kitchen gadgets & recipes: the potato ricer and baked potato salad with pancetta
Over the holidays I received a few gift cards. I tend to stash these gift cards away until mid February, when I’ve got the winter blues. The best cure for the winter blues is a trip to a lush tropical paradise. If I am unable to lounge under a palm tree on the sandy beach of a tropical island while sipping on a delightful frozen beverage that is accessorized with little umbrellas and sculpted fruit then the next best thing is shopping therapy. Amen. I usually adhere to my rule about waiting until February for good reason, other than curing the winter blues. I have found that when I’ve used my gift cards sooner rather than later I am more inclined to make impulse purchases. Today, a day that is sunny and 60 degrees, I broke my rule. I used one of my gift cards. My brother gave me a gift card for Chefs. I need to replace three items in my kitchen that are important, but I’m just been putting off. My toaster died. My mandolin slicer is on its last leg and my potato ricer disappeared somewhere between Twenty-Nine Palms, California and Cape Cod Massachusetts. I don’t really eat toast. My brother is going to give me his mandolin slicer that was a gift, brand new and never used. That leaves the potato ricer and so that is exactly what I bought. I wanted to buy something that sounded a little more fun and glamorous, but I have teenage boys who love mashed potatoes. It is not fun mashing them without a ricer, therefore the ricer is fun. A potato ricer is a kitchen gadget that falls into question: “Do I make enough mashed potatoes to justify buying it?” I could answer that question with a firm “yes”. However, if you cannot then consider this: You can use a potato ricer for more than making mashed potatoes. This gadget allows potatoes to be pushed through what looks like an oversized garlic press. And, if a potato can go through so can other foods. A potato ricer can be used for many things other than potatoes. Use it to rice sweet potatoes or pumpkin the next time you make a pie. If your sweet potatoes are fibrous, the stringy parts will stay in the ricer leaving fluffy goodness for the pie. Baked squash can be passed through the ricer before you butter it and serve. The potato ricer is a boon when making tomato sauce because most of the seeds stay in the ricer as well as the skins. If you don’t want to take out your food processor use the ricer to make applesauce easily by pressing baked apples through the potato ricer, which removes the skins, stems and seeds. If you don’t make a lot of apples sauce at one time this is priceless. You don’t need to waste time peeling and coring the apples. I will be excited when my ricer arrives and I know a couple teenagers who will be glad for it as well. The novelty of lumpy mashed potatoes is beginning to wear off.
Left over NO boil Mashed Potatoes: Baked Potato Salad 6-8 Baron Potatoes 1 cup of mayonoise 1/2 cup of butter (salted) 1/2 cup of cooked pancetta 1 cup of fresh corn (or canned) 1 splash of cream pepper and salt to taste Directions: Having to settle for "May Queen" potatoes, and have yet to find a good Russet Potato in Japan, but the May Queen is the closest. I used Baron Potatoes AKA Danshaku. They all, seem to discinigrate during the boiling process, so, doing a NO boil was more out of need. I use my Pryex glass bowl or plate, placing a small amount of water in the bottom to allow the potatoes to steam in the microwave. Place the peeled potatoes into the bowl/plate, cover with Saran Wrap, depending on your microwave maker, it might have a pre-programed button for this, which mine does, if not, cook them on high, for about 10 minutes or until soft enough to mash. Place the cooked potatoes into a mixing bowl, hand mix with all the ingredients, then place into ramekins and heat in a toaster oven until warm and golden brown.