Something about making mashed-potato cakes is so charming, to me -- an easy way to win the confidence of the diners at my table. The recipe for “Corn & Potato Cakes,” from the August 2009 issue of Cuisine at Home (recipe below), included corn and bacon in the mix. The texture of the cakes was good, but the full teaspoon of black pepper made them a bit too spicy (for my young child). It would be easy enough for you to cut back on the pepper, here.

Corn & Potato Cakes
Cuisine at Home, August 2009
Makes 4 servings
Cakes also can be sauteed with oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

4 cups peeled and cubed russet potatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
5 slices thick-cut bacon, diced (6 oz.) and cooked crisp
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spray baking sheet with nonstick coating.

Cook potatoes in boiling, salted water until tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain potatoes and mash coarsely with a potato masher; set aside to cool.

Add corn, bacon, scallions, 1/4 cup panko, parsley, bell pepper, egg, salt, and black pepper to pot with potatoes; stir to combine.

Form eight 4 oz. patties. Dredge one side of patties in 1/4 cup panko, then spray panko side of patties with nonstick spray to help them brown.

Bake potato cakes, panko sides up, on prepared baking sheet, 15 minutes. Lightly toast potato cakes under broiler, 3-5 minutes.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I peeled, cubed, and boiled two russet potatoes for 13 minutes. I used frozen corn, as well as my adored uncured smoked duck bacon, which I cooked for 7 minutes, until crisp. My two chopped scallions supplied a nice scent, while the cakes baked. I used the Japanese-style organic panko crumbs from Edward and Sons. Instead of a red bell pepper, I used a green. Mashed-potato cakes will allow you to add anything, I imagine. See what you can do.

I also prepared the “Mushroom, Asparagus, and Artichoke Medley,” adapted from Vegetarian Celebrations, by Nava Atlas. I bent a lot of the rules of this recipe. I steamed my asparagus for 3 minutes. Instead of using frozen artichoke hearts, I used those in a jar. And rather than slicing a zucchini, I substituted three ribs of celery. I skipped away from using dill and parsley, and instead used fresh thyme, fresh sage, and dried chives. I opted for true mayonnaise (instead of the vegan version). I added 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper to the salad. After all this manipulation, my salad possessed an odd “lemon/dill pickle” taste that was difficult to enjoy. I’m sorry this salad didn’t wow me enough.

White Mushrooms (8 oz.) = $1.76

RECIPES: have fun with potato cakes, but be careful what you dress your salad in
PREP TIMES: cakes can be enjoyed in less than an hour; salad can be quickly assembled
TASTES: potatoes + corn + bacon = a tasty patty, coated with the crunch of panko; mushrooms and asparagus can be treated simpler yet

Now on a mission to make a good salad, I want to try the “Chicken, Green Bean, Corn, and Farro Salad with Goat Cheese,” from the August 2009 issue of Bön Appetit. Return to my site on Saturday, January 16, to witness the results of this one.