Hash Brown Potatoes: The Breakfast Book

Hash brown potatoes are a quick and easy side dish.

I don't buy much that's frozen, but I've always used frozen hash browns. They seemed like a tough dish to get right so I figured I'd stick to the packaged variety. This chapter of our cook the book project, with Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book, features potatoes. I chose hash browns since it's one of the few potato preparations I have never made.

They tasted way better than the packaged kind. So light, flavorful and crisp, I couldn't stop eating them. My daughter did admit that the real potatoes tasted better than the pre-made ones (only after she made it known that she wanted the pre-made and why was I bothering to mess with perfection?).

I cooked them in bacon grease and served them with bacon, too. You can fry them in olive oil or vegetable oil, if you're not as much of a bacon fanatic as I am.

Check out the posts by my cook the book partners:  RachelAimeeEmily and Claudie.

Hash Brown Potatoes

serves 3

from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book


  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat, oil or shortening
  • 3 cups grated potatoes, raw or cooked
  • Salt and lots of pepper


  1. Heat the fat in a large skillet.
  2. Spread the potatoes in a layer, pressing down with a spatula.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook over medium heat for 6 to 7 minutes.
  5. With the edge of the spatula, cut the circle of potatoes down the middle.
  6. Turn each half over and sprinle again with salt and pepper.
  7. Cook another 6 or 7 minutes, or until the potatoes are crisp and brown on the bottom.
  8. Serve hot.

Potato Pancakes My Way: Gluten Free and Dairy Free

Potato Pancakes!

I have been buying frozen potato pancakes for a long time now, but always loved Gran Fran's homemade ones. We would sometimes have breakfast for dinner, which mostly meant bacon and eggs or french toast, but sometimes included potato pancakes. I love the crispy outside and the warm, soft inside. Gran Fran's were loaded with salt and sometimes had corn added to them. I remember the sizzle of the hot oil and Gran Fran yelling for all the kids to back away from the stove (and to leave the kitchen) in case the oil splattered when she put the potato pancakes in the pan. I can't recall anyone every getting hurt when Gran Fran fried things, but she still tells the kids (meaning me and my five adult siblings) to back away when she's frying. Old habits die hard, I guess.

The other night I had some leftover mashed potatoes and remembered that this was the base for Gran Fran's potato cakes. I don't think I made them the same way she does, but they tasted great. Gran Fran's version definitely had flour involved. Mine use just an egg and the mashed potatoes, which I made with almond milk and olive oil, making them gluten and dairy free.

Isabella, my daughter, loved them so much, she told me not to give her anymore because she wouldn't know when to stop eating them and did not want to over do it. These are definitely being made on a regular basis around here.

So enjoy these with your family and friends. You can even try some add ins like leftover bacon (but for real, who has that on hand?), scallions or grated cheese. Have a lovely weekend!

Potato Pancakes: Gluten and Dairy Free



  1. Mix mashed potatoes and eggs until a thick batter comes together. If you are adding in bacon, scallions or anything else, mix it into the batter now.
  2. Heat the olive oil until super hot but not smoking in a pan.
  3. Using a tablespoon, spoon the mixture into the pan, leaving a good amount of space between them in the pan.
  4. Take a spatula and press down on the potato mixture in the pan to form a pancake. Some of the batter will ooze out the side, which is fine.
  5. Cook on first side for 4 minutes, until you can see the edges browning.
  6. Flip over the pancakes, press down once more with the spatula and cook for another 4 minutes.
  7. Remove from the pan onto a paper towel lined plate and add salt.



Greek Sandwich Salad Style

Recently, I went to dinner with my uncle (known as Uncle), who is Gran Fran's brother. For the most part, I'm a lettuce with olive oil and salt kind of salad girl. Uncle ordered just this as his salad, which floored me. I hadn't realized there maybe a family connection to my style of salad. He told me that he has always eaten his salad this way, and that he thought it did come from his parents. Who knew?!

Warm weather has arrived in San Francisco. You never know how long this nice patch of weather will be in town, so it's fun to pretend like we have seasons and cook like it's going to stay warm for a few months.

This weather puts me in the mood for a good salad. I made a nice roast pork with Greek flavor a few weeks ago, reminiscent of a the Greek sandwich I had in Paris.  Since I have salad on my mind, I decided to take all the Greek sandwich fixings and make a huge salad.

Seeing as I don't usually make fancy salads (except for my salad nicoise) , I really had to think about how to layer everything in. Some special dressing, which includes Za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice, added a nice extra kick. It's earthy, sour, salty and just interesting. You can just use oregano here, but I love the unexpected flavor.

You don't have to follow my ingredients exactly, but do put the roast pork, red onions and fried potatoes in the salad as these are the keys to the Greek sandwich-ness of the salad.

Greek Sandwich Salad Style


serves 2

  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce, cut into pieces
  • 2 potatoes, oven fried (recipe here)
  • 8 slices of Greek roast pork (recipe here)
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into chunks
  • 8 to 10 small tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Za'atar spice blend or dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Lay the romaine on a platter, making a mound in the center.
  • Layer on top the red onions, potatoes, tomatoes and red bell peppers, with the pork on top.
  • Put the mayonnaise, olive oil, Za'atar (or oregano) and salt and pepper into a bowl and mix until combined.
  • Drizzle dressing over the salad and serve.

You can put some nice warm pitas out on the table to serve with this great salad.


not just eggs

Reposting a great egg Frittata recipe for Easter. enjoy....Picture a hot summer morning at the beach. Five kids, two parents, pitchers of water, seltzer and juice, and tons of sunblock. It must be noted here, that many members of The Family (as the larger group of my siblings and parents shall hence forth be known, no cult-association intended here) hated the beach.

Herewith, some back-story on The Family history with the beach. Joe, our Dad, does not care for the sun. Being one of those blonde-haired, non-olive-skinned Italians, it is understandable why. So, we would head out to Jones Beach, in Long Island, at the crack of 7AM on a potentially sunny Sunday. We'd get there by 7:30, eat pastries on the boardwalk and then set up on the beach. At that hour, there was always plenty of choice real estate available, so we were right near the shore. We were usually packing up sometime around lunch, to avoid the high sun and the traffic back to Queens.

Another major issue, were the jelly fish. I'm not sure when it happened, but I do recall as early as age six that Gran Fran had scared us witless regarding these slimy creatures. Walking on the edge of the ocean was fraught with looking for the telltale globs of jelly-fishness. Gran Fran was convinced that if we got within even five feet of one, we would come away stung. Needless to say, none of us ever got a sting, but we all steered well clear of the jelly fish. And, to this day, poor Iz has to deal with my ever-lasting fear, with calls of "You keeps your eyes open for jelly fish. You don't want to get stung!" I guess no matter what we do, we all eventually turn into our parents.

As the morning progressed, we played in the surf, buried ourselves in the sand and collected a multitude of seashells (and some kelp, if I remember correctly, that was not allowed in the car home). We'd get hungry again around 11:00. This was the big event.

Enter the greatest lunch on earth: Gran Fran's Fritatta. Simply put, it is just a potato and egg pie, like an omelette, but fluffier and filled with fried potatoes.

But, Gran Fran has a way with eggs like no one else. It must be said here that she cooks all egg dishes in olive oil, not butter. Olive oil is the preferred cooking medium for all things savory in Gran Fran's world. Heaven forfend using butter for anything other than baked goods, especially eggs. She gags at the thought of it.

Out came the Frittata. Gran Fran is known for her wrapping (no, it's not elegant, but it is always thorough), and did not scrimp on the waxed paper then foil wrap to ensure the eggs would stay nice and soft, and the temperature would remain as cool as possible.

Cups of seltzer were poured and the eggs handed out. There was always quiet once everyone was served and was munching on their delectable treat. At those times, it was nice to see such a large family having a nice peaceful lunch on a sunny beach day.

But once the eggs were eaten, everyone dispersed again to do what they had been doing before lunch (avoiding the jelly fish, mind you). Overall, we were sated, happy and sunburned. And, it was high noon, time for The Family to head out. That Gran Fran, she sure knows how to feed a crowd!

Fritatta A la Gran Fran

Serves 4 as a meal, or 8 as a side dish


  • 2 Russet potatoes peeled and sliced thin
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste

You will need a broiler-proof non-reactive deep skillet.


  • Heat pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and swirl it around to coat the sides and bottom of the pan.
  • Place potatoes in pan, one at a time to create one layer. Do not crowd them. This will make a nice base for the Fritatta.
  • Cook the potatoes over medium heat until they are browned, about 10 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and cook another 5 to 8minutes, watching carefully to make sure they don't burn.
  • Crack 5 eggs into a bowl and mix them as if you’re making scrambled eggs. Be sure to break up all the yolks and get them all mixed together well. Add salt to taste, but not too much.
  • When the potatoes are cooked on both sides, sprinkle them gently with salt. Pour the beaten eggs over the potatoes. Move the pan around to distribute the eggs evenly. After a minute or two, slide a spatula around the sides of the pan and tilt the pan so the raw eggs run into the space that the spatula created.
  • Keep the pan on the flame for 3 minutes or so, shaking the pan gently, until the eggs begin to set to about an inch around the circumference of the fritata.
  • Set the broiler for 3 minutes. Place pan under the broiler and watch carefully as top of eggs get bubbly, firm, and golden, until the top is well browned.
  • Remove from oven. Place a serving plate on top of the pan, using oven mitts, grab the pan and plate and flip the Fritatta out onto the plate.

Enjoy hot, warm, cold, or at room temperature. Wonderful with a ripe tomato salad sprinkled wiht finely minced scallions, a dusting of kosher salt, and a good dollop of olive oil (this is Gran Fran's addendum to the above recipe).