Monday, February 11, 2013

"Chopped This" - Wedding Shower Recipe #1

Among the many lovely ideas Jenean had for the wedding shower she threw me (back in 2010) was the especially wonderful one of sending blank recipe cards to everyone who was invited, asking them to send it back with a family favorite recipe to share with me.  At the shower Jenean had them all collected into a little book, and it was such a great idea that my mother-in-law to be, Kathy, did the same when she threw me another shower (I am so spoiled) down where she lives, and she gave me a pretty box (the little book was now filled to overflowing, so I transferred everything into the box).  I ended up with 31 recipes all together, and surprisingly, and by luck only I think, the recipes are well distributed among the major categories - appetizers, salads, main dishes (some meat based, some vegetarian), side dishes, baked goods and desserts (and one recipe for party punch!  i.e. with plenty of alcohol in it).  People seemed to put a lot of thought into deciding what to send, and I got several recipes that were clearly handed down over generations, which really gives me a thrill.

However (terrible confession time, here): I've pretty much not made any of the recipes.  It's February 2013, most of these were given to me the summer of 2010.  Horrible.  So - as of January 2013, I decided that at least once a month I will make something for the blog from the Wedding Shower Recipe File.  I'll make something from each category, and then circle back around to the front and start again.

First in the box, filed under appetizer, is a recipe from my friend Samantha (whose husband blogs over at Home Cook Locavore!), a recipe which she got from her mother.  It's called Chopped This, and not only is the name incredibly charming, it is a really delicious snacking food, with almost no ingredients (my favorite kind of recipe!), very easy to make, and it makes a great base for variations, if you want to get complicated (see the end of the recipe).

My guess at explaining the adorable name is that it's a mock pate or poor man's chopped liver - and honestly I would choose Chopped This over Chopped Liver any day (which will come as no surprise to those of you who know my abject loathing of liver...)!  This recipe makes enough to put out for a party, in the category of dips and cheeses and crackers.  The ingredients probably cost me under $5, and we had enough for two rounds of snacking plus a panful of fish cakes I used the last of it to make (see the end of the recipe).  I will post the recipe as Sam wrote it to me, with my additions and comments in [brackets].

"Chopped This"
recipe "from Samantha's mom (and her Jewish family)"
[makes about 4 cups]

3 extra large eggs
3 large potatoes [I used russets, but I think any kind would be fine]
1/2 large Spanish or Vidalia onion (or more - to taste) [I recommend more! The onion flavor was great]
salt [and pepper] to taste
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Boil potatoes and eggs separately [my favorite egg method is cover cold eggs with cold water by an inch; bring to a boil, and boil for exactly one minute; turn off the heat and let sit exactly 8 minutes] [the potatoes boil in water to cover (unpeeled) until a knife slides right out when you jab it in, around 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes].  Cool eggs under cold running water; peel eggs and potatoes.

Chop all ingredients except oil in wooden chopping bowl with steel chopper until it reaches paste consistency [I don't have a chopping bowl, and tried this in Jenean's food processor, which I should have realized wasn't big enough to accommodate all the ingredients; I decided at the end of the process that I should have chopped it all by hand - some parts became very much like overly-mashed potatoes and some I ended up hand chopping anyway because they never made it to the bottom of the processor bowl.  SO - next time I will chop it all by hand on a large cutting board, and I think you should too.  I also think I will chop the onion up a bit before combining them all to chop together, since the potatoes and eggs are so much softer and easier to break up small than the raw onion].

Add oil, which functions as mortar [season with salt and pepper to taste, at least a teaspoon of salt, and I also added probably more like 2 Tbsp of olive oil].  Chill; serve with matzoh or crackers [I had water crackers, which are the most matzoh-like of crackers, I think].

Ideas for variations:
- I think some capers would be delicious in this, and we sprinkled on some thinly sliced green onion we had around for another recipe, which was delicious.
- Chopped herbs would be fun - anything fresh (and on the soft side) you like and have around - parsley, tarragon, dill, chives.
- Served with a plate of smoked fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines) alongside would make it a great lunch
- This keeps very well (kept cold in the fridge), the flavor gets better and better over a few days to a week; any leftovers at that point can be combined with some leftover cooked fish (I used a drained can of tuna, you could also do canned salmon), and then you can drop about 1/3 cup at a time into a plate of seasoned flour, form into a 4 inch wide/inch tall patty with plenty of flour dusting the outside, and fry them in butter for some very delicious fish cakes for dinner!


  1. We'll have to try this as well. We do a sort of similar mock chopped liver but use nuts (I prefer cashews) instead of potatoes. So, double-fatty I guess:

  2. Thanks, Elaine! It's so exciting to see this online. This is one of my favorite family recipes, and I believe it traveled with my great-grandmother from Romania.
    One family story has my great-grandmother (or her sister?) swearing she would never eat it again ... because she no longer had to. 'Gehakte Dos', as they called it in Yiddish, was delicious, but it was definitely poverty food.

  3. Sam, I love that story! And Phil, I remember seeing your cashew version a while back and wanting to make it, I will try to soon! The problem with getting all these lovely recipes was that I already have an overwhelming file of recipes I intend to try someday, and huge piles of cookbooks I've made only one or two things from... it's hard to get around to any of them, frankly. But blogging it will help keep me motivated to work my way through them, I hope.