Lemon potato flake, chocolate mashed potato cookies and a nod to my youth | Elaine Revelle | Journalist

What does instant mashed potatoes have to do with a kids club? I’ll explain, of course.

In the “Middle Ages” (1970s), I participated in the Youth Club, an interdenominational after-school activity sponsored by three of the churches in the valley.

Every Wednesday afternoon during the school year, Bethania Lutheran, Santa Ynez Valley Presbyterian, and St. Mark’s in-the-Valley Episcopal churches held crafts, Bible lessons, and activities. The afternoon ended at 5 p.m. with dinner for club members and their families.

I was part of the kitchen team for several years. We cooked and served to an average of 85, and it wasn’t just fun for the diners, our little collection of cooks also had a great time.

Over the years, our ranks have changed. Leading the group were Pat Olesen and/or Joanne Madsen. The sous chefs (fanciful title) and cleaning crew were made up of the members’ mothers, assisted by Youth Club “graduates”, high school students who had risen through the ranks as members.

Back to the instant potato connection: to avoid mass peeling when potatoes hit the menu, we opted for the instant – my first experience with the concoction. I was surprised to find the texture, definitely whipped rather than mashed, to be good.

My objection was a slight cardboard taste, which sparked a moment of culinary creativity.

A close friend had shown me a potato tower straight from her native Netherlands. She always added a generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg to her well-seasoned mash, and it was delicious.

I suggested doing the same with our Youth Club Potatoes and it was a hit. Not only did the nutmeg mask the off-putting taste, it enhanced the other seasonings.

And that, friends, is connection.

Checking my foodie calendar, I noticed that August 19 is Potato Day, for which I found the perfect recipe – Potato Flake Cookies – in my “must try soon” folder. .

Made, tasted and reputedly successful, I recommend both.


3/4 cup (three sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 cups instant mashed potatoes

1/4 cup granulated sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside. Beat the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and zest, beat until smooth. Sift dry ingredients and slowly add to creamed mixture. Stir in potato flakes, mixing until well combined. Mix the topping sugar with the salt.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls, dip in sugar mixture and place 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. Flatten with a biscuit stamp or a glass bottom and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. (If dough sticks to glass or pad, dip in filling mixture before flattening.) Let cool 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.


1 cup butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups instant mashed potato flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter with the sugars and salt. Add egg and vanilla, mix until creamy. Sift dry ingredients and slowly add to creamed mixture. Stir in potato flakes and mix until well combined.

Shape the dough into small balls, dip in the sugar, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, flatten slightly with a cookie stamp or glass and bake for 8-10 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch . (If dough sticks to glass or pad, dip in filling mixture before flattening.) Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to wire rack.

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