Fixing Taters

The best way to remedy a dish you’ve oversalted is by putting a potato into the pot; it absorbs the extra salinity.

But what if you’re cooking potatoes?

You’re probably gonna need a different plan.

A week or so ago, I bought a bag of baby potatoes.  From what I could see, they looked like fingerlings.  I would cut them in half length-wise, roast, and serve with super bright and puckery lemon mayo.

Before I cooked them, I took a Denver steak, and some of the spuds to my still self-isolating Kid.  My child later told me that they were too small to roast like I was thinking, so they were stewed instead.

The Matthews family band loves old school Southern stewed potatoes.  But I’ve never made the classic type.  I use a method that evolved from a potato recipe from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

The Food Network chef has a recipe for herbed new potatoes.  The procedure is similar, but the end result is crispy and if you’re not hyper-vigilant, it can stick to the bottom, then fall apart when serving.

Our procedure produces a creamy spud that more closely resembles a Southern stewed potato, only there’s no need to peel and cut them up before cooking.


I called The Kid after dinner and asked how dinner was.  Unfortunately, the spuds were over salted.

I couldn’t help myself.

“You know how to fix over-salted food, don’t you?”

In an eminently weary voice that left no doubt of The Kid’s thoughts about having a hilarious mother, my child replied, “Yeah, you throw in a potato.”

I swear, I am a walking punchline…wait…I’m a really funny mom, that’s it.

After pausing so my child could finish busting a gut and appreciating the comic genius that is Mom, I said, “…or, you could have added lemon.”  The Kid and I are lemon fiends.  If it doesn’t take our breath away and bring a tear to our eyes, it needs more.

Lemon juice is very acidic.  Which means it needs lots of salt.  If lemon juice is in a recipe, you have to up the salt to compete with the lemon.  If The Kid had added lemon juice to the spuds, it would have probably balanced the salt.

When I made the potatoes for Petey and me, I decided to try the lemon in them.  I had to go easy because my husband isn’t the fan The Kid and I are.

But he’s a very lucky man.  Because in addition to all the delicious eats I create, he lives with a woman who every utterance is pure comedy gold.

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at      

Sorta Stewed Lemony Potatoes

3 pounds red or yellow new potatoes

½ cup water

2 heaping teaspoons chicken base, like Better Than Bouillon

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon dry thyme

½ teaspoon mustard powder

Salt & pepper

Juice from half a lemon

¼ cup garlic chives, sliced thinly


¼ cup finely chopped herbs of your choice

Wash potatoes and cut in half any very large ones.  In large heavy pot with a lid, stir together the first six ingredients.  Give it a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Cover and cook at medium medium-low until the potatoes are tender, but before the liquid has all cooked out (12-18 minutes).

Take off lid and cook until the pan is dry and there are browned bits on the bottom of the pot.

Remove from heat and add lemon juice.  Stir in until a saucy glaze has formed and the brown bits are off the bottom and in the sauce.

Stir in herbs and serve.  4 servings.

Chocolate is the answer. The question? Irrelevant.

There are two absolutes concerning this confection.

Everyone that tastes it asks for the recipe.

And, every time someone makes it for the first time, they panic; old-timers and newbies alike.

You probably know of Ina Garten.  She’s the former owner of a famous specialty food store.  When she sold it, she kept the store’s name, “Barefoot Contessa” as her own moniker.

Not that Barefoot Contessa…

This Barefoot Contessa.

In her books and TV shows, she shares lots of classic recipes.

If you close your eyes and think of chocolate cake, this is that cake.  Her version is rich, moist, and delicious; and the frosting tastes like sweet chocolate butter.

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

Recipe courtesy Ina Gartenchoc cakeButter, for greasing pans

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

3/4 cups cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

½ cup vegetable oil

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line pans with parchment paper, then butter and flour them.

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, slowly add wet ingredients to dry. With mixer still on low, add coffee and stir just to combine, scraping bottom of bowl.  Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto cooling rack and cool completely.So here’s where the panic comes.  The batter will be thin.  I mean thin like the consistency of heavy cream thin.  When you make the batter, you’ll think you’ve screwed it up.  You haven’t—it’s fine, I promise.

Chocolate Frostingchoc frosting6 ounces semisweet chocolate

½ pound butter, softened

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ¼ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop chocolate and place it in heat-proof bowl set over pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low, gradually add confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium, scraping down bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of hottest tap water. On low speed, add chocolate and coffee to butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip!

To frost: place one cake layer, flat side up, on flat plate or cake pedestal. With knife or offset spatula, spread top with frosting. Place second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread frosting evenly on top and sides.A word of caution about the frosting: although I am always on the “more is better” bus, this philosophy will not work here.  The amount of chocolate in the recipe is perfect.  If you add more, as the frosting sets, it will get hard and crack, ruining the beauty of your work.  Don’t do it.

In the end, you could also call this a “get” cake.

If you make it, you’ll get the praise, get the raise, or get engaged.Better “get” going.

Thanks for your time.