Mashed Potato and Kale Cakes with Rouille

There are sweet people in the world.

A woman at Walgreen’s (Kathy, if I remember correctly) stops me while shopping with Lila for toothpaste and Neutrogena face wash. I’ve got coupons for you, she says, find me before you check out. Inevitably, as with all these trips, I grab a few more things. Lila and I try to find the right shade of orange nail polish, ultimately leaving the final decision for another time. We pick up a deep conditioner for that hair that goes all the way down to her waist and a couple other things.

As we walk toward the front of the store, Kathy calls out to us. You ready to check out? I can take you up here.

Alright. She pulls out a box of clipped coupons near the cash register and flips through the little pieces of paper filed alphabetically. She finds coupons for everything I’m buying. She saves me $6. This woman clips these coupons on her own time for customers, also going out of her way to make sure they get to use them. Isn’t that just so… nice?

I’ve got nothing here quite as unexpectedly selfless as Kathy’s move, but here’s something good for the weekend. Mashed Potato and Kale Cakes. From me (and Melissa Clark) to you.

This recipe is another way to enjoy beloved mashed potatoes, this time in crispy form.

Creamy, buttery comfort food left just a bit chunky with the potato skins still on. We could end here and call it a day. But let’s turn it into something new. Don’t skip the kale.

A few of these tender cakes with a salad or scrambled eggs on the side would make a very good light lunch or dinner.

The rouille that goes with them, a sort of doctored-up mayonnaise, is very garlicky. Garlic breath. Garlic fridge. You’ve been warned. But it is tasty and goes especially well with the mashed potato and kale cakes.

Be sweet! and surprise someone with these potato and kale cakes this weekend. You and your friend will be so pleased.

mashed potato and kale cakes 

for the cakes:

1 1/2 pounds unpeeled russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
a few tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced white onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound kale, leaves coarsely chopped and stems removed and discarded
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

for the rouille:

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed (or minced)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper

For the rouille, whisk mayonnaise, olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, and cayenne pepper with a fork in a medium bowl. Season rouille with salt and freshly ground black pepper, tasting to see how you like it. Keep in the fridge until potato and kale cakes are ready.

Cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes, in a large saucepan of boiling salted water. Drain potatoes in the sink and return potatoes to the same saucepan. Add milk and butter, and mash potatoes until smooth. Season with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Move 3 cups mashed potatoes to a large bowl and let cool. Leftover mashed potatoes? Eat while you work.

Saute onion and garlic with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Bring the heat up to medium high, and add kale and thyme. Stir until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Add cooked kale, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and ground nutmeg to potatoes and mix together. Let potato mixture cool for 30 minutes.

Scoop 1/4 cupfuls of potato mixture and mold into 1/2-inch thick patties, laying patties out on a sheet of parchment paper or on a cutting board.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few cakes to the pan and don’t move them for 3 to 4 minutes to let them get crispy and brown. Flip the cakes over carefully, and cook other sides until brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the cakes, keeping the finished ones on a plate lined with paper towels.

Serve 3 or 4 cakes per person with a big dollop of rouille.

Note: Rouille can be made a day ahead. Cover and keep it in the fridge. Potato and kale patties can be made up to 2 hours ahead and left at room temperature.

Makes 12 to 16 cakes to serve 4. Recipe from Melissa Clark via Bon Appétit.

Now Reading: Gourmet, Tartine, Momofuku

Three very different cookbooks have been hanging out in my bookcase of food books. They’re mine on loan from the library until I finish them or someone else requests them and keeps me from hitting renew.

Let’s explore.

An edition of The Best of Gourmet from 1988, the year I was born. Finding this felt a little like those lists that tell you what song was No. 1 on your birth date. The book is divided into menus from the previous year with more than 500 recipes, offering pictures along with the menus in the first section and a few illustrations scattered throughout the recipes in the rest of the book. A few recipes are from what was then a new column, “Microwave Mastery.”

The table settings were awesomely gaudy. Look at that decorative plate of a deck of cards. Oh, if you could just see all this furniture. One menu for “tray meals” offers breakfast in a bed that is festooned with ruffles, hearts, and floral decor. I don’t know where to look first.

Maybe just go straight for the recipes. A few that sounded good were Raspberry Oatmeal Lace Cookies, a Potato Pancake with Celery Root and Gruyère, Baked Goat Cheese Walnut Toasts, and a Braised Chicken with Olives sitting on Saffron Rice with Pine Nuts and Currants. Doesn’t that sound good? Why don’t I ever see food at any 80s-themed parties?

Tartine! I’ve been hanging with this book for longer than I care to admit without starting my starter.

We bought a kitchen scale and stocked up on another tool for cutting into the dough… and then there was a move and an onslaught of excuses. Now we’re going to California next week, spending one night in San Francisco and you can bet we’re paying Tartine a visit. Mark Bittman said it was his favorite bakery in the country. I trust that guy.

And maybe this is a better way to go about it. I’ve had everything I need to make this bread except a taste of the finished product to measure my bread against. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I don’t know that I’m making anything from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook anytime soon, but it sure was fun to read. Not that Christina Tosi’s creations don’t appeal to me, because they do. Cereal Milk, yes please, I ate two bowls of cereal a morning in high school. I had to stop buying it all together to save myself.

Then there’s Crack Pie. Chocolate Chip Layer Cake. Corn Cookies. Gimme.

It’s just that a lot of the recipes for the pies and cakes and cookies include references to other recipes to get you to what you want. And I don’t have ingredients like acetate, freeze-dried corn powder or citric acid sitting in my pantry on any given baking day.

One day. How long can I resist a recipe for something called Candy Bar Pie? It’s only a matter of time.

What cookbooks (or magazines, food blogs, etc.) are you reading lately?

Gin-Thyme Lemonade

It’s been raining all weekend. We still grilled corn and burgers, both beef and tofu. We still had cocktails made for drinking on a hot day.

This Gin-Thyme Lemonade is sweet and refreshing. I made it Saturday night and ended up serving it up on Sunday afternoon, after Lila had sadly headed back home to Miami with my parents. Balloons and glow-stick bracelets are gone. No more Charlie and Lola mornings.

The original recipe calls for adding six cups of water to the mix of lemon juice, thyme simple syrup, and gin, but I liked the lemonade a little more concentrated. Aim for three or so cups of water, stopping to taste and see how you like it. Hendrick’s gin worked nicely here, and maybe it was that combined with the thyme simple syrup that gave this lemonade cocktail a hint of vanilla. Try it this week. Let me know what you think.

gin-thyme lemonade

A lemonade enhanced with gin and thyme is a perfect late summer cocktail.

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 bunch fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 10 lemons), plus lemon slices for garnish
1 cup (Hendrick’s) gin
To make the thyme simple syrup, bring sugar, thyme, and 1 cup water to boil in a medium saucepan. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Remove thyme.
Add simple syrup to a pitcher with lemon juice, gin, and 2 cups cold water. Stir to combine. Taste and add up to 2 more cups water if lemonade is too strong.

Refrigerate until cold, about an hour and up to a week. Serve in a tall glass with big ice, thyme sprigs, and lemon slices.

Makes 8 drinks. Adapted slightly from Martha Stewart.

Five Things

It’s been such a fun week with Lila in town. Is the week really over? Sigh. Here’s this week’s Five Things.

(1) Making pizza for dinner with two people I love. Look at that smile!

(2) This farmer’s market in Altanta offering probably almost everything you could need.

(3) I don’t have an ice cream maker. Yet! Though I’m perfectly happy making ice pops for now, here are a few ways to make ice cream without a machine.

(4) The New Yorker crushing big time on The Moth, a podcast I love. I’d be riding the bus or the metro and laughing out loud to myself listening to some of these stories.

(5) This movie. It doesn’t get here for a couple more weeks, but I can’t wait to see it. I love all things Rome.

Mango Ice Pops

Yesterday was the official start of summer, and making something like mango ice pops seemed appropriate. Even if Lila objected, saying she doesn’t like mango. And can she have another brownie? And can she eat another tile, maybe an R or an X, from that chocolate edition of Scrabble?

Fine. These pops with a bit of rum weren’t for her! She’s just my popsicle model rocking a cool summer vacation manicure on her “best summer ever” so far.

The popsicles taste like pure mango. Sweet, fruity, refreshing, and in a lovely shade of orange. Try them! This recipe makes plenty to fill a popsicle mold set and another ice cream container. Happy summer!

mango ice pops

Use this recipe to make popsicles or simply a mango sorbet. It tastes intensely of mango.

2 1/2 pounds or 2 to 4 large and ripe mangoes
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 lime
2 tablespoons dark rum

Use a vegetable peeler to peel the mangoes. Slice off large pieces of mango, leaving just the pit. Chop mango pieces into chunks, and add to bowl or blender. Squeeze the mango pits with your hands over the blender or bowl to get all that juice. It gets messy. Blend mango chunks with sugar, 3/4 cup water, the juice of 1 lime, and dark rum until smooth.

Pour mango mixture into popsicle molds, putting any leftovers in a plastic container. Freeze for at least four hours. Run popsicle molds under warm water for about 10 seconds to release popsicles from the mold.

Makes 6 or so popsicles depending on the mold, with leftovers. Adapted slightly from Lottie + Doof