light and fluffy mashed potatoes

For Erev Yom Kippur dinner last night, I made mashed potatoes.  I thought they were good, but my daughter Randi swooned as she ate some and said, “These potatoes are like fluffy clouds, they’re so light!  She asked me if I had done anything different than usual to which I said I didn’t, but I realized I’d better write down what I did do!

5 lbs. organic Idaho potatoes

2 sticks Whole Foods salted butter

about 1/2 cup whole, organic milk

salt (not kosher)

about 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Peel potatoes.  Cut into largish pieces and put in large pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil (uncovered), and simmer over low boil till you can put a fork into potatoes easily.  Drain in colander.  Put your sticks of butter back in pot to melt over low flame.  Add potatoes back in, and mash.  Add salt to taste and pepper too.  Then add milk, and mash till nice and fluffy.

the perfect summer dinner of fried fish (tilapia or flounder) with homemade tartar sauce, cole slaw, sliced Jersey tomatoes, and Jersey farm corn on the cob, french fries or baked stuffed potatoes!

This is one of my favorite summer dinners to eat and make.  When my parents were alive, I loved to make this for them (with french fries, too) because they loved it to the nth degree.  And what I loved was how much they loved the meal and how they commented with almost every bite about how delicious everything was.  My mother Shirley Fried’s comment would be, “How do you make everything so perfect, dolly?”  My daughter Randi loved the meal too, and she recently asked me to make it.  I invited her father in law and his wife, because I really have fun with them- they are great people- and because they like my food.  As my daughter says, “They are good customers.”

I bought the fish at Whole Foods and it was super fresh. The only other place I’ve bought fish that’s been this fresh has been at the Keyport Fishery.  The corn I bought at an amazing farmstand in Pennington, NJ called Kerr’s Kornstand. The corn is brought right in  from the field while you are there- and it is perfect corn- there is none fresher or sweeter!  I also buy modafinil got my tomatoes there, and they were sweet, dark red, and juicy.

for the fish (tilapia, flounder, or other mild white fish):

My recipe for the fish harkens from the recipe used at Klein’s Fish Market in Belmar, NJ.  I once asked them for their recipe, and they readily gave it to me, I think because they sell the coating mix right there in the market. For the coating they use 1 part McCormick Golden Dipt Tempura Seafood Batter Mix  to 2 parts McCormick Golden Dipt Fry Easy All-Purpose Breading Mix. What a breeze to make.  Simply put the mix into a 9 by 13 baking pan and whisk together to get any lumps out.  Put some cold water in a separate mixing bowl.  Dip each fillet into the water on both sides of the fillet, then dredge the fillet through the coating mix on each side of pharmacy online the fillet, using your hand to sprinkle some extra coating over the fish to cover the fillet completely.  Then heat your oil (about 1/2 inch deep)  on a high flame in a nonstick frying pan till it’s really hot.  Fry about 2-3 minutes till underside is beautifully browned.  Flip with spatula and cook till underside is browned.  No need to drain- the fish doesn’t pick up excess oil if it’s hot enough to start.

For each pound of fresh fish fillets, use about 1 cup of the all purpose breading mix and 1/2 cup of the tempura mix.

Use canola or light olive oil  in a large non-stick fry pan, and get the oil nice and hot before putting the fish in.  Fry till underside is brown, flip and brown the other side. This should take about 5 min. altogether.  Serve immediately with tartar sauce and/or cocktail sauce and lots of fresh sliced lemon.

judy’s homemade tartar sauce:

  • 1 cup of Hellman’s mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or Minute Maid frozen lemon juice from concentrate 
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated onion
  • a few tablespoons of chopped dill pickle (I use Claussen dill sandwich slices)
  • a dash of kosher salt 

After you taste, adjust by adding a little more lemon juice or chopped pickle to your liking.

my simple cole slaw:

  • 2 bags dole cabbage for cole slaw
  • about 1 cup of Hellman’s mayo
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk (you could substitute plain Greek yogurt or sour cream)
  • about 4-5 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • about 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • about 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • about 1 tablespoon of the BEST herbs- Litehouse dill 

Mix together in large mixing bowl at least a few hours before serving.  Add more or less of any of the ingredients to your taste.

fresh corn on the cob:

Cover shucked corn in a large pot with water.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer on low boil for 8 minutes.  Serve.

french fries (Be careful with this recipe- although it’s easy, only experienced cooks should make this!)

Heat a large pot of oil (corn or canola) till oil starts to shimmer, but is NOT yet boiling. You don’t want your oil to come to a boil before you put the fries in, because the oil could catch on fire!  Carefully place your fries in and stand back a bit so you don’t get burned if oil splatters a little- I use either Whole Foods Crinkle Cut Fries or Nathans Crinkle canadian pharmacy Cut Fries.  Leave the fries alone, do not mix them in the oil.  Fry on a rolling boil till fries are browned- the time may range from 15 min. to 25 min.  Drain in paper towels, sprinkle with kosher salt, and serve.

baked stuffed potatoes:

  • Idaho organic potatoes
  • salted or unsalted butter
  • paprika 

Pierce potatoes with a fork.  Bake at about 375 degrees to 400 degrees for at least 1 hour till a fork goes in easily and potatoes are soft inside. Slice the tippy top of potatoes off.  Scoop out the potato being careful not to break the skin and put in mixing bowl.  Add butter to taste, salt to taste, and a little pepper to taste.  Mash potatoes.  Scoop the mashed potatoes back into the potato shells.  Sprinkle tops with paprika.

Note:  I usually make these in advance, so I refrigerate them, covered, and then I heat them up in a baking pan or sheet pan at 375 degrees for about 45 min. to an hour, till piping hot.

Apple, Strawberry, Lettuce, Peppers, Red Onion, Cucumber Salad

This is a light, fresh, citrusy salad that’s great in any season.

  • a combination of romaine, green leaf, and baby spinach
  • peeled cucumber , cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
  • about 2 slices of red onion, cut into small pieces
  • about 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 5-7 sliced strawberries
  • 1 apple cut into bite sized pieces
  • a handful of broken by hand Whole Foods Sea Salt Pita Chips

citrus vinaigrette

  • 1 lemon juiced  (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons country Dijon mustard
  • pinch salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Greek Pasta Salad

I took my homemade dressing which has a Greek vinaigrette taste, and I added some pasta, and some veggies to create a pasta salad that tastes similar to a Greek salad.

It’s a little heartier than just a salad, and it makes a great leftover lunch.

For the dressing:

  • juice from 1 large lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup olive oil (I use a combination of light and extra virgin)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sun dried tomatoes (in oil) minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

In a mixing bowl, whisk the lemon juice, the oregano, the salt, the pepper, the red pepper flakes, the optional sun-dried tomatoes, the lemon zest, and the garlic. Then add the oil slowly as you continue to whisk. You can make this earlier in the day, and put it in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Then when you are ready to use it, give it a few good shakes, and pour it over the salad right before you serve the salad.

for the pasta salad:

12 oz. rotelle or penne

1 1/2 greenhouse cucumbers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

about 12 kalamata pitted olives, cut in half

a few slices of red onion, diced

1-2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half

about 1 lb. of good feta, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

Cook the pasta till al dente.  Run under cool water.  Place in large serving bowl, and add all the veggies.  Then pour vinaigrette over salad and mix.  Put in fridge until ready to serve.

Cornbread in a Cast Iron Skillet

I’m always thinking about what I can make to bring over to my daughter’s house.  She likes me to make things that taste great but aren’t too unhealthy.  I had all the organic ingredients in the house for this, so I threw it together in no time and it was delicious.  The only problem I had was that the piece of it I brought over to my daughter’s house wasn’t big enough.  So, I’ll make it for her again next week but I’ll bring over the whole thing.

  • 2 cups organic yellow cornmeal (I used 1 1/2 cups of Arrowhead Mills and 1/2 cup of Hodgson Mills
  • 1/4 cup Whole Food organic cane sugar (lately I’ve been reducing this to a  1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder-  Rumsford aluminum free
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk  or- (I didn’t have it on hand, so I used 1 cup whole milk to which I added 1 tablespoon of white vinegar- which sat for about 30 min.)
  • 1/2 cup whole organic milk
  • 1 jumbo large egg
  • 1/2 stick salted organic butter – melted in microwave
  • 2 tablespoons butter for greasing the pan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In measuring cup, pour 1 cup whole milk as a substitute for buttermilk and add the 1 tablespoon vinegar.  Let sit out on counter for 30 min. to thicken.

Put cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt in mixing bowl.  Melt 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup) in microwave.  In another measuring cup, pour 1/2 cup whole milk.  Pour into another mixing bowl.  Add the remaining 1 cup milk or buttermilk, the egg, and mix with fork. Add the melted butter and mix with fork.   Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients with rubber spatula just until everything is moistened and some of the lumps are gone.

Place pan in oven with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.  When butter is melted in pan, take pan out of oven and pour batter in.  Place on center rack of oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until slightly browned on top, bread has come off sides of pan, and toothpick comes out clean.

Serve plain or with butter.

Fastastic Italian Broccoli Or Asparagus With Seasoned Breadcrumbs and Romano Cheese

My friend Lisa gave me this fabulous recipe that her grandmother had made.  I have now made this every week since she gave it to me for my daughter and her family.  This recipe reminds me of the flavors you get with chicken or shrimp oreganata- very tasty and satisfying.  When Lisa gave me the recipe, she told me that she had discovered that when her daughter was really little, she actually liked eating broccoli because, I guess it was disguised by delicious flavors.  So it turned out that my grandson Noah also loved the broccoli this way.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince my son Danny to give it a try- that’s how much he hates broccoli anything.  But what makes this such a great recipe is that it is very substantial, and you don’t need as much of your main course, because this is just so amazing and very filling too! Thanks Lisa for sharing this recipe of your grandma’s with me!

As much broccoli or asparagus as you wish (I usually buy about 2 pounds of organic)

Italian seasoned bread crumbs

shredded Romano cheese

garlic powder, black pepper, kosher salt, dried parsley flakes

extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Cut about 1 inch off the bottoms of the broccoli or asparagus, rinse with cold water to wash.  Boil a large pot of water.  Then drop broccoli into boiling water, and boil for 5 minutes.  Dump into collander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. 

Put oven on broil, and put oven rack about 8 inches from the heat element.  Dump broccoli on sheet pan covered with foil in single layer.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper.  Sprinkle bread crumbs heavily over all.  Then sprinkle parsley flakes over all.  Then sprinkle shredded Romano generously over all.  Give another sprinkling of black pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Place under the broiler for about 5 -7 minutes till nicely browned, but not burned.   

Do the same with asparagus.

Roasted Vegetable Parmesan

I am always looking for great vegetable main courses to cook for my daughter, her husband, and my grandson.  I was talking to a  lovely coworker of mine, Cheryl, who loves to cook, and she gave me this recipe that she makes for her family. I tried it today, and brought it over to my daughter’s house, and everybody loved it.  My 2 year old grandson Noah said, “Mommy, I do like tomatoes!”  when he tasted the dish.  My daughter really liked it too- I think she ate at least half of the entire gratin. The dish tastes delicious, yet it’s pretty healthy, which works out perfectly. 

  • 1 largish eggplant
  • 10 oz. white or baby bella mushrooms (I used white), washed and sliced 1/4 in.
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini, sliced 1/4 in.
  • 5 plum tomatoes, sliced in 1/4 in.
  • Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • kosher salt, black pepper, dried oregano, olive oil
  • about 8 oz. grated mozzarella cheese, whole milk or part skim
  • about 1/3 cup coarsely grated romano or parmesan cheese
  • about 1 cup of marinara sauce- good jarred is fine

On a half sheet pan, drizzle a little olive oil to grease.  Place eggplant slices and zucchini slices in one layer.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Place in oven for about 15 min.  Put under the broiler at the end to brown a little more.  If you have a second sheet pan, you can do the other veggies at the same time.  Drizzle a little oil on bottom of pan.  Place mushrooms in one layer on half of the pan.  Sprinkle with the chopped garlic, a light sprinkling of salt, pepper, the bread crumbs, and then drizzle with olive oil.  On the other half of the sheet pan, put the slices of tomatoes in one layer.  Sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and drizzle with olive oil lightly.  I found that even after these cooked for about 10 min, they weren’t brown enough, so I turned the heat to 450 to get the mushroom browning and the tomatoes roasting the way I like- probably for 10 or so more minutes. 

In a 9 by 13 or oval baking dish, pour about 1/4 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish to coat.  Place the eggplant and zucchini slices on bottom, then put the roasted tomatoes, and then the mushrooms evenly on top of the eggplant and zucchini, sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, then sprinkle about half of the mozzarella over all, then the romano cheese, then spoon about 3/4 cup more of marinara sauce over- it won’t totally cover, then sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella cheese over all.

You can cover and refrigerate this until you are ready to bake it.  Then preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Bake uncovered for about 30 min – 40 min, till bubbly around edges and cheese is melted.  Then put under the broiler for about 5 minutes, just until the cheese starts to brown.  Serve.

Another Pea Soup

I like to keep a  one pound bag of split peas in the house just in case we’re in the mood for pea soup. We just had the big blizzard the day after Christmas, and I was snowed in with my son Benji.  I couldn’t have been happier.  He loves soup, I love him, so I made him a pot of delicious, warming soup.  It was a great day.

1 pound bag of green split peas

1 pound bag of yellow split peas

2 large  onion

4 quarts water

about pound of organic carrots, cut into smallish chunks

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse the peas.  Put in large saucepan.  Pour the water over.  Peel onions and then pierce with a fork, and place in pot whole.  Put sliced carrots in pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer covered about 2 hours over low flame, adding your salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with thin egg noodles, matzoh balls, cooked Kosher hot dogs pieces, or just plain.

Roasted Potatoes

Ive made these a variety of ways.  All are delicious.  I will try to include all the varieties I’ve made below.

Oven Roasted Potatoes:

  • Red new potatoes, or white new potatoes, or Idaho, russet potatoes, or yukon gold
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • light olive oil

Wash potatoes and either leave them whole if they are really small, or cut them in half if they are a little bigger, or cut them into more pieces if the potatoes are large.  I don’t peel any of the new potatoes, which makes the job much easier.

I’ve done this 2 ways.  The first is to put the whole or cut potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, bring to a simmer, and simmer uncovered just until almost tender, then place on sheet pan lined with foil and coated with oil (I usually use light olive oil).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil, toss with clean hands, and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 45 min., turning potatoes a few times during cooking. 

The other way is to not parboil the potatoes, place them on greased pan, sprinkle with salt and a little pepper, drizzle with oil, toss with clean hands, and roast in a 400 or 425 degree oven until the potatoes are brown and tender, turning them a few times during the cooking time, probably roasting for about 50 min. to 75 min. till potatoes are browned and tender.

Another method is to roast the potatoes in a large, heavy dutch oven, like a Le Creuset on top of the stove.  Melt about 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in pot over medium flame, place very small whole potatoes or cut into 2 or more pieces if they are larger potatoes. You may instead use light olive oil, or a combination of oil and butter, or just butter.  Sprinkle potatoes with salt and a little pepper.   Cover and cook about 30-45 minutes, tossing every 5-10 minutes or so to prevent sticking.  When potatoes are tender, take off heat.  I found that my butter was burned a little at this point, so I took the potatoes out, wiped out the pan, put the potatoes back in, added about 2 tablespoons of butter, about 2 tablespoons of a combination of chopped fresh dill and fresh Italian parsley, and I tossed.  Taste and reseason with salt. 

Lentil Soup

My son Benji spent a few months in Greece and Turkey as part of his college study program.  He came home a huge fan of the cuisines of those countries and especially of lentil soup.  I made the following recipe which he really enjoyed.  I’ve been making lots of it for myself –  a bowl of this soup makes a great dinner for me when I get home late from work.

for the soup:

  • half of one very large onion, diced
  • about 3 carrots, organic if possible, cut lengthwise and then sliced very thinly
  • about 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can peeled plum tomatoes, chopped fine -organic if possible (reserve the juice)
  • 1 small can tomato paste, organic preferably
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, extra virgin or light
  • 2 1/2 quarts of water
  • 1 1 lb. bag of brown green lentils (I’ve used Goya and Stop and Shop brand)
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste (about 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to start)

Rinse well the lentils in collander.  Put into a medium-large pot.  Cover with cold water.  Cover, and bring to a boil over high flame.  When water is boiling, take off lid, and boil over medium flame for about 6-7 minutes.  Drain in collander (do not rinse lentils with water).

At the same time you are starting the process bringing lentils in the pot with the water, get your soup pot going.  In large pot saute onions, garlic, and carrots in olive oil (sprinkle with salt and pepper), till soft (I cover the pot to expedite).  Then, pour the drained lentils from the collander into the pot.  Add the chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste, and the water.  Add the reserved juice from the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, lower flame – soup should be simmering, adding more salt and pepper as necessary.  Cook about an hour.  I freeze the leftovers in quart containers.