Showing posts with label potatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label potatoes. Show all posts

Friday, January 13, 2017

When You Don't Have Time to Cook But You Still Want a Home-Cooked Meal, Do This!

Home cooked meals are definitely better for you and less expensive, but sometimes cooking seems too difficult and time-consuming.

When you're tired and hungry, it seems easier to stop for take-out on the drive home, order in or nuke those Trader Joe's frozen Shrimp Soft Tacos you bought last week.

But with a little effort (not much) and even less time (minutes), you can prepare two easy-to-make vegetable dishes that combine well with a charred steak, sautéed tofu or roasted chicken breasts which cook in no time at all.

Salt-boiled vegetables

Salt boiling cooks vegetables quickly. Cook them as little as possible so they have a crisp, fresh taste. Like pasta, vegetables should be eaten al dente, with a little firmness.

How long a vegetable should be cooked depends on its density and the size of the pieces being boiled. A 1" zucchini round will cook faster than a 1" carrot round. A 2" carrot round takes longer to cook than does a 1" carrot round.

Adding kosher salt to the water gives the vegetables a sweet-salty flavor.
Broccoli florets prepared this way cook in 2 minutes. The bright green flavor bites are so delicious, we eat them hot or cold, as a snack, side dish or, cooled, added to a salad.

Oven-roasted vegetables

Another easy-to-master technique is oven roasting vegetables. As with salt-boiled vegetables, they should be cooked al dente. How long the vegetables take to cook depends on the density of the vegetable and the size of the pieces.
Fingerling potatoes are an especially good side dish to serve with a grilled or baked protein. They are delicious with a steak grilled on an outdoor grill or charred on a carbon steel pan. Before baking, toss the cut fingerlings with Italian parsley, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

If you enjoy onions, sprinkling a handful of finely sliced onions or shallots over the vegetables before baking adds a delicious sweetness.

Salt-Boiled Broccoli

Buy broccoli that is deep green in appearance. Do not use broccoli with yellow florets or ones that feel limp because that means they are old and will not taste good.
Besides broccoli, the technique works great for spinach, carrots, English peas and green beans. Each requires a different length of cooking time. Spinach (30 seconds), peeled carrot rounds cut 1/2" thick (3-5 minutes), shelled English peas (30 seconds) and green beans cut into 1" lengths (3 minutes).

Use only kosher salt or sea salt. Do not use iodized salt because of the metallic after-taste.

Serves 4

Time to prep: 5 minutes

Time to cook: 3 minutes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons kosher salt

4 large broccoli crowns, enough to make 10 cups, washed, stem ends trimmed

Directions

Using a pairing knife, cut the florets (the bud or flower of the broccoli) off the stem. Cut each floret in half and set aside. Using a chefs knife, cut the stem into slabs, 1/2" thick, 1" long. Set aside.

Add kosher salt to 4 quarts water and bring to a boil.

Place stems in boiling water first. Cover. Cook 1 minute.

Add floret halves to water. Cover. Cook exactly 2 minutes.

Strain broccoli in the sink. Place cooked broccoli into bowl and serve.

Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

If fingerling potatoes are not available, baby Yukon or Sierra Gold potatoes are also good.
Use a Silpat sheet so the potatoes do not stick to the baking sheet. If not available, use parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Serves 4

Time to prep: 5 minutes

Time to cook: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, washed

1 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped

1 medium yellow onion or 4 large shallots, skins, stems and root ends removed, washed, cut into thin slices

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat sheet.

Cut each potato in half, the long way, then into 2" pieces. Place them in a mixing bowl with the olive oil. As the cut potatoes are added to the bowl, toss to coat with olive oil to prevent discoloration.

When all the potatoes are in the bowl, add parley and onions. Toss well. Season with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Spread on the Silpat sheet lined baking sheet so the pieces have some room. They will acquire more browning if they are not piled on top of one another.

Place in oven.

After 15 minutes, toss for even cooking. Check after another 15 minutes. Toss. Taste. Adjust seasoning and cook longer if needed. When the potatoes are cooked through but not too soft, serve hot with a protein. The potatoes are delicious with a grilled steak, sautéed fish filet or charred chicken breast.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yukon Gold Potatoes Brighten Up an Old Favorite: Latkes

We had Hanukkah dinner last night and, while eating our friend Paula's excellent latkes, the conversation turned to favorite recipes. Last year I posted my Yukon gold recipe and I think it's worth reposting. Latkes are good through out the holiday season, even on New Year's Eve when a late night snack of latkes and champagne is a perfect way to ring in the New Year.

For dinner on the first night of Hanukkah my mother always started with a romaine lettuce salad topped with scallions and Lawry's French Dressing. Then there was a brisket of beef with carrots and mushroom gravy. But the real stars of the meal were the latkes served with apple sauce and sour cream.

My mother's latke recipe was handed down from her mother: grated potatoes, eggs, flour, a little salt and pepper. She'd fry them in vegetable oil and serve them as soon as they were browned. So simple and yet the result was so soul-comforting: crispy on the outside, soft inside, with just the right amount of oil and salt. There are few dishes that are as satisfying as food and so emotionally evocative.

Like most kids, my sister, Barbara, and I waited eagerly at the table. As soon as the plate full of latkes was passed around, we emptied it. I kept count, because I didn't want her to have more than I did. They were that good. When my grandmother was in town, she and my mother made Hanukkah dinner together. Their relationship was competitive to say the least, so there was always considerable discussion about the right way to make the latkes: flour vs. matzo meal; onions or no onions. My grandmother liked to point out that she had given my mother her latkes recipe but my mom insisted that she hadn't remembered it correctly.

These days we look forward to celebrating all the nights of Hanukkah but the first night is special. That's when both our sons are certain to be home. Now that they're off on their own, we're happy when we can be assured they'll share a meal with us.

Michelle likes to make the Hanukkah latkes and they're always delicious. Her recipe is similar to my mother's. This year I asked her to make a small adjustment. I wanted her to use Yukon Golds instead of Russet potatoes because they're sweeter and less starchy.

After the first night's candle was lit and placed in the menorah, presents were given and opened. Then Michelle made latkes as fast as she could and they disappeared as soon as they arrived at the table. In the end, there were only two left. Michael ate those for a late night snack. The family's opinion was unanimous. The Yukon Gold latkes were a keeper.

Yukon Gold Latkes

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, washed
2 eggs
1/4 cup white all purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup parsley, washed, finely chopped (optional)
4 tablespoons safflower or canola oil

Method

Peel the potatoes and keep them covered in a bowl of lightly salted water so they won't discolor. Using the large holes, grate the potatoes by hand. Keep the grated potatoes submerged in the bowl of water.

Take a handful of grated potatoes. Gently squeeze out the water so they are "dry" but still light and fluffy. Put the grated potatoes into a second bowl and mix together with the eggs, flour, and olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add the parsley and onions (optional). Mix well.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or griddle. Use a parsley leaf to test the oil. When it sizzles, the oil is hot enough. Form the latkes and fry them in batches. With our griddle, that means we can make 4 or 6 at a time.

Each side will take 4-5 minutes. When they're golden brown on each side, remove them to a plate with several sheets of paper towels to drain off the excess oil. Finish with a light dusting of sea salt.

Serve with sour cream and apple sauce.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Salt Crusted Fingerling Potatoes

To great acclaim, José Andrés recently opened four restaurants (Rojo, Blanco, Saam, & Patisserie) and a bar (Bar Centro) on the ground floor of the SLS Hotel (465 S. La Cienega, Los Angeles, CA 90048; 310/246-5555). Collectively called The Bazaar, the space reflects Andrés' elegance, playfulness, energy, and love of food.

Serving an eclectic menu, Andrés uses foam and flavor essentials reflecting his relationship with Ferran Adrià. Serving the best hams and cheeses cements his connection to the Spanish tapas bars where working people gather to eat, drink, and talk.

Over several visits to the Bazaar, I enjoyed wildly extravagant treats like his crispy cones filled with cauliflower cream and topped with American caviar or the whimsical, delicious sticks of foie gras wrapped in cotton candy, but the most memorable dish was something extraordinarily simple: an appetizer of salt crusted potatoes with a cilantro-parsley dip.

José stopped by our table and talked passionately about the dishes he had created for the Bazaar. He said he loved all of his "children" equally but when he talked about his "winkled potatoes" you heard a special passion in his voice. After we had eaten them, we understood completely.

So easy to make, their simple textures and flavors show how easy it is to elevate even the mostly lowly of ingredients into something magical...if you know how.

José Andrés' Salt Crusted Potatoes with Cilantro-Parsley Sauce (Salty wrinkled potatoes with "mojo verde")

José uses potatoes from Cape Verde but locally grown fingerling potatoes are more accessible. If possible, buy the ingredients at your local farmers' market. Select the smallest fingerling potatoes without blemishes. Serve the potatoes and sauce at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes


Ingredients

1/2 pound fingerling potatoes, washed
2 cups water
1/2 cup Kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, skins on
1 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only
1 cup cilantro, washed, leaves only
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Method

Put the potatoes, water, and Kosher salt into a pot and simmer for 10 minutes. With a wooden skewer, test to see if they are almost cooked. Pour off two-thirds of the water, being careful to reserve as much salt as possible.

Lower the heat and keep a watchful eye on the potatoes. The goal is to evaporate the water completely so the potatoes are coated in salt, being careful not to burn the salt or the potatoes. Cook another 3-4 minutes, then remove the potatoes from the pot and let cool.

Using a kitchen towel, wipe the excess salt off each potato so there's only a light dusting of salt on each. Do the potatoes one by one so the skin doesn't break.

Place the potatoes on a plate.

Run a skewer through the garlic cloves and char them on an open flame. Brush off the blackened skins and roughly chop. Place the parsley and cilantro leaves, the roasted garlic, black pepper, and olive oil into a mini-blender and puree to a smooth consistency.

Pour the sauce into a small bowl and serve with the potatoes. The sauce will keep for a week in a closed container in the refrigerator and can be served with fish and chicken.

Variations for the sauce

Use parsley only.

Add 1 scallion, washed, green and white parts.

Add 1 teaspoon dry roasted almonds, finely ground.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Vegetable Sauté for a Farmers' Market Lunch

After weeks of cloudy, cold weather, today was all blue skies and 70's-warm. The Santa Monica Farmers' Market had a selection of Southern California winter produce: sugar snap peas, English peas, carrots, broccoli, spinach, turnips, beets, Yukon potatoes, fingerlings, asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, bok choy... Some days a simple vegetable sauté makes the best meal. Today that was our lunch.

Farmers' Market Fresh Vegetable Saute

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 large carrots, peeled, cut into large rounds
1 lb sugar snap peas, washed, ends & strings removed
4 Yukon potatoes, washed, cut into chunks (not peeled)
10 brown mushrooms, washed, sliced
2 bunches asparagus, fat ones, washed, bottom end trimmed
4 garlic cloves, peeled, thin sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons sweet butter
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Sauté the potatoes and gralic in the olive oil on a medium flame until browned. Add the carrots, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and asparagus. Cook for 5 minutes, turning frequently. Add stock or water and butter, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, raise the heat, and reduce the liquid to coat the vegetables.

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