Monday, March 21, 2011

Garlic Cartago Potatoes

My friend, Stan, sent me this interesting and humorous recipe. I post it here in its entirety. For some more South American recipes visit the website of AM Costa Rica.
Thanks, Stan.

Cardiologists do not recommend the
editor's bacon and garlic Cartago potato medley.
For recipe, see below.

Cartago shows off complexities
of its cuisine with contest

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a lot more to the Provincia de Cartago than potatoes, and cooks of the communities have joined together to prove that.

The event last month was another of the culture ministry's efforts to capture the nation's traditions.

When most Costa Ricans think of Cartago, the words
chilly and potatoes leap to their minds. The province, centered around the Canton of Cartago is generally higher than communities in the Central Valley. Cartago itself at 1,435 meters is 274 meters (about 900 feet) higher than the bulk of San José.

That may be bad for sunbathing, but the weather is great for temperate vegetable crops, including the potato, carrot, onions and even the chayote. And these work their way into the area's traditional menus.

There are seven other cantons, La Unión, Jiménez, Turrialba, Oreamuno, Alvarado, El Guarco and Paraíso. Each has developed their own variations on food. After all, they have had plenty of time. Cartago was founded in the middle of the 16th century, and Spanish settled in the region due to the healthy climate. The city was the nation's capital until 1823.

The region is also known for its conservatism, so one can expect that the Spanish tradition will be a strong influence on the local foods.

Garlic Cartago Potatoes

By popular demand (Well, we got some e-mails, anyway), we include the editor's famous garlic potato medley shunned by cardiologists the world over.


2 cans of Imperial (or similar) beer
half pound bacon (200 grams más o menos)
1 large onion
12 toes of garlic (more or less)
12 small (golf ball size potatoes or six tennis ball size) Cartago potatoes
cup of olive oil
Whatever extra seasonings you like such as Italian or Mexican or maybe you like parsley, thyme, bay leaves, or cilantro.


Open and start drinking the first can of beer.

Cut into smaller pieces and start frying bacon in large fry pan.

In a few minutes combine chopped onion and chopped garlic in the frying pan. Put in the seasoning you like now. Add about half the oil. Keep heat moderate to let the tastes meld.

Don't forget the beer.

Wash and clean the small Cartago potatoes. Nuke them in a microwave for from 5 to 7 minutes. Then chop them into sixths or eighths.

Don't forget the beer.

Put the potatoes in the same frying pan with the onions, bacon, and garlic for a few minutes. Sprinkle with the rest of the oil. Then after a few minutes transfer the entire dish to a metal or glass baking dish and stick in a pre-heated oven.

Depending on the time for dinner, cover with foil to keep garlic, onions and bacon from burning. Make sure to remove the foil during the last 10 minutes to make the potatoes slices crisp.

Reward yourself with the second beer. (This is really a beer-type dish. But port after dinner goes well, too.)

Serve with beer and meat of your choice, perhaps a pork roast.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

West Cork Pork Chops

I was looking for an Irish pork recipe for this St. Patrick's Day and found this nice website on Irish culture and customs. “The truth is, the menu on March 17th was usually "a nice bit of boiled bacon." Pork is a lot more authentic than salted beef!”
Of course I have a lot of pork, what with two FFA pigs in the freezer. I’m sure going to miss that girl when she goes off to college this fall – for so many things. I found store brand Dijon mustard at Wal-Mart, what a surprise. We buy sorghum at the county Harvest Festival each October and the only beer I could find was a lone bottle of Negra Modelo I had stashed in the pantry.
This turned out so pretty with the onion slices lying on top of each chop and accompanied by Green & Gold Potatoes.
Serves 4 to 6

4 to 6 pork chops, 3/4 inches thick
dash of salt and pepper
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup sorghum
1 large onion sliced crosswise (at least one slice per chop)
1 (12 oz.) bottle dark beer (Guinness or Negra Modelo)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13” x 9” glass baking dish with canola oil spray.Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while gathering ingredients.
Trim excess fat from pork chops and sear in skillet over high heat one at a time. As they are browned, place in baking dish.
When all the pork chops are in the baking dish, season with a tiny bit of salt and pepper.
Put sorghum in a small dish and warm in microwave so it will mix and spread easier. Stir in mustard and spread on chops.
Top each chop with a slice of onion.
Pour 1 cup of beer over chops and drink the rest!
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.
Serve with applesauce and Green & Gold Potatoes.

Green & Gold Potatoes

I was looking around for a new potato recipe for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. I found a recipe in my files from 1999 for Potato Spinach Casserole. There was no information about the origin of this recipe, so I looked it up on the WWW. It’s everywhere in some form or another.
First, I reduced the fat and salt. Then I had some Yukon Gold potatoes and spinach from Aldi’s. The potatoes had been half price and cheaper than regular. Their spinach is always inexpensive.
Any mashing type potato will do, but the gold gave a nice color with the green of the spinach and chives.
I prefer fresh spinach because it is so tender. Frozen tends to be tough and canned is mushy. I actually used chopped frozen chives, because that was the easiest way to preserve them from my yard.
These potatoes were not only pretty to look at, but very tasty to eat with my adaptation of West Cork Pork Chops posted next. I can’t wait for leftovers.
Serves 6 to 8
6 medium (3 lbs.) Yukon Gold potatoes
1 pkg. (9 oz.) fresh spinach, well washed
1 cup non-fat sour cream
1 Tablespoon dried chopped chives
1 cup (4 oz.) extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
dash of salt and ground white pepper

Put 1 quart of cold water in a 3 quart saucepan. Peel potatoes and immediately put in pan of cold water. Cut potatoes into 1 inch pieces and immediately return to pan of cold water. Fill pan with enough cold water to cover potatoes by about 1 inch. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Set cover off center to release steam, yet contain splashes. Turn heat to medium so that potatoes are just boiling. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes break easily when pierced with fork.
While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 350°F and coat a 10” x 6” (1 quart) glass baking dish with canola oil spray.
Put spinach in a 10” stainless skillet or 3 quart stainless saucepan with tight fitting lids. Just stuff it in there. Add ¼ cup water and cover tightly. Bring to boil over high heat. Stir it a bit, put cover back on and cook over low heat for 5 more minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
Drain potatoes when they are done and mash them with a potato masher right in the pan.
Drain the spinach in its pan by holding the lid just off center and tipping over the sink. Using a hand chopper or two knives, chop the spinach roughly in the pan. Dump the chopped spinach over the potatoes.
Add rest of ingredients to the potatoes and spinach and fold them in gently.
Spoon into prepared baking dish, mounding potatoes as needed.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until hot all through and just starting to brown on top. Check the interior temperature by sticking a fork or knife in the middle and touching it very carefully to your lips.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hash Brown Potatoes à la Julia Child

Hash brown potatoes vary greatly depending on the region. They can be fried raw - diced, sliced or shredded. Or they can be fried from diced or sliced, leftover boiled potatoes. My favorite is raw fried shredded potatoes, like the frozen kind. I love them crunchy and browned on the outside and tender and white on the inside. But I always had a gray, gooey mess, until I discovered the secret to tender white hash browns from Julia Child’s very first TV show – The Potato Show.

Julia’s secret to white fried potatoes is to cut them and immediately soak them in cold water – diced, shredded or sliced. Then just before cooking, drain them, drape a linen towel over a colander and dump them into the towel. Then pick it up, wrapping the towel around the potatoes, twisting and squeezing all the moisture out. For wedges and French fries, soak them in water, drain and pat dry between two towels. Soaking in water immediately after cutting, works well when making boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes and scalloped potatoes, too.

These are so quick and easy, and much better (and much less expensive) than the frozen varieties. Serve them for breakfast or as a side dish with dinner. Fry them with added finely sliced or diced onions, peppers or ham. Or like Waffle Hut, top them with just about anything – chili, cheese, onions, peppers etc.

Serves 4

1 pound potatoes, about 2 large
1 Tablespoon oil, such as canola
1 Tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet until hot and dry. Remove from heat and lightly coat with canola oil spray. Return to very low heat while preparing potatoes.

2. Scrub the potatoes and peel if you like. Grate and immediately drop into cold water.

3. Just before cooking, drain them, drape a linen towel over a colander and dump them into the towel. Then pick it up, wrapping the towel around the potatoes, twisting and squeezing all the moisture out.

4. Add oil and butter to the skillet. When hot, add the drained and dried potatoes and push down with a spatula to spread evenly in the bottom of the pan.

5. Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper and cook until the bottom is browned and crispy, about 5 minutes.

6. Do not try to flip until bottom is browned, or the potatoes might stick. Flip the potatoes, in sections if necessary, and fry another 5 minutes, or until browned and crispy on the other side.

7. Serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200°F oven.

Potatoes Romanov

This makes an elegant but simple casserole for a special brunch. I first made it a couple of years ago, when we had a family Christmas brunch instead of dinner. It was a hit and has become a family favorite for dinners and pot-lucks, too! My daughter calls it Cheesy Potatoes.

Serves 8 - 10

6 large potatoes
2 cups (16 oz.) non-fat sour cream
½ cup finely diced onions
1 cup shredded extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/8 tsp. ground sweet paprika

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Coat a 2 quart glass baking dish lightly with canola oil spray.
3. Scrub potatoes well and boil whole until just fork tender.
4. Drain and cool potatoes very well or they will not shred!
5. Peel potatoes and shred into a large bowl.
6. Gently fold in sour cream, onion, cheese, and pepper.
7. Turn into prepared baking dish.
8. Put butter in 1 quart mixing bowl and cover with wax paper to prevent spatters. Melt on low in microwave, about 30 seconds.
9. Stir in bread crumbs and sprinkle over potatoes. Sprinkle paprika over bread crumbs.
10. Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.

Adapted from:, 2/26/1999

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Banana Bran Bread

My family has been making this recipe as long as I can remember. Grandma, Mom, my sister and brother all made it. I guess that makes it a family favorite for over 50 years! It’s a great way to use up those leftover bananas, no matter how black they are.

¼ cup canola oil (I use canola, I think they used Wesson)

1 egg, beaten

¼ cup milk

1 ½ cups (2-3) mashed banana

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup sugar

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup All-bran cereal

½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 5” x 9” loaf pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together oil, egg, milk and banana.

In a large mixing bowl, fold together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and bran.

Pour liquid mixture over flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Fold in nuts.

Turn into loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.

Cool 5 minutes in pan. Turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling.

Delicious sliced warm and slathered with butter.