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Ottolenghi Inpired Yukon Gold Potatoes

20160104-065643.jpg I become more and more of a fan of London based chef & cookbook author, Yotam Ottolenghi. We sell the heck out of his wildly successful books, with folks raving to me things they have tried from his recipes. The above potatoes inspired by Ottolenghi. Ordinary potatoes that become visually appealing and even tastier due to a few tweaks. I made them the other evening with filet mignon for New Year’s Eve dinner, the below a week ago for a simple week-night supper. These can be dressed up or casual, which I always love. I think they would be awesome as an appetizer too, served with green goddess dip. Here is what I did for an easy chicken breast meal during the week to spiff it up a bit.

Yukon gold potatoes are the way to go for this. Choose medium to smaller sized, trying to pick ones that are of a similar size. Oven to 400, my cooking sweet spot. Using a sharp knife for this, cut a little piece of the spud off the bottom, so the potato sits flat in the baking process. Next, slice up the potato being careful not to cut all the way to the bottom as you want the entire thing to stay intact. Do this with all the potatoes. Then lightly pour extra virgin olive oil over them all, that are sitting on a baking sheet ready for the oven. With your hands massage the oil over the entire potato so it is covered entirely with extra virgin olive oil, including the flat bottom so it does not stick and burn. Add pinches of salt & pepper over all. OK, here is where I added a bit of extra flavor, which you don’t have to do if you are cooking these without anything else. At the half hour point, I ladled over with a spoon some of the juices that had collected from the roasting chicken breasts that were right next to the potatoes. This reminds me so much of the potatoes placed under rotisserie chickens in Paris that cook in the drippings as the chickens rotate away. Those juices mixed with the EVOO are kind of magical stuff and it really helped to brown the potatoes and add a bit of extra flavor. When I cooked them solo, I added a teeny tiny bit of butter at the 30 minute mark. The butter melting down into the slits and adding more tastiness and helping them to brown. You can pass on this too, just ladle any extra oil that is on the pan at the half hour mark to give them a little extra brown. By minute 45, these little gems should be ready. Timing depends on the potato size, so check along the way by giving one a little squeeze to see if it is soft, which means it is done. They just look so cool and taste amazing.

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P.S. I am experiencing some technical difficulties with my WordPress app on my phone when I am writing my blog post each morning. Typically I am able to go back and make edits after it posts. But when I have done it this week, it is posting to the next day. So I am not able to make edits without messing up the post. Please forgive any typos, which I generally catch after I read it after it is up on my site, but currently am not able to go back and change. Anywho, boring technical stuff. Have a glorious Monday/week and have fun making the potatoes if they make it into your repertoire.



 

 

Time for a Tomato Sandwich

20150722-082041.jpg Yes, it is that time of year again. Tomato time. Which means tomato sandwich time. I know I have written about this before, as well as in my book, but I feel it is my obligation (insert very large smile) to let new readers know about this sandwich if they don’t already. The simplest of things, but the very best of things. A big ripe, juicy tomato is key. For those juices become the magic in all this. Here we go. Slice up the bread. I like a hearty sourdough. Slightly toast it. Important that the bread not be too soft as it will fall apart. The above round baked by our new friend Mimi, who owns Little Ghent Farm with her husband Richard. I plan to do a post on them and their farm when we are back for Fall colors in October. She makes out of this world bread that they sell at their farm shop. I dream of this bread. I digress. Must stay focused. That is what that bread does to me. Again, insert wide, but supremely happy smile. To the toasted bread add a big, yes big, dollop of mayo. This is not the time to be stingy. The mayo is key, as it mixes with the tomato juices and forms a sort of sauce when you are eating this. Next slice up a fairly thick slice of tomato. Set on top of mayo laden bread. Now salt the top of the tomato. Stand back and admire the simplicity and beauty of it. This is needed for two reasons. One, you just want to admire how yummy it looks. But secondly and most importantly, you want to give it a minute or two to let the salt draw out some of the juice of the tomato. Now it is time. A big napkin will be needed. Sit and enjoy how sublimely tasty and simple and grand this is. Just 4 ingredients but just so good.

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A Mustard Jar Vinaigrette

20150716-061057.jpg This is what you whip up when you have that pesky jar of mustard sitting in your fridge and there is still mustard in it. But not enough mustard to really do anything major with, but enough still left that you can’t bring yourself to toss it. This is the easiest thing in the world to do, with things you have a bit extra of. Take one lemon and quarter it. Squeeze the heck out of those slices over a cup or small bowl, making sure seeds do not enter the liquid produced. Add that lemony gold to the waiting jar of mustard. Then peel one good sized clove of garlic, smashing it just a tad with the back of the knife. Add the whole smushed garlic to the jar. Then add a few generous pinches of salt and a few cracks of the pepper grinder into the lemony mustard mixture. Almost there. Told you this was incredibly easy. Lastly add the best extra virgin olive oil you have around, about then again as much as the liquid in the jar. Typically twice as much oil to acid is a good vinaigrette ratio. Just eyeball it, and no huge deal if you add a tad more or less. Slip the lid back on. Check twice to make sure it is on nice and tight. Yes, I have made this error and it is not pretty. Now, shake, shake, shake that bottle. If music is playing in the background while you are doing this, even better. Done. You just made a really tasty lemony garlicky vinaigrette. Pour right out of the bottle over greens of your choosing, making sure to leave the garlic clove in the bottle. Any remaining will last in the fridge quite nicely. With the garlic continuing to infuse even more. Add a little more of all the above to the bottle and you can make another round with any leftover.



 

 

Roasted Ramps & Romanesco

20150707-062726.jpg This time of year the produce is so abundant & varied, it is nice to mix it up and use things that you don’t see all year at the grocer. That is where ramps and Romanesco come in. Both have a fairly short span at the market for availability, so roasting some up to toss with pasta and a bit of Parm for a simple meal was on our list. Ramps, if you are unfamiliar, are a wild onion. They are sometimes referred to as wild leeks. They taste like a mixture of garlic and onion. The Romanesco, is an edible flower bud of the species Brassica oleracea. First documented in Italy, it is chartreuse in color. Which you know I love. You see it listed sometimes as broccoli, other times as cauliflower. Either way, it is just delicious roasted.

You know the drill. Heat oven to the sweet spot of 400 degrees. Break up florets from the Romanesco, scattering onto a baking sheet. Then cut up the ramps. I just used the middle of the stalk for this, not using the bulb. We like them larger in size to roast, but then cut them into smaller pieces before we toss with the pasta and cheese. They are powerful little bites. Add the ramps to the baking sheet. Douse all with a healthy amount of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. With your hands or a big spoon, mix all around so everything is thoroughly coated. Don’t be stingy with the olive oil as it plays a part in the overall flavor when mixed with the pasta. Put the now beyond glorious pan into the oven and let roast away for 10 minutes. Shake the pan to move things around. Another 10 minutes and check if starting to brown and caramelize. If not, shake and move around again and check after another 10 minutes. So much depends on the size of things. When done, mix this goodness with your favorite pasta you cooked while all this was roasting away. Dust with Parmesan. Mix. Dust again. Done. Beyond simple. So good.



 

 

Blood Orange & Brown Sugar Roasted Carrots

20150120-070551.jpg I have written in the past of my fondness for Instagram. It is such a creative outlet for ideas shared. It is also the place I find lots of inspiration & ideas about food. The chef Tyler Florence posted awhile back some carrots he roasted with tangerines and brown sugar. I was smitten with the idea. Last eve, I gave it a try. We did not have tangerines but we did have a blood orange. This refers back to a comment I made a few weeks ago about putting your own twist on things. If you don’t have a tangerine or a blood orange, but you do have a clementine or some other citrus, give that a go.

This is so simple. Have the oven nice and hot at 400 degrees. Yes, once again, 400 hits the mark. On a sheet pan lay your peeled carrots. Take your cut up citrus and squeeze over the carrots so the juice coats them. Then sprinkle liberally with brown sugar and sea salt. I tossed the citrus pieces in the oven too, for visual on the finished platter. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes turning them every so often to cook evenly. You will have a caramelized bit of tasty heaven when all is said and done. We had them with roast chicken. They really would be divine with practically everything.

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Roasting Butternut Squash

20150102-050211.jpg Roasting vegetables at a high heat in the oven really brings out the natural sweetness of the veg. This rings ever so true with butternut squash, which is one of my favorite things to roast. I made Italian sausage & butternut squash risotto last night which is so truly comforting. Try also with arugula and dried cranberries for a healthy salad. Add to chicken stock and purée for a super simple soup. Smash up for a potato alternative next to a piece of roasted chicken. Serve the cubed pieces just as they are with rice and black beans for a tasty vegetarian option.

Preheat oven to 400 as you prepare the butternut squash. Carefully cut the long neck of the butternut squash from the bulbous bottom. Peel or cut away the skin of both. Scoop out the seeds from the bulb, discarding or roasting. Your call. Then cube all the veg into bite sized or larger pieces, scattering onto a baking sheet pan. Liberally coat with extra virgin olive oil, salt and a generous amount of fresh cracked black pepper. Put in the oven, roast away for 10 minutes, then with a spoon or spatula turn the pieces. Do this again in another 10 minutes. By the 30 minute mark your sheet pan of butternut squash should be nice and browned and caramelized and beyond tasty. These keep beautifully in the fridge for days so you can enjoy several different ways.



 

 

Truffle LOVE

20141211-055828.jpg Truffles have such a crazy, decadent vibe to them. The earthy edible being off the charts expensive when consumed just as they are. But add bits of them to things like salt, mustard and oils and you have an affordable luxury that makes for pretty swanky gifts this time of year. Add to things like popcorn, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, or a roast chicken and the earthiness of the truffle just shines.

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Jam Jar Vinaigrette

20141210-034128.jpg This post really is for all of you who are jam lovers like myself and how to make a vinaigrette with whatever jar of jam you have in the fridge that is almost used up. This is when I like to make a dressing out of the little bit that is left in the bottom of the jar. It makes for some very interesting flavor combinations for your next salad.

I make it right in the jar. Add a big dollop of Dijon mustard to the bit of jam at the bottom of the bottle. Then juice a lemon to the mix, as well as a good of amount of salt & pepper. We had a Meyer lemon so I used that last night. Then add extra virgin olive oil to the bottle, an equal amount to a bit more to what is already part of the mix. Put the jam jar lid back on, screw it on nice and tight, and shake shake shake. Done. Stores beautifully in the fridge. Ours rarely lasts that long because we eat it up right away on a big salad.

Happy middle of the week everyone!



 

 

Root Vegetable LOVE

20141018-054529.jpg This time of year and really right through the start of Spring, root vegetables are in abundance at the grocery store and at farm stands/farmers markets. There is just something about a big sheet pan or baking dish filled with a variety of root vegetables that I find immensely comforting. Baked/roasted at a high temperature really brings out the sweetness and caramelizes things a bit. I don’t even know where to begin the list on what this all is tasty with but let me try. Chicken tops the list, as does eggs. A piece of white fish such as halibut would be divine. Or truly, a big bowl of this alone would be a great vegetarian option. This could not be simpler, easier or quicker, so don’t blink or you might miss it.

You might have now noticed that I like cooking things at a high temperature. So often I say to set the oven at 400. This holds true here too. Cut up to roughly the same size little potatoes, like Yukon gold or reds. Scatter onto a baking sheet or baking dish. Then add pieces of whole peeled garlic. Next carrots, parsnips, rutabaga and turnips. Really any variation of these is lovely. No sweat if you can’t find them all. Again, try and have them cut to roughly the same size as the potatoes. Roughly is the key word here. This helps things cook evenly, but don’t worry if everything is not exact. I actually like the slight variations of everything. Looks cool once you plate it all up at the end. Then liberally sprinkle the whole lot with extra virgin olive oil and salt & pepper. Either with your hands or a big spoon, mix all around so everything is evenly coated. Into that hot 400 degree oven it goes. Every 15 minutes move things around so they don’t stick and cook nicely on all sides. 45 minutes is usually a good amount of time, but more or less might be the ticket as all ovens vary slightly, as will cooking time by how large the pieces are cut up. Done. Your home will smell divine.

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Watermelon Radish

20140719-064727.jpg It is always a bit of a thrill to try a new food for the first time. My book signing the other afternoon at Met Market was my first time to have a Watermelon radish. Also known as Rooseheart or Red Meat, it is an heirloom Chinese Daikon radish. They were so kind and were serving things I wrote about in the book. Radish with butter and a bit of sea salt was on the menu, along with a few other tasty bits. But I was so taken with the Watermelon radish I had to buy one and take it home so we could share it with guests. Last evening our Friday night pizza & martini dinner would be the time. The radish is the size of a tennis ball with a thick white skin. You cut that away to reveal a pinky reddish center. It is a bit softer than a standard radish. The taste is sublime. To add to the sensation, I spread a healthy dollop of soft French butter to the top, then added a sprinkling of Fleur de Sel salt. A perfect bite sized packed with a myriad of flavor sensations. Just a simple thing to serve with drinks. If you see one of these on your grocery shopping excursions, give it a try. Really enjoyable.

Happy Summer Saturday to you all! I am excited for my walk around the Market this morning before I open the shop to see all the bounty the season has been producing–will share that with you tomorrow.
TKW