Cook’s Corner

An outpouring of Pittsburgh potato recipes


Sleuth’s Corner

Q. My grandmother used to make me Lucky Stars. This was a cookie that was shaped like a star that came up over a filling that tasted like pecan pie. I used to cut out the stars and she would put in the filling. I would love to make these with my children and share the tradition.

Katherine McNeill

Side Dish

Pittsburgh Scalloped Potatoes

5 medium potatoes

2 cups cream-style cottage cheese

1/4 cup minced green onion

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup sour cream

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Boil potatoes, with skin on, in water to cover until just tender when pierced with a fork (do not overcook). When cool, peel and cut into 1-inch cubes. Set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, combine cottage cheese, onion, salt, sour cream and garlic. Gently fold in potatoes. Place in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Top with cheese. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings

Per serving: 184 calories (42 percent from fat), 8.6 g fat (4.8 g saturated, 2.1 g monounsaturated), 25.5 mg cholesterol, 10.6 g protein, 16.5 g carbohydrates, 1.7 g fiber, 836 mg sodium.


Harriet’s Guilt-free Cupcakes

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

1 box devil’s food cake mix

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place paper liners in 12-cup muffin pan or spray cups with vegetable oil.

Stir puree into dry cake mix. Batter will be very dense. Spoon into liners. Bake 20 minutes. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Per cupcake: 183 calories (19 percent from fat), 4.1 g fat (0.9 g saturated, 1.6 g monounsaturated), 0 cholesterol, 2 g protein, 36.7 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g fiber, 387 mg sodium.

Side Dish

Pittsburgh Potato Casserole

1 (2-pound) bag frozen shredded hash browns

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom or chicken soup

1 (16-ounce) container sour cream (light or fat free OK)

1 small onion, chopped

4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Salt, pepper and cayenne, to taste 1 (4-ounce) can or jar of green chiles or pimiento pieces (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with vegetable oil spray.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, and spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake, covered with foil, 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until bubbly and browned. Let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 234 calories (54 percent from fat), 14.2 g fat (8.4 g saturated, 3.8 g monounsaturated), 39.5 mg cholesterol, 11.3 g protein, 15.9 g carbohydrates, 1.2 g fiber, 398 mg sodium.

Carolyn W. asked for help replacing a lost recipe for scalloped potatoes that was “the best I have ever had!” The recipe was from a co-worker who came from Pittsburgh, dated to the 1980s and was made with “thin sliced potatoes and onions and a cheese sauce.”

Readers treated us to an amazing range of potatoes that all had a connection to Pittsburgh. All had potatoes and cheese in common, but also called for ingredients as varied as cottage cheese, shredded cabbage and crushed potato chips.

Most called for shredded potatoes (primarily in the convenient form of frozen hash browns). Only one, from Linda Beebe Frank, used sliced potatoes as in the request. Frank credits Katie Johnson, whose recipe appears in Sacred Heart Elementary School’s 1998 Parent Teacher Guild cookbook, The Heart of Pittsburgh.

I’m also passing along the most popular recipe, since it is perfect for holiday buffets and potlucks. Thanks to B. T. of Morristown, N.Y., Rose of Wilmington, N.C., Laurie Cooper of Miami, P. C. of Kendall, Grace of Eau Claire, Wis., and for email from Chris LeMasters, R. S., Stuart and D.B.

Guilt-free cupcakes

It’s hard to imagine fudgy cupcakes with fewer than 200 calories each, ready to eat in less than half an hour, but I tried this trick from Harriet Ribotsky of Miami Beach and it couldn’t be easier. The taste of pumpkin is barely discernible.

“I’m sure your readers will enjoy the recipe,” she says. “It is inexpensive and amazingly fast and easy but the cupcakes are delicious.”

Don’t be tempted to add anything else when you see the batter, which will be very dense. You need no oil, butter or eggs with this recipe.

Write to or Food, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.

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