The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Unless You’re Careful, Those Spuds Can Be Duds

Although the tasty salad mentioned in the blog post below ( rocked, the Potato, Spinach and Leek Fritatta was only so-so. Not bad, just not exceptional.

I kinda suspected that would be the case before I even made it. I blame the potatoes. It would’ve been much better without them.

As I sauteed the leeks in butter, added a little fresh garlic and tossed in some spinach, a wonderful aroma filled the kitchen. Amy even came over to sneak a taste, saying, “Oh, that’s SO good!”

But after I added the potatoes and eggs, topped the think with breadcrumbs and cheese, and baked it to what should’ve been savory perfection, the flavor kinda fell flat.

I blame the potatoes. Potatoes have no taste and can easily suck the life (and dilute the tastes) of other ingredients in a dish.

Oh sure, they’re great fried to a crisp and dipped in ketchup … or baked in cream and cheese … or whipped with garlic and butter. But unless you prepare and pair them up with some pretty strong flavors, they don’t do much for the ol’ taste buds.

After The Great Fritatta Fiasco, I ran across a similar recipe that called for using bread instead of potatoes as the “filler” needed to give the fritatta a little heft. You’d have the same flavor-sucking problem there, unless you used cut-up garlic toast or some sort of herbed bread — which might be pretty good, actually!

Pricey Pinenuts Kicked to the Curb, for Now

I’m all for splurging on a primo ingredient to make a recipe really sing — especially for a special occasion — but even I have to draw the line at $8 pinenuts.

We invited my wife’s mom over for a special Mother’s Day brunch this past Sunday for a Potato, Spinach and Leek Fritatta with a few grilled sausages served on the side. I wanted to make a nice salad to accompany the meal, so I ran to Kroger for some fresh greens, goat cheese and dried cranberries that I planned to toss with a homemade honey balsamic vinaigrette. I thought a few toasted pinenuts would add a nice nutty crunch, so I reached for a bag and …

Spent the next few seconds trying to catch my breath!

Pinenuts have always been on the pricey side, but $7.99 for less than a handful was too much for me to handle. So I grabbed some chopped macadamia nuts instead (hey, only a buck!) which made for a really nice — and wallet-friendly — substitute.

We enjoyed them so much, in fact, that our beloved pinenuts may take a backseat until they come down a little in price.

The salad rocked, by the way, and here’s what I whisked together to dress it …


  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Honey
  • Dijon mustard
  • Pepper

The proportions depend on how much you need and how sweet, salty or tart you want it. I started with about 1/4 cup olive oil, then added a tablespoon (maybe two) of vinegar, a squirt of honey, a small dollop of mustard and a few turns of the pepper mill.

Having just spent a less-than-pleasant hour at a crazier-than-usual Kroger, trust me when I say you need to come up with your Thanksgiving menu – and secure all the necessary groceries – speedy quick.

You do NOT want to be battling these crowds the day before your feast, when there’s enough stress to deal with already.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

The star of your table is a no-brainer (you’ve already bought your fresh turkey, right?) although may want to serve a small ham alongside it for variety. After that’s settled, most of your obligatory side dishes fall neatly into place …

You have to have stuffing, but also mashed potatoes for all that good homemade gravy you’re making. And not just mashed potatoes, but sweet potatoes too. And rolls. (This is definitely a “no carb left behind” kind of meal.) A few token veggies are a must – usually green beans on my side of the family, but peas on my wife’s.

But I always like to throw in at least one or two new sides each year, just for kicks. This year I’m leaning toward a Brussels sprout hash (sautéed with a little bacon) and maybe a colorful succotash with edamame and fresh corn.

And we’ll round things out with buffet of sweet treats – pumpkin, pecan and apple pies, plus some sort or rich chocolate torte.
It’s a pretty basic menu, sure, but the holidays are all about keeping long-standing traditions alive. So bon appétit!