Fennel with White Beans and Tomato

This started out as a fish main dish, but after tasting it, we decided to just have it as a vegetable dish. Side or main? Who knows.
Make 4 servings
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olive oil

fennel bulb

1 medium onion

½ cup white wine

4 roma tomatoes (or other varieties)

3-4 cloves of garlic

chili flakes

saffron threads

pastis (Pernod, Ricard, etc.)

1 cup of stock (fish, chicken, vegetable) or bean-cooking liquid

1½ cups cooked white beans

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Cut into wedges

  • 1 fennel bulb

In a large frying pan, heat

  • 2 glugs olive oil

Fry fennel until golden. Lower heat and add

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¾ tsp salt

and cook until tender. Add more oil if needed and add

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced

Cook briefly, add

  • ½ cup white wine

Bring briefly to boil and add

  • 4 Roma or an equivalent volume of other tomatoes, cored and diced
  • chili flakes, to tast
  • pinch saffron threads
  • splash of pastis
  • 1 cup fish, chicken or vegetable stock (see note, below)
  • 1½ cups beans

Let simmer together until tomatoes are cooked down. (In the original recipe, you’d add fish at this point and just cook until the fish is cooked through.) Taste for salt and pepper.

Note: You can use the bean cooking liquid instead of the stock if you prefer.

Adapted from a recipe in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers.

Non-Dairy Hamentaschen Dough

A nicely crisp cookie.
Makes about 30-35, depending on the size of the circles you cut.
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2 large eggs

⅔ cup sugar

¼ cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

2¼ cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

This dough produces a cookie with just enough crispness! It’s become our favorite, and we’ve tried a lot of recipes over the years. Our favorite fillings are the very traditional Poppy Seed Filling and Prune Filling, but you can be creative.

Mix together in a bowl

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

In the bowl of a mixer (or large bowl, by hand) beat

  • 2 large eggs

Add and mix completely

  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Add the dry ingredients and mix just until a uniform dough forms. If the dough doesn’t hold together, sprinkle a bit of water in and continue to mix; if it seems to wet, work in a bit of extra flour.

You can use the dough right away but I often make all the fillings and dough the day before and refrigerate them. The baking happens the next day with the help of some friends.

To make the hamentaschen, preheat the oven to 325º F. Roll the dough to the desired thickness. Under ⅛-inch gives crisp, thin cookies, but you can make them up to ¼-inch thick. Place the filling, ATTN wet 3 places where you’ll form corners with a bit of water and form the triangles. This dough has a bit more leavening than some of the other doughs I have tried: if you don’t seal the corners they will pop open! Place the cookies on an oiled sheet pan, leaving a bit of space between them.

Make an egg glaze by beating together

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp water

When the cookies are ready to go in the oven, brush them with the glaze and bake for about 18-20 minutes. The timing will vary according to your oven, the thickness of the dough and how dark you like the dough to get.

Remove from oven and let cool on sheet for a couple minutes before transfering to racks to complete cooling. These will get soft if you put them in a closed container so we leave them on the counter for a day or two. They don’t last much longer than that at our house unless I make a huge batch, in which case I have frozen them successfully.

Adapted from a recipe by Torey Avey.

Cantucci/Biscotti

A version of the best-known Italian cookies.
Makes about 30 human-sized cookies.
Shopping List

2 eggs

125g white sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp sesame seeds

½ tsp fennel seeds

200g flour

1½ tsp baking powder

125ml (½ cup) canola oil

175g mixed nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.)

Mix together in a bowl

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 125g white sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds

In a small bowl, combine

  • 200g flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder

Stir the flour mixture into the batter along with

  • 125ml (½ cup) canola oil

When mixed completely, add (ATTNby hand only)

  • 175g mixed nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and form 2 logs, about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. They will be just under an inch high. Bake 20 minutes or until golden outside. Remove from oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 225º F immediately.

As soon as you can handle the cooked cakes, remove from the sheet, slice cross-wise into pieces about the width of a finger. Place pieces on rack, set the rack on a baking sheet and bake until dry and the cut sides start to show some color. This will take about 20 minutes, maybe a bit longer.

Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Polpo by Russell Norman.

Honey Cake Crisps

A crunchy twice-baked cracker-cookie, inspired by Trader Joe's Ginger Crisps and my grandmother's honey cake. There is a vegan version given as well.
Makes many dozens, depending on the thickness of the slices.
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2¼ cups flour

¾ tsp baking powder

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

⅛ tsp ground cloves

1 cup of broken-up pieces of pecans

1 egg

⅓ cup brown sugar

⅓ cup canola oil

¾ cup honey

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p>¾ cup tepid, strong coffee (or 2 TBL instant espresso coffee)

If you want to make a vegan version of this recipe, see the note at the end.

Butter and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 325º F. Brew

  • ¾ cup strong coffee

ATTN Alternatively you can dissolve 2 TBL instant espresso coffee in ¾ cup hot water. Set the coffee aside and let it cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine

  • 2¼ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves

ATTN I replaced half the flour with whole wheat and will use 100% whole wheat next time. Adjust the mix of spices to your liking.

In the mixer, beat

  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • ¾ cup honey

Add half of the dry ingredients and mix as little as needed to blend everything together. Add the tepid coffee and as soon as that’s mixed in, beat in the remainder of the dry ingredients. By hand, stir in

  • 1 cup of broken-up pecan (or walnut) pieces

Place the batter in the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 75 minutes or until a cake tester comes out completely dry. If the top gets dark after about 50 minutes, cover the top loosely with foil. The cake will be over-baked by normal standards but it will make it easier to slice.

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and transfer to a rack. When it’s completely cooled, cut the cake lengthwise, then cut super-thin slices. I have an electric slicer to it was pretty easy to do.

Place the slices on wire racks and bake in a 200º F oven until thoroughly dry. Turning them over once at the midpoint will speed the drying process. Slices that sat out overnight were dry in 20 minutes; freshly cut slices took about 40 minutes to dry.

To make a vegan version, instead of the egg, beat (with a whisk)

  • ¼ cup liquid from cooked (or canned) beans
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar

When it becomes foamy, add in

  • 1 tsp sugar

The mixture will thicken but don’t try to turn it into anything thick and fluffy (although that’s possible to do). Use this in place of the egg in the recipe above.

Adapted from a honey cake recipe in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts.

Dried Scallop Congee (Conpoy Congee)

I like to have it for breakfast on a winter morning, garnished with a pickled mustard greens and a little sesame oil.
Makes 6 bowls of delicious congee.
Shopping List

¾ cup jasmine rice

¼ cup dried scallops

In a pressure cooker, combine

  • ¼ cup (45g) dried scallops
  • ¾ cup (170g) white rice
  • 8 cups water

Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes, let cool for 15 minutes and then release remaining pressure. Add salt to taste, probably about

  • 1 to 1½ tsp salt

Serve with your favorite condiments: I like pickled mustard greens and a bit of sesame oil or something spicy, like chili oil instead. Dried scallops are available in most Chinatowns. Avoid getting the expensive ones (large) that go for about triple the price of the cheapest, small scallops. For this recipe it won’t matter that you’ve taken the budget route.

This recipe reheats really well. I usually make a batch and then reheat a bowl when I’m in the mood during the next few days.

Derived from https://www.pressurecookrecipes.com/pressure-cooker-congee-rice-porridge-jook/

Gigantes

We're addicted to these and always order them whenever we go out for Greek food. Now we make them at home, too.
Makes 6 cups cooked beans
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2 cups dried large lima beans

2 small onions

2 carrots

½ cup olive oil

2 small garlic cloves

¾ pound vine ripened tomatoes

hot red pepper flakes

½ cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves

Pick through

  • 2 cups picked over dried large lima beans

removing any foreign objects (rocks) you find. Place them in a 3-quart saucepan, cover them with plenty of water and soak them overnight, at least 5 hours. Drain off the water and add fresh water to cover them by at least two inches, add 

  • 2-3 tsp salt

and bring to a boil. Skim the froth off the top, and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until tender, checking at least a few beans to be sure they are uniformly cooked. It will take about 30 minutes, maybe longer for older beans. Drain them in a colander.

In pan, cook over moderately low heat

  • 2 small onions, chopped fine
  • 2 carrots, chopped fine
  • ½ cup olive oil

Peel, seed and chop fine

  • ¾ pound fresh tomatoes (in winter, I use canned tomatoes)

When carrots are tender, add in chopped tomatoes and

  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced

Continue cooking until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans and season with

  • salt
  • hot red pepper flakes

to taste. Remove from heat and let cool. Stewed beans may be made three days ahead and chilled, covered. Their flavor improves during this time. Bring beans to room temperature.

Wash

  • ½ cup packed fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves

dry them and chop finely. Stir parsley into beans before serving.

Adapted from The Best of Gourmet, 1997 Edition

Onion Caraway Shortbread

Savory rather than sweet, and quite buttery.
Makes about 36 cookies

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13 Tbl (about 1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbl powdered sugar

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 large egg white, slightly beaten

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In a medium frying pan, melt

  • 2 tsp butter

over medium heat. Add

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (1 medium)

and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft and the edges are brown. Put aside in a bowl to cool thoroughly.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter a 9x9x2-inch square pan.

Sift together

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbl powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, put

  • 12 Tbl (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened

and mix on low for 15 seconds. Add

  • 1 tsp caraway seeds

and the cooled onions, and beat on medium-high for one minute. Scrape down the bowl. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until the dough holds together and all of the flour is incorporated. Press the dough evenly into the buttered pan. (Dipping your fingers in flour will help keep the dough from sticking to them when pressing it into the pan.) Brush the top of the dough with

  • 1 large egg white, slightly beaten

(You won’t need all of the egg white.) Sprinkle

  • ½ tsp Kosher salt

evenly over the egg white.

Bake about 25 minutes, until the top is pale golden and the edges light brown. Remove from the oven and cut into 6×6 rows (or sizes or your choice), cutting through to the bottom. Cool the shortbread thoroughly in the pan.

from “125 Cookies to Bake, Nibble, and Savor” by Elinor Klivans

Dal Masala

Delicious, creamy and comforting.
Makes 4 servings, depending on portion size
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1 cup black lentils

½ cup kidney beans

1 medium onion

2 medium tomatoes

a 1-inch piece of ginger

4-5 garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds or ½ tsp cumin powder

½ tsp red chili powder

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

2 TBL butter

2 TBL cream (optional)

cilantro (for garnish)

Heat

Soak all day or overnight

1 cup black lentils
½ cup kidney beans

Drain the beans and place in pressure cooker. Mince the following

1 medium onion
2 medium tomatoes
a 1-inch piece of ginger
4-5 garlic cloves

and add to pressure cooker along with

4 cups water
1 tsp cumin seeds or ½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
2 TBL butter
2 TBL cream (optional)
salt

Cook in instant pot 15 minutes on high pressure. Wait 5 minutes and release steam. Check if both lentils and beans are soft enough to mash with a spoon. If not done, cook with pressure for 5 more minutes, adding water if needed. Release pressure, add

1 tsp salt

Cook for 10-15 minutes more to get them to the consistency you want and adjusting salt to taste.

If desired, add

2 TBL cream

garnish with

cilantro leaves

Inspired by vegrecipesofindia.com.

Sesame Seed Cookies

Makes 36 cookies
Shopping List
1 ¾ cups sesame seeds

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

1 scant cup granulated sugar

⅓ cup plus 2 Tbl milk, divided

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbl baking powder

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p>4 cups all-purpose flour

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, lightly toast

  • 1 ¾ cups sesame seeds

This will probably be easier to do in two batches. Set aside in a pie plate or similar.

In a stand mixer, beat

  • 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 scant cup granulated sugar

until smooth and pale, about one minute. With the mixer on low, one at a time add

  • 2 eggs

Add

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbl milk

and mix a few seconds to incorporate. Add

  • 1 Tbl baking powder

and mix. With the mixer running, gradually add

  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

The dough should be soft and pliable but not sticky. Use a little more flour as needed.

Dust a board or your counter with

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

Scrape the dough onto the floured board, knead it a couple of minutes, cover and let rest 15 minutes.

While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 375ºF and place a rack near the top. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 36 even pieces. You can use a one-ounce scoop if you wish — I cut it into quarters, then each quarter into thirds, then pinch off thirds from each third. Whatever works for you. Roll each piece between your palms to form 36 balls. Pinch off bits from the big ones and add them to the small ones and re-roll if you want to to get them about equal in size.

Pour

  • ⅓ cup milk

into a small bowl. Take one dough ball at a time, coat it with milk then roll it in the sesame seeds. Pick up the coated ball and form it into a rectangle with your hands (try shaping it between your thumb and forefinger), getting the height between ½ and ¾ inch. Place it on the parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Repeat for all 36 balls, 18 per cookie sheet, trying to keep the height about the same throughout. They don’t spread much, but do leave a bit of space between the cookies. After the first tray of rectangles is shaped, bake on a high oven rack for 14-15 minutes, turning once halfway through. Meanwhile shape the next 18 balls into rectangles.

With a spatula, slide the baked cookies onto a cooling rack.

Adapted from afamilyfeast.com

Pumpkin Seed Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

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2 cups pumpkin seeds, toasted

2 large garlic cloves

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbl Dijon mustard

½ cup rice vinegar

¾ cup flavorless vegetable oil

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Place in a food processor or a blender

  • 2 cups toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 large garlic cloves

Pulse until uniformly ground, scraping down the sides as needed. The mixture will be rough and sandy looking.

Add

  • 2 Tbl Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup rice vinegar

and pulse to combine. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in

  • ¾ cup flavorless vegetable oil

Drizzle in

  • ¼ cup hot water, or more if needed

processing until it is the consistency of thick hummus. Season to taste with

  • salt and pepper

Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Potato Soup

Growing up in the Depression was bad enough (we hear), but feeding a household with 7 children, 3 or 4 adults on a meager income made it tougher. Nonetheless, my maternal grandmother kept her family fed. Potatoes were a recurring part of the menu.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

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4 large or 6 medium potatoes

1 large onion

1 carrot

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 heaping tablespoon flour

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Combine in a large saucepan or small stock pot

  • 4 large or 6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and pierced in several places with a knife
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Cover with water, a couple of inches above the level of the other ingredients. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, cooking until potatoes are soft but whole pieces remain. This will take about 40 minutes.

When potatoes reach this stage, turn off the heat and remove the onion from the soup. In a small frying pan, melt

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

over a medium heat. Continue to stir as it starts to darken. Add

  • 1 heaping tablespoon flour

stir to make a thin roux. Cook this until it is brown, ATTNbut do not let it burn, and then remove from heat. This mixture is called an “einbrenn” and it’s what gives the soup its flavor.

Carefully add a spoonful of soup liquid to the einbrenn because ATTNthere is going to be some spattering. Add another spoonful of liquid and then start to mix the contents of the pan into the soup. You can wash out the last bits of the einbrenn from the frying pan by taking a bit more of the liquid from the soup pot. Return the soup to the heat, and cook for 30 minutes more. Stir regularly and ATTN don’t let the heat get too high or soup may scorch.

Adjust the seasoning. I like to add black pepper although the original recipe had only salt. If you like the soup a bit less chunky, use a potato masher to break up some of the pieces of potato.

Make this soup the day before you plan to serve it because it will taste much better. When reheating the soup, you may find it has gotten so thick you need to add a little water. Reheat on a low flame otherwise the soup might scorch. Or, reheat in a microwave oven.

From my grandmother’s recipe, passed down by my mother, Rita. The recipe probably came from eastern Europe, where that side of my family originated.

Colonial Poppy Seed Cake

A moist poppy seed cake with a strong taste of poppy seeds.
Makes one 9- by 5-inch or 8¼- by 4½-inch loaf cake

Shopping List

½ cup poppy seeds (2-ounce jar)

¾ cup milk

3 eggs

¾ cup unsalted butter

1¼ cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons baking power

2 cups flour

Combine

  • ½ cup poppy seeds (2-ounce jar)
  • ¾ cup milk

Let stand at room temperature three or four hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Let remaining ingredients warm to room temperature.

Place all ingredients in bowl of electric mixer, including poppy seed-milk mixture

  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup softened unsalted butter (should be very soft)
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking power
  • 2 cups flour

Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for one minute, scraping side of bowl with spatula. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan (8¼-by 4½-inch or 9- by 5-inch).

Bake at 350° F for 75 minutes or until center springs back when lightly pressed with fingertip. Insert a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean.

Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes; remove from pan and continue to cool on rack.

  This cake freezes well. The recipe suggests dusting with powdered sugar, but neither Evan nor Bob recommends this. For this, or any recipe, for that matter.

Adapted from Family Circle magazine, August 28, 1979

Blueberry Sauce

Perfect with cheese blintzes, but it will work over ice cream and on other desserts.
Makes about 2 cups.
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2 cups blueberries (frozen are fine)

1 TBL butter

2 TBL lemon juice

½ tsp cornstarch

This recipe makes a good topping for cheese Blintzes. See the recipe for Cheese Filling for Blintzes.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine

  • 2 cups blueberries (frozen are fine)
  • 1 TBL butter
  • 2 TBL lemon juice
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • pinch of salt

and cook over a medium-low heat, stirring as it comes to a gentle boil. Let simmer on a low heat, stirring regularly for about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe.

Cheese Filling for Blintzes

A classic filling
Makes enough filling for about 16 blintzes, but your mileage may vary.
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14-16 ounces of farmer cheese

1 egg

1 TBL butter

3 TBL sugar

1 tsp vanilla

First off, the amount of farmer cheese is a range because the primary producer of packaged farmer cheese, Friendship Dairies, has reduced the size of their packages from eight ounces to seven. If you can buy farmer cheese in bulk, buy the larger amount, but also, don’t bother buying 3 packages of farmer cheese just to get to 16 ounces. This recipe isn’t that precise.

Read the notes at the end of this recipe if you would like to flavor the cheese filling differently, as my mother did, or if you can’t find farmer cheese.

In a mixing bowl, combine:

  • 14-16 ounces of farmer cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 TBL melted butter
  • 2-3 TBL sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix thoroughly. Fill the Blintzes as described in that recipe, making sure you don’t overfill them. Cook them as described there. My mother would often serve these with a Blueberry Sauce although I personally prefer sour cream.

NOTE: My mother preferred a citrus flavor, so instead of vanilla, she used 1½ tsp lemon juice and 2½ TBL Curacao. I’d consider using some grated lemon rind if I wanted a citrus flavor.

NOTE: If you are unable to locate farmer cheese, don’t despair. My mother often had that problem in Colorado and came up with two substitutions. For the recipe above she would drain 2 cups of cottage cheese in a strainer to eliminate some of the liquid: it probably took a 2-3 hours. Alternatively, she’d use equal parts (8 ounces each, by weight) of cream cheese and dry curd cottage cheese, which is much drier than farmer cheese.

Inspired by my mother’s recipe.

Oniony Potato Filling

Generally used to fill blintzes or knishes, but you can also just eat it as is. It is very dense. If you want a lighter potato filling, look elsewhere.
This can make as much or as little as you like.
Shopping List

3 pounds potatoes (red bliss, Yukon gold, etc.)

1¼ pounds yellow or white onions

¼ cup vegetable oil

This is a large recipe, suitable if you are making 3-4 dozen Blintzes, I would guess. My mother would often make larger batches of this filling with 5 pounds of potatoes and 3 pounds of onions. It is dense. Very dense.

Peel and dice

  • 1¼ pounds yellow or white onions

In a large skillet, heat

  • 3 TBL vegetable oil
Onions, fully cooked
Onions, fully cooked

over a medium-high heat. Add onions and stir from time to time as onions begin to brown. Onion pieces should brown (see photos). You might need to add a little water to remove the fond from the pan. Make sure the onions are sweet and tender. Add more oil if needed, because it’s what will give moisture to the potatoes.

In the meantime, peel

  • 3 pounds potatoes (such as red bliss or Yukon gold)

and cut into large dice. Place in large pot and cover with well-salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until pieces are fork-tender, about 15 minutes once it comes to a brisk boil. Drain the potatoes and return to pot. Mash them thoroughly, tasting for salt. Add the cooked onions. If the potatoes seem dry, add a bit more oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. ATTNThe mixture should have a distinct presence of black pepper.

This is a traditional family recipe.