The Ultimate Potato Book

The Ultimate Potato Book

A Book Review By Brenda Hyde

The Ultimate Potato Book:

Hundreds of Ways to Turn America's Favorite Side Dish Into a Meal

Authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

Published by William Morrow

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Potatoes have been getting a bad rap this year because of the low carb diet craze, but I'd like to think that the mighty spud that has been a favorite since way before the Spanish conquered the Incas will not fade into oblivion, high carb content or not. If you've tasted a homegrown potato you know this is simply not going to happen. Nothing can top the taste of a good homegrown potato except perhaps the fresh, juicy tomato.

The Ultimate Potato Cookbook takes us on a journey through potato history and past the plain beloved mashed potatoes to the potato dishes of Greece, India, France and Italy. But never fear they haven't forgotten Shepherd's Pie, Scrapple, and my favorite Pierogi Pie. They also share a great recipe for Chili Fries, with of course, homemade chili and fresh cooked steak fries. No Ore Ida fare in this book.

No matter what your ethnic background or your level of cooking expertise you'll love The Ultimate Potato Book, even if you save the recipes for company! The following recipes are from The Ultimate Potato Book:

Potato-Crusted Cod

Makes 4 Servings

This elegant dish is perfect for a dinner party or a romantic late-night supper. The very thin potato slices crisp around the fish, giving it a golden, baked crust. The potatoes themselves must be long enough to provide you with slices that can wrap around the fish fillets. Have your fishmonger remove the cod's skin. Check the flesh for bones and remove any with a pair of tweezers.


6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 large baking potatoes, at least 6 inches long, preferably Russets, scrubbed

1 1/2 pounds cod fillets, skinned and cut into 4 pieces

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon vegetable oil


1. Place the melted butter in a large bowl. Peel the potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. With a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the potatoes, starting with the flat, cut side, making long paper-thin slices. Let the slices fall into the melted butter. You may also use a mandoline, fitted with the thinnest slicing blade, but you'll need to run the potatoes lengthwise over the blade, a tricky task with some mandoline grips. Toss the slices to coat with the butter.

2. Lay an 8-inch piece of plastic wrap on the work surface. To build a bed large enough to hold a piece of cod, lay about one quarter of the potato slices on the plastic wrap in a straight row, overlapping each slice halfway with the next. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, then place a cod fillet on top. Gently fold up the ends of the slices to meet on top of the fillet; seal tightly by rolling the fillet lengthwise -- use the plastic wrap to help seal the potatoes and hold them in place. Transfer to a platter and repeat with the remaining potatoes, fillets, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate the four potato-wrapped fillets for at least 30 minutes, but not more than 6 hours.

3. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Gently unwrap the fillets, taking care not to disturb the potato crusts.

4. Heat a large oven-safe sauté pan or skillet (preferably nonstick) over high heat until smoking. Swirl in the oil, then add the fillets, potato seam side down. Immediately lower the heat to medium and cook 3 minutes without turning, until the potatoes brown. Carefully turn the fillets with a spatula, then place the skillet in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Serve immediately.

Potato Skins

Makes 4 Servings

Potato skins remain a favorite retro treat. These stuffed skins are both crispy and gooey, filled with cheese and bacon.


4 large baking potatoes (about 1 pound each), such as Russets, scrubbed

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, then cooled

8 strips bacon, fried and drained

4 scallions, green part only, finely chopped (about 4 tablespoons)

1 cup grated Cheddar (about 4 ounces)


1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the potatoes in the center of the rack and bake until soft, for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack until they can be handled easily. Cut in half, then scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Reserve the potato filling for another use, such as Gnocchi (page 95); cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

2. Position the rack 4 inches from the broiler, then preheat the broiler. Place the potatoes, skin side up, on a baking sheet, then brush each with 1 teaspoon melted butter. Broil for 1 minute, then turn the skins over. Brush the insides of each with 2 teaspoons melted butter. Broil until brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Keep the broiler going while you fill the skins.

3. Crumble 2 strips bacon into each skin, then sprinkle about 1 tablespoon scallions in each. Top each with 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

4. Broil until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

From The Ultimate Potato Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

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Powell's online bookshop carries copies of the The Ultimate Potato Book. HERE or you can order from Ecookbooks HERE


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