Saturday, July 31, 2010

Syracuse Salt Potatoes

"Salt potatoes are bite-size "young" or "new" potatoes scrubbed and boiled in their skins. Salt is added to the water to the point of saturation, giving them their name, and unique flavor and texture. After cooking, salt potatoes are served with melted butter.
Salt potatoes are creamy as the starch in the potatoes cooks more completely due to the higher boiling temperature of the extra-salty water. The salty skin stands up particularly well to both herbed and plain melted butter.
Salt potatoes are a regional dish of Central New York typically served in the summer when the young potatoes are first harvested. They are a staple food at fairs and barbecues. In this region, potatoes specifically intended to be made into salt potatoes can be purchased by the bag along with packages of salt during the summer months.
The Syracuse, New York area has a long history of salt production. Salt springs located around Onondaga lake were used to create consumable salt that was distributed throughout the northeast via the Erie Canal. Salinated water was laid out to dry on large trays. The salt residue was then scraped up, ground, and packaged. Salt potatoes were created in the nineteenth century by Irish immigrants working the springs who cooked their potatoes in the salty brine."
Wikipedia provided all this great background information about Salt Potatoes! 
Thanks to my husband's good friend from college, I discovered Salt Potatoes.  N and her husband R came down for B's 50th birthday party and part of their gift to him was a bag of Salt Potatoes.  At first, I thought that Salt Potatoes were an unusual gift but then I found out that they were a tradition in Syracuse going back to the 1800's!  
I used the recipe on the back of the bag of potatoes but since I didn't keep the bag I found a similar recipe on "" to share with you.  I also found another recipe on the NY Times website that looks interesting.  N told me you can buy any new potatoes and boil them in salt to create Salt Potatoes. You don't need to buy a bag marked "Salt Potatoes".  Not that I would ever find them down here in Maryland.  Salt Potatoes are excellent.  You must try them.  B told me that the ones I made tasted just like he remembered from his childhood!



4 pounds new potatoes
1-1/2 cups fine salt
8 tablespoons butter, melted


Wash the potatoes and set aside.
Fill a large pot with water; stir in salt until it no longer dissolves and settles on the bottom.
Place potatoes in the pot and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender but firm, about 15 minutes.

Drain; cover to keep hot.

While the potatoes are cooking, melt the butter in a small pan over medium high heat, or in microwave. Serve immediately poured over potatoes.

New York Salt Potatoes

by Kim Severson (NY Times)
adapted from American Test Kitchens Recipe
8 cups of water
1-1/2 cups of kosher salt (add another cup if using the Diamond Crystal brand)
3 pounds well-scrubbed small red or white potatoes, as uniform in size as possible and with skins on
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
Freshly snipped herbs (optional)

1. Bring salt and water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until tender, about 25 minutes.

2. Drain potatoes in a strainer and place pot back on stove over medium heat and add butter. When just melted, after about a minute, add potatoes and, if desired, herbs and black pepper. Toss and serve immediately.

Yield: Six servings


The Creative Cook

Friday, July 23, 2010

Frozen Hot Chocolate - Slimmed Down Version

I was just reading my August 2010 issue of Woman's Day Magazine and I saw a recipe by Joy Bauer, R.D. for a slimmed down version of Frozen Hot Chocolate.  This sounds like a great summer treat for adults and kids!  Let's give this one a try.  I'm sure D will enjoy this.  He likes Starbuck's Frappachinos and Dunkin Donuts Coolatta's so why not Frozen Hot Chocolate??  The article in Woman's Day says that Frozen Hot Chocolate is a signature dessert at Serendipity, a Manhattan restaurant.  Serendipity has been around for years in NYC.  I think there is now a Serendipity II or even II.  If I remember correctly, it is a very expensive restaurant that specializes in ice cream and desserts for kids. 

Here is the Joy Bauer's slimmed down recipe:

Frozen Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups ice cubes

Garnish:  reduced-fat whipped topping and/or dark chocolate shavings

1.  Combine chocolate syrup, evaporated milk, vanilla and ice in a blender until smooth.

2.  Pour into glasses.  Garnish with a dollop of whipped topping and/or a sprinkling of chocolate shavings, if desired.

Variations:  Mexican Hot Chocolate:  Add 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon.  Peppermint Hot Chocolate: Substitute 1/4 tsp mint extract for the vanilla extract.

150 cal, 5 g pro, 0 g fat, 85 mg sod.


The Creative Cook

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe

Have you ever eaten dessert at Chili's?  Well, their most famous dessert is their Molten Lava Cake.  My son absolutely loves the Molten Lava Cake from Chili's.  When we were on vacation two weeks ago in New Mexico, we drove through Roswell, NM on our way home from Carlsbad Caverns.  Since we didn't see any aliens, we decided to have dinner there.  Not to mention the fact that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING else around between Carlsbad Caverns and Roswell.  They actually have a Chili's in Roswell, NM so we ate dinner there that night.  It was late and we had a long drive back to our hotel in Santa Fe.  Because of that, I decided that D should not order his most favorite dessert. That meant, of course, that I owed him dessert at Chili's (I still do, in fact, owe him dessert at Chili's).  Now that we are home, I was thinking I could probably make him a copycat of Chili's Molten Lava Cake.  Big mistake on my part.  I didn't find the right recipe but I do think that these Chocolate Lava Cakes are really good.  I will continue to try to find the best Copycat Chili's Molten Lava Cake recipe.  Sadly, this is not it.  I found that out in a big way today!  Oh well, I tried.

Chocolate Lava Cake
Preparation:  15 Minutes
Cooking Time:  10 - 20 Minutes (or more if necessary)
Makes 4 Servings


6 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate (or use your favorite 70% dark chocolate bar)
6 oz. butter (diced, room temperature)
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
butter for ramekins


(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
(2) Butter four 3.5 oz. ramekins
(3) Melt chocolate on low flame in a double boiler.
(4) When chocolate is melted, remove from heat and stir in diced butter until it melts.
(5) In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar, until it starts to whiten.
(6) Stir in melted chocolate and then stir in the flour.
(7) Pour chocolate batter into prepared ramekins.
(8) Bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until top is cooked through, but center is still liquid.
(9) Tip ramekins upside down onto dessert plates and serve.



You can prepare your chocolate lava cake batter ahead of time and then bake just before serving.

Butter the ramekin bottoms first, and then butter the sides, wiping from the bottom up to the top.  This helps the chocolate to rise even more.

If you don't like liquid-center cake, just cook these babies for a little longer, and you will have an incredibly moist mini chocolate cake.

Serving Ideas:

Serve chocolate lava cake with a Creme Anglaise (English Cream) or a Coulis Aux Framboises (Raspberry Sauce).  I like serving it with good vanilla ice cream.


The Creative Cook

Friday, July 9, 2010

Deep Chocolate Vitamuffin Copycat Recipe

I did not even know what a Vitamuffin was until I saw a post about them on Facebook by one of my cousins. She was talking about how her little boy (2 or 3 years of age) insisted on eating one of her Vitamuffins.  This was a problem because they are very expensive.  I can tell you that they range from a low of $4.19 for a box of 4 Vitatops or Vitamuffins up to a high of $5.99 for the same box!  When I saw how expensive they are, I did some searching and found this recipe pretty much all over the internet.  I don't know how the "Vita" part of the Vitamuffins have been copied in this recipe but the fiber part is clearly added with the clear fiber supplement.  I found clear fiber supplement at a local pharmacy.  I read a few reviews of this recipe that said the muffins were fairly dry and not as dense as the real Vitamuffins.  To remedy this problem, I used fat free Greek Yogurt in place of the applesauce and added a tablespoon of safflower oil.  I also used regular sugar but reduced the amount to 3/4 of a cup rather than using Splenda or some other sugar substitute.  That is just my preference.  If you like Vitamuffins or Vitatops but they are too expensive for your budget, try these with my "tweaks."

Deep Chocolate Vitamuffin Copycat Recipe

1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour (I used white wheat flour)
3 egg whites (I used egg substitute)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup fat-free half & half
1-1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups hot water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons clear fiber supplement plus 2 teaspoons


1.  Spray 24 cupcake pans with cooking spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Mix all dry ingredients together.

3.  Add all wet ingredients except the 1-1/2 cups hot water.

4.  Mix together both wet and dry ingredients while slowly stirring in hot water.

5.  Do not overmix.

6.  Evenly scoop batter into cupcake pans.

7.  Sprinkle each cupcake with chocolate chips.

8.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

9.  Let cool for 10 minutes.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

French Red Potato Salad

I made this recipe for 4th of July so I made it into "American Red White & Blue Potato Salad".  I used baby red, white and blue potatoes.  If you can't find the blue potatoes, use the purple ones.  They will do just fine.  The main thing is to cook the potatoes just right.  Be careful not to over cook or under cook them.  This recipe was created by Catherine Kitcho for her "Use It Up Cookbook: Creative Recipes for the Frugal Cook."  She is a caterer turned author. This is one of her favorite recipes from her catering business.  She did not like the idea of serving salads with mayonnaise base for events that were held outdoors in hot weather.  Catherine Kitcho says that this potato salad actually tastes better when it's warm and I agree. 

French Red Potato Salad
by Catherine Kitcho

2 pounds red potatoes
8 green onions, sliced thin (scallions)
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil

Cut the potatoes into quarters, and steam for 15 minutes or until cooked through but not mushy.

Drain in a colander and rinse in cold water.  When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into cubes and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Add the onions, parsley, dill weed, salt and pepper, and stir to distribute.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, wine, garlic, and olive oil.  Pour over the potatoes and stir thoroughly.

Serve immediately or chill and serve later.


The Creative Cook

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

This recipe looks much easier than the Baked Beans with Maple Glazed Bacon recipe I posted recently.  I think that I will try to combine the ingredients from the previous recipe (meaning the vinegars) to give this recipe some zing.  But the idea of cooking it all in a slow cooker is so much more appealing than spending two days trying to make baked beans.  Although the Baked Beans with Maple Glazed Bacon recipe got high praise from everyone who tried it, this one looks much simpler and less labor intensive.  I will definitely try it with a few of my own "tweaks."  {This recipe needed a lot of revisions.  I made my changes as noted below.  I doubled all the original ingredients except the onion but I increased the amount of water from 1 cup to 4-5 cups.}

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Prep Time: 1 hr.
Cook Time: 10 hrs.
Servings:  12


24 ounces dry white beans
1 pound bacon
1 onion, chopped
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt
4-5 cup water
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup molasses 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 cup ketchup (or tomato paste)
1/4 tablespoons prepared mustard


1.  The night before, combine the beans with water to cover by an inch or two.  Bring the beans to a boil and cook for 1-1/2 hours.  Pour beans and their liquid into a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Drain beans and place them in a slow cooker.  Add  bacon, onion, brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, maple flavoring, molasses, garlic, vinegars and water.

2. Mix well, cover and cook on high setting for 5 hours, stirring occasionally.  Cook on low for another 7 to 9 hours.  During the final hour of cooking, add the ketchup and mustard, remove bacon, chop it and put it back into the slow cooker.  Mix well and serve.


The Creative Cook

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Baked Beans with Maple Glazed Bacon

My husband is closing in on his 50th birthday.  He decided that he wanted to have a birthday party.  I am not a big birthday party person but I relented and hosted a party for him yesterday.   It turned out great.  His one food-related request was to ask me to make baked beans like his mother used to make.  The funny "aside" on this comment is that his sister came down for the party and informed us that his mom used premade baked beans, put bacon or pork on top and baked them in the oven.  Funny!  But not...  because these beans took a long time and a lot of work. The things you do for your family!!  At least they went over well and my husband liked them.  I will tell you that these beans are quite "tangy" so next time I make them I will reduce the vinegar and increase the brown sugar and/or molasses.  I would also like to suggest that you read this recipe thoroughly. I missed a few things when I made it.  I could not find dried yellow-eye or cannelini beans so I used dried pinto beans.

Baked Beans with Maple-Glazed Bacon

  • ACTIVE: 20 MIN


    1. 3-1/2 cups yellow eye or navy beans, rinsed and picked over, then soaked overnight for 2 hours and drained
    2. Kosher salt
    3. 9 slices of bacon, 1 slice cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
    4. 1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
    5. 1 cup apple cider vinegar
    6. 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    7. 1/4 cup dark unsulphured molasses
    8. 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    9. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    10. 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
    11. 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    12. 1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard


  1. In a large pot, cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 2 hours; add water as needed to keep the beans covered by 2 inches.  Season the beans with salt and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.  Drain the beans, reserving 4 cups of cooking liquid.  Transfer the beans to a large, deep baking dish.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook the bacon strips over moderate heat until the fat has rendered, 5 minutes.  Add the onion and cook over moderate low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 minutes.  Stir in the apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, crushed red pepper, black pepper and 1-1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt and simmer for 1 minute, until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour the bacon-onion mixture over the beans and stir in the reserved bean cooking liquid.  Cover the beans with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the maple syrup with the red wine vinegar and mustard.  Arrange the remaining 8 bacon slices on a rimmed baking sheet, and generously brush them with maple syrup mixture.  Bake the bacon in the same oven as the beans for about 15 minutes, basting 3 times and turning the bacon twice, until richly glazed. Transfer the bacon to a plate.
  4. Carefully pour 1/3 cup of water onto the baking sheet and return it to the oven for about 3 minutes to dissolve the caramelized syrup.  Uncover the beans and carefully stir in the syrup.  Bake the beans, uncovered, for about 20 minutes longer, until the liquid has reduced by about one-fourth.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Top the beans with the glazed bacon and bake until browned, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

The beans can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight.  Reheat, covered, in a 350 degree oven before proceeding.


The Creative Cook