Sissy’s Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

This is a ridiculous recipe – ridiculous because goat cheese doesn’t belong in mashed potatoes, right?


They are symbiotic – the goat cheese adds a sour tang that rips through the mellowness of boiled potatoes. The texture of the chevre does a great job of lightening the texture of the buttery Yukon golds. And with enough mortar-&-pestled black peppercorns, you have that spicy, cracked pepper bite to break through the richness that is butter, heavy cream and cheese.

My little sister loves goat cheese. When we were living together, it was pretty easy to know what she needed from the grocery store, without me needing to ask. Goat cheese, Near East Rice Pilaf, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Goat cheese reigns supreme in her food world.

So when it came Thanksgiving time, I knew this would hit home for her. There was no need to hold back on the amount of goat cheese in this, because there’s no such thing in her mind.

I know from experience that not everyone loves the taste of goat cheese – I’d recommend making two batches if you’re serving picky kiddos or adults. Which is easy enough because these potatoes still fold in the musts – heavy cream and butter.

My mom makes her mashed potatoes with chicken stock – the added poultry flavor always reminds me of holidays, and it’d probably go great in this recipe as well. Just add a few splashes.

But I wouldn’t limit this dish to the holidays. It’s so &*^%ing good. It’s one of those recipes, like a song that you can’t get out of your head, that will ruminate in your mind for a while after you eat it. I started imagining all the different cheeses I could add to potatoes. Gorgonzola mashed potatoes? Velveeta’d mashed potatoes? The possibilities are only limited by your ability to list cheese.

One technique I’d recommend – at all costs, when you can, beat the mashed potatoes with a hand mixer. The handy dandy smasher works perfectly well in a pinch. But take the time to dirty up the beater for your potatoes. It makes them silky in a way hand mashing cannot, and that’s the texture you deserve. Restaurant-quality silkiness.

Happy mashed potato-eating season! What are some of your favorite mashed potato recipes? As always, I’m all ears. 😊


Serves 4 to 6.

  • 1 5 lb. bag Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 12 oz. chevre, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 1 / 2 sticks butter, room temperature, salted or unsalted
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 4 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar & pestle (alternatively, you can place the peppercorns in a Ziploc bag, smashing them with a mallet or rolling pin), plus extra for garnish
  • 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid from the potatoes


  1. Boil the peeled, quartered potatoes for 20 minutes or so in salted water until fork tender. Reserve cooking liquid for later before draining. Strain potatoes into a colander, covering with a dish towel for 15 minutes to allow the potatoes to steam.
  2. Return the potatoes to the pot. Add the butter, goat cheese, heavy cream, garlic, salt and crushed black pepper.
  3. Beat the potatoes with a hand mixer on high speed, being careful that the potatoes and liquid don’t splash out of the pot. If needed to reach a silkier consistency, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.
  4. Serve the mashed potatoes hot, with the goat cheese crumbles and cracked black pepper sprinkled on top for garnish, if desired.


Grilled Lemon & Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

The story behind this recipe can be found in Hankerings’ latest post, Country Grilling in Lexington, Virginia. I hope you enjoy!


Serves 4.

  • 1 lb. short pasta, of your choosing
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 lemons, halved
  • 1 / 2 red onion, skins removed
  • 1 / 2 head garlic, skins removed, minced
  • 1 / 4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1 / 4 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 / 2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz. chevre, crumbled
  • 1 / 3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  1. Preheat a grill to medium-low heat (approximately 250 to 300*).
  2. Place the lemons, fruit side down, red onion, and red bell peppers on the grill. Grill for 20 minutes or so, turning the peppers and onions every 3 to 4 minutes, checking to make sure the vegetables are charred in some places, but not fully burnt, before you remove them from the grill. Grill the lemons fruit side down until they are charred, but not fully burnt.
  3. Place the red peppers in a plastic bag to steam while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain, and set aside.
  5. To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk the Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, pepper, capers, and the lemon juice from the grilled lemons, adding olive oil slowly to create an emulsion. Set aside.
  6. After 15 minutes or so, remove the red peppers from the plastic bag. Cut the tops off the peppers, and carefully slice into the peppers so they are butterflied open. Remove the seeds with the back of a knife. Slice the peppers into large, bite-sized cubes. Do the same with the red onion.
  7. In a large bowl, add the drained pasta, chevre, red onion, red peppers, crumbled goat cheese, herbs and vinaigrette. Stir until the ingredients are incorporated, and the goat cheese begins to melt. Top with extra chopped herbs, if desired. Serve room temperature.

Dad’s Sherried Pearl Onions

My dad makes these pearl onions on special occasions – Easter and Christmas, I think were the big ones. Along with everything else my parents had on the menu – these were usually the dish that required the most prep time, especially when made for a crowd of family.

So when I went to try and recreate his dish, I made two mistakes. One, I did not call him first to confirm, with total certainty, the exact recipe and the exact preparation process. Two, which is related to the first part, was I had already peeled each onion, raw, by hand.

Don’t do this. I spent 90 seconds peeling an onion. I bet you’re an experienced pearl onion peeler. I am not.

The key is to parboil the onions for a couple minutes, giving the onions a slippery-er bulb which allows the skins to peel slide right off. I had a moment while attempting to keep the outermost layer intact while peeling them bone-dry, that there has got to be a better way to do this. It turns out, there was.

I also would have assumed there was nutmeg in the cream mixture. Wrong. No nutmeg!

I have yet to come across a dish more complemented with a strong pour of cooking sherry. I don’t cook with it often, but I know it adds a nice kick to tomato soup. The sherry is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet, delicate onion flavor. And the heavy cream – do I need to elaborate? It becomes perfumed with the onions, and the kitchen begins to take on a holiday dinner aroma, or maybe that’s just me.

Thanks to my dad for giving up this secret recipe for mankind’s benefit – I hope you feel the good feels I get eating this dish on special occasions.


Serves 2.

  • 1 10 oz. package raw white pearl onions
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons cooking sherry
  • Minced parsley, for garnish


  1. Cut both ends off the pearl onions. Bring a small pot of water to boil and add the onions. Boil for 2 minutes. Strain. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins off the onions, being careful to leave the bulbs intact.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the heavy cream, cooking sherry, onions and a pinch of salt.
  3. Bring to a boil, and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the cream is heavily reduced and warm in color, being sure to stir every couple minutes to prevent the heavy cream from burning.
  4. Serve hot, and sprinkle with minced parsley, if desired.

Truffled Oyster Mushroom Sauté

Sautéed mushrooms are one of the fastest-to-prepare, most elegant side dishes out there. Throwing some truffle butter into the mix doesn’t hurt either.

But the best part – just add some autumnal herbs – sage, thyme – and your house will smell heavenly for hours. No air freshener required.

Luckily, most grocery stores and farmer’s markets carry a variety of mushrooms to experiment with. And they’re affordable too, unless you’re cooking with morels. I vaguely recall spending $23 on a 4 ounce package.

You can always go for white button mushrooms, if you’re in the presence of some picky eaters. But my most recent mushroom purchase led me to oyster mushrooms. I love the stacked appearance of the caps, and the folds are defined. Sautéed, they taste meaty. I like to the keep the stems on for added bite and substance, almost cooking them to an al dente consistency.

Whole Foods carried the traditional brown oyster mushrooms as well as some beautiful pink ones. It made for a gorgeous presentation in this recipe.



Serious Eats has an in-depth look at the most common varieties of culinary mushrooms – any type is good for sautéeing, but a mixture adds a lot of texture. And I had completely forgotten about Enokitate mushrooms – one of the most gorgeous fungi I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

So while sautéed mushrooms may never top a side of French fries, they come pretty damn close. And they’re healthy-ish, if that’s something you care about.

I guess you could French fry mushrooms though – that sounds pretty good too. 😉


Serves 2 as an appetizer.

  • 1 pound oyster mushrooms, chopped in thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sage, minced
  • 2 tablespoons truffle butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil and truffle butter in a sauté pan on medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes until the garlic begins to soften.
  2. Add the thyme, sage, salt and pepper, and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes until the mushrooms are browned but not caramelized.
  3. Remove from the heat.
  4. Serve immediately.

Spicy Dill Pickle Potato Salad

Good old, classic American potato salad doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

It’s gotten a bad rap for being bland, unexciting and outdated. But I think it belongs right at the top of the list with the other star members of the comfort food group.

With potatoes and mayonnaise acting as ingredients number one and two in this dish, potato salad lends itself to flavor-boosting ingredients.

I’ve seen variations like bacon-ranch potato salad, green goddess potato salad, cobb potato salad, and tons of other ingenious recipes on Pinterest. This gives me hope that potato salad has officially made a comeback and is here to stay.

This spicy and pickle-infested variation of potato salad checks two important boxes for me: spice and brine.

I always find ways to sneak pickled vegetables, capers, olives or cured salty fish into dishes that lack a “salt & vinegar” vibe. Does anyone else do this?

Quick-pickled red onion and habanero peppers, along with a hefty amount of spicy dill pickles, juice included, do a good job of cutting through gloopiness and high fat content of the mayonnaise dressing. I also used Peewee potatoes, which are ultra-velvety and the perfect size for biting into.

Once it’s all had a chance to meld together in the fridge, you can’t go wrong with the combination of the mayonnaise tang, zippy pickles with their garlicky juice, and a flaming hot pickled habanero bite. If these potatoes were potato chips, they would be McClure’s Pickles Spicy Pickle Kettle Potato Chips.

I didn’t go homestyle with this recipe, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have a place in my heart for the usual stuff. It’s instinctual food that serves a purpose. Like when you mechanically grab that pre-made container in the grocery store on your way to the cash register.

Sometimes, you just need the predictability that potato salad provides. 😊


Serves 4.

  • 2 lbs. Peewee potatoes, cut in half, or 2 lbs. Yukon Gold if you can’t find Peewee potatoes, cut in small cubes
  • 6 spears McClure’s Spicy Pickles, small diced, plus 4 tablespoons juice
  • 1 habanero, minced
  • 1 / 4 red onion, small diced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 / 2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of sugar


  1. Heat the vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small saucepan until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour into a bowl. Add the diced onion and minced habanero and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the Peewee potatoes in half. Bring a large pot to boil, adding a tablespoon of salt. Add the potatoes, and boil for 15 minutes or so, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Strain the potatoes and cover with a clean dish towel to steam while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, add the mayonnaise, sour cream, 5 spears’ worth of diced pickles, pickle juice, 3 tablespoons dill, and pinches of salt, pepper and sugar. Add the potatoes and combine. Once 30 minutes have passed, add the pickled peppers, discarding the brining liquid.
  4. Once all the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, taste for seasonings, garnish with the fresh dill & pickles, and let sit in fridge for as long as possible so the sauce has a chance to seep into the potatoes.
  5. Serve chilled.