain ground beef. Place drained beef back in skillet and add Worcestershire sauce and 1 bottle of Guinness*. Cook until beer has almost cooked out.
  4. Add tomato paste to meat. In a medium sauce pan, prepare the brown gravy according to package directions, however, use beer for half the liquid called for (1 cup water, 1 cup beer)**. Pour gravy into meat mixture. And cook all together until you get a nice thick gravy.
  5. Rough chop the onion. In medium skillet with olive oil,*** sauté onion until soft and translucent. Add mixed vegetables to the onion and cook until warm throughout.
  6. In a 2 quart baking dish, add meat as bottom layer, the add vegetables, and then add the mashed potatoes. Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until cheese gets nice and bubbly.
*I used Guinness in cans. It doesn’t really matter, the bottles have a little bit more in them, that’s all. We’re talking the difference of an ounce or two.
**I used Knorr, and it called for 1 ½ cups water per pouch, so I used 1 ½ cups of each. However, the gravy was a bit much so next time I’d do either 1 straight cup each or maybe even less.
***I used the same skillet I used to cook the beef, so the flavors absorbed into the veggies too. I also suggest not cooking the vegetables too much, or else they’ll be mushy in the pie. I left mine somewhat cold, just barely heated (I circled them a few times in the skillet with the onions), and they were nice and crisp in the pie.

I used over a pound of the mixed vegetables. I bought a 2 lb bag and just kinda eyeballed it, and it turned out to be more than half the bag. But that’s up to you.  You could buy fresh veggies if you really wanted. And If you can, I recommend using an Irish cheddar, like Dubliner or another Irish cheese, and shredding it yourself.  If you can’t, then it’s quite alright to stick with a regular sharp cheddar. And organic beef is my preference, if I’m going to eat red meat, but again… that’s totally up to you. Nobody’s going to shoot you if you buy the ground beef that’s on sale this week instead. Also, if you don’t have the time to mash your own potatoes, I suggest using 2 bags of Ore-Ida’s Steam & Mash in the classic cut russet flavor. It’s the closest thing to homemade mashed potatoes you can buy. Box mixes just really don’t cut it.

The Guinness flavor in this is amazing. It really comes through perfectly. If you’re a Guinness fan, I highly endorse you making this dish.

Slumber Party Potatoes.

A couple of months ago I was sick, and stuck in bed for a week, and during that time I read about 700 books. One of these books was Diane Mott Davidson’s Prime Cut. Its a culinary mystery book, with recipes intertwined with each chapter. One of the recipes was something called ‘Slumber Party Potatoes’ and even though I was so sick I could only ingest soup, it sounded so incredibly good I almost became delirious.

A few changes: I used a bag of frozen broccoli cuts, because that’s what I had. I prefer to cook my broccoli in a pan with a little butter or oil so that’s  how I prepared it for this. I did not use chicken broth granules either, I had regular chicken broth but I didn’t bother to use it.


(Makes 4 servings)


  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 2 T. (¼ stick) butter
  • 3 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. chicken broth granules
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli, trimmed of stems and separated into florets, lightly steamed
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Scrub and prick the potatoes in 3 or 4 places with a fork. Bake them for about 1 hour, or until flaky.
  3. While the potatoes are baking, melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat. Stir in the flour; cook and stir just until the flour bubbles, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth granules, stir, and then gently whisk in the milk. Heat and stir constantly over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until it melts, 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. Split each of the hot potatoes in half and place them on a platter. Place the steamed broccoli florets and chopped bacon into bowls. Pour the cheese sauce into a large gravy boat. Diners serve themselves assembly-line style, ending with the cheese sauce.

OH. MY. GOD. So good. So good you won’t be able to move after having one… or uh *cough* three.

I doubled the cheese sauce recipe so I could serve more, and it worked just fine.

Flat Iron steak & oven-roasted potato wedges with cilantro-lime mayonnaise.

I don’t eat much red meat anymore- I’ve lost my taste for it. But this recipe sounded so damn good it actually made me want to have some. But also, I’ll be honest: the main reason I wanted to make this was because it was called Flat Iron steak, and I happen to adore the M·A·C store in the Flatiron Building in Manhattan (and the building itself) so I thought it was a nifty name for a steak. Considering how delicious this was, I think my instinct for judging a recipe by its name is pretty damn good.

(image courtesy of Tony Shi on Flickr)

The Flatiron Building, or Fuller Building as it was originally called, is located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, and is considered to be one of the first skyscrapers ever built. Upon completion in 1902 it was one of the tallest buildings in New York City. The building sits on a triangular island block at 23rd Street, Fifth Avenue, and Broadway, anchoring the south (downtown) end of Madison Square.

The potato wedges just sounded so amazing, I had to make them. The steak recipe is from Chicago’s Custom House restaurant, and the potato wedges (and mayo recipe) are from the May 2009 issue of Gourmet magazine. I didn’t make the mayonnaise because I didn’t have cilantro, but I’m adding it here because a) it sounds effing delicious, b) it goes with the potatoes and c) it’ll remind me to make it A.S.A.P. Psst… Ley, this is a perfect recipe for you to make, the name of your blog being Cilantro & Lime :D



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp each: black pepper, smoked paprika, crushed fennel seeds* and kosher salt
  • 4 flat iron (top chuck) steaks, about 1 ½ lbs
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter


  1. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with seasonings. Spread paste over both sides of steak, and let sit 20 minutes.
  2. Heat remaining oil and butter in large skillet, over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook steak 10-12 minutes, turning once, or until instant read thermometer registers 140°F for medium-rare.

*I didn’t use these.



  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs baking potatoes (about 4 medium), each cut into wedges


  1. Put a 4-sided sheet pan in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Stir cumin & oregano plus ¾ tsp salt into oil in a large bowl. Add potatoes and toss.
  3. Arrange potatoes, cut sides down, in1 layer in hot pan and roast, turning once, until golden (about 40 minutes).



  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice


  1. Stir all ingredients together, adding ¼ teaspoon salt, in a small serving bowl.

Yum. Thats all I can say. Yum.

Beware when making this: the potatoes go really fast. I suggest making 8 lbs.

Get stuffed.

The title of this post has a double meaning. One, the potatoes I made tonight, and two, the subject I will discuss later on at the end of this post. But first, lets talk potatoes. I love potatoes. Baked potatoes, twice baked potatoes, french fries, mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, etc. You name it- I love it. Maybe it’s the Irish in me, who knows, I just adore them. But when you go to a restaurant, as a rule, the “stuffed” potatoes or potato skins (or even the regular twice baked potatoes) are kinda skimpy and wimpy. Thanks to this recipe, the “loaded” potato gets a facelift: it gets overstuffed with garlic and potato and gets classy with some Boursin cheese!

Ther heritage of Boursin cheese, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is as follows (courtesy of the website):

Boursin was created in 1957 by François Boursin, a cheesemaker in Normandy, France. His first variety, Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs, was inspired by a long-standing traditional dish: fromage frais (fresh cheese) served with a bowl of fine herbs, which allowed each person to create his or her own personally seasoned cheese.

Boursin is an excellent cheese to use as a spread on crackers, its also great on sandwiches (especially roast beef) and is perfect for stuffing chicken breasts as well. Its very versatile as far as cheeses go. I’ve seen recipes before for making your own Boursin. If you should choose to do that, then by all means, go ahead. I however, prefer original to fake so I used real Boursin. This recipe calls for 7 potatoes, but only uses 6 of them. The remaining potato is used for its flesh; you should have 5 cups total of scooped potato flesh in step 2. Or, alternately, if you puncture one during scooping- you have an extra.


Serves 6


  • 7 large russet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 6 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons of it melted
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 5.2 oz. package Boursin cheese, crumbled (‘Garlic & Fine Herbs’ flavor)
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped chives*
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475° degrees. Set wire rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Prick potatoes all over with fork, place on paper towel, and microwave on high until tender, 20 to 25 minutes, turning potatoes over after 10 minutes.
  2. Slice and remove top quarter of each potato, let cool 5 minutes, then scoop out flesh, leaving ¼-inch layer of potato on inside. Discard 1 potato shell. Brush remaining shells inside and out with melted butter and sprinkle interiors with ¼ teaspoon salt. Transfer potatoes scooped side up to baking sheet fitted with wire rack and bake until skins begin to crisp, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix half of Boursin and half-and-half in bowl until blended. Cook remaining butter with garlic in saucepan over medium-low heat until garlic is straw-colored, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in Boursin mixture until combined.
  4. Set ricer or food mill over medium bowl and press or mill potatoes into bowl. Gently fold in warm Boursin mixture, 3 tablespoons chives, remaining salt, and pepper until well incorporated. Remove potato shells from oven and fill with potato-cheese mixture. Top with remaining crumbled Boursin and bake until tops of potatoes are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining chives. Serve.

*The chives are totally optional. Do it, don’t do it, whatever!

These were fabulous. I can’t think of any more adjectives to use. But they were fab-u-lous. They’d be amazing as a side dish to burgers or even steak, as well as just an awesome snack or party food. As they say… “Du Pain, Du Vin, Du Boursin!”

And now for something completely different: I recieved my first negative comment yesterday in the over a year I’ve had this blog. My first non-spam comment that had to be deleted, I should say. I won’t specifically say what was said, etc, etc… because I won’t give this particular person any more attention than I already have nor the satisfaction of her seeing her ignorance repeated, however suffice it to say someone decided it would be a good idea to come to my website and call me names over our President-Elect, Mr. Barack Obama, whom I happened to vote for (proudly, and I will not and do not plan on ever hiding that fact). Along with millions of others, obviously. This troll also decided to write awful things in reference to cancer patients, which I certainly won’t allow on my site. If you wish to read what I have to say on this subject, then click the link below to read the rest of the entry. Otherwise, thanks for reading!

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