December 22nd, 2010

{recipe} Three Alternatives to Plain Mashed Potatoes

Celery Root Mash

Celery Root Mash

Christmas is in three days—THREE days?!—and I can feel the food blogosphere quivering. Talented cooks everywhere are working overtime to snap pictures carefully styled to make your mouth water and post all of their holiday recipes up in time. Me included.

But these recipes, the second post in my guest stint at Baby Center’s Momformation, are, in a sense, an interlude. Though I developed them for the holiday table, unlike things like, oh, Sticky Toffee Pudding, these recipes can easily carry you through the winter. Even healthfully, with a few tweaks (think skim milk instead of cream and less butter here or there).

My Holiday Spiced Mashed Potatoes (can be shared with kids 6+ mos) are divine. They are a sweet and savory version of sweet potato pie filling, and that’s a good thing. The way salted caramels are even better than the just sweet kind.

Holiday Spiced Sweet Potatoes

If you prefer something more akin to traditional mashed spuds, try my Celery Root Mash (can be shared with kids 6+ mos; pictured above in Giada bakeware that you can win!). With a potato base, these offer all the comfort and familiarity of the plain version, but with a deliciously unexpected hint of flavor thanks to the celery root.

And, my favorite: Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower (can be served to kids 6+ mos). Do you need to know more than these will be on my Christmas table (topped with toasted hazelnuts)?

Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower

The holidays are a time for new recipes and old; time-tested traditions and last-minute experimentations; foods that you enjoy just once a year and ones that bring you joy week after week. So why not give one of these new experiments (to you!) a try? You just might end up with a new regular family table dish.

Oh… and if it hasn’t struck you yet, these are also perfect recipes for anyone whose family includes a first eater. Delicious for grown ups and a great “baby food,” too.

Holiday Spiced Sweet Potatoes
(Can be shared with eaters 6+ mos)
Serves 4-6

4 sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cardamom
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Freshly grated ginger, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast until fork tender all the way through, about 45-60 minutes. Remove potatoes from the oven and allow to cool before peeling. (The skin should just peel right off with a knife or even your fingers.)

2. Place warm potatoes in a bowl with butter, cream, syrup, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger. Mash until desired consistency. (I like these on the smoother side. If you do, too, use as hand blender.) Serve warm!

Celery Root Mash
(Can be shared with kids 6+ mos)
Serves 4-6

2 celery root, peeled & cut into 1” dice (about 2 cups diced)
3 large russet potatoes, peeled & cut into 2” dice (about 4 1/2 -5 cups diced)
2 pears, peeled, cored & cut into 1” dice
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup milk
3 cups water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt & pepper

1. Add celery root, potatoes, pears and thyme to a large pot. Add the milk and water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat to medium and cook until veggies are fork tender all the way through.

2. Drain veggies, saving a mugful of the cooking milk/water, and remove the sprigs of thyme. (It’s okay if a few of the thyme leaves remain.) Place in a large bowl with butter, salt and pepper. Mash until your preferred consistency. If you need additional liquid, use some of the cooking milk/water. (I like to keep this mash a little lumpy—home style.) Serve warm!

Brown Butter Mashed Cauliflower
(Can be shared with kids 6+ mos)
Serves 4-6

2 heads cauliflower, cut and trimmed (about 2 lbs florets)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoon salt
White pepper, to taste
Zest ½ lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Nutmeg, to taste

1. Steam cauliflower until fork tender all the way through.

2. In the meantime, brown the butter: Melt butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Allow the melted butter to cook until it turns a nutty brown, swirling the pan periodically. Once the butter has melted, watch over it carefully—it goes from brown to burnt in an instant.

3. Place cauliflower in a large bowl with cream, browned butter, salt, pepper, zest and lemon juice. Mash until desired consistency. (I like this both home style and perfectly smooth. If you prefer smooth, use a hand blender.) Add nutmeg to taste. Serve warm!

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