Top Chef U – Lesson 13 – Specialty Vegetables III – Potatoes and Artichokes

POTATOES AND ARTICHOKESPotatoes and Artichokes

Potatoes and Artichokes – Part 1

My Story

Hmm, potatoes and artichokes. Potatoes are my absolute favorite starch of all times! Potatoes are a classic. Especially if you grew up when I

Potatoes and artichokes

Yukon Gold

did, or on a farm, or in the middle of nowhere. It’s a staple on every dinner table. I grew up with meat and potatoes at the dinner table every night. Usually they were mashed. I swear my mother made mashed potatoes using a mixer, but my father says no way, because it would make them too pasty. My father knows nothing about cooking, so how would he know this? Occasionally we had the scalloped, or what is called au gratin, but I was never too fond of them. I haven’t had them in years, so I don’t know if I would like them know. And I cannot understand how I never had any boiled potatoes. They are to die for with certain foods!

Types of Potatoes

potatoes and artichokes

A purple potato

When Carla was discussing the types of potatoes, I think she should have had a few more examples. She did give the three basic types, but only gave us one of each. It’s not like the grocery stores have just those three varieties. I’m including a few more:

  • Boiling – These have a waxy texture and have a lower starch content. You don’t want to use these for mashing, because they will end up lumpy. These are best for potato salads, soups, and casseroles. Hence why they are called ‘boiling potatoes’. These you can eat with the skins on, just rinse before cooking. These potatoes consist of
    • New Potatoes
    • Fingerlings
    • Red Potatoes
    • Petite Potatoes
  • Baking – These are longer in shape and have a thicker skins, have a higher starch content, and a fluffier texture. These are best for baking (duh!), mashed, and french fries. You will want to peel these, or at least scrub them really well. These potatoes consist of
    • Idaho
    • Russet
    • Sweet Potatoes
  • All Rounders – These are Carla’s favorites. These are good for both baking and boiling. They have an earthy flavor, high and a high sugar content. These potatoes consist of
    • Yukon Golds
    • Peruvians
    • Purple/Blue Potatoes
    • White Potatoes

Of course, the most popular are the New potatoes, the Russets, and the Yukon Golds. You can’t go wrong with these.

mashed potatoes

These are awesome! Ignore the green bean that had to sneak into my photograph!

Where to Learn More:

  • Here is a good blog that shows pictures of the more common varieties.
  • If you want to know everything possible about potatoes, check out this website.
  • Here’s my Garlic Mashed Potato recipe.

How to Store and Care for Your Potatoes:

You never want to store potatoes in the refrigerator! No matter what anyone tells you! Store them in a cool dark place. Exposed to light, they will start to turn bitter and sprout (so how does this not happen in the grocery store is this diy home goddess’ question!). But Carla does not say what to store them in: plastic, paper, towels, left to natural air? I store mine in paper bags, to keep as much light away from them as possible.

And, after peeling them, if you aren’t cooking them immediately, make sure you toss them into some cold water to keep the oxidation to a minimum. You definitely don’t want any blackness happening!

Potatoes and Artichokes – Part 2

My Story

potatoes and artichokes

Artichoke Plant Sketch

Artichokes I’m not too fond of. I didn’t grow up with eating real vegetables. As you can see above, I grew up with mashed potatoes, along with corn, peas and green beans, sometimes succotash (which I could not stand!). That was about it for me. I didn’t eat any other vegetables until I was an adult. My ex-husband introduced me to artichokes, saying they were to die for. He bought one for me at one of those outdoor restaurant market type places, with butter for dipping. Yeah, it was to die for, I almost died eating it. I didn’t like it at all! I could see no appeal in it at all. The only way I’ve ever been able to eat them is in an artichoke and crab dip.

How to Prepare

Carla went through this extensive explanation of cutting through the artichoke to get to the heart. Personally, I think it would be easier just to go out and buy artichoke hearts at the grocery store. It seemed too complicated for me. There was a real lack in the finesse in the description. Here’s a much better explanation than what I could describe with what I was given on this DVD, complete with pictures!

But she did tell you to grill the artichokes in olive oil and sea salt, poach or marinate them for sales and pastas, and did mention the crab and cream cheese dip. Here’s a recipe for the dip if you want to try to make it, or TGI Friday’s does sell it in the grocery store.

The Wrap Up

So, in the end, my review of this lesson is not that bad, but it wasn’t one of the best ones either. It was a little sloppy, a little muddy, and a little underwhelming with information that a diy home goddess needs to learn about potatoes and artichokes.

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