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Eat green: Serve potato champ for St. Patrick’s Day

Recipe: Dressed-up mashed potatoes are easy to make

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Here's an authentic Irish (and green) dish: potato champ. (Photos: Kathy Morrison) 


 St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. is basically a celebration of all things green. If you’d like to serve something more authentically Irish than green beer, potato champ is the ideal recipe.

Champ is mashed potatoes with green onions in it, but the cooking method makes this a dish that’s even better than the ingredients list sounds. The chopped onions, including tops, are steeped in hot milk, which turns the milk and then the mashed potatoes a lovely light green. This is a good way to use those thinned-out onions from your garden, and not just on St. Patrick’s Day.

I slightly adapted this recipe, which is from
“Irish Traditional Cooking” by Darina Allen, via the Epicurious website. It also can be make with other garden ingredients: parsley, chives or fresh green peas.

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 Potatoes and green onions: An easy, delicious pairing.

Potato champ
Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 large russet potatoes, about 1 ½ pounds
¾ cup milk (or ¼ cup milk per ½ pound of potatoes)
1 bunch green onions
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place in a pot with enough cold water to cover them, and boil until tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, finely chop the green onions, including the green tops. Place them in a small saucepan and add the cold milk. Bring the milk to a boil, simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the onions steep in the milk.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them, then return them to the empty pot. Mash them a bit and, while they’re still hot, pour in the milk and green onion mixture. Mash a bit more, adding in about half the butter, but don’t let them get gluey.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve in a warmed bowl with the rest of the butter in a pat on the top.

Variations: Substitute 2 to 3 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley or chives to the milk, boiling for only 2 to 3 minutes. For peas, shell them, then cook them in the milk with just a pinch of sugar, until tender. Proceed as above.

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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