Saturday, July 18, 2015

Greek Salad Supper

Greek Salad - fresh, firm tomatoes, sweet crunchy cucumbers, tangy feta cheese, and puckery olives. The best ones taste so fresh, with crisp vegetables still vibrant with an inherent sweetness "from the vine" and tossed with a vinaigrette just before you eat it so that the vegetables are truly just dressed as opposed to saturated.  One of our memorable family adventures entailed driving from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands to Amman, Jordan, a journey of 2 1/2 weeks and a wonderful way to show our children Europe, so we thought. Several years later, they say it's still too soon to ask but they realize that it should have been an adventure of a lifetime: however, Europe was particularly hot that summer, seven of us shared space in a car that comfortably seats five, everyone was allowed only 2 changes of clothing for the entire trip.....and by the time we made it to Greece, they were just looking for a McDonald's. An iconic picture we have of them sitting in the shadows of the Parthenon, shows them with their chins in their hands, wondering if they were having fun yet.  Eating time seemed to liven them up and the greek salad served alongside gyro and souvlaki helped bring them around.  We discovered the best way to make the decision as to "what's for dinner" while traveling was to assign each family member a day to choose the restaurant or cafe where we would eat, which made everyone happy except for our son who ate only plain rice, (which was a no-go if a garnish of parsley had been added) or pizza with no lumps in the sauce.  Greek Salad did nothing for him (no vegetable passed his lips until he was 18) and it's a miracle he survived that trip.  This recipe takes the basic Greek Salad to new heights resulting in a complete "supper" that is ridiculously abundant and succulent with beautiful colors. Anything and everything that happily teams with the basic salad ingredients is included and is my husband's favorite dinner.  The potato salad is lean, cleanly uncomplicated and enhanced with grilled shrimp (careful on the grill - 2 minutes per side usually does it) This is a beautiful and impressive dish to take to a BBQ dinner, so fresh and light - and doesn't require a 2-week car trip to Greece!

Greek Salad Supper
5 red potatoes
2 tab. each minced parsley and green onion
2 tab. olive oil
1 tab. red wine vinegar
salt and freshly group pepper to taste
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
8 - 10 iceberg lettuce leaves to line serving platter
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges or 12 - 14 small tomatoes left 
        whole or cut in half
1 avocado, halved, peeled and sliced
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2 inch spears
1 large green pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2 inch spears
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/4 pound cheese, cheddar, provolone, or jack, cut into 1/2 inch 
         by 3 inch lengths
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in wedges
1/4 pound ham, cut into 1/2 inch by 3 inch lengths
fresh lemon wedges
1/2 pound medium raw shrimp, (fresh or frozen)
      peeled and deveined,  marinated in olive oil, garlic 
      and lemon juice for 30 minutes, and then grilled, 
      2 minutes on each side.

-Cook, peel and dice potatoes and while still warm, toss with parsley, green onion, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper: stir in mayonnaise.  Chill until ready to serve.

-Arrange lettuce leaves on large platter.  Mound potatoes in the center, arrange tomato wedges, cucumber, green pepper, onion, ham, cheese, avocado, eggs and black olives on the lettuce bed around potato salad.  Arrange grilled shrimp on top of potato salad and garnish with a dash of paprika. Chill salad until ready to serve.  Serve with dressing and lemon wedges.  Makes 6 servings.

Vinaigrette Dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper

-Combine ingredients and let sit at room temperature 1 hour.

Serve alongside salad.

Persnickety P.S.:
     **A loaf of crunchy country type bread goes nicely with the salad.
     **Lemon juice may be substituted for the vinegar in the salad dressing - more Greek in nature 
         - but more tart than vinegar.  If using lemon juice start with 3 tablespoons, then dip in a piece
         of lettuce, taste and add more lemon juice if desired.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Peanut-Peanut Butter-Hidden Treasure Chocolate Chip Cookies

We are all intimately acquainted with the chocolate chip cookie (invented 1930) and everyone is entitled to their favorite version for as my mother always said, "in taste there is no dispute":  thick and chewy, thin and crispy, thick and cakey, thin and crunchy, lots of chips, semi-sweet, milk or white, with walnuts, with oatmeal, perhaps raisins.... Our favorite is "hidden treasures" thus named because the chips are coated with batter and hiding in the interior of the cookies, which you discover when biting into the slightly chewy yet crispy texture. This recipe is precisely a treasure and if you are somewhat skeptical and convinced they won't measure up to your high standards, may I plead with you to keep an open mind and try them - (I know, you've heard that one before, as when someone is trying to convince you that rabbit tastes just like chicken - just try it!)  The development of this recipe involved late night empty tummies - perhaps not so much empty as craving - while watching the Barcelona Summer Olympics on T.V. and one too few eggs for the standard chocolate chip cookie recipe and ultimately, a gain of 15 pounds over the course of two weeks of olympic watching - I don't remember if that was on one body or three and am afraid to consider the answer.  Since peanut butter has come on the scene (invented 1895) most of us have been persuaded to consider the combo with chocolate a staple (thank you Reeses).  I added the peanuts and peanut butter to this recipe on an inspired whim. See how you think these cookies measure up and if you can't be swayed to call this recipe a "treasure" or find that the results are not to your preferred texture, don't try to convince me.  My mind's already made up and as Mom said, "to each his own."  I wonder if she would consider this recipe a treasure?

Peanut-Peanut Butter-Hidden Treasure Cookies

1/2 cup soft butter
1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4  cup whole roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup raw sugar for dusting, mixed with 1/2 tsp. sel de mer or
         coarse kosher salt

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

-In a large mixing bowl thoroughly cream butter, shortening, peanut butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. 

-Mix in salt, soda, and flour, until well blended.  Stir in peanuts and chocolate chips.

-Roll dough lightly into 1 1/2 inch balls.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and gently push down on each cookie.  Sprinkle small amount of raw sugar on the top of each cookie.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes until golden around the edges and slightly puffy on top, and beginning to crack.  Remove from oven and place cookies to cool on a wire rack.

-Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fatteh - Eggplant & Yogurt Casserole

What did you picture when you heard the name eggplant as a child?  Probably something similar to what I did - and I thought eggs came from chickens!  When I understood that plants and eggs could share the name, I was still hesitant, suspecting that the vegetable tasted of rotten eggs - why would it be purple?  No way I was going to taste it and since it was not served or even mentioned in my home, it wasn't a problem.  As an adult, I was offered aubergine - what a delightful name for a lovely shiny slender vegetable, and before I knew it I had been tricked into love!  An aubergine by any other name would be as delicious.
When returning to Jordan after years away, the first dish I bought from a Lebanese cook we had once frequented, was Fatteh, (fe-tay) not to be pronounced "fatty" as in what you will become if you eat too much of it. In Arabic the work "fatteh" means "crushed" or "crumbs", as in bread crumbs, or croutoned bread. I don't remember when I first had it or who first served it to me - I will admit it doesn't look nearly as appetizing as it tastes - but it is in my top three favorite Arab dishes. As I brought the aluminum container aboard our small tourist bus and was about to partake in this romantic reunion, the aroma bumped about the bus as we did and there were others who wanted to help me eat it.  As hesitant as I was to share - after all we had forgotten to bring spoons - it was wrested from my hands and passed down the bus, as creative tasters devised eating implements of yogurt lids, emory boards and credit cards to scoop out samples of the casserole.  
The very nature of eggplant succumbs silkily to oil when fried and this dish, topped with fried bits of Khoubiz, (pita bread), and pine nuts is succulently smooth and richly velvetized   It has such a depth of flavor; smokey, garlicky, lemony, meaty,  ---all those flavors that make you pause and say, "I want to remember this."  There is also a chickpea, yogurt version that is also very popular though less complex in flavors.  
Thin small eggplants like the variety sold in the Middle East are recommended as they are more tender than larger ones. Few recipes for raw eggplant exist owing to the fact that the toxin solanine, which raw potatoes contain as well, can cause intestinal distress, but once eggplant is cooked it complies beautifully with digestion. The raw product is also cursed with a bitter flavor which can come through in the cooking, though more modern hybrids are said to be less bitter. To avoid the bitterness, salt the eggplant well after slicing or cubing it and let sit for about 30 minutes. The salt causes the flesh to weep and draws out the bitterness.  Rinse well, blot dry with paper towels and use as described in your recipe.  Give this eggplant recipe a try and if you, like me, pictured boiled eggs growing among foul smelling leaves, this dish will wipe away those childish misconceptions!

Fatteh with Eggplant:
1 1/2 pound ground beef or lamb
4 small eggplants
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tab. grenadine molasses 
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup plain yogurt
5 cloves crushed garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
2 loaves pita bread
chopped flat-leaf parsley

-Toast pine nuts in dry saute pan until lightly browned; set aside  Cut bread into 1 inch squares and fry in 3 tab. butter until browned; set aside.  Combine sour cream, yogurt, 1 tsp. salt and crushed garlic in bowl; set aside.

-Chop eggplant into 1 inch chunks, place in large bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt and toss.  Let sit for 15 minutes.  Drain and rinse eggplant and fry lightly in 3 tab. oil in large saute pan until golden and starting to soften.  Remove eggplant from pan and set aside.

-In same saute pan, melt 2 tab. butter. Place ground beef and onion in pan with salt and pepper, cinnamon, allspice and fry, stirring frequently until meat is browned. Drain off any extra fat. Stir in beef stock, tomato sauce and molasses then bring mixture to a boil.  Add eggplant and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is tender and sauce is thickened.

-In an oven-proof casserole dish, pour the eggplant/meat sauce on the bottom and then cover with the yogurt sauce.  Place the toasted pita aqures on the top.  Bake in 350 oven until just warmed through, about 15 minutes.

-Garnish with pine nuts, chopped parsley and sprinkle sumac on top.  Serve warm.  Serves 8.

Persnickety P.S.:
**The original recipe has you place the bread squares on the bottom of the casserole dish, then cover with meat sauce and finally the yogurt sauce.  I, however, like my croutons to stay crispy so I place them on top.
**Sumac is used in the Middle Eastern diet to add a lemony pop to soups, salads and meat dishes. It is made from the ground fruit of a species of sumac bush and is a dark red/purple color.  Can be purchased on Amazon or at Middle Eastern groceries.
**Grenadine Molasses:  This molasses used in Middle Eastern and Persian cooking, is a thick syrup made from pomegranate seeds, sugar and lemon, is dark purple in color and adds a tangy, sweet zest to dishes.  It is available in Middle Eastern Groceries.  (To substitute in this recipe use 2 tsp. regular molasses and 1 tsp. lemon juice)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Lemon Drop Bread

On occasion, I have been known to magnanimously do some volunteer pruning, when so inspired - pine branches from a forested area in Jordan for Christmas swags which included a volunteer roving-eyed lizard (doesn't everyone have a Christmas lizard?), rose petals from a ridiculously abundant blooming rose bush next door for the garnish for a 1920's recipe of Chicken a la Rose, and lemons from a lemon tree branch dangling precariously low over a public sidewalk in Israel - someone could have been injured!  (and besides, I was out of lemons). My noble and selfless efforts are only employed that vegetation might thrive.  May the lemon be among them - Live on, oh mighty Lemon! Live long lemons, and prosper! A child's expression the first time they taste them, makes you wonder which ancient Asian child kept tasting them until they discovered this puckery fruit was just waiting to meet sugar to zing into the forefront of culinary taste! The luxurious smell of the blossoms in spring, would make you think that the fruit is as sweet as promised, but the result packs a walloping tart and sour surprise but is yet a dose of the Renaissance itself to flavor and color, little orbs of the sun that give vibrant life to foods that would otherwise be drab as a winter's day without them. And shaped like those little orbs are a candy we call Lemon Drops, created in Britain in the1800's, though they may be harder to find today than Lemon Heads but they pack a punch to this exquisite bread and say, "Pucker up"! (Available at Walgreen's) A delicious variation is the suggested version with blueberries, or bluebs as my family calls them.  Due due to their tendency to sink to the bottom of the batter as they bake - Blue Bottom Lemon Bread it became! 

Lemon-Drop Bread
1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
grated rind of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
8 - 10 crushed lemon drops

-In large mixing bowl, cream together shortening, butter and sugar for about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in milk.  Add flour, salt, baking powder, and grated lemon rind.  Mix until just combined.

-Grease or spray with non-stick spray, a regular sized loaf pan.  Pour batter in pan.  Bake at 300 degrees until a knife inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean, about 1 hour.

-Meanwhile, mix lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar and crushed lemon drops in a small bowl.  Set aside.

-Remove the bread from the oven and allow to sit 5 minutes in pan.  Score the bread with a serrated knife to a depth of about 1 inch in 3 lengthwise cuts.  Forcing the slits slightly apart drizzle the glaze into the slits and over the top of the warm bread.  Let cool in the pan for about 30 minutes.  Then run a knife around the edges and gently remove from the pan.  Let cool completely before slicing.  Cut into slices and serve.  Makes 8 - 10 slices.

Persnickety P.S.

**Coarsely mash the lemon drops in a mortar and pestle or place in a plastic bag and mash with a rolling pan or the bottom of a heavy saucepan.

**Grate lemon with a microplane, one of my "can't do without" kitchen implements, a long thin micro-grater that allows you to grate right over whatever it is going into, easily held by a long handle.

**A combo of butter with shortening creates a softer bread than using just butter alone (similar to what the less popular margarine produces.)

**I sometimes make half again as much glaze when I want the bread very moist and popping with lemon flavor.

**When making the Blue Bottom Lemon-Drop Bread,  mix the batter as directed above, pour into the prepared loaf pan and then scatter 3/4 cup fresh blueberries on the top of the batter, patting down gently with a spatula. Bake and glaze as directed.

Let cool completely before slicing or it will crumble apart.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rice Krispie Spring Nests

Admit it - you love Rice Krispie Treats!!  There are just some universal truths where taste is concerned and foods that make anything taste good - cream cheese frosting, caramel sauce, raspberry puree, melted marshmallows - this elite group of toppings that would make even wood chips delicious.  (Glad that someone was inspired to combine marshmallows with cereal instead of wood chips).  Following is a Spring Nest version that is such fun for the kids to make for an Easter craft and treat!  I would imagine even birds would opt for this medium to build their nests!  The kids can melt the marshmallows, stir in the cereal, add the green food dye and shape the nests - a children's activity that requires just the ingredients and a little supervision!

Rice Krispie Spring Nests:
8 cups Rice Krispies type cereal
1 package (40 large) marshmallows
1/4 cup butter
2 -3 drops green food coloring
extra butter for hands
parchment or waxed paper
large colored jellybeans or Cadbury Mini-Eggs (preferred)

-In large saucepan, over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add marshmallows and stir frequently until marshmallows have melted and mixture is smooth.  Stir in food coloring.

-Place Rice Krispies in large mixing bowl.  Pour marshmallow mixture over the cereal and stir until well combined.  Let mixture rest and cool for about 5 minutes.

-Place a sheet of paper on work surface.  Rub a small amount of soft butter on clean hands and take a tangerine-size handful of mixture.  Shape and push into a ball and then flatten onto the paper, making an indentation in the center for the bird "eggs".  Arrange 3 - 5 mini-eggs in each nest.  Let sit and set up for about 20 minutes as children lick off their fingers and what remains in the bowl.  Makes 12 - 14 "nest" treats.

Persnickety P.S.:
-You'll win the "favorite grandma award" when you help the grandchildren make these!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chocolate Truffle Mint Cheesecake

Don't you just want to dive into the middle of this, head first, mouth open!  Or roll face first in it, not unlike the mayor in the movie "Chocolat" who is an exemplary citizen of his French village and a devoted Catholic observing Lent, who is tempted beyond endurance by the new chocolate shop window display. As the saying goes, "One bite is too many and a thousand is not enough" and after a chocolate nibble, the Comte de Reynaud finds himself rolling about in the chocolate confections, stuffing them into his mouth as quickly as a space becomes vacant and finally, passes out on an overdose of cacoa and sugar!  ( I always have an urge to make a chocolate dessert like this one after watching that movie.)  And if you, like he, would find it a violation of what you are giving up for Lent, or a serious infraction to your diet restrictions, check back at this recipe in a couple of weeks - but then you aren't forbidden from looking at chocolate!

Chocolate Mint Truffle Cheesecake
2 cups crushed chocolate wafer cookies
3 tab. sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp. peppermint extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate - 60%
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup cream

-Mix crumbs, sugar and butter.  Press into 9 inch springform pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

-  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt chocolate in cream over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Set aside for 5 minutes. 

-In mixing bowl, combine and mix until smooth, cream cheese, sugar and mint extract.  Add eggs one at a time to cream cheese mixture and beat just until smooth after each. (Do not overbeat as this can cause cracks to form in your cheesecake as it bakes.)  Stir chocolate/cream into other mixture until blended.  Pour batter into cooled crust.

-Bake at 350 degree fro 20 - 25 minutes or until just set.  Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa,
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tab. sour cream

-Mix cream , sugar and cocoa in mixing bowl with wire whip until sugar is incorporated.  Chill with beater in the cream for 2 hours.  Remove from fridge and whip in mixer until almost stiff.  Add vanilla and salt.  Continue to beat until very siff, just short of butter consistency.  Stir in sour cream and spread topping on cool pie.  Garnish cheesecake with chocolate curls and mint sprigs. Chill well before serving, at least 2 hours.

Persnickety P.S.:

**Make sure eggs and cream cheese are at room temperature before combining,to prevent little lumps of cream cheese in your final product.  Because this is a truffle cheesecake, it should be absolutely smooth as silk and creamy.  If your cream cheese isn't ready when you are, unwrap from foil wrapper and zap in the microwave for 30 - 45 seconds until softened.  You can also soak eggs in warm water when in a hurry to take the chill off.

**Chocolate wafer cookies are available in most stores under the brand name of Famous Chocolate Wafers, but if you can't find them, use Oreos.  Twist the cookie layers off and with a knife, scrap off the filling into another bowl.  (For some reason children love this job and I always find when they are finished that there aren't as many cream centers in the bowl as there should be.) Then use the chocolate wafers to make the crumbs.

**Bake the cheesecake only for the length of time indicated.  It should be smooth and creamy in the center not set up and cakey-textured as in a New York Style Cheesecake.  The center of a Lindor truffle should come to mind when you bite into it - thus the name "Truffle Mint".

**For the 60% chocolate, Ghiradelli's Bittersweet Bar (America's Test Kitchen taste test winner)  is recommended and is readily available.

**To make chocolate curls,  place a solid square of milk or semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave for 20 - 30 seconds.  With a potato peeler, or sharp paring knife, pull along an edge of the chocolate, letting the chocolate curls drop onto the top of the cheesecake, or onto a piece of parchment paper to use later.  For bigger curls, use a bigger block of chocolate, often available only in specialty grocery stores.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ham and Beans with Potato Parmesan Croquettes

The natural response to a meaty ham bone, left over from the maple-sugared, spiral slices from a family meal is either "doggie dinner" or revamped in a flavorful duet of Ham and Beans with navy beans - the humble, smallish white beans have a way of coaxing the smokey rich flavor from the ham and in their turn when cooked to perfection add a creamy silkiness to the mixture.  This homey stew evokes images of cowboys on the trail gathered round the chuck wagon, summer picnics with the obligatory pork and beans, but for me, an iron hook mortared into the brick inside the fireplace on which hung a perfectly witchy black iron pot.  What is it they say about boys born to the country - that you can't get the country out of them?  My father was such a boy and his penchant for cooking beans and soup over a coal fire in our living room was a symptom of either the "country" in his soul, having lived through the depression or a secret yearning to have been a cowboy.  His concoctions bubbled on for days and often included what we children considered  strange white carrots, that didn't taste right (parsnips). But we were delighted to watch as he added mysterious ingredients to his potion, then with cooing incantations and the sorcery of time, transformed the contents to an edible, if not fantastic soup.
To be blunt, the prepared dish of ham and beans sometimes resembles cow trails on the drive or leavings of the Depression and is humbly lacking in sophistication.  In my effort to prettify the dish, I top each serving with small fried potato-swiss croquettes, breaded with a crispy crust which contrasts in texture with the silky beans.  Swiss cheese with ham is a natural pairing and the potato - a soothing whimsy of superfluous fluff. The fresh bite of the green onions is just the thing to spark the beans up for a night on the trail or in the country and is anything but depressing. No black iron pots or magic required!

Ham & Beans with Potato-Swiss Croquettes
Meaty ham bone (or 1 lb. ham steak, cut into 1 inch cubes) 
bacon, 8 slices, diced and fried crisp (if using ham steak)
2 cups dried white navy beans                      
1 tab. tomato paste
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken broth
2 -3 cups water
2 tsp. vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tab. brown sugar
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
salt and black pepper to taste
dash of red pepper

-Rinse navy beans.  Cover with cold water and let sit 4 - 6 hours.  Drain and rinse beans.

-In large dutch oven or soup pot, heat 2 tab. oil and saute onions, celery and carrots for about 5 minutes until softened.  Add garlic and continue to saute 1 minute.  (If using ham steak, cook diced bacon until crispy and stir in with vegetables before adding broth to the vegetables.) Add rinsed beans to pot with chicken broth, water, ham bone, thyme, vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar, black pepper, and red pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Skim off any froth that may rise to the top.  Cover with a lid and simmer 1 1/2 hours until beans are almost tender. 

- (If using ham steak, add to beans at this point.) Remove lid and continue to simmer another 30 minutes, until broth has reduced and beans are very tender.  Remove ham bone from broth and pick off the meat, shred and return to the beans and broth.  Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary. Stir in parsley.  

Potato-Swiss Croquettes
2 large potatoes, boiled with skins on 
3 tab. butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt 
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cups grated swiss cheese
chopped parsley
dash of cayenne
1 tab. paprika
2 eggs slightly beaten
2 tab. milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 cups vegetable oil (canola oil recommended)
8 green onions, finely chopped

-Let cooked potatoes cool about 10 minutes.  Peel off skins with paring knife.  Cut potatoes into quarters and place in large mixing bowl and mash potatoes with potato masher until all lumps are gone.  Stir in butter until smooth.  Stir in lightly beaten egg, salt and pepper, cheeses, flour, parlsy cayenne and paprika.  Let mixture cool until able to handle.

-Wet hands and roll mixture into small golfball-sized balls.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.  Prepare 3 wide flat bowls; one with 2 slightly beaten eggs mixed with 2 tab. milk, one with 1 cup flour and one with 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs mixed with grated parmesan cheese and paprika. Roll each ball in flour, then egg dip and finally in bread crumbs. Chill until ready to fry.

-Bring 2 cups oil in heavy-bottomed medium saucepan to 375 degrees or until a bread cube cooks to a golden brown in 30 seconds.  Carefully lower balls into hot oil and fry until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes, turning as necessary. Remove croquettes from oil and drain on paper towels.

To Serve Ham & Beans:
-Place ladle full of  warm ham and beans into individual serving bowls and top with 3 potato croquettes.  Garnish with sprinkle of green onions.

Persnickety P.S.:
**When you don't have a meaty ham bean on hand (or the dog has skulked off with it to bury it in the backyard) use diced or shredded ham from a ham steak or boneless ham.  To obtain the intense rich flavor provided by the ham bone, substitute bacon in recipe.

**Beans:  Great Northern beans are often used in this recipe but I prefer the daintier navy bean, but either white bean is fine.