Recipes called Amish 'filling' are really gussied-up mashed potatoes.

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When I first read Karl Berghoffer’s request for a dish called “potato filling” that his grandmother served with Sunday roasts, it conjured wonderful memories of times gone by when families gathered for time-together meals. That vision was reinforced by the many responses from readers who knew the dish.

“My late mother was from Lancaster County, Pa., and was Amish,” wrote Tommy Youngman of Miami. “She would make Filling, a wonderful form of spiffed up mashed potatoes, and serve with a standing rib roast, spinach salad with warm bacon dressing and English popovers (Yorkshire pudding) every Sunday night for the entire family. … I still to this day serve this wonderful meal during the holidays.”

“My 83-year-old mother in Bethlehem, Pa., recently sent me this yellowed recipe from a newspaper,” wrote Jesse Walters of Miami Shores, Fla. “I’ve made it a few times and found it a very simple, old-school delight.”

Marcia Moselle of Plantation, Fla., says her mother, “who grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, made this every Christmas and Thanksgiving. My sister has taken over the tradition. When you see the amount of butter you’ll probably be horrified, but Sis says it’s necessary!”

Susan Biederman’s recipe came from a collection of comfort-food recipes. “There is nothing low fat, low cal or nouveau,” Biederman, of Coral Springs, Fla., writes. But the potato filling “is so delicious it has become one of my holiday favorites.”

Dorothie Edinger of Medina, Ohio, whose ancestors were from Lancaster County, writes “we had this delicious dish many times.” B. J. Agovino recalled: “My mom used to make potato filling at Thanksgiving instead of mashed potatoes.”

Amish Potato Filling

Makes 12 servings

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

6 cups mashed potatoes, at room temperature

2 to 3 cups stale bread cubes

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Salt and white pepper

1/4 teaspoon, or to taste, ground nutmeg

Additional butter for dotting top (optional)

Paprika

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Beat the eggs with the milk and stir into the potatoes. Add the bread cubes and mix well. Saute the onions and celery lightly in the butter, until clear but not brown. Add to potato mixture.

3. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg. Mix well and spoon into greased casserole. Dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until top is golden.

Per serving: 212 calories (44 percent from fat), 10 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat), 78 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 450 mg sodium.

Q. I love a very intriguing dish at the new Blue Collar Restaurant. You get toast with a fried egg on top of the most delicious beans. Can you get a recipe? — Nancy G.

A. Chef Danny Serfer’s recipe is a spicy, meaty take on a classic British breakfast. You get a lot of beans in this recipe, and there really isn’t a way to make less given the nature of dried beans. But they are meaty enough to be served as an entree or thinned with broth and turned into a hearty soup.

Blue Collar Restaurant’s Pork and Beans

Makes about 8 cups, 16 servings

To serve these beans as the restaurant does, fry an egg in your favorite style. On a plate make a small mound of beans, top with the fried egg, and serve with plenty of toast for sopping.

1 pound dried navy beans

1 pound hot Italian sausage, cut into coins

1 pound good quality bacon, diced

1 red onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 cup white wine

Water

1. Soak the beans overnight. Drain. In a large stock pot over low heat saute the sausage, bacon, onion and pepper until vegetables are soft and juices have been released, about 25 minutes

2. Add the beans, tomatoes, white wine and water to cover (about 3 cups). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook 3 hours, until beans are tender but not falling apart and mushy. Per serving: 331 calories (57 percent from fat), 21 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 9 g monounsaturated fat), 46 mg cholesterol, 19 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 1,125 mg sodium.

Counting Carbs

If watching carbohydrates was a New Year’s resolution — and your resolve is wavering — you should check “The CarbLovers Diet Cookbook” by Ellen Kunes and Frances Largeman-Roth (Oxmoor House, $29.95), which has a lot of appealing recipes made with whole grains and non-refined sweeteners. The recipe here is a substitute for chocolate chip cookies that negates the diet guilt with high-fiber oats and dates. The sweet dates reduce the amount of sugar needed, and the bittersweet chocolate appeals to a grown-up palate.

Oatmeal-Date-Chocolate Cookies

Makes 32 cookies

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped, pitted dates

3 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar until smooth. Combine flours, baking soda, oats and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the butter mixture with the dry ingredients and add egg, vanilla and dates. Fold in chocolate.

2. Spoon mixture by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased or parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes, until tops are dry to the touch. Cool completely on wire rack.

Per cookie: 93 calories 93, 3.8 g fat (2.2 g saturated, 0.7 g monounsaturated) 12 mg cholesterol, 1 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 9 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 70 mg sodium.

The Miami Herald