the Insiders


November 9, 2009 10:12 AM


Pots O' Gold

An invitation to a potluck meal calls to mind Pyrex dishes filled with green bean casserole and Tupperware loaded down with hand-frosted cupcakes. But on the Upper East Side, things are done a little differently. The new cookbook "Park...

An invitation to a potluck meal calls to mind Pyrex dishes filled with green bean casserole and Tupperware loaded down with hand-frosted cupcakes. But on the Upper East Side, things are done a little differently.

The new cookbook "Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations," which benefits The Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, features tried-and-true recipes from some of society's top hostesses, including Coco Kopelman and Eugenie Niven. In the spirit of sharing, here are a few dishes handed down from their kitchens to yours. Viking stove not required.

Roasted Potato Cakes
Coco Kopelman

My mother-in-law serves these potato cakes as a side dish with roast beef or sliced steak. The preparation, involving baking the potatoes instead of frying them, is easy, and the basic potato mixture can be varied, by adding mushrooms for example. Sometimes I serve the cakes as a luncheon dish, topped with smoked salmon and whipped cream cheese or crÿme fraîche and a green salad alongside.

Makes 8 cakes
3 large baking potatoes, scrubbed
6 tablespoons (ÂY stick) unsalted butter, melted
¿ cup heavy cream or plain whole milk yogurt
1 large egg yolk, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, chopped

Place the potatoes in a saucepan and add salted water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool, then peel and pass them through a ricer into a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and the cream or yogurt. Mix in the egg yolk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate; the cakes will be easier to form if the mixture is cold. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly butter the foil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter in a small skillet over medium heat, add the onion, and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes.

Form the potato mixture into 8 patties. Use the back of a spoon to make a depression in the center of each and place some of the onion in it. Lightly flatten the cakes with a spatula and transfer them to the baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes, until lightly browned. Brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and serve.

Festive Bouillabaisse
Eugenie Niven Goodman

My husband and I make this bouillabaisse together. It works for a formal dinner party or a casual buffet. We either serve it from a big ceramic bowl or from the pot in which it's cooked. At a buffet our guests help themselves to portions in deep bowls, with bread and salad on the side.

Makes 6 Servings
Generous pinch of saffron threads
¿ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 leek, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion chopped
¿ cup chopped fennel
2 cloves, garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
4 springs fresh thyme
3 cups, canned crushed tomatoes
1 ¿ cups clam juice
About 1 ¿ cups dry white wine
¿ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
18 mussels, scrubbed
12 large shrimp, shelved and deveined
1 ¿ pounds Black Sea Bass, Red Snapper or Flounder Filets cut into 12 pieces
Crushed Red Chile flakes, optional

Place the saffron in a small bowl, add ¿ cup of boiling water, and set aside. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leak, celery, onion and garlic. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes to wilt the vegetables. Add the bay leaf, thyme, tomatoes, clam juice, wine and fennel seeds. Bring to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 5 minutes. Add the saffron and its soaking liquid and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf. Bring back to a steady simmer and add more wine if needed. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Add the mussels, cook for about 5 minutes, then add the fish. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer until the mussels have opened and the fish and shrimp have cooked through. Remove any mussels that haven't opened. Check the seasoning, adding some red chile flakes if desired and an extra drizzle of oil. Serve with croutons or crusty bread.
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