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Two Secrets to Superior Smashed Spuds

January 17, 2010

Tonight I threw in an old favorite and an on-a-whim guess into my potatoes and ended up with creamy, tangy, flavorful mashed potatoes.  I may never look back on Babci’s buttery spuds again.

Like 'em tangy?  Then these are for you!

Like 'em tangy? Then these are for you!

What was tonight?  A dinner thrown together, not a plan in sight.  Never made it to the grocery store, so no oyster mushrooms to attempt Vegan Dad’s mushroom scampi, which I’ve been lusting after ever since reading his delicious recipe.  But what was on the plate in the end? An elegant and rather easy dinner of roasted brussells sprouts, seared seitan (or VWG as I’ve been calling it after one argument too many over pronunciation), and amazing mashed potatoes.

Salty & savory seitan

Salty & savory seitan

Start out like this:

  • 8 small spuds, scrubbed
  • a smattering of fennel seeds
  • a generous sprinkling of sea salt
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ¼-½ C plain yogurt–secret #2 (low fat works fine)

Sprinkling in the salt & crush the fennel seeds between your palms, then filling the 4-quart pot 1/4 full of water.  While this is heating up, dice the spuds and dump them into lukewarm water.

Secret #1

Secret #1

When fork-tender, drain the potatoes.  In the same pan, heat the butter over medium heat until bubbly; add the garlic.  Fry until barely golden–be careful–these turn burnt and bitter in the split second you turn away for a sip of tea.  Return potatoes to the pan, stirring vigorously to mix in the butter & garlic.  Begin to mash.  Add half of the yogurt; mash thoroughly.  Add more yogurt to taste, or if the potatoes seem dry.

They may not look like much, but they taste divine!

Creamy, tangy, mashed potatoes

Next, Brussels sprouts:

  • ½ a stalk of Brussels sprout, halved
  • 1 ½ Tbs butter
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 Tbs sugar
Much maligned Brussels sprouts

To tempt the wary: add butter, salt & sugar

So simple, so sweet.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Put butter in the pan and the pan in the oven while you halve the sprouts.  Pull out the pan, swirl Brussels sprouts in the butter to coat.  Sprinkle with salt.  Toss with sugar.  Bake until tender.

Brussels sprouts

Sweet and salty

Finally, the seitan:

  • 2 oz seitan (I favor The Bridge for seitan & tofu–locally made & locally sold)
  • 3 Tbs mirin
  • 3 Tbs tamari
  • 1 small piece ginger (~½” long), minced
  • peanut oil for frying
Marinating seitan

easy-as-pie marinade, tasty-as-heck seitan

Slice the seitan into ½” cutlets.  Mix the mirin, tamari, and ginger.  Add the seitan, swirling it to coat well.  Let marinate while you make the rest of dinner, flipping the pieces once or twice.  Heat peanut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, lift out seitan steaklets, allowing excess marinade to drip, and toss in pan.  Sear on each side–this happens quickly, probably because of the sugars in the mirin, so be careful not to burn.

Dinner

Time to eat

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