Sweet Glazed Sweet Potatos

A little maple syrup goes a long way. Especially since Best Yet market has a 37 cents a pound sweet potato sale! I think I feel a side dish coming on. Please Please Please, support ‘real’ agriculture and purchase only real maple syrup, not the chemical concoction called breakfast syrup…. One, because its healthier and more natural, and secondly, because the chemical one often turns too runny when cooking with it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2   pounds sweet potatoes (4 to 6 medium)
  • 1/3  cup pure maple syrup
  • 2  tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2  cup cranberries

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1- to 1-1/2-inch chunks. In a large bowl combine the maple syrup, oil, salt, and pepper; add sweet potatoes and cranberries. Toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a 3-quart baking dish, spreading mixture evenly.

Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are glazed and tender, stirring twice. Makes 8 servings.

As an added option, you can topped with chopped pecans.

sweet sweet potatos

Hmm Hmm Skillet Potatoes

I was out east last Wednesday to take my Mom out to the grocery. She has a Meat Farms market out by her and while we where there I picked up a pound of slab bacon. I don’t often get slab bacon, and since the market had a couple of packages of white and portobello mushrooms on their sale rack, an alarm went off in my head. It should come as no surprise to my more faithful readers that my alarm sounds an awful lot like a dinner bell! Since they always have great prices on potatoes and onions at Meat farms, my next course of action seemed pretty clear. Oh, and I grabbed a couple of jalapenos and the rest is outlined below:

Here’s what you’ll need (f you skipped the narrative above):

  • 1 cup of slab bacon diced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 medium portobello mushrooms diced
  • 2 large white mushrooms diced
  • 3 medium long island potatoes diced
  • 2 jalapenos minced
  • paprika, salt, pepper

In a nice seasoned cast iron skillet, start browning up the bacon. Then toss in the onion and jalapeno. Then toss in the mushrooms. As this gets cooking, toss in the diced potatoes. Sprinkle this with paprika for coloring, then fold the potatoes into the mixture. As its cooking up season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Once the potatoes are cooked through and soft, the dish is ready to serve. If you don’t like the heat of the jalapeno, you could substitute a small green bell pepper.

Bill’s Secret Corned Beef and Cabbage

Corned beef and cabbage, how often am I asked about corned beef and cabbage? Around this time it’s all the time. Bill, what’s your secret? They all seem to ask. Me, I just quietly hold on to these delusions of grandeur. But, to be honest, I do employ a few ‘tricks’ learned over the years. I suppose I have learned more about cooking this holiday meal because I cook it often. I don’t treat this like a once-a-year thing, no sir. I’ll be making this several times through out the year.

One ‘trick’ to successful corned beef and cabbage is using the right cut. The brisket has two halves, the front or flat-cut, and the point-cut. You could use either, but I prefer the flat-cut because of its uniform shape. This makes slicing easier. The point-cut end of the brisket is the cut I usually use for bar-b-que.

Another ‘trick’ is keeping the core on the cabbage. Many people who use cabbage usually use it in recipes that call for shredding cabbage. So, they are use to first cutting out and discarding the tough core of the cabbage. This is a not so with corned beef and cabbage. I keep the core intact to hold the leaves of the cabbage together.

Another ‘trick’, more of a tip really, is the cooking itself. I cook the meat separate from the potatoes, onions, carrots, and cabbage. One final trick (I don’t want to give them all away, save a couple for next year) is the one I learned from my Dad – timing.

So lets get on with the cooking –

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 (4- to 5-pound) corned beef brisket roast, rinsed, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 cup Duck Walk white wine
  • 6 cups water
  • 12 carrots, peeled (3 chopped, 9 halved crosswise)
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds long island potatoes

First heat oven to 300 degrees. Put the corned beef, wine, water, chopped carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, and allspice in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook for about 4½ to 5 hours.

Transfer meat to a large baking dish. Strain cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a large bowl and skim fat from liquid. Pour a cup or so of this cooking liquid over the meat. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and let the meat rest for 30 minutes.

Now, return the remaining cooking liquid to Dutch oven, add butter, and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and simmer until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Now, add onions, then add carrot halves and then add the cabbage. Do this such that the potatoes and onions are at the bottom in the water and the carrot and cabbage are above that water line (this lets the potatoes simmer while the carrots and cabbage steam). Cover, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer vegetables to serving platter and season with pepper to taste. Transfer the meat to the carving board and cut in ¼ inch slices against the grain. Put the meat on the platter with the veggies and bring it to the waiting mob at the table.

Guinness Potato Pancakes

Guinness and potatoes make for a good Irish meal, but is there a way to put these both together is one dish? Of course there is… adding Guinness to the water when boiling or steaming, adding Guinness to the mixture making potatoes au gratin, drinking a pint of Guinness while eating fries, but here’s a creative way of adding just a touch of Guinness magic to the delicacy of potato pancakes…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 large Long Island potatoes
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A splash or two of Guinness
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil

Grate potatoes with onion into a large bowl. Drain off any excess liquid. And blot this mixture as dry as possible. The more water you can squeeze out of the mixture here, the more you can replace with beer.

Mix in egg, Guinness, salt, and pepper. Add enough flour to make mixture thick, about 2 to 4 tablespoons all together.

Turn oven to low, about 200 degrees F.

Heat 1/4 inch oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet over medium high heat. With a good size spoon, drop the mixture in roughly ¼ cup size mounds into the hot oil, and flatten to make 1/2 inch thick pancakes. Fry, turning once, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towel lined plates to drain, and keep warm in low oven until serving time.

Don’t forget to finish the rest of that Guinness while your making your pancakes.

Comfort Food – Pub Style

Whenever you go to a good pub, the menu always features one of my favorite comfort foods. That’s right; we’re talking about a Sheppard’s pie… cooked long and slow. Now, there are quick and easy recipes that will tell you how to make one of these in thirty minutes, or even quicker. But the whole point it seems to these winter comfort foods is to take the long, slow, warm, approach that not only heats the hearth, but warms our memories as well.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 lb lean lamb, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • enough beef stock to cover
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 3 to 4 tsp corn starch
  • 2 lbs Long Island potatoes
  • 4 oz butter
  • Salt and pepper

Add minced lamb into a casserole dish, add onion, carrot, celery, beef stock, corn starch, salt and pepper, to taste, and stir. Cook in a slow oven, 275°F for about 2 hours. Its important that the flavors meld together. You can do all this on stove top for about 20 minutes BUT the flavor is never the same. When complete, drain off gravy and put that on the side.

Boil and mash potatoes with milk, butter, salt and pepper, however don’t make it into a wet paste. It should be firm and almost chunky, think ‘rustic’, and for gosh sakes don’t use the mash potatoes in a box!

Add back enough gravy to the meat to make it moist. Gently add the mashed potato to the top and build up. Spread with a fork, finally making fork marks both up and down and across to form a basket like pattern.

Put oven temperature at 400°F, then bake until potato is crispy and golden on the peaks (about) 30 minutes. Serve with remaining gravy, and a pint of Guinness or two.

Long Island Comfort Potatoes

What’s better to keep you company during an original Star Trek marathon. When I think of these marathons, I think of hammy acting, cheesy scenes, and scalloped potatoes from right here on Long Island. I like to use a good amount of ham and cheese so as to make this side dish more of a one pot winter comfort food. So ‘beam me up Scotty’ ahead warp factor yum!


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound fully cooked ham slice, 1/2-inch thick
  • Half a dozen thinly sliced Long Island potatoes
  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • dash pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Cut ham in bite-size cubes and mix with the veggies in a large bowl. Place a layer of the potatoes in a greased 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with some shredded cheddar, then a layer of ham and veggies, then a layer of potatoes and cheese, then a layer of ham and veggies, then a layer of… you get the picture.

Combine the soup with milk and pour over potatoes.

Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 1 hour. Remove covering; bake 30 to 45 minutes longer, or until potatoes are done. If desired, sprinkle even more shredded Cheddar cheese over the top of scalloped potatoes the last 15 minutes of baking time.

Sit back and enjoy the warm cheesy goodness of Long Island’s comfort food.

Warm Winter Pot Roast

Pot Roast, cooking for a couple of hours in the oven, making the whole place smell like comfort food is what a lazy Sunday is all about. There’s something about a simple pot roast of beef, local vegetables, and potatoes that takes the edge off chilly winter’s day. I remember last year with all that snow we were having. After putting the pot roast in the oven, I would go out and shovel, then have a wonderful warm filling meal ready after the labor.

Although it’s not snowing now, its going to reach about fifty today, but that’s no reason not to pick up a chuck roast and have one on hand. I’m sure the snow is out there just waiting until we’re not looking.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 pounds boneless chuck roast
  • 4 medium long island potatoes
  • 2 fresh local carrots
  • 2 fresh local parsnips
  • 2 cups pearl onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Duckwalk Windmill red wine

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Heat a heavy Dutch oven on top of the stove over medium high heat. Add oil, and sear meat in the center of the pan for 4 minutes. Turn meat over with tongs; sear all sides for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove meat from pan. Arrange chopped carrots, chopped parsnips, pearl onions, and 1 bay leaf in the bottom of the pan.

Open a bottle of Duckwalk red and pour about a quarter cup over the veggies, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Return meat to pan, place remaining bay leaf on top of meat, add the chopped potatoes, and cover.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Reduce the heat to 300 degrees, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove roast to a platter to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice, and top with veggies and gravy. What to do with the remaining red wine? That’s what those round glasses are for… or you could mull it and enjoy it warm.